Early is Everything: Being On-Time in Sports Betting

When I was starting my first full-time job, I was told the following quote:

To be successful at your job you need two out of the following three statements to be true:

  1. You’re always on time
  2. You’re hard working
  3. You’re Smart

While, I think it was meant somewhat in jest, I do think it holds some truth. Most sports betting content I see is focused on how to be smarter. In this article, I am going to focus on the merits of being “on-time” in gambling.

On my recent podcast appearance, I mentioned how I believe it’s better to be early than good in gambling. This point has been repeatedly reinforced throughout different gambling endeavors in my life. In this article, I will discuss some examples to reinforce why I believe it’s better to be early than good. I will then close with some tidbits to try to help be early more often.

Legalization Gold Rush

When sports betting became legal, sportsbooks offered many absurd sign-up bonuses and promotions. These still exist when a new state becomes legal. However, they are nowhere near what they were in the beginning. For example, certain books used to have deposit bonuses of up to $10K which are generally nonexistent these days. This happened when states were first coming online.

These days, many of these books are quick to cut limits. Taking that much from the sportsbook before being limited down to a few bucks a bet can be hard. Additionally, the sophistication of these companies trading teams have continued to improve. This makes it harder to find clearly mispriced markets. It also makes it harder for winning players to keep accounts alive. This is an example where an early bettor was likely better off than a more sophisticated bettor who came a couple years later.

Pandemic Opportunities

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, all sports were put on a hiatus for a while. Esports were one of the first and only sports to return. DFS contests for sports like League of Legends and CSGO increased in popularity and attracted many new players. At the beginning, most new players didn’t understand how various esports worked in general. They also definitely didn’t know the basic DFS strategies.

If you had a basic understanding of how these video games worked and how that translated to DFS strategy, this was a very profitable time to play DFS. This example shows that being there at the right time and quickly figuring games out at a surface level can be more important than figuring the game out thoroughly.

Pick’Em Sites

Pick’Em sites created incredible opportunities for those who attacked them early. Not even a year ago, it was extremely easy to get large sums of money down on very correlated, mispriced lines. Many pricing mistakes still exist on these sites. However, correlation has been heavily restricted.

Sites have also employed increasingly severe betting limits with PrizePicks continually cutting daily limits and Underdog starting to impose similar daily limits. They only allow players to bet a couple hundred dollars a day at most. To contrast to even a year ago, even many of the most restricted accounts were able to bet >$500 on a single player prop. This meant someone could easily get thousands of dollars down a day at very high ROIs even if you were employing the most basic correlation strategies.

Even the smartest bettor on Underdog today won’t make more money than a bettor playing basic correlation angles a year ago if limited to $500 a day. This is why it is always important to keep your eyes out for the next thing. Many will be busts, but when you do find something good, that is where so much of the opportunity is.  

What Next?

The influx of new sites and games has showed no signs of slowing down. Companies like PrizePicks and Underdog have found success. This has led to a continuous stream of sites entering the market with their version of “DFS”. Many of these sites have rules, limits, or market offerings that don’t make it worth the time. However, it is worth investigating each one of these to find the diamonds in the rough.

Additionally, there will very likely continue to be growth in peer-to-peer style games. For example, DraftKings Pick6 and other pool style games. It is very clear that people enjoy peer-to-peer contests where you can turn a little bit of money into a lot (see traditional DFS, survivor contests, etc.). I would expect to continue to see growth and opportunities in this space over the coming years.

Lastly, here are a couple random tidbits that have been helpful to me in being early to spots:

  • 1. A good network is valuable because it exposes you to more opportunities. You’ll be exposed to more opportunities as your circle of people grows. If you see smart people discussing certain sites, those sites are very likely worth checking out.
  • 2. I’ve found it valuable to be in tune to the business side of betting world. There are several good podcasts that talk to start-up founders in the betting space. These can be good opportunities to get exposed to new products and opportunities.
  • 3. If the broader gambling community on Twitter is saying a site or product is not beatable or worth your time, you should take a very close look at it. You will often confirm their findings. However, when you find something these bettors overlook, it can be extremely valuable.

Good luck and remember to always keep your ears and eyes open.

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