Before we really get started, let's talk about the elephant in the room...
The majority of tipsters on social media have zero edge. Nada. Zilch.
There we said it.
Let’s not forget that making money from sports betting is hard - very hard. It's the tipster versus the bookmaker, and the bookmakers have been making money consistently at this for a very long time. To make money, you have to beat not only the statistical odds but also the bookies 'overround' (ie, their margin, and the reason you would only get £0.91 profit on a £1 bet on a cointoss). With that kind of unfavourable starting point, the tipster needs to have a reasonable edge.
As mentioned, many internet tipsters don’t have a big enough edge to clear this first hurdle, and they fall into two broad categories: Those that genuinely think they have an edge but are somehow unaware that they are losing in the longrun, and those that know they have no edge - but are trying to extract cash from you one way or another regardless.
Navigating the world of social media tipsters is a minefield. A den of inequity awaits where a persons trust and lack of knowledge is easily exploited. If you are not aware of these harsh truths when tipster shopping, then it’s a fast way to the poor house.
At this point you may be wondering that if it is such a minefield, then why bother at all? Because, amidst the unending sea of smooth talking negative edge tipsters, hidden gems there be!
We're not going to focus on what makes a poor tipster and how they make their money. Instead we are going to look at the positives. What are the legitimate reasons a tipster would offer a premium service? What are the attributes that all good tipsters possess?
Decent tipsters are hard to find but they do exist and in this article we'll help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
Firstly, let's settle an often asked question. If it's so hard to gain an edge, why would someone with one offer it to others? There are those on the internet offering successful services - be it statistical, trading insight or outright tip selections - that charge for them. Why charge for a service if it is so successful? It's a common question that can be legitimately answered.
There are four broad positive reasons for a tipster to offer a premium service.
1) To accelerate float growth
It takes a large float to make a living from sports betting. Let