Should I Pay for Sports Picks?

Whether you are a recreational gambler just looking for a good time or a hardcore bettor who places wagers every day, making a profit while sports betting isn’t an easy thing to do.

When the going gets tough, which is inevitable, you may ask yourself whether there’s something more you can be doing to give yourself a better chance. One of those things may be paying for picks.

Between the media talking heads, unlimited handicapping websites and touts all over social media, there seem to be enough people out there claiming they have the secret to guaranteed profits. It can be enticing and naturally, you’re going to want to get in on all that winning. Sure, you’re going to have to dig into your own pocket a little bit but in exchange, but it’s a small price to pay, right?

Well, not necessarily. While there’s nothing wrong with looking for a bit of help or guidance, it’s important to figure out a few things. Are you dealing with an expert? Can you blindly risk more of your money betting on other people’s opinions rather than your own? Do they have some secret sauce I don’t know about?

Here, we’ll tell you all you need to know about the so-called touts and handicapping services that are widely offered these days, and whether it’s a good idea to buy sports betting picks.

What does ‘paying for picks’ mean?

Buying picks is the process of paying a person or handicapping service to tell you what wagers to place. In practice, buying picks involves paying a fee in exchange for a tout or service giving out betting picks to put your money on.

The person or people selling picks are the ones who check out the slate of games for that day and do the research before supplying customers with bets. These services normally provide a side to wager on along with a suggestion for how much to wager on that game. As a customer, all you need to do is log into your NY sportsbook app, fill out a bet slip and hit enter – or use an NY sportsbook promo to reduce the risk.

What exactly is a ‘tout’ or ‘handicapper’?

A tout or handicapper is a person who advises you on what to bet on and how much to wager on a particular game. These people charge fees per pick or for a period of time (daily, monthly, yearly) and basically, they do the leg work.

Many handicappers (and some recreational bettors) divide their bankrolls into units to remain consistent with the amount they wager and to easily keep track of their progress. You are provided with a unitary measurement for how much to wager, which is a display of how much confidence they have in that particular wager.

A one-unit bet suggests a normal confidence level whereas a five-unit bet suggests they could have much more confidence in it. Some services will have a tier pricing system where customers purchase a more expensive package for high-confidence wagers the handicapper feels the best about.

What is a picks service?

A picks service is a professional handicapping operation that acquires clients and gives them sports betting picks in exchange for a fee. It’s essentially a website or company full of touts and handicappers who offer picks on a range of sports.

Customers oftentimes have the choice of signing up for daily, weekly, monthly, or even for an entire season. Packages vary in price depending on what it includes and they can be broken down into individual sports as well. Depending on the site, there may be a choice to subscribe to the entire company’s picks, or you could be subscribing to a person.

These people are entrenched in the world of sports betting and are, in a way, professional gamblers. In theory, they have more knowledge and a better understanding of the market thanks to their expertise and oftentimes rely on betting systems that have cultivated over time when making picks. Thus, they are supposed to be more likely to pick winners than the average person.

Should I consider using paid picks or a pick service?

Generally speaking, we’d say there is really no circumstance where it becomes worthwhile to pay for sports betting picks. But the answer isn’t a simple one, as there are a few factors to consider.

If you’re looking for reasons to pay someone for picks, the only real benefit is not having to do any of the background work on which games or teams to bet. It’s being handed to you by someone else and all you need to do is place the actual wager. If you manage to find an actual expert, you can make a profit but the fact remains the cons far outweigh the pros, and there are a ton of them.

Consider the following:

  • Most touts are not actual betting experts and it’s tough to find a trustworthy source
  • Paying for picks can be expensive
  • You’re unlikely to make enough profit to offset the cost of paying someone
  • You must pay whether you win or lose and don’t get refunds if offered losing picks
  • Need to have an extremely large bankroll to justify at all

The average person works hard for their money and even though gambling is always a risk, there’s something unseemly about potentially being scammed and losing money based on decisions that aren’t even your own.

If you’re an everyday bettor, there’s a good chance you’re willing to do the work needed to educate yourself before making picks. And if you’re a recreational gambler, the cost of paying for betting picks just isn’t a worthwhile investment.

