It was a worthwhile venture, but it didn’t make me rich by any means — and I still didn’t really understand much of anything about sports betting. I did understand that being a local bookie was a terrible way to try to make a living and that moving to Vegas to try to make a living being a professional gambler was probably not my best idea. But it had to be more fun than spending the rest of my life in a dreary midwestern town. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least try to make it in Sin City.
My big break was that the one guy I knew who lived in Vegas had a similar idea and was already way more successful than I could ever dream of being. I was lucky that he was willing to show me the ropes and that I picked it up quickly. My earliest memory of being a pro sports bettor in Vegas is driving 40 minutes north of The Strip to pick off bad numbers at the then-independent Aliante sportsbook — nearly every single afternoon.
Being a professional sports bettor is a lot more than just picking winners. It’s about getting action down with casinos that actively go out of their way to deny your bets or ban you from the sportsbook entirely. It’s about getting five figures on a game and not moving the line. It’s about finding an edge and pushing that edge hard enough that you make a great living but not hard enough that the sportsbooks figure out where they are screwing up.
All of that might sound easy — and to a certain extent it is in Vegas, where there are so many casinos and gamblers that it’s easy to stay anonymous — but it takes time and plenty of patience. And it has gotten harder in Vegas.
The number of sportsbooks here that offer mobile apps has basically tripled. And while my bet sizes have quadrupled, my edge has decreased. It’s well documented that most books are banning winners, but my edge has decreased for other reasons. As much as everyone wants to make fun of them, sportsbooks are getting sharper. They are making fewer and fewer egregious errors and doing a better job of staying in line with the sharper overseas markets.
I used to be able to see a bet that was out of line with the market, hop in the car and go grab it with ease. Those days are long gone — and will never come back.
Now that legal sports betting has spread to other states, there are more variables and more information to learn.
Legalization means more places for sharp bettors to sneak bets through without moving the market. More casinos sharing liquidity and information to stay one step ahead of bettors. More jurisdictions and hodgepodge shops where one is the majority owner, but lines are set by another, and software is provided by a third. It’s just more stuff to make my life miserable.
And it means I’ve been traveling all over this summer on fact-finding missions.
- Best us betting sites for all sports in 2019
- Gambling with friends: derby jackpot bets horse racing will be the new online poker – the verge