Why you should never use football tipsters

I'm pretty sure that, like most people that are into football betting, you were tempted to pay a tipster at some point. I know I was. Maybe you have given into the temptation to hire one? No worries, your secret's safe with me.

I'm also pretty confident to say that, while you were entertaining the idea of hiring a football tipster for easy betting picks, you also had a bad feeling about it. Maybe a nagging question in the back of your head telling you "Hey man, beating the bookmaker is a precious skill, why would anybody sell it so cheaply or easily?". That was your intuition telling you it's a bad decision. I can tell you right away your intuition was right. You see, the knowledge you have about the sports tipster is like an iceberg: what you think you know about it is the small part above the surface and what you don't know about it is the humongous part below the surface. In the next paragraphs I'm going to prove you this claim.

Before I begin, I have a disclaimer: I do not know the intricacies of other types of betting besides football so I am refering the football tipster not all tipsters. If you are betting on other sports or events you should still read this and decide for yourself if the logic still applies or it doesn't.

For the purposes of this demonstration I will split the betting tips providers in 2 categories: individuals and marketplaces.

Individual tipsters

This is the tipical football tipster: a guy having a youtube account or a website where he boasts about his track record, gives you a taste of what it could be if you had access to his skills, his ability to look at football statistics and come up with accurate predictions. It can be a video or a blog post making predictions for some future matches from Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga. 

The first problem is this: his betting performance can be faked. In the case of the blog post it can be edited at a later date giving the illusion that the prediction was accurate. In the case of the video it is more difficult but still doable. The tipster can create 2 or more videos but publish only one and make the others "private". After the football matches end the video is kept only if the prediction was accurate. If not, it is taken down and the best prediction is made "public". With the help of some friends and/or fake accounts it can post comments in that video prior to game to give the impression that the video was created and published when it says it was.

Now, even if you don't think the tipster you consider hiring is doing this, that nagging question still has no answer. Before I answer it, let me tell you a story about how Derren Brown, a famous mentalist, convinced somebody to bet a lot of money (5.000 dollars or something like this) on a horse. It's a famous trick, you may find it on Google and Youtube. Derren Brown convinced this person to bet 5.000 dollars on a horse by showing him that he was able to predict the winner of a race. One day prior to the race he messaged the prediction to that person. And he was right 3 times in a row. How did he do it? He selected a lot of people and split them into groups, each group receiving different predictions. After the first race, the winning group was split again into groups and given predictions for the second race. After 3 races he had a group of people convinced he could pick the winning bet.

The same technique can be used for online for football predictions. A group of "tipsters" (fraudsters would be a more suitable name) could create a newtork of websites or social network accounts where they present different predictions. The best "predictor" would be able to claim he's the bee's knees and convince you to use his services. This would be done in case the first approach I told you about (changing the predictions after the fact) is not an option. After his tipster credibility is established he can start spliting the clients into groups, thus ensuring a loyal base of paying customer. Imagine a tipster having 100 customers. You can split them into 10 groups and send each group a different set of predictions. If the tipster is smart about his picks it would take a long time before all the groups end up loosing money and giving up on using the tipster services.

Still not convinced you shouldn't use a tipster? Here's another approach, from a different angle. There are tipsters that charge a fixed fee and tipsters that take a percentage of your winnings. And both options are problematic... for the tipster. The fixed fee tipster is supposed to tell you what bets to place while you would be able to bet whatever you want. In this case, a tipster charging 60 euros per month can have clients that bet in the range of thousands offering a ROI (return of investment) that not even crypto-currencies are offering. This would be a real bad deal for the tipster, wouldn't it? On the other hand, the tipster that is paid as a percentage from your winnings must trust you that you will tell him how much you bet. You could place 2 bets, one with small amount that you show to the tipster and another with a big amount; if the tipster is right you pay a small fee for his services, while you would win big. Again, this would be another bad deal for the tipster. So given the fact that beating the house (or be a better predictor than the bookmakers) is very difficult and the fact no matter how you pay the tipster it could be a bad deal for them, why would anyone put forth so easily tips for winning bets?

Tipster marketplaces

In the last couple of years a few marketplaces for sports "tipsters" (you'll see why I'm using quotes in a minute) appeared. Basically there are websites where tipsters and their potential customers meet. These websites store the history of a tipster and you can choose which one to use based on past performance. Because there's a lot of competition between "tipsters" the prices are very low so it's very tempting to use them. However you don't know if they are real. And my suspicion is they are not, hence the quotes. 

You see, the website owner can create thousands of fake accounts and attach different betting strategies to each of the accounts (for example one account could "specialize" in bets on Premier League matches). Given the fact there are so many of them there's a big chance a few of them will perform very well, or at least good enough to convince you. This is a statistical certainty. And that's not to mention the fact that past predictions can be changed after the fact. Sure, you could record the performance of a selected "tipster" over a period of 1 month before deciding to buy their tips but I'm pretty sure most of the people using these websites don't (if they would be willing to put in the work, they would create their own betting strategy). And even in this situation, the website owners could implement a procedure of changing only the past predictions that are, let's say, at least 2 months old. This way you would see the unaltered predictions for the newer events. Sure, the performance of the "tipster" would be worse than usual but it could be attributed to bad luck. 

One such intelligent marketplace could track your activity on their platform and determine how long was it since you checked a specific tipster; this way they can show you the "right" stats. If you haven't checked a tipster stats in, say, 1 month they can show you the best stats, if you have checked it recently they can show you a set of slightly worse stats so that, in case you kept track of their tips, you will not see the "adjustments".

I hope I have convinced you never to use the services of a football betting tipster. To paraphrase from a movie I've seen recently "There is no shortcut to betting happiness". You have to do your work: specialize in one or two leagues, choose the proper football stats to look at before placing any bet. Good luck!

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