Are sports experts & handicappers licensed?

The short answer is no. Sports betting is more of a hobby than it is a real business, and you don’t need to be licensed in any way to give out picks. This is part of what makes the industry rife with people you can’t trust and have no real expertise.

Even professional sports bettors aren’t technically licensed, they’re just good at what they do. And because they know what they’re doing, real betting experts aren’t in need to hunt people down and charge them for picks. They can just use their expertise to make their own money. Those looking for money in exchange for picks aren’t only not licensed in any way, but they are likely just scammers.

Signs of a bad sports betting tout

Unfortunately, this is an area riddled with people trying to scam others out of money. Many so-called touts have an inflated level of self-worth when it comes to sports betting and thinks because they’ve won a few times, it makes them a professional and worthy of other people’s money.

They turn tricks and they lie about their records. In reality, these people are no smarter than you or I, and they prey on the lack of knowledge of the casual bettor. Hardcore bettors who do their own research before making picks have no use for these people and they know it, so they are targeting the people who can’t or don’t want to do the work on their own.

There are an innumerable amount of people like this out there, so you need to keep an eye out for red flags so you can easily dismiss them. If you notice any of the following, these are people and services to avoid:

  • No proof of picks: Whether it be on social media or a website, these people are only posting their previous record and bragging about the amount of units they’re up, or the record they’ve posted over a certain period of time. There’s absolutely no way to verify this information and for all you know, the record and the units can be completely false just to draw people in. Sadly, this is the case. If there’s no way to prove they are reputable and someone you can trust, the likelihood is you should stay away.
  • Over-the-top antics: People looking to paint a picture of how great they are at sports betting are the ones most likely to be, well, trying to con you out of your dollars. If you look hard enough, you can find them all over social media. They post pictures of themselves holding large sums of money, or fancy cars, or women. These are the same people who post their fraudulent betting record in their profile with a bunch of emojis and dollar signs to project an image of how great they are. Again, there is usually little proof of this other than them posting about games they win after the fact. You will also notice none of these people are willing to get paid based on their picks being correct but instead want money up-front.
  • Direct messages on social media: If a so-called betting expert (tout, pro-capper, or anything like this) sends you a direct message on social media to try and get you to pay for picks, this is an enormous red flag. The truth is, real experts, don’t need to chase people down or go with used car salesman tactics to bring in customers. Instead, they provide proof of their track record and show a little transparency with their picks rather than make empty promises.

What should I look for in a trusted handicapper/expert?

For all of the frauds out there, of which there are many, there are professionals out there who actually are betting experts. Keep in mind that most real professional bettors aren’t in the business of selling picks to people. Those who are actually good enough at it make enough money that they don’t need to resort to being given money by other people.

If you were on the search for someone you can rely on, it will take some work. It’s a matter of scraping away all the muck and figuring out who is trustworthy and who isn’t because sadly, most of them are not.

  • Reputation and track record: What you’re looking for is someone with a reputation in the industry and not some random person on the internet who is only posting a record or taking a small sample size of their bets to make themselves sound more profitable than they are. Outside of actual professional gamblers, very few handicappers are fully transparent and successful long term. If you are going to trust someone, it needs to be a person with a documented track record. Perhaps they have competed in well-known events such as the Westgate Las Vegas Super Contest, where the standings are made public.
  • Experts hired by media outlets: The more trustworthy people also tend to be hired by major media networks including sportsbooks themselves, and regularly appear on their programming to discuss betting on events long before the games are played. Sites such as FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet Sportsbook and others have gone to great lengths to hire professionals within the industry and those are outlets you may want to check out before some site you’ve never heard of. That is not to say everyone hired to talk about sports betting is an expert themselves. But at least this way, you get to see for yourself and decide whether they’re worth following or not.
  • Payment based on wins: If you’re going to trust any type of handicapper charging you money, consider ones who offer to accept payment only based on the games you win. If their making money is tied to you making money, then you can definitely believe they are actually invested in you winning and not just taking your payment without care. But we will warn you, there aren’t too many of these folks around.

Can I just use the same betting system as a tout?

