Is sports betting really a serious investment strategy to consider?
In my long professional career as an investment advisor, I was permanently looking for opportunities to diversify my client portfolios. I truly believe that proper diversification is the key to protect asset portfolios in the long run against downturns (more on diversification here). And downturns will happen in any type of investment and with any investment strategy, regardless of what the so called experts may tell you. To rely on just one single strategy is definitely not the best idea from the long term prospective. You should try to diversify your portfolio among several unrelated investment types and, whenever possible, diversify each investment type with several unrelated strategies.
Recently, I was getting a lot of requests from friends and clients whether they should consider a particular sports betting system as a tool to help to further diversify their portfolios. I had never before consider betting a valid investment, but I finally got curios. Is this all just marketing gimmick or is there really a reason to consider sports betting a reasonable diversification investment strategy? A fair question, so I set out on a quest to find the answer.
And here’s what I did. I put 5 most popular sports betting systems under test. I mean, 3 months of real money accounts and real bets, no simulation or backtest. You can find more information about the test conditions, criteria and the conclusion further down, but let me give you the final results first:
Final Test Results
|Sites||Z Code System||Betting Professor||Sportsbook||Sports Cash||100% Winners|
|Track record since||1999||2009||2010||2012||2010|
|Help & support|
In order to be able to compare the performance of the systems and eliminate influence of odd differences between bookkeepers, account and transaction fees and other factors not directly related to the particular system used, I opened 5 different accounts with the same online bookkeeper (bet365.com for the record). I funded all accounts with the same starting amount of $100. And I used exactly the same simple money management rules for all accounts by betting 10% of available account balance on each bet (more on proper money management here). And I took every bet offered by the systems, except for couple exceptions, as noted in the detailed test reports for each system.
The test duration was set to 3 months (90 days). In order to eliminate deviations based on bet availability, seasons, leagues specifics and major events, all systems were tested in parallel.
To calculate and compare test results, I used a weighted scoring system. Each criteria was assigned a weight representing the relative importance of that particular criteria among other criteria within the same category.
For evaluation purposes, every criteria result was converted into a 0 to 10 score with 1 decimal digit precision. In order to determine the category score, weighted sum of criteria scores was calculated. Analogical, overall score was calculated as weighted sum of category scores.
In order to maintain a fair comparison, I put together a set of exact test criteria by which all the tested systems were measured. Each category and each criteria was given a weight, reflecting it’s relative importance compared to other categories or other criteria in the same category.
If you would like to see the detailed test report for each tested system, you can find them here:
The main objective here was to evaluate the available product information. The data was collected primarily from the product web site and, when available, from other sources too.
AccuracyHow precise the system information fits the actual product.
ScopeHow detailed the product information actually is.
NavigationHow easy it is to find the information you may need.
CompletenessIs there all information you need or are there important pieces missing in the product description?
FeaturesThe purpose of this category is to map out important features the systems are offering. The main intention is to focus on criteria which can help you get more or get it quicker.
Subscription ServiceWhether there is a system in place which will automatically send you the tips or whether you have to actively go somewhere to look them up. My preference is clearly towards the automated service, because it eliminates the barrier that I have to remember to go somewhere to gather the information and then actually the act of gathering the information and makes it really convent.
AutomationWhether the system does offer automated execution of the tips provided. An automated system, if done properly, is a big big advantage for small and unexperienced investors in my professional opinion, as it knocks down the biggest obstacles of successful investing in general – emotions and lack of discipline. Unfortunately, only one system in the comparison actually does offer automated execution. Automated trading is already dominating the Forex market, accounts for a significant amount of stock, options and commodity trading, so I’m pretty sure it’s the next big thing in sports investing as well.
Educational ResourcesWhether the system offers educational resources related to sports betting and investing in general.
Other ResourcesWhether the system offers other useful resources.
Track RecordHow long the proven track record of the system is. This data is based on the system provider data, so the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Therefor it was taken into account just as a marginal criteria.
CoverageIn this category I mapped the coverage of most popular sports. This information is important in my opinion, as it adheres to my diversification strategy. If you can spread your bets over several major sports, then you are actually diversifying risk within the same strategy, as outlined in the beginning of the report. The 10 most popular sports and leagues were taken into consideration. Some of the strategies offer other sports as well, by those are the most popular:
PerformanceThis is the most important category in the whole test, as it measures the real value of the tested systems. Therefor it has the biggest impact on the overall results.
Win RateA simple percentage of winning bet tips from all tips provided.
ProfitabilityThis is the most important criteria in the whole test. Net profitability for each system was measured as the percentage, by which the initial amount funded to the account changed after closing the last bet after the final test day. This includes all fees and other transaction related cost that were charged against the account by the bookkeeper. So if the initial amount was 100 and after concluding the test the available account balance would be 120, then the profitability would be 20% – final 120 less initial 100 divided by initial 100.
