Betting at a sportsbook may be fun, but betting sports online may make more sense.
The sports world is full of surprises including why a home team cannot seem to win a World Series baseball game. Conversely, the horrible 2019 season for the Miami Dolphins is not. Neither is predicting the overwhelming success and unbalanced preference for online wagering in the initial stages of U.S. licensed and regulated sports betting.
A new book authored by Rob Miech titled "Sports Betting for Winners" chronicles a great deal of entertaining advice for sports bettors and often serves as a "how-to" manual for many to better achieve success. It drew my attention as many of the examples Miech gave, I have personally acknowledged myself. Among the 252 pages are several humorous stories that have valuable worth.
The title "Sports Betting for Winners" may seem a bit sales-oriented, but truly is not. More accurately, a guide toward the inside look at the life from both sides of the onsite sportsbook. It begins with an in-depth look at what it's like to run the largest sportsbook currently in Las Vegas - the Westgate Super Book - with VP of Operations, Jay Kornegay, who invited Miech into his windowless bunker on a college football Saturday. The area is as you might imagine - 12 television screens, each with a different game, a myriad of computer screens, and a legion of analysts watching and crunching numbers.
On the flip side is Van Smith, the only professional sports bettor for whom Miech used a pseudonym. This pro sports bettor lives in a one-bedroom apartment above the Las Vegas Strip and spends his days filling notebooks with statistics and observations on all the sports he follows. He's a retired food-and-beverage professional who live his dream, betting on sports and makes a comfortable retirement. Van's initial goal was to earn $150,000 — $30,000 per sport — in a calendar year. According to Miech, he earned $200,000 in 2017. Miech is there to share how Van strives to operate under the radar. He's old-school with the old school technology. Other than televisions, Van has none, favoring notebooks, pencils, pens and box scores.
Many of the references seem to be trailed to Miech's background, which traces heavily toward Las Vegas, and the core of the traditional sportsbook scenario. The scenes are accurate but with the advent of online sports betting dominating our wagering existence for some time now, is it fair to ask ourselves if this behavior is part of the past? Or for that matter, given a choice, is the best path for winning sitting in any sportsbook within the U.S.?
For me the most positive advantages of visiting a sportsbook is for human social interaction. If anyone might feel lonely being at home in front of their television set betting on sports, there is a fundamental reason to enjoy sharing the experience with others. For example: you can't truly maximize celebrate winning a back-door cover by yourself. Or then again, share the frustration of screaming at a referee for a pass interference call that cost you an over/under bet all alone.
Other than those unique opportunities or the chance to grab a burger at the snack bar, the list likely ends. Yes, you may instantly cash a game ticket, but that is not always a best advantage. The psychological rush of seeing cash in your hands could cause many to bet more than an online wager. Conversely, the sight of real dollars may be a benefit to those with excellent money management skills.
The key here is discipline. Like a party atmosphere, are you more likely to drink more and behave more irresponsibly in a festive, lively setting possibly influenced by others? With giant sportsbook screens showing several games at once, are you more prone to wager more games than intended? Tempted to make more wagers to have multi-opportunities than you might have clicking the remote control from home? Just sayin'.
The list of preferred sportsbooks available online offer a controlled opportunity to shop several best value lines, depending on your preference. That is not available in one sportsbook setting. Nor is a quiet chance to go into your kitchen, bathroom, car, whatever to make well thought-out decisions.
In a way it's a step beyond Amazon Prime. Not only can you buy the same merchandise online, but it's delivered to you faster, potentially at better value and with no convenience time wasted in line shopping. Unless I've missed something, this must be the compelling reason why New Jersey has reported their initial online vs. onsite figures as 85% and increasing. With the brutal winter months approaching into basketball and hockey season, those numbers are likely to climb even higher.
Three Basic On-Site Sportsbook Rules
It's quite interesting that Miech lays out three fundamental rules among many points of advice for those partial to onsite wagering. I couldn't agree more.
First, never, ever put money down on the counter that you are going to miss. Instead, understand it better be disposable. That basically means assuming you are going to win and have it around later that afternoon or evening to always potentially invest.
Next, if you’re going to walk into a sportsbook, you'd better be wearing waders, because there is so much BS everywhere. That gets back to the psychological, social aspect as sports bettors (as opposed to say, poker players) need to vent their frustration. More so, most gamblers often feel compelled to brag to others how brilliant they are selecting the right teams. It's nice to win money, but not much fun unless you can prove how you got there. The reality is other people really don't care or really want to know . . . unless they won too!
Lastly, and perhaps surprisingly, in any sportsbook anywhere, anytime, don’t ever shake anybody’s hand. Don’t even fist bump, and if you must, do it carefully. A detailed marketing research study is unnecessary here. Most participants are men. Men that rarely wash their hands and are often consumed in a world of discarded newspapers, betting sheets and smoking bacteria. Oh . . . and bring your flashlight as sportsbooks are usually one of the darkest place you'll ever find.
This isn't to insist I suggest never visiting a fun sportsbook with the convenience of online wagering continuing to offer new options.
Many new sportsbooks are opening monthly across the U.S. to complement either existing casinos or in some cases, attractive new stand-alone locations. Like a healthy diet it's nice to eat out occasionally, but the best, most disciplined formula for success is eating at home. Again, that means perusing the list of preferred sportsbooks online for optimum wagering opportunity game by game and bet by bet.
And if I happen to run into you at The Westgate in Las Vegas, in Atlantic City or maybe even a new spot in Philly, I honestly would like to shake hands and tell you about my 65% winning percentage. Just kidding . . .
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.