There is no straightforward answer to this question because in reality, you can and you can’t. Some sites use algorithms based on tons of statistical and analytical information compiled over an extended period of time to determine what pick to make. The average person just doesn’t have access to this information and even if they did, doesn’t have the time to do that.

But on the other hand, there are plenty of research tactics bettors can take which will be virtually the same thing that plenty of so-called experts do.

Any person can research a wide range of statistics, past results, and we all have access to roster changes and injuries that teams are dealing with. We can all take the odds being offered and easily figure out the implied probability of a certain pick winning and decide for ourselves whether it is worth spending money on.

So while some of the in-depth analytical work that handicapping services employ may not be readily available at your fingertips, you have enough at your disposal to learn how to make smart bets. It certainly takes time and effort but it is not impossible, and it may be far more worthwhile to risk your hard-earned money based on your own research rather than blindly follow someone else’s betting system.

Should you trust a “lock” pick from an “expert”?

Look, when potential touts post picks they claim are “locks”, they certainly want to get the pick right. This is the way to enhance their reputation, gain followers and eventually make more money off of people. But that in no way means you can automatically trust their selection.

You know what they want even more than being right? Your money, right here and now. The worst-case scenario is their pick loses and you don’t come back, but they’ll always be another person willing to pay for picks for them to prey on.

We’ve established that many people in this field claiming to be professionals are actually con men, regardless of how confident or boastful they are about their locks or best bets. In the overwhelming majority of cases, they aren’t much more likely than regular, well-schooled bettors to make a smart pick.

Generally speaking, don’t trust in a pick just because someone claims it’s their lock of the day, week, month or year. Of course, they want to be right but ultimately, they want your money in their pocket and even if the pick loses, they still have it.

Buying paid picks vs. free picks

There are many touts and sites out there that put out free “expert” sports picks covering a wide range of sports each day. A piece of advice would be to rarely trust the free sports picks you see on a website or service claiming to be a professional handicapping operation.

Sure, they want to get as many of these picks right with the hope of attracting new customers, but the picks these touts actually feel confident in are stuck behind the paywall for a reason.

There is virtually no work going into these free picks, as they are just for creating content other than anything else and looking for clicks and engagement. On many of the websites, you can tell by the meaningless stats used as reasoning for the picks that almost no effort is involved.

The picks you pay for are unlikely to have any real expertise behind them at all either, and the records and amount of units these people have earned are probably false. But at the very least, the picks that go out to clients are the ones they have spent the most time and energy on.

Are sports picks worth buying for amateur/casual bettors?

In theory, subscribing to one of these services or even paying a single person for their gambling picks is probably best suited for the recreational bettor.

It’s possible this type of person doesn’t know a ton about sports or betting or just doesn’t have the time or energy to do the research needed to make informed decisions.

But even in these cases, we’d say it’s not a worthwhile endeavor to pay for picks. We’ve already made it clear most handicappers aren’t actual betting experts and even if they are, paying for picks puts the customer in a serious hole.

If you’re a casual bettor, it’s more than likely you have a limited bankroll set aside for sports betting and you’re doing it for fun more than anything else. Digging into your available funds to pay someone means you’re already behind before ever placing a bet and even if your handicapper is somewhat profitable, you’re unlikely to make enough to offset the cost of paying for their picks.

To make it worthwhile, you’d have to be working with an enormous bankroll. That, or you’d need to be getting picks from someone who is winning at such a high clip it offsets the cost of paying them, which is very unlikely.

Comparison of regular season picks vs. playoff picks

There have been some questions in the past about whether there’s a specific time during a sports season where it makes more sense to pay for betting picks. Even though making picks tends to get tougher in the postseason, that doesn’t mean it’s a good time to start paying touts and handicappers.

Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, there are enough resources to base predictions on that anyone who is committed to the research can formulate their own educated opinion on a game.

For those who aren’t interested in the research aspect of it, we’d still not recommend paying for picks. Rather than winning or losing money based on your own decisions, you’d be leaving that up to someone else’s expertise — or lack thereof. It’s also unlikely you’ll profit enough to make up for the money you paid to begin with.

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