Paying for Picks: Is it Worth it?

Paying for Picks: Is it Worth it
It’s a question that even some who have bet on sports for a long time still ask. There are thousands of sports handicapping services in the United States alone. They all ask for (x) amount of money for their “winning handicapping picks.” These guys have plenty of colloquial names, including tipsters, touts, and, for those that are dishonest, “scam-dicappers.”

On the surface, paying for winning sports picks makes sense. It isn’t easy becoming a profitable sports bettor. The vast majority of those that bet on sports lose, otherwise bookmakers wouldn’t be in business. Bettors only want to take the pressure off themselves and pay money to a professional for expert picks.

This kind of thinking seems rational from the outside. Only a small percentage of those that win money betting sports do it full time. For the everyday bettor getting into sports betting, this seems like an easy way to profit from sports gambling without having to put in the daily grind that it takes to succeed.

However, in reality, paying for picks isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, sometimes these paid handicappers are dishonest (or outright fraudulent) with their clients. Moreover, those that are beating the sportsbooks for massive amounts of money wouldn’t be giving away their picks for several hundred dollars.

Consider Your Bankroll

Frequently, those who pay for handicappers are relatively new to sports betting, and many of them are looking for help with their picks after they’ve gone nearly broke or are in desperate need for a win. Those who are betting for the first time and learning the ropes don’t usually have massive bankrolls, not more than a few thousand. Here are two excellent way to maximize your expected value when you get started in sports betting:

  • Deposit at different sportsbooks to take advantage of freeplay bonuses
  • Look for reduced juice markets for the best odds

Paying for picks can work a number of different ways.

Bettors can purchase single picks
Some will offer full season packages

Packages can range from a few dollars for a single pick to several hundred or thousand dollars for a larger package. They can be expensive, especially for someone who is trying to build a bankroll.

Of course, if these picks were indeed guaranteed to give you substantial winnings – they might be worth it. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.

Touts Have a History of Dishonesty

Touts Back Then

When sports betting became immensely popular in the late 1970s and 80s after Nevada legalized bookmaking, the pay-per-pick handicapping industry was born. This spawned hundreds, if not thousands, of pay-per-pick handicappers who offered their bets through toll-free numbers.

Soon these toll-free lines by “handicapping experts” became multi-million-dollar businesses. They would tell players how accurate they were with their advice and that they had secret information on certain games, along with a host of other lies.

Their dishonesty even got some fines in New York City in the 90s. The city government levied financial penalties on many handicappers for lying about the accuracy of their betting advice.

Touts Today

Fast-forward to today, and we have the Internet, a place where the industry has mostly migrated to, especially with the proliferation of online gambling and sports betting. Handicappers have an outlet to sell their picks to anyone in the world in the click of a button.

As you can guess, this has flooded the market with a lot of imitators at best, scammers at worst. That’s not to say there aren’t any honest handicappers out there that are selling picks. There surely are, but in most cases, it’s impossible to tell who is telling the truth.

Avoid Getting Scammed

Almost no paid handicappers offer long-term records. They might provide their record last year in a particular sport, but even that is rare. Most handicappers will peddle stuff like, “I’m hitting 60% in my previous 25 games!” or “I’m up 100 units on 10* NBA Plays the last two months!”

It’s never anything definitive. Even though they are expert handicappers that have “beat the sportsbooks for years” – they don’t seem to have records dating back that far. Why don’t they show a long track record of their picks? It’s likely because they’re lying about their accuracy.

Even if they were telling the truth, what proof would customers have that their records were accurate? Aside from a few sites that track picks, there’s no way to verify the claimed accuracy of a handicapper. Most handicappers aren’t having their service’s accuracy tracked by one of these entities. For all we know, they could be lying about their betting prowess.

Furthermore, betting on sports as a full-time job takes a massive time commitment. There’s no proof that any of these guys are putting in that kind of time. They call themselves professional handicappers, but how much time do they truly put into their picks?

They could spend all day researching betting lines, but we would never actually know. We’re reduced to taking their word for it, which frankly, isn’t good enough when it comes to our money, nor is it advisable in an industry that some think is based on deception.

Not All Touts Are Dishonest

There are some services out there that are honest with their clients and offer long-term records of their picks, along with realistic winning percentages. The issue here is that they are few and far between. More critically, many of them make the same misleading claims to potential customers.

The potential positives of finding a handicapper that offers winning picks for a price doesn’t outweigh the potential negatives when paying for picks. That isn’t to say there aren’t some out there that have made people a lot of money. It’s just that finding those guys can be tough.

If you’re beating the sportsbooks for huge money, why would you sell your advice to the public for a fraction of your profits? It doesn’t make much sense.

The Internet Is Full of Resources

The 21st century is truly an excellent one to be a sports gambler. Not only do you have a host of online sportsbooks to line shop at, but there are also many excellent sports betting forums and strategy sites where players can discuss sports betting and hone their craft.

There are hundreds of thousands of posts per day across the Internet that discuss each day’s games. Many sites offer free picks, and users post their preferred plays across forums without asking for fees. Some forums track the picks of their users.


Just like when you order picks from a handicapper, there’s no proof that their long-term record or even short-term record, is accurate. However, the big difference is that you’re not paying for it.
There is plenty of free advice and information out there for you to make your own picks. Line shopping consistently and looking for inefficient markets will take you much farther than paying for betting advice.