No Fluff, How I Made $400,000 Betting on Sports Part-Time & Why I Write Software for Bettors
Hey, what’s up, everyone? My name is Alex and I graduated from Stanford with a degree in mathematics and computer science. I’m a data guy and I’m a software guy, but there are two things that I really love. The first is betting on sports and beating the sportsbooks, and the second one is pretty related, but it’s writing software to help me bet on sports and beat the sportsbooks.
I think that’s why I’ve always been so fascinated by sports.
Betting is unlike other forms of gambling like slots or roulette in sports betting. You can actually have a mathematical profit margin over the sportsbook and win in the long term, and that’s what these articles are going to be about.
We are going to talk about becoming more data-driven, more mathematical, and, most importantly, a more profitable sports bettor. So there won’t be any fancy: graphics, no fluff, no bs, I’m not a movie producer, but I hope you read until the end of this article because we are going to talk about key concepts to making money in sports betting.
Now personally, I have profited over $400,000 dollars since regulated sports betting came to the United States in 2018. I’ve never done it full-time and I would never even consider doing it full-time. In this article I’ll try to weave in my experience, to share, show and prove to you everything that I am saying now very briefly before we dive in.
I want to make it very clear: I’m not saying that sports betting in the U.S. or Canada is easy because it’s absolutely not. I have spent thousands of hours building models to help myself bet on sports writing software to identify lines, discrepancies and profitable betting opportunities. It is not easy and sports betting is never going to be a game for the impatient.
You have to be fast, disciplined and also mathematical, and that’s what we’re going to talk about, but before we dive in we can take a look very briefly at one of my sportsbook accounts. This is how seriously I was betting!
Here we can see an example of what one of my many many sportsbook accounts looks like. This is my DraftKings and there are nights I’ve had over $50,000 in bets spread between sportsbooks.
There are 35+ bets that are mathematically profitable, so you’ll see wins and losses here. Nobody wins every time, it’s all about finding odds in your favor so that you win in the long run right, it’s kind of like investing.
You won’t win every day as a profitable better. You obviously won’t win every bet, but over the course of the long run you will make money, and, for me, it’s a pretty incredible feeling to have.
I have a mathematical profit margin in every bet that I place. I sit back and ultimately watch games and let the math work itself out to make me money. The last thing I’ll say before we dive in is that, if you like this content, please sign up for our email list and subscribe to OddsJam’s YouTube channel.
Sports Betting Concept 1: Financial Markets
This is the most important concept in sports betting and it is the realization that sports are a financial market, just like the stock market. In case you need my background, I worked as a quantitative trader on Wall Street and I understand this may sound very weird to some people, but sports betting is not about sports, it is not about picking winners. It is about identifying inefficiencies and odds on the U.S. and Canadian sports books. Taking advantage of them is the name of the game.
Now, when I say financial market, there are two important parts to that. The first is that sportsbook odds are not static. Second, they are determined by supply and demand, and things can move quickly. Just like the price of GameStop stock can go from $160 one minute to $200 the next minute. It’s exactly the same. If Kevin Durant gets injured, maybe the Nets in tonight’s game go from -200 odds to -120 odds in a matter of minutes. The Nets are less likely to win and that’s reflected in the odds.
At the same time, maybe a player is expected to have the ball more for whatever reason and his over 30 points goes from -110 odds to -210 odds. Again, odds are constantly changing across bookmakers. As new information is absorbed into the market and bettors place, bets supply and demand.
That’s concept one. Sports betting is a financial market, like all others, and this is really important to understand because, unlike other markets, the sports betting market is very inefficient.
You have hundreds of bookmakers in this global ecosystem, largely setting odds independently firing a bunch of algorithms trying to balance supply and demand on both sides and update their odds, and this yields a lot of interesting inefficiencies which we can look at right here. Here’s an example from OddsJam on just how crazy the sports betting market is.
You have all these books running around trying to set their lines independently, so here we can see an example from this Yankees-Twins game. The Twins, for example, are +180 on BetMGM, they’re +215 on FoxBet.
Could you imagine placing a bet +180 odds on BetMGM if you knew you were getting +215 on FoxBet? It’s absurd. Now, if you think these discrepancies and odds like the difference, even between +200 and +215, is small, then there is a massive massive flaw in your thinking.
