My name is Matt Modi and I am a former data analyst turned sports betting analyst for OddsJam. One of the questions I get the most from talking to customer is, why do profitable sports bets exist? What does a profitable bet even mean?
That is the question that I am hoping to answer in this article, using an NBA bet as an example.
Why Do Profitable Bets Exist: Sharp Sports Betting
Let’s start from the top, and why OddsJam is so helpful to sports bettors. In order to understand profitable sports betting, you first need to understand the nature of the sportsbooks that offer sports bets in the first place.
Here is what you need to know: not every sportsbook is created equal. And what I mean by that is not every single sportsbook is going to be accurate at pricing odds to bets, and that some sportsbooks are better than others.
There are some sportsbooks that are, historically, more accurate at pricing odds over the course of time. These are considered sharp sportsbooks. These sportsbooks do the best job at giving odds to bets.
Then, there are some other sportsbooks that don’t do a great job at pricing odds.
Take this screenshot above for example. This is an NBA player prop bet. We see the highlighted odds as low as -105 (meaning you have to risk $105 to profit $100), and we see odds range all the way up to -140 (risk $140 to profit $100). Keep in mind that this is for the same exact bet. Reggie Jackson is either going over or under this prop.
So, if you do the math on that, that means you would save $35 just from placing the bet at -105 odds, if you wanted to profit $100. Now, if odds have such a wide range from -105 all the way up to -140, one of them has to be incorrect. It doesn’t make sense that both of those odds are accurate with such a wide gap, so one of those sportsbooks is the sharp one with accurate odds.
Think of it this way, the New York Stock Exchange has Apple stock priced at $300 per share and at another exchange you see that you can buy Apple stock for $250. One of those stock prices accurately reflects the market, while the other one is incorrect, right? The guess here is that you would trust the New York Stock Exchange, as they are reputable. It is the same thing in sports betting.
There are reputable sportsbooks that do a great job of pricing odds and any other sportsbook that is an outlier to the sharp ones represent profitable betting opportunities.
An easy way to tell if an outlier bet exists? Just compare odds to the rest of the betting markets. The -105 odds in the screenshot above is clearly an outlier. The closest book is offering -125 odds, while every other sportsbook has their prices in the -130s or -140.
Betting that play at -105 is the perfect example of a profitable bet, and a betting opportunity that should be taken advantage of.
So, to answer the original question, why do profitable bets exist? The reason is because there are sportsbooks that are the sharpest in the world at pricing odds, and then other sportsbooks that don’t do a good job. Finding bets that are outliers to the sharp sportsbooks are profitable bets, just like the screenshot shown above.
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