Football Handicapping Services - How to evaluate and choose
I place a lot of value in my reputation as a sports handicapper, but, I'll be the first to admit, we're not right for everyone. Here's a good checklist to see if you should hire someone who specializes in sports handicapping, or if you're better off going it alone for now.
- Do it yourself or hire a professional handicapper?
- How to compare handicapping services
- What to expect from a football handicapping service
Step 1 - Do you need handicapping services?
Not everyone should hire a football handicapping service. Some people are adept at handicapping their own football games. If you have the time (and skill) to dig in on your own to analyze games and situations, and you do well on your own (55%+), then it may not make sense for you to spend the money to purchase football picks from someone else.
Others don't have that kind of time or energy to invest (pro services spend 50 hours + per week analyzing games). But, a service may still not make sense. If you are betting small amounts, then it may not make financial sense to hire a handicapping service. You need to consider the ROI you expect to get and factor in the cost of a service. Generally, if you are betting $20 per game or less, it may not make sense to purchase picks unless you are losing a lot on your own. Remember you have to cover the cost of the service through your winnings.
But, if you are losing on your own, due to lack of time to invest in handicapping or just lack of skill, a football handicapping service can help you lose less or actually start winning. The best services can even help winners win more.
Step 2 - How to compare football handicapping services
Let's say you have decided you want professional help. How do you compare services? How do you choose which service on which to spend you hard earned money? Here's a checklist to consider:
- How long have they been around? Generally, you want to look for a service that has been around for at least a few years. Sure, there are probably some decent ones that have just started. But, why risk it? If a service has been around for 5+ years, they have proven that what they sell is good enough to sustain a business. They are doing something right.
- Do they have a good reputation? Do some research. Talk to other bettors. Read information or ask questions on the Internet at a sports handicapping forum. There are some real scammers out there that need to be avoided. While these guys are slowly going the way of the dinosaur as information becomes more widely available, there are still some services out there that lie about their records or that give out both sides of a pick. Make sure the service you are considering is not one of the scammers. If a service is promising 20,000 star locks of the century, you can bet they are not for real. There are no locks. Trust your gut. Trust services that make information on records transparent.
- Are they high-pressure? Will they harass you? Related to their reputation is their business style. Some of these services desperately try to get your phone number and then they call you and harass you constantly. They sell your information to others who call and harass you. If they MUST have your phone number, be very wary. Also consider whether you really want one of these "in-your-face" high-pressure guys who is going to promise the world. Really, their performance should sell them, not a high-pressure sales guy. Be wary of high-pressure services.
- What's their handicapping philosophy? Do they bet on underdogs or favorites? Does their style of handicapping match yours? It's hard for you to follow advice that goes against your grain. So, get a feel for how they pick football games and then see how it aligns with yours. Read articles on their website. View their free picks. Then decide.
- Do they post their records or hide them? Most services won't answer a very basic question: How have you done? Very few sites post their records for everyone to see. Very few post all their picks for all to read. If they won't tell you how they've done, and don't post their records, be very wary. (note: Wunderdog Sports posts all previous picks and records on this site for all to see - the good, bad and ugly).
- Do they provide reasoning and analysis with each pick? If a service can't take the time to provide a detailed and well-reasoned written analysis with each selection, is that service really worth your money?
- Do they offer any types of guarantees? While no one can win all the time (if someone says they can, run away!), reputable services back up their picks with some sort of guarantee. They stand behind what they sell because they believe in themselves.
- How much does it cost? Service costs can vary quite a bit. While the most expensive are probably over-charging you, be equally wary of very cheap services. Remember the old axiom - you get what you pay for. In the end, you want value which means that you get something that is worth what you pay. If a service wins for you, or helps you lose a lot less than you would on your own, it is likely worth the price you paid.
- Can I try before I buy? Try out the service's free picks. While most services reserve their best/top picks for paying customers (makes sense), getting free picks will give you an idea of how they think, how their writeups and analyses are, and how much they win.
- How is their customer support? Do they have a toll-free number? Do they respond to emails quickly? While you may never need to use it, you should be wary of a service that has poor customer service - it's a reflection on the quality of the business and if they can't take care of their customers, why should you trust them to offer good picks?
Step 3 - Have realistic expectations
Services do not have godlike power. They cannot buck the realities of sports betting - it's hard to win. They cannot win at rates of 70% or 80%. What they can do, however, is put in a lot of time and energy and expertise to help you win at realistic rates (55%-60%). At those rates, you can do very, very well. Impatient gamblers lose. Gamblers with poor money management lose. Set realistic expectations and manage your money well and you will be setting yourself up for success.