BTB Note: My anti-tout posts, as always, come with a disclaimer, because I am painting with a very broad brush. However, what I depict below is my honest evaluation of the majority of those in the pick-selling business. As I have stated numerous times on this site, there are plenty of handicappers or services I respect. For example, this is one of them.
It remains the most commonly asked question, both by e-mail and on Twitter, and no matter how many times I provide an answer, no matter how many times I leave a detailed reply, the question will continue to be asked.
“What handicapper do you recommend buying picks from?”
The questions usually come from amateur bettors who are just getting started. In all likelihood, they have tried to place a few wagers on their own with minimal success, and so they see these alleged red-hot handicappers on Twitter or on television and naturally believe everything they read or see.
I’ve said numerous times in numerous ways on this site that the biggest secret in the handicapping industry is that the picks don’t matter.
For handicappers, it’s all about packaging. The WNBA might be profitable, but it doesn’t sell. The Sun Belt might offer incredible line value, but it doesn’t sell. You know what does sell? Playoff games, Thursday night football and heavyweight fights.
Another thing that doesn’t matter: Long-term records. A handicapper who hits at a rate of 48.5 percent over a three-year sample can ignore his entire picking history by promoting short-term results. For instance, one well-known handicapper who has been getting taken to the cleaners all year across four different sports is currently touting his “5-2 run” and is offering a “guaranteed” selection.
Well, no pick, not even North Carolina money line against Binghamton, is guaranteed. But that’s just one of the many secrets touts don’t want amateur bettors to know.
Here are three more:
1. TOUTS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOU
Trust me when I say this: Very few handicappers are able to bet on sports for a living. Most of them live regular lives and have regular jobs and they use pick-selling as a way to make supplemental income, no different than a journalist who writes freelance for trade publications. But handicappers don’t want you to know that. They want you to think they are spending all day, every day poring over games, studying numbers and gathering inside information.
Most handicappers release plays every day of the year, even during MLB’s All-Star weekend. They try to pretend that the same amount of work goes into each day, even though that’s impossible. Handicappers have families and they have jobs and they have unexpected circumstances that arise on a day-to-day basis — death in the family, crisis at work, bad health, whatever. Any handicapper who releases a play every day is a fraud. Period.
2. TOUTS DON’T VALUE THEIR PRODUCT
Every now and again, I’ll stumble upon a handicapper on Twitter who is bragging about how many clients he has and how he has a “once-in-a-lifetime” offer on a picks package. That usually motivates me to log into my super top-secret hotmail account, where I’ll fire off an e-mail and excitedly make an inquiry.
“How much is your month-long picks package?” I’ll ask.
“$350,” the handicapper will say. “But the offer is today only.”
“Oh, shoot,” I’ll say. “But I won’t have any money until tomorrow.”
“OK,” the handicapper says. “Tomorrow is fine.”
I then follow-up a day later and inform the handicapper that I am ready to purchase the package but can no longer afford the $350 fee. I ask if I can purchase them instead for $75. He counters by asking for $150, which I again tell him is too high.
Thirty minutes later, an e-mail arrives in my inbox. It’s the handicapper, and the message is a short one.
“OK, $75 is fine,” the handicapper writes. “Can you send by PayPal right now?”
3. THE PRICE YOU PAY IS EXTRA JUICE
One of the downfalls of purchasing handicapper packages is that you are essentially paying an increased vigorish depending on the cost of the service and the amount of money you wager per game. So, instead of having to hit 52.38% of your games — the break-even point — now you have to hit 54 or even 55 percent to turn a profit.
Touts feed on recreational bettors, those who bet anywhere between $25 and $100 per game. If you are paying hundreds of dollars for a monthly or yearly package, you are already starting off behind. Then, if the handicapper doesn’t turn a profit — and the majority don’t — you lose not once, but twice.
The last thing touts want you to do is start crunching numbers while trying to determine what percentage you would need to hit to turn even the slightest profit when factoring in the cost of picks. They’d much rather you figure it out after they’ve ran your credit card.