Making Money with Sports Betting

Making Money With Sports Betting

Wondering if you can make money with sports betting?’s got you covered. We cover everything you need to know - from how much money you should bet to the best way to place your bets.

Besides the games that sports fans enjoy during a season, this time is also an opportunity for gamblers to use their knowledge to make extra cash.

After all, the world of sports betting is another form of gambling.

While it may appear like a game of chance, sports betting leans heavily on mathematics. If you know how to do the math behind the game, you already have an advantage.

Unlike casino games like blackjack, roulette, or slots, betting on sports can be complicated. If your favorite sport calls for it, you may need to consider a team’s players, the quarterback’s ratings, underdogs, and previous injuries.

Knowing these factors weeks before big sporting events, like the NCAA Final Four or the Super Bowl, is necessary to place a sports bet.

Veteran sports bettors even bet on sports as a source of income.

These pro sports bettors know better than to place bets on gut feelings or visions they may have had the night before. They understand the odds and stay ahead of the bookmaker to win.

How hard is the math exactly? You need 52.4% of your bets to break even. Round that number up to 53% and you start making money by sports betting.

So let’s get into the details!

Sports Betting Basics: Understanding Math to Make Money

To make things easier, let’s use a made-up sample scenario to demonstrate the math behind a sports bet.

Let’s pretend you and your friend walk into a New York casino with $200 to burn. The Kansas City Chiefs are up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a big game. So, you look up the news about the game.

You might see a betting line that looks something like this:

428 Buccaneers

429 Chiefs -4

Let’s break down the elements. The first numbers you see (428 and 429) are the rotation numbers. These numbers are assignments to each selection.

-4 is the point spread. It denotes that the Chiefs are a four-point favorite. So the team needs at least five points for a bet on them to payout.

Another example might look like this:

428 Buccaneers +175

429 Chiefs -4 -200 38

Here, you will also notice +175 and -200. These numbers are the moneyline odds. In this case, the Chiefs are favored to win, as indicated by the negative sign.

The last number (38) is the total or the over/under of the expected number of points scored during the game. By over/under, you bet on whether the total score goes over or under the predicted outcome.

Betting: How to Place a Sports Bet

You may have already gathered that there are three standard ways to bet on any particular sport.

The first way is through the point spread. Going back to the example above, the number on the point spread (-4) is how many points the team next to it (Chiefs) needs to win. Bettors need at least five points to win their bet.

For example, you would say, “$100 on 429 point spread, please,” instead of calling the team’s name.

If the final score leaves the Chiefs with four points, then this case is considered a push. A push means the bets are refunded.

Betting on the moneyline does not involve points. You simply choose the team you’re rooting for.

Oddsmakers set the moneyline ratio depending on $100 bets.

The positive and negative numbers on the moneyline respectively mean how much you would win by betting $100 and how much you need to put up to win $100.

If you want to bet on the moneyline, be sure to say something like, “429 moneyline to win $100.” If you don’t mention the moneyline, the bookmaker assumes you are betting the point spread.

The total or over/under is another option. Oddsmakers set a number for the sum of both teams’ final scores. Gamblers bet whether the combined total score will exceed that number or fall short.

Besides the three types of bets, you should also know the number of the corresponding team you are rooting for and the amount of money you are willing to bet.

Type, team, and amount. Once you know these three key details, you can easily place a bet without giving the ticket writer any problems.Starting Out: How Much Money Do I Need to Start Sports Betting?

You don’t really need a minimum amount of money to start sports betting. You can chance as little as a dollar or go up to the tens of thousands.

The catch is, making money off sports betting is all about percentage yield. This is the percentage of your starting stack of cash that you get as returns in profit.

No sports bettor should expect to win every bet, or even most of them. That’s the way it is. Sports betting really boils down to grinding out a consistent margin.

While needing to win 50% of the time seems logical to break even, bookmakers also profit from your bets. Remember when we mentioned needing 52.4% of your bets to break even? Here’s why:

The break-even point in sports betting is 52.38%, assuming -110 odds. That means we are risking $110 to win $100. Let’s round up the value to 53%.

53 wins over a hundred bets gives us the figures 53 and 47 (100 - 53).

53 wins x 100 dollars (per win) = 5,300 dollars

47 losses x -110 dollars (per loss) = -5,170 dollars

That gives us a net profit of $130. Apply this formula to a 55% win rate over a thousand bets and we get 550 and 450 (1,000 - 550).

550 wins x 100 dollars (per win) = 55,000 dollars

450 losses x -110 dollars (per loss) = -49,500 dollars

We get a net profit of $5,500. That’s remarkable if you can keep that pace over a long period of sports betting!