Sports betting is all about earning 1% to 7% profit margins on a daily basis and watching those returns compound and compound and compound.
Just think about the stock market. People get rich investing in the stock market, which returns like 8% per year on average. Imagine if you could earn 3% per day in sports. That is the goal: earning a 3% return on capital every day in sports betting and watching your returns compound and compound and compound.
Now, let me tell you that is never in your life going to happen if you’re placing bets at +180 odds and +200 odds when there’s another sportsbook in your location giving you +215 odds.
These small differences or seemingly small differences in sportsbook odds in the line discrepancies add up to a lot of money in the long run, so this is kind of an example of what all these sports betting markets setting lines independently look like in real-time. So, if you think about it, this difference in sportsbook odds is actually really fascinating and pretty mind-boggling!
It’s not like I go to RobinHood over E-Trade and I see a different price on Apple Stock. It doesn’t really make sense, but in sports, clicking one tab over from Barstool to BetMGM can really change your payout in a big way.
Why Do Sports Betting Market Inefficiencies Exist?
So a lot of people may be wondering well that doesn’t make much sense. Why do all these sportsbooks have different odds? Why don’t they just copy each other? The reason for that is all sportsbooks largely want to be unique. They don’t want the same odds as FanDuel. They don’t want the same odds as BetMGM or Pinnacle.
We wouldn’t need hundreds of sportsbooks in this global sports betting ecosystem if every single sportsbook had the exact same odds, it wouldn’t make sense. These sportsbooks largely want to be unique, set their own lines, have their own models, and do it themselves from a sports betting perspective.
It works in favor of the books because you need multiple sportsbook accounts to be successful.
This is called line shopping and it’s browsing odds between different bookmakers and only placing bets at the best possible odds. You do not want to get ripped off by sportsbooks. You should never be placing a bet on BetMGM at +145 odds if you can go one tab over in your state and place that bet on DraftKings at +160 odds. Line shopping is a very important concept in sports betting, and doing it ruthlessly adds up to a lot of money in the long run.
Don’t get ripped off by the sportsbooks! Only take bets on sportsbooks that are offering you the best odds. There are around 50+ regulated and offshore bookmakers in the U.S. and Canada. You should have as many accounts as possible. Making accounts is fast and easy — plus, we’ve got the best books in your state all laid out for you here.
When I was actively betting aggressively before I started OddsJam, I had 30 or 40 sportsbook accounts that I used such as Wynnbet PointsBet Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM. The U.S. has tons of them!
You never know when there’s going to be a great opportunity with great odds on a particular book so having more books just increases the number of possible profitable betting opportunities that you can place. The more books, the merrier, in my opinion.
Sportsbook Sign-Up Bonus
The one thing we’re not really going to talk about here, but it’s worth mentioning, is a lot of these sportsbooks offer sign-up bonuses if you make an account with them.
They all do it and if you think about it, a lot of people think it’s too good to be true. How are these sportsbooks giving me $1,000 to sign up? When you think about it, they’re in ruthless competition with a ton of commodity businesses, right?
These are all commodity businesses, they’re sportsbooks. They accept the wagers — DraftKings has to compete with FanDuel has to compete with PointsBet and they offer users like $1,000, $2,000 and free credits or some promotion to sign up!
Knowing how to do these sportsbook sign-up bonuses and promotions in a mathematically optimal way can actually lead you to a lot of money. I started betting in Pennsylvania, but then I went to New Jersey with a friend. I stayed in Hoboken and I calculated at that time that New Jersey sign-up bonuses — if you knew how to do them right in a mathematically optimal way — using Caesar’s William Hill you could make $5,000 just from sign-up bonuses alone in New Jersey.
Sportsbook Betting Limits
There’s another reason that you are going to need multiple sportsbook accounts and that is limits.
Limits, my least favorite word. This is a question I get a lot from friends and former colleagues I’ve worked with. “Well if you’re a profitable sports bettor, why can’t you just bet bigger?” In other words, if you have a 3% edge, you’re betting $1,000 and you’re getting $30 an expected return. Why can’t you just start betting bigger?
The reason is because of limits in the business model of U.S. and Canadian sportsbooks. I’ll be the first to break it to you, you’re never going to make $1 million off of a regulated U.S. or Canadian sportsbook. The reason for that is limits.
