How to Beat the Sportsbooks Without Cheating

Man Giving Thumbs up With a Sportsbook Screen Behind HIm

Over the past year, how much have you won or lost betting on sporting events? If you don’t know the answer, the first thing you need to do is track all of your results.

If the answer is you’ve lost money, you need to make some changes. Even if you’ve managed to win a little bit of money betting on sports, you’re probably not winning as much as you want to win.

Gamblers have been trying to figure out ways to win, including cheating, for as long as gambling games have existed. But you don’t have to resort to cheating to beat the sportsbooks.

How Do You Define Beating the Sportsbooks?

Some sports gamblers are happy to break even on their bets. Others are happy if they’re able to make a few dollars overall on sports. And some want to learn how to make a living betting on sports by becoming a professional sports bettor.

I ask how you define beating the sportsbooks because you need to know the answer. If you don’t know the answer, you’re going to find it difficult to achieve your goal.

The facts show that most sports gamblers lose money. The reason why this is a fact is that most sportsbooks make money. Because of these facts, most sports gamblers need to figure out how to break even before they worry about winning.

If you want to beat the sportsbooks without cheating, you need to define exactly what winning means. The best way to define winning in sports gambling is using a percentage of the money you risk.

For example, a good goal is to make a 1% profit on all of the money you bet on sports. So if you make bets totaling $100,000, your goal is to make a profit of $1,000. You might not think this is much of a profit, but beating the sportsbooks is hard.

Real-World Numbers

In the last section, I used the example of shooting for a 1% profit. In this section, I will show you exactly what this looks like in the real world.

To keep the numbers simple, you make bets of $100 each for the chance to win $90.91. Most gamblers bet $110 for $100, but I want the number of bets to work out evenly.

If you bet $100 on each game, you bet 1,000 games to risk a total of $100,000.

Most sports gamblers win 50% of their bets. This example means that the average bettor loses $4,545, which is roughly 4.5%.

To make a 1% profit, you have to win 529 bets out of 1,000. In other words, you have to win 52.9% of your bets, on average.

Wide Angle of a Sportsbook

Every game you win, you receive $90.91. Multiply this by 529, and you get back $100,991. This isn’t quite a 1% return, but it’s close. If you win 530 bets instead of 529, you get back $101,182. Of course, you have to subtract the $100,000 in bet cost, so the amount left over is your profit.

If you can win 500 out of 1,000 bets on average, how hard is it to win 529 or 530 out of 1,000?

While it might not look that difficult, the fact is that it’s hard. Now you know why most sports gamblers lose money. But you also know what you have to do to get a small return of 1%.

Is It Worth the Effort?

The problems with the numbers you just saw are that you need a big bankroll to get enough money in play to make a decent profit, and you can’t bet on games that don’t have value.

Can you find 1,000 games that have value to bet on in a year? This is challenging, but it might be possible. But, as you can see from the numbers, even if you do find 1,000 games with value, you can’t make enough money betting $100 a game.

The next problem is that you have to have enough money to make bigger bets, and you have to find places where you can make a lot of the bigger wagers.

Inside a Casino Sportsbook

It might not be worth it to bet on sports unless you have a huge amount of money already and learn to be one of the top handicappers in the world.

You might be thinking that 1% is a low number to shoot for, but it’s extremely rare for professional gamblers to do much better. Keep this in mind when you’re trying to decide if sports betting is worth the effort.

Handicapping Skills

The best way to beat the sportsbooks without cheating is to master handicapping skills. Handicapping skills start with information. You need to learn how to source and decipher information better than the sportsbooks.

You have a chance to do this for two reasons. The first reason is that the sportsbooks have limited resources when they set lines. You can outwork the sportsbooks on individual games, but it’s not easy.

The second reason is that the sportsbooks are more interested in setting balanced lines. A balanced line creates roughly an equal amount of action on each side of the line. Therefore, an equal handle on each side of a line creates a guaranteed profit for the sportsbook.

With handicapping, you can learn how to win 53% or 54% of your spread bets. Of course, you need to become an information expert and work harder than the sportsbooks, which isn’t easy, but it’s doable.

Vig Strategies

You can see from the example in a previous section that the vig is costly. But it is also how the sportsbooks make money. So, instead of winning 50% of your bets to break even, you have to win 52.9% of your bets to break even.

The important thing to realize from the numbers is that if you didn’t pay vig, you’d make a profit by winning 50.1% of your bets. So the vig is at least as important as improving your handicapping skills, and it might be more important.

This means you need to find as many opportunities as possible to make bets with lower or no vig. Of course, the best plan is to become a good handicapper and make as many bets as possible with lower or no vig.

Line Games

The third thing you can do to help you beat the sportsbooks without cheating is finding the best lines after handicapping games. The good news is that it doesn’t take long to look at lines offered by several sportsbooks.


You can look at websites that list the lines from multiple sportsbooks, or you can go directly to the best real money sports betting sites where you place bets to look at the lines.

Winning sports gamblers know that a half-point or a point difference in a line can significantly affect their overall returns.

Arbitrage Opportunities

Sports gambling arbitrage is a complicated strategy, and it’s hard to do without help. Arbitrage is taking advantage of different betting lines at different sportsbooks to lock in a profit.

The two main problems with using arbitrage when you bet on sports are that these opportunities usually don’t last long, and you are almost forced to use software to find the opportunities.

The problem with arbitrage opportunities not lasting long is that you might place the first leg of your arbitrage bet and not get the second leg down before the lines change. If you only get one leg of the bet down and don’t get the second leg down, you don’t lock in the profit.

It’s hard to find arbitrage opportunities, so most people use arbitrage software. Unfortunately, the good software programs used for this are expensive, and they still don’t always get you the information in time to get both legs of the bet down.

I don’t recommend using arbitrage when you bet on sports until you have a great deal of experience. Arbitrage betting can be costly if you don’t do it right every time.

However, you can use a method I call middling to take advantage of different lines from time to time. Middling is when you find two lines that are different and bet on both sides. For example, if you bet on the home team and give 6 ½ points and bet on the road team and get 7 ½ points. Then, you win both sides of the bet if the home team wins by 7.

In Summary

Beating the sportsbooks without cheating is challenging. But there are a few ways you can win. Just don’t expect big returns.

Start with a goal of winning a 1% profit on your sports bets overall. Once you reach this goal, you can try to increase your profits.

Use as many of the ways to beat the sportsbooks listed in this post as you can. The combination might be what finally starts making you a profit.