Still, remember that an overall win rate of 55% is an average. You may perform better some weeks and months. You may even have off days, making income from sports betting inconsistent.

Professional Sports Bettors: Gambling for a Living

Gamblers who earn a living betting on sports know to invest their money in the best sports for profit, like the NFL, college football, or horse racing.

They know that a 52.4% record means they break even. So, they turn sports betting into a career by betting enough to get at least a 53% winning record to bring in money.

Here’s another example:

Coming from a successful bet, you decide to invest $10,000 over the first four months of the next football season. That is, you have $10,000 to bet on bookmakers like

You want to bet on 160 games. If your goal is a 55% winning record, this will give an 88-72 win-loss record.

That’s a +8.8 unit profit! Calculate your unit profit by subtracting the total of your losses (multiplied by 1.1 to include the juice, or the bookie’s fee) from your wins.

88 - (72x1.1) = 8.8

If you maintain a 55% winning streak, placing $460 bets on every game would result in a $4,048 profit ($460 x 8.8). Your $10,000 turns into $14,048 in just four months. That’s a return of investment (ROI) of 40.48%.

Remember that this is only an example, assuming that you can pick the winner 55% of the time.

Betting that results in 55% wins is achievable. This winning rate may even place you among the elite sports bettors in the country.

Still, professional sports bettors face some problems. Compared to other gamblers, they have to worry more about variance.

When you have the forces of variance working against you, you need to work on bankroll management over the season’s course. This way, you can keep a careful eye on your resources and lower the chance of emptying your betting account.

Pro sports bettors have the time and resources they need to calculate these variances. These may include software and programs that help them figure out ideal bets despite negative variance.

The bottom line here is that professional sports bettors aim for a 55% winning record simply because it guarantees that they are beating the house.

Many long-term sports bettors are math geeks. Excellent sports bettors understand statistics, particularly inferential statistics. Any knowledge of higher math helps in placing a bet.

Because of this, pro bettors make their money based on bets from sportsbooks that give them the slightest betting advantages. Check out our guides at for a leg up on the sports betting game.

Finding opportunities where a book offers a vulnerable line is the key to becoming a profitable sports bettor.

What does this all mean, though? Here’s what a professional baseball bettor (let’s call him Joe) might be thinking when placing a bet:

Joe looks over MLB statistics in blogs, data archives, and magazines between 2000 and 2010. He notices a glaring statistic:

A home team has a 59% chance of winning when they start a left-handed pitcher on a day after losing.

Seasoned sports bettors can mentally calculate this or instantly get results using pen and paper. That bit of information births a new betting theory—find similar game situations and bet on them.

So, Joe will only bet on games where the home team starts with a left-handed pitcher on the day after a loss. Of course, he wouldn’t immediately begin betting based on whatever math he did on a piece of paper.

He needs more statistical analysis. Later on, he may discover that this statistic was a fluke for that particular decade, leaving it untrustworthy. Or, he may build an even more valuable bet from his original theory.

This example shows why professional sports bettors keep near-obsessive records of their bets. Still, no sports betting advantage goes beyond a single game.

Keeping proper records can also help you test your theories. Good records can help you stretch your sports betting bankroll.

We go back to the 52.4% winning record. Suppose a pro sports bettor shows off a 1,100-900 win-loss record, leaving casual gamblers confused.

900 losses? That’s nothing to be proud of. But those who understand the break-even point in sports betting know that that pro has a 55% winning percentage. The pro is actually turning a profit by sports betting.

So a good record for sports bettors is pretty much any record that breaks even. Anything larger than 53% means you’re beating the sportsbook and you’re not losing money.

Profit: How Much Money Can You Make Sports Betting?

With the right strategy, there’s no limit when it comes to earning money through sports betting.

Some full-time professional sports bettors cash in huge amounts every year. Many casual or recreational sports bettors may bet a few times a month and make enough to cover rent.

This range makes sports betting all the more exciting.

You can start small, looking to make enough to get a nice meal at a fancy restaurant. Next thing you know, your profits can be paying off your loans!

Beyond being about how much you can make, sports betting is all about how much money you aim to make.

The sports betting industry overall is about entertainment. But this perspective changes when you look at it as a way to consistently earn money. You’ll need to calculate and consider bets, leaving no room for random impulse.

How Do Bookies Profit From Sports Betting?

Bookmakers or bookies make a profit because of vigorish. Vigorish, also known as the juice, the take, orthe cut, is the bookie’s charge or fee for taking your bet. The vig assures that bookies make money.

