Should I Pay For Picks?

It's late. After a long day's work, you decide to unwind with a little television before bed. Or maybe you opt to go online, and scroll through a favorite social media site. The next thing you know, up pops an ad from a sports handicapping site, guaranteeing they will win you money if you just ante up for their sage advice. Maybe you've been dabbling into sports betting, and are thinking of making a dive into it in a big way. Or perhaps you're a longtime sports bettor who's hit a slump and is running cold.

Should You Seek Professional Help?

Naturally, this ad has you intrigued, and you are thinking about whether you should pay for picks on games. The truth of the matter is there is no easy answer to this decision. And there is precedence for similar moves in life, such as hiring a money manager to look after your finances and help you save for retirement. But those are experts who work in offices, usually for large corporations and there are regulations in place to ensure that they don't make your money disappear.

Is It Legit?

This is the first question you must ask when pondering whether to pay a tout for their so-called expert advice on sports betting. Everyone who's ever dabbled in sports betting has run across someone hyping a foolproof system to pick winners. Vinny at the track tells you he's making a killing on the ponies with his handicaping plan of attack. If that's the case, though, then why does Vinny still wear a barbecue sauce stained polyester sport coat and look like he hasn't shaved in three days?

Financial advisors are required to take courses and earn certificates in order to charge you a fee to offer advice on how to invest your money. The same applies to stockbrokers. But there are no such regulations governing anyone who is offering free betting advice over the internet, so you have no idea if the service is legit, or if it is just someone like you who bets on sports and is trying to run a sports betting tout service as a side hustle.

You've read all the outlandish claims. "I was 8-0 on last night's picks. We have a foolproof way to bet on the NFL. Our system is guaranteed to produce winners." Let's be honest. Sports betting isn't easy. There are so many uncontrollable variables in any given game - injuries, bad officiating, weather - that it's a tough gig to succeed at consistently. Even the best hit about 58 percent. Anyone who tells you that they've cracked the code, that they know some secret solution that no one else has figured out is merely blowing smoke at you. 

Be Wary Of Where You Venture

If it sounds too good to be true, than it is. Don't fall for the hype. Don't waste your precious money on someone else's idea of a good bet. Even the world's top handicappers can go 8-0 one night and 0-8 the next night, because there is no foolproof system, no secret formula for handicapping success. You'd have just as much success trying what TSN used to do during its Stanley Cup predictions - they had a monkey make picks by spinning a wheel. And you know what? Some years, the monkey won.

Consider the success stories in your life. Did people hand them to you? No, of course not. You put your nose to the grindstone. You did the work. You put in the time, studied the details, learned the necessary lessons, and passed with flying colors when you were put to the test. The feeling you had inside after making these significant achievements was like an elixir, and it tasted even sweeter because you knew you had sacrificed and made the tough calls to make it all happen.

Didn't that feel better than simply getting something because it was presented to you on a silver platter? Well, you should take the same approach when it comes to sports betting. That's your hard-earned money that you are going to be wagering on games. Are you simply going to step back and let someone else call the shots and tell you where and when you should and shouldn't play it? 

Ignore The Toot Of The Touts

Think about it for a second. If you had come upon a foolproof system to make yourself rich by gambling on sports, why would you need to sell to someone else to make money? There was a racetrack that once offered a special bet. For $1, you were asked to pick the winners of 10 straight races. If you hit on all 10, you won $1 million. One veteran horse bettor at the track scoffed at the proposition. "If I could pick 10 winners in a row," he groused, "I wouldn't need their millon dollars."

He wasn't buying the hype, and neither should you. These betting services prey on the naive, the desperate. And always remember, the main purpose of hype in advertising is to convince you that you desperately need something that you absolutely don't need at all. These services are marketing experts more than they are sports betting experts. They make their money off the fees you pay them to gain access to their "expert" picks.

Consider that if you bet $100 on a team at +100 and win, your profit will be $100. But suppose it cost you $50 to get the pick from a sports betting tout service. You've just risked $100 to win $50. Is that really worth it?

If you are still not convinced are remain of the opinion that a tout can make you a winner, then at least heed this advice: check them out thoroughly. You wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive. See if they are willing to give you a free pick to start. Ask to see their history. Demand solid proof of past successes and double check to make certain that this information is factual. If a service declines or fights you on these requests, don't walk away - run away.  

Even better, instead of spending money foolishly, you'd be best served to do your own homework. Follow the advice that John Houseman used to espouse in those Smith Barney ads and make your money the old fashioned way - go out and earn it.