Maximal DrawdownThis is the second most important criteria in the whole test. It was measured as the biggest relative drop down of available account balance corrected for open bets. In order to measure real drawdown, it was necessary to exclude open bets from the calculation, as they actually lower the available account balance but are not a drawdown. Therefor, the amount bound in open bets was added to the account balance for the purpose of determining relative drawdown. Relative drawdown is always measured against the most recent maximum account balance.
Help & SupportIn this category, the goal was to measure the performance of the support infrastructure of each system. Some criteria are about whether a particular system is in available (live chat, portal), the remaining were measured based on real incident performance. This was done by defining 10 different support incidents and rise each of them with every system support during the test period. Based on how the incident was handled by the particular support infrastructure, a score for availability, speed, quality and friendliness was recorded.
Live ChatWhether a live chat support is available. This can be a handy feature for less complicated support issues. This kind of support is typically handled trough outsourcing to a provider in a developing country. Therefor it is recommended for handling simpler more general issues, as in most cases it is quicker than phone support or a support ticket.
ForumWhether a forum is available, and how well is it maintained. A forum is one of my favourite tools. A well maintained and moderated forum is a real treasure. In most cases it is the fastest way to find a solution or best practice. It is mostly unlikely that you are the first one to face the issue. If you can search the forum for similar experiences, you may find real nuggets there. But the key point here is moderation – there need to be designated moderators who take care of the forum. If the forum isn’t properly moderated, then it’s just a jungle of organic threads, which makes it very hard to find the right answers there.
Support PortalWhether a support portal is available. A support portal is a web page, where you can raise a support ticket and manage your open tickets.
AvailabilityThe average time delay between rising the issue and first reaction of the support team. Usually, there is an auto responder in place which sends you an automated confirmation message once your request is received by the provider system. This message was disregarded for the purpose of this test. First real (e.g. human) reaction to the request was measured.
SpeedThe average time delay between rising the issue and successful closing of the request. The tipping point here was the moment, when I considered the issue fully solved to my satisfaction. This involved sometimes the act of reopening an issue which was closed by the support team because they regarded it as handled.
QualityHow good the request was finally handled. The average overall experience with fulfilling of the test requests.
FriendlinessThe average feeling about the reactions of the support stuff in standard situations and when forced to the edge. In order to test this, I tried to get the support stuff out of their comfort zone with dumb and non-logical requests and being persistent with them(:-
This was my first experience with sport betting systems. If I have to wrap it up in one short sentence, then I would describe my experience as “a positive surprise”. I wasn’t really considering this type of speculation as a serious investment alternative before. To my surprise, it turns out that sports betting got more mature and has grown to something worth considering.
All the systems showed extraordinary performance. Even the leaf profitable system is, in terms of old school investment know-how, more than exceptional. One thing to consider however is the size of the portfolio. As with most of other investment strategies, the profit margin is negatively correlated to the size of the portfolio. The bigger the portfolio, the smaller the profit margin gets. But even if the margin would drob by 50%, it still remains exceptional.
As with any type of investing endeavour, there are limitations and risks to respect. The first thing to consider is the portfolio size. Sports betting, at it’s current stage, is a valid option for micro and small investors, but not an option for medium and big investors. So if you are looking to invest up to $5000 into sports betting, then go for it. If you like to invest more, up to around $100k, it can be done but it’s not easy and the overhead needed to manage it will probably end up eating up a significant portion of the profit, which may render it unreasonable. The reason is simply, that the market is relatively small and fragmented, so each bookkeeper needs to manage their risks. And in order to protect them self against results manipulation, they strictly limit the maximum wager on each bet, ranging typically from couple hundred bucks up to several thousand dollars. And every bet placed influences the odds, so the bookkeeper maintains a reasonable risk for each game.
The second thing is the minimum amount that makes sense to invest in the system. Well, in the case of sport predictions, I would recommend to start with a minimum of $100, ideally with $500 or more, so you give you some breathing room. In any case, apply proper money management, follow the system and get your emotions under control. Profitable sports betting is a probability game. If you let your emotions to take control, you will loose.
Next, choose a system that is proven. If you are not a seasoned pro, I would definitely encourage you to consider an automated tool/system. Get the right mindset. This is very important, as you will experience ups and downs as with any other type of investment, and you have to be prepared for both of them. Treat your betting as a business. And get prepared to cope with loses. They will happen, no matter what you might be hearing from the “experts”. They are part of the game. Just stick with the system, handle them properly, and you will be good.
Choose a renewed bookkeeper. Some systems may be bound to a specific bookkeeper, some are not. Alway do your homework an check them out before you open up an account. You should check whether there is enough positive evidence that they are serious and close none evidence that others are experiencing problems. Make sure that the bookkeeper is supported by your chosen system.
According to my research, I would definitely recommend to include these bookkeepers in the comparison when doing your research:
How do you think about sports betting? Is it a valid investing option to you? What are your experiences with sports betting? Let me know in the comments section, really love to hear from your!
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