Going back to our first example, you and your friend each paid the bookie $10 to place your bets. How? This explains the standard 11/10 odds in sports betting:

You bet on the Buccaneers and your friend backs the Chiefs, giving a total of a $220 bet. The bookie has to pay the winner back $210, leaving them a nice $10 profit no matter how the football game turns out.

That $10 built-in profit is the vigorish. Of course, sportsbooks take more than two bets on any game. We just used this example to simplify everything.

Bookies have other ways of making money. They adjust the numbers on the money line, managing the total number of bets on different games over a week.

When they adjust the odds a small percentage point in either direction, the balance of bets gets affected, giving bookies a guaranteed profit. So individual bets don’t necessarily impact a bookie’s income.

Simply put, the bookie holds on to a bettor’s money, then pays them if they win and keeps their money if they lose. We try to give you the best odds for the highest chance of success if you place your bet with us.

Sports Betting Essentials: Tipping

When placing a bet in person (versus at your computer), tipping the staff behind the betting window is important in the sports betting world. We’ll be using the first example we made about the Buccaneers and the Chiefs.

Winning two $100 bets gives you $440. Consider leaving a five percent tip. That’s a $22 tip. And no, that’s not much compared to your huge win. You can surely spare a twenty for whoever helped you make that much.

When you win, regularly tipping around the 5% mark boosts your chances of getting free drinks, too. That’s pretty much all the compensation you get from your average sportsbook.

Taxes: Do I Have to Pay Tax on My Winnings?

Tax implications for winning in sports betting vary around the globe. In the US, if you’re considered a recreational sports bettor (someone who bets for fun), then your tax rate will depend on your state’s individual gambling tax laws.

For example, in the state of New Jersey, you should pay taxes based on the total of your winnings minus your losses.

Losses are considered a deduction against winnings, not against general income. In the US, online sportsbooks will require you to submit your social security number upon registration.

Betting in cash is harder to track. As the bettor, you have the responsibility to report any winnings. Cash bettings can be a hassle since you have to physically go to a retail sportsbook.

Sports Betting Strategies: How to Make Money Betting on Sports

Focus on Quality

In a typical NFL week, there are 16 games to bet on. This is paradise for professional sports bettors. They could place one against the spread or on the total of every game every week. On a busy NBA or NHL weekend, these bettors could do the same.

Some bettors may be successful doing this for some weeks. This strategy is still a losing proposition. Remember that other sportsbooks take more of your money through the juice the more bets you make.

Be reasonable and prioritize the games you are interested in and most confident in. Set a betting limit to under five games on a specific day.

Avoid Big Parlays

The potentially big payouts of parlays can tempt bettors. A typical two-team parlay will pay out odds of roughly 2.6:1.

Lucky bettors may even hit an eight-team parlay, winning at least 150 times their original bet.

Don’t be fooled. Discipline yourself and avoid the temptation of the big payouts of big parlays.

While betting on big parlays is not necessarily wrong, try sticking to smaller bet sizes. You won’t multiply your money by 150, but you get a much better chance of getting a decent payout than losing your original stake.

Fade the Public

Fading the public means betting against the sports gambling public.

Seasoned sports bettors have all heard of the phrase “The house always wins,” or some variation of it.

This phrase means that sports betting and any sort of gambling often end up with the bettor losing their money. This makes casinos and sportsbooks successful because they rarely lose.

Get the Best Lines

Many bettors have their preferences when it comes to sportsbooks. These people fail to realize that other sportsbooks could have better lines on the games they are betting on.

For example, in many sports, a half-point difference in a line can be crucial. If you bet on a team to cover an 8.5 point spread, that team needs to win by nine points or more.

Visit our sportsbook for the best odds and lines in the most profitable sports.

Utilize Live Betting

Although placing pre-game bets in betting sites is the more common approach, you can usually make more money with in-game betting.

The average sportsbook usually uses algorithms to calculate live spreads. They don’t factor in the “flow of the game” as much as you would think.

Do Your Research

Investing more time researching before betting can boost your success rates.

You can research weather forecasts and line moves or get updates on a player’s injury. Consider things like how a team is currently playing. Their past performances against their opponent should be taken into account as well.

Where to Invest Profits

If you treat sports betting as a side gig (which is understandable since it is naturally unpredictable and risky), consider moving your winnings out of your sports betting account and into more worthwhile investments.

Examples of less risky investments include:

  • Artwork or collectibles
  • Commodities, like gold, silver, oil, gas, or corn (yes, agriculture)
  • Paying off other personal debts
  • Real estate for safer, long-term profit (it may be low, but it’s still consistent)
  • Stocks

In the end, it’s up to you where to spend your winnings. Our list of investments is just to give you an idea of how to make your extra income work for you.