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Betting 101: What to look for when betting on golf

PGA Bets

As betting popularity increases and more states legalize it, all markets continue to grow. We are especially seeing this in golf betting; props are more frequent and the amount of markets seems to grow with each major.

The most attractive bet in golf is the outright winner. The huge numbers and large payouts attract everybody trying to flip $10 into $800 over the weekend with an +8000 victory. While these are no doubt fun bets and a great sweat, I prefer to attempt to grind out profits through the head to head/match up betting markets.

There are also markets such as top-20s where I have found larger edges in than outright betting. The largest disadvantage to the outright betting is the large “hold” each sportsbook has over this one-way market. If you’re not familiar with “hold,” you may be more popular with the term “juice” or “vigorish.” The hold for outright markets is often anywhere from 115% to 140% on any given week. If there was no “hold,” the win probabilities for all the golfers would add up to 100% — instead the books manipulate the true odds to create a hold for making profits. Because these markets are one-ways, it allows the books to create larger holds, which is worse for the bettor. 99% of sportsbook that offer outright winner markets are one way, meaning you can bet only on golfers to win but not to lose. A side effect of this is it makes it more difficult to find large edges in these markets and makes many of these potential wagers negative expected value (-EV). Often from my own model, the largest edges I find in the outright market on a given week range from 0.5% up to 2%. I would consider 2% to be a large edge in the outright market; meanwhile in the head to head markets I find edges upwards of 10% some weeks. Those are the edges we want to attack if we want to find consistent profits.

I have included a chart below showing week-by-week profits, with cumulative profits along the black line. This shows the ebbs and flows over time of only match up betting across the PGA, Euro and LPGA Tours.

As you can see, there is a range from -3 up to +7 for the worst and best weeks. There are stagnant periods, as well as large ascents. I would say a huge part of profiting in any betting market is patience and bankroll management. Down weeks will happen, sometimes many in a row. If you stick to your process and don’t chase, things will come around. If you can take advantage of markets that offer larger edges, you can still make outright bets to chase the huge wins while not bleeding your bankroll dry.

I would like to continue with more content along these lines to help people become smarter bettors. You don’t have to be a professional bettor to make sharp choices while wagering. You can bet as a hobby and still try to make the best decisions to maximize your chances of winning and sustaining your bankroll.

In the future I would like to discuss bankroll management/staking plans, determining expected value, importance of line shopping, etc.

I am not a professional bettor. I profit from betting, but this isn’t how I make a living. That said, I pride myself on trying to bet like a professional bettor would. This is been a long process and I would like to share things I’ve learned along the way that turned me into a consistently being more profitable. Markets get sharper and sharper so it’s best to take advantage of your edge when you find one in every way possible.

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