This is why sports betting is unscalable and honestly becoming a professional sports bettor is not lucrative. Everybody who claims to be a professional sports bettor is really just starting a company to try to sell you something in sports betting.
The sky is realistically not the limit because of bookmaker limits. Now, when I say limit, all I mean is: For example, when I started betting on FanDuel, I could place $5,000 per bet on basically anything.
If FanDuel determines that you are a winning bettor, a mathematically profitable bettor, that limit will slowly come down. Now I can barely bet more than $50 on FanDuel.
On the other hand, if you’re losing better, the sportsbook will take your limit up. So basically, you start out being able to bet a lot of money on all of these sportsbooks, but if these sportsbooks determine you are smart and mathematically profitable, these limits will slowly come down.
This is why you probably don’t know anybody smart who is a professional sports bettor — and why it’s really an industry that attracts zero talent in technical people. It’s solely because of limits regulated sportsbooks are not in the business of taking people’s money who are smart.
They are in the business of limiting people who are smart and keeping around the losers. That’s just how the industry works, and that also means, if you know people who claim to be really great bettors but they’re, not getting limited they’re probably just not profitable.
Getting limited is oddly a sign of success. I’ll be very clear here: limits are a function of profitability. I’ve run models to prove that. That’s gotten me limited. I’ve obviously written software to identify line discrepancies that have gotten me limited.
If you are making money, you will inevitably get limited and at the same time, if you think you’re making money and you aren’t getting limited, you should track your bets and get your exact profit and loss. You probably aren’t making money. I’ve personally been limited by almost 20 bookmakers at this point, which is pretty crazy, but again it’s just part of the game.
This is just how the industry works. Sportsbooks are in the business of limiting winners and keeping the losers around. This isn’t meant to discourage anybody from betting on sports. Obviously, sports betting is really fun, especially if you’re making money and it can still be lucrative. It’s just to say that you’re probably never gonna make $400,000 off of one sportsbook, you’re going to get limited well before that.
The goal is to make $20,000 off of five, 10 or 15 sportsbooks. That is really your goal here. The power is in the number of sportsbooks you have. With this crazy wave of regulation and legalization in the U.S. as well as Canada, there are a lot of different bookmakers. Do their signup bonuses! Take advantage of them and make as much money as you can. You will lose some accounts.
I’ve made $38,000 in profit at FanDuel — I can tell you this will never probably even pass $50,000 because I can barely even place a bet on the product anymore. The powers and the number of books. I have one final point I’ll leave you with because it’s kind of fun and kind of interesting.
Different states have different sportsbooks, for example, I’m in Virginia right now. So there’s one bet I can make on WynnBet. If I’m in Pennsylvania, I can’t. Long story short, you do not need to physically live in a state to bet on that state’s sportsbooks.
I actually have spent some time traveling. When I’ve been in Nashville, I created the sportsbook accounts and did the signup promotions. Same thing in Vegas. So I highly recommend if you are traveling check if you’re in a regulated location. If you are, you can still bet on sports to at least take advantage of the signup bonuses and have some fun sports betting while you’re there.
Sports Betting Hedge Fund
The point of sports betting is earning 2%-3% returns on a daily basis and watching those returns compound and compound and compound. Now, what’s really interesting is, if you think about all the different sportsbook accounts you could get in New Jersey, then, consider offshore books like Bovada and BetUS. Add up the total amount of odds on these sites at any given time, and we are talking about millions and millions and millions of odds. It’s a lot.
These odds are always moving as we discuss. So, in my opinion, at least, it’s nearly impossible to find good bets manually. It’s not going to happen. Odds are always changing and good lines don’t last forever.
Anybody who’s made serious money sports betting will tell you that you need good software if you actually expect to profit in sports betting. That’s why I initially built OddsJam! I wanted to make software to save myself time and make myself more money, of course.
At this point I’ve been limited by basically every sportsbook — it’s not as useful for me, but hopefully, it can be for you. It can save you time and make you money. We process millions and millions of odds every single minute, powered by hundreds of servers to show you some of the best betting opportunities as well as live odds from around the world.
It’s a pretty powerful tool because there’s no fluff. We just build tools based on real-time odds and what’s better than building tools based on real market data? We also power a lot of companies in the industry through our real-time API of live odds. I encourage you to check it out!