The sports betting world is one packed full of myths and superstitions, and many bettors have simply accepted these myths to be true. Well I am here to set the record straight for you as we uncover the truths behing the biggest myths in sports betting.

1.       Sharps only bet on underdogs, and never bet on big favorites.

Professional sports bettors set their own line on an event, and bet whenever they perceive value. If they believe a team has an 80% chance of winning, and a moneyline of -300 (which reflects a 75% chance of winning) is available, they do not hesitate to lay the -300.

In years past, there have been opportunities caused by the betting public. For example, when you see a large MLB betting favorite, many bettors feel uncomfortable betting an MLB team at -200 or -250, so they bet on a runline of -1.5 to lay a lower price. This may not be a good strategy though. The professional player not only sets the odds of each team winning, but he also considers the likelihood of each runline bet winning. When taking a position in MLB, professionals never pick a runline to “avoid paying a lot of juice” – it is just a quantitative decision designed to maximize their gain.

2.       Online gambling is against Federal law.

The Federal Interstate Wire Act prohibits the transmission of gambling information, by phone, for professional gambling. The Courts have held that this includes using the internet. The tricky part of the law is that the definition of “professional gambling” does not cover players; it only covers bookies, or “those in the business of accepting wagers”.

While there may be some state laws that make it illegal to place internet wagers, there is no Federal Law that does so.

3.       Football Teasers are sucker bets

A teaser bet is a parlay on several selections, where you can adjust the spread. In exchange for adjusting the spread, the teaser pays out less than a normal parlay. As in a parlay, you must win every leg to win, or your wager is a loser.

While there are many teasers that could be bad bets (much as there are bad bets to make with any type of wagering), there are situations when teasers are likely to be profitable. Professional players typically assume that the market betting odds accurate (e.g., either side of a bet will win 50% of the time), and make an estimate of how often this bet will win with the teaser points.

If a two-team 6-point teaser pays at 11:10 (or $110 to win $100), the breakeven win rate for each selection is about 72.4%. If there are situation where you can increase your chance of winning by at least 22.4% with the teaser points (such as teasing a home NFL favorite from -8 to -2), that is probably a smart play.

A bad way to use teasers is to think of them as “insurance points”. Teasing a good play can turn it into a long term loser, especially if you tease a team across the “0” (e.g., teasing a -3.5 favorite to +2.5). If you are not sure whether to tease a team, or bet it straight, you are probably better off betting it as a straight play.

4.       There are Betting Systems that will win in the long-run

A commonly reoccurring idea is that there is some magic system that players can use to win money. A very popular system is progressive betting, where a player bets more and more when losing, all in an attempt to win one unit. The problem arises when a player loses an unlikely (but possible) number of consecutive bets. For example, assume you start with $1000. You place a bet $10, then $20 if that loses, then $40 if that loses, and so on. If you lose 9 bets in a row, this “conservative” system left you broke.

Another popular kind of system is to find situations where a bet has done well in the past. For example, assume you learn that MLB home favorites have never lost four consecutive games in July after losing twice in a row by more than eight runs (I don’t believe this is true, but assume it is for this example).

One system that is often promoted is a chase system, where players bet progressively more after each loss, and hope that this type of favorite never loses four games in a row. If this has never happened in the past, it is no guarantee it will not happen in the future. Betting chase systems with any method may frequently show a one-unit profit, but they will eventually bust out the bettor win that inevitable bad streak of losses happens.

5.       It is impossible to win if you bet more than a couple games per day

Betting many games does not cause a player to lose money. Betting without thinking, or spending enough time analyzing, however, will cause you to lose. Professional players with lots of resources may place hundreds of bets per day, and win doing so.  Recreational players who bet on a hunch, without the use of all available information and a solid mastery of handicapping fundamentals are likely to lose, whether they bet one game or ten. If you are a recreational player (and most people are), you can bet one game or ten. However, if you are betting many games, you might do better to bet less per game.