QUESTION: Does Paying for Sports Picks Work?
ANSWER: If a friend asks “Does paying for sports picks work,” you can bet that they’re considering using a tout service. Available online, over the phone and via mail, these services recommend wagers on upcoming sporting events in exchange for a fee. It’s a simple business model that’s resulted in big profits for a number of shrewd businessmen, but is it worth the customer’s time and effort?
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How Does a Tout Service Work?
Over 1,500 tout services are engaged in the business of selling sports picks in the United States. If you decide to become one of their clients, you’ll have two options when it comes time to purchase your picks.
1. Single Picks – You pay a flat sum and receives a single pick for an upcoming sporting event (taking the betting line into account). Most touts charge anywhere from $10 to $100 per pick, and this number often varies on the supposed certainty of the recommendation.
2. Season Subscription – If your desire to pay for sports picks is strong enough, you can choose to subscribe throughout an entire NBA, NFL, or MLB season. You pay one lump sum up front and receive your picks for the sport of your choice each week. The cost for a season can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Picks are often placed in different categories with flashy names, such as the “Stone Cold Lock Pick of the Week” or “50 Dime Pick.” In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a “dime” is a sportsbetting term that means $1,000. If the tout labels it a 50 dime pick, it means that he recommends placing a $50,000 wager based on his analysis against the betting line. After reading that last sentence, it should be obvious why some gamblers get into serious financial trouble while betting on sporting events.
Once you receive your picks, the transaction is complete. You now have the option of placing a wager with a sportsbook based on the pick you just purchased, or you can choose to disregard it. Either way, you’re not getting your money back from the service.
The Pros of Paying for Sports Picks
The following are some of the reasons why a gambler might want to pay a tout service:
Convenience – Analyzing every detail of an upcoming sporting event takes a lot of time, and some gamblers are more interested in a casual approach to the hobby. If you don’t have the time or energy to do the research, paying a reputable tout service still allows you to get in on the action.
Track Record – Most touts are proud to announce their records when picking winners. Would you pass up an opportunity to take advice from someone who wins 70% of the time?
Prestige – Gamblers are known to brag on occasion, and subscribing to a tout allows you to claim that you’ve got “a guy” who provides you with winning information. When your friends ask their identity, it’s your chance to act as though you’re a member of an exclusive club.
The Cons of Paying Tout Services
While some argue that tout services are worth the money, there’s always a flip side to the coin. If you’re sitting the fence, here are some reasons to stay away from these so-called experts.
Track Record – Professional handicappers love to brag about their winning percentage, but look for the fine print (not that it exists). A tout who’s winning 70% of the time on Thursday night NFL games can splash “70% NFL Winner” across his website, but he’ll neglect to mention that he’s a pitiful 35% when it comes to choosing winners on Sunday. To complicate matters, there’s no reliable source for viewing the accurate records of these individuals. Professional gamblers are doing well if they win 60% of the time, so I suggest being wary of anyone who claims a higher percentage.
David James – The strange case of David James provides an interesting look at the frequently random nature of the sportsbetting industry. Mr. James opened up a tout service in the 1990s, and he soon started making a bundle. It turned out, however, that his four-year-old son was actually making the picks. I’m not suggesting that all touts use this method, but you just never know.
Preying on Losers – If a gambler has a foolproof method for picking winners, it’s unlikely that they’re going to shell out cash for someone else’s picks. That means touts are geared towards taking money from individuals who are often already in the hole.
No Regulations – Even if a service is downright dishonest in their business practices, there’s little recourse for the customer. There’s no regulatory body for tout services, which means you can do nothing more than spend your money and take your chances.
Free Services – Thanks to the Internet, there are tons of free sports picks available each week (some of them by people who actually know what they’re doing). Why pay money when you can get the same thing for free?
Uncertainty – Even if the tout is reputable and has a winning percentage above 50%, there’s no guarantee that any given pick is going to be a winner. Injuries and other unforeseen events can change the complexion of a game in a hurry, and there’s no way that even the smartest handicapper can predict such things. In reality, you’re just as likely to win by basing your selections on a coin toss.
Is a Tout Service Worth the Effort?
Taking all the above information into consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that paying for sports picks doesn’t work nearly as much as the tout services would like you to believe. Thanks to slick marketing and unethical manipulation of their records, almost anyone can come across as a handicapping expert. That doesn’t make it true, however, and many of these individuals don’t know any more about picking winners than a random person on the street.
If you’re serious about winning money through sports betting, your best course of action is to become an expert yourself and stay away from tout services. The money you save can be added to your bankroll, and the thrill of picking your own winners should obscure any blemishes in your overall record.