Making a living from sports betting—Is it possible?
Betting odds are displayed on a board in the sports book at the South Point hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Associated Press Photo/John Locher

Making a living from sports betting—Is it possible?

Here are tips to bet like a pro.

For many people, betting is an exciting way to cherish sports and also win some pocket change. Some people wager only on teams and players they know pretty well. Others bet on random games as long as there’s information to help them make meaningful predictions.

For many professional punters though, betting on sports is like any other job. They wake up every morning to spend their days picking the right matches and placing proper bets. They invest in books, guides and tutorials to hone their skills.

Still, to be clear, building a career through sports gambling is easier said than done. Here’s what it takes according to experts.

Betting like a Pro

As mentioned, the main difference between professionals and casuals is that career punters bet like their lives depend on it. They don’t use their emotions to decide where to place bets. And they don’t wager on sports to satisfy an addiction.

Professional punters never go over the line according to the former deputy director of the New Jersey Council of Compulsive Gambling. Instead, they research meticulously to find unique opportunities through which they can maximize their profits.

Another trait of a professional punter is that they keep records. This helps them identify patterns in their wins and losses. And in doing so, they can discover ways to increase their profits and reduce losses.

Betting at the Best Sportsbooks

According to J.R. Miller, a former TV show writer and professional gambler, an essential job of every bettor is to beat the spreads—the odds difference between projected winners and losers. And one way of doing that is by choosing bookies that give you a fair chance to win.

The fairest casinos are often licensed, safe and reputable. Top online operators also provide competitive odds, sometimes better than physical betting shops. What’s more, they give out free bets and bonuses regularly even when you wager small amounts of money.

Note: sportsbooks are guided by regulatory laws. They can only operate where they are licensed. As such, find websites authorized to provide betting services in your country. Also, look out for unique features that can increase your betting experience: In-play betting, cashback and partial withdrawals, to name a few.

Win at least 55% of the Time

Many professional punters agree that you need a win percentage of at least 55% to break even. Bookies have an advantage over you all the time. As a result, a win of anything less than 55% will lead to losses or negligible profits in the long run.

Can you win over 60% of the time? It’s not unusual for some people to win 60% to 80% of their sports bets. This is how billionaire Billy Walters made his money. However, most people don’t win by such percentages, at least not consistently.

That said, winning more and losing less is the objective of every professional gambler. It doesn’t matter how often they bet. They focus on maximizing their profits, often through value bets and keeping their losses to a minimum.


Diversification might be the secret behind stocks trading success. But in sports betting, spreading your bets across multiple sports and leagues isn’t advisable. Sure, some people make money betting on random games.

But it easier to make money when you specialize in one or a few sports and leagues. The explanation is that specialization makes you an expert. And in doing so, you stand a better chance at beating the bookies.

The beauty of sports betting is that there are numerous sports and leagues in the world. You could focus on the NBA, the English Premier League or Russian Hockey. Or you could specialize in specific wager types—parlays, money line, totals and props, to name a few.

Great Budgeting

Billy Walters couldn’t have made over $300 million betting on sports if he was terrible in money management. You could say the same about every other successful professional. Growing profits requires careful budgeting so that you know how to spend less money and win a lot of it.

The general advice from professional punters is to bet consistent amounts. What’s more, keep separate bank accounts for gambling money and only bet with cash you can afford to lose.

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