The Best Bet in Gambling

The Best Bet in Gambling: 

Having been fortunate to hit a couple of game-changing horse racing and sports betting scores in my lifetime—I am always asked “What is the best way to bet?”

It is an easy answer for me. Bet a “Future” bet on a top contending sports team. Futures wagering allows a gambler to bet on the possible future winner of a sports championship. You can bet on the “division” winner of a conference—e.g., the Pittsburg Steelers to win the AFC West over the other three teams in that division. Or you can bet on the conference winner—e.g., the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC. Or you can bet on a team to win the Super Bowl.

You can often bet up to six months in advance. Why can this be a good bet? Because you will have live “action” for those months. You will have a rooting interest in a top team to cheer, and you won’t have to lay “points” on an individual game. Some team is going to win each Division, Conference, and the Super Bowl and each year there are probably only two to eight teams that have a legitimate chance at the start of the season to go all the way and win the Super Bowl. The odds can be generous. For example, the New England Patriots were 6-1 or higher at most sports books before their first game was played last year. At 6-1 you have to win one year out of seven to break even. For one small bet you may have 16 to 20 NFL games with action (including playoff rounds and the finals), in the NBA 82 to 100 games, and in MLB 162 to 180 games!

Most sports fans want immediate action. Most “gamblers” want it faster than that. Futures bets go against the grain of most gamblers. That is likely a good thing, as most sports gamblers are net losers at season’s end. I frequently watch top horse racing gamblers wait for hours—just looking  for the one race they like to come up, and then they will bet aggressively when the horse they like is offered at fair odds. But a gambler is often more attracted to the blackjack table in a casino, where he will have action every minute or two.

Betting on any game is a pretty good value at a sports book. The book will provide you with a seat and perhaps a free drink or two. They will take the risk of making the betting points line, and if they screw up, the big players will hammer them with tens of thousands of dollars. And what does this bet cost you? Five percent (ten percent on losing bets and zero percent on winning bets). Sports betting is the best value in all of gambling.

Let’s say you bet $50 on all 16 games on any given Sunday. $800 wagered at 5% commission = $40 in “vigorish” to the house. That’s a lot of gambling action for $40 ! If you simply flat bet your selections and don’t get involved with teasers and parlays that cost for more juice (betting commission) to the sports book, you will be hard pressed to ever get killed financially. For those who are math proficient it will take a win % of only 52.38% to break even with the vigorish. The problem that most bettors suffer are the problems they create for themselves:

The Top Four Mistakes Sports Gamblers Make: 

  • Playing Teasers and Parlays
    • The odds that you will pick two games correctly is 3-to-1, but a two-team parlay typically only pays 2.6-to-1 (13.33% vigorish).
  • Playing too many favorites and laying too many points
    • Fans tend to bet the leading teams with the known star players. The odds makers know this and often make the favored teams undervalued in odds.
  • Not flat betting (betting the same equal amount on each wager). Are you sure your best bets are actually more profitable than your smaller action bets? Show me your records—or don’t do it. Flat betting makes you be honest with yourself. If you keep having to put more money into your account (beyond the 5% vigorish you expect to lose) then you are either a bad handicapper, you are betting the wrong and more expensive vigorish bets, or you have bad money management. The latter is typically the worst sin. Bad gamblers chase their losses with bigger bets, or press their later evening bets for no good reason. Never increase your wagers when losing!
  • If you are losing consistently, start to make your flat bets smaller and smaller in denomination until you start consistently showing weekly or monthly profits.

Sports wagering is a fun and exciting way to enjoy watching a game. And if you bet with the above recommendations in mind, you will not pay a high price in losing bets for that entertainment.

Mark Paul – Author

“The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told”


The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told is an inspiring personal narrative about a filly in the male-dominated world of horse racing and inspired crowds of men and women alike, along with a trio of gamblers who embark on an unforgettable adventure that’s as epic as the historic victory of Winning Colors. It’s Seabiscuit meets Narcos, and the best true-life gambling story ever told.

When the gamblers unknowingly place their longshot bet with members of a suspected drug cartel at a racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico, they must figure out how to claim their prize—without getting killed in the process.


Mark Paul lives for action and adventure at locations where gambling occurs. He began his gambling career by sneaking into Hollywood Park and Santa Anita at age 16. Mark made a 5,000-mile journey in a sailboat through the Panama Canal and then on to the island of Jamaica, to attend Caribbean and South American horse races. He completed these gambling junkets alone, via bus, to gamble at the local thoroughbred racetracks. He was a participant in a $1 million win on the 1988 Kentucky Derby with two other gamblers through a bet placed in Tijuana, Mexico. He has owned interests in 34 racehorses. Mark has enjoyed a long commercial real estate career. With his wife, Renee, Mark raised over $750,000 for City of Hope cancer research through their events held at the Santa Anita racetrack.


  1. David on May 25, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Great perspectives on how gamblers think and try to work the system to their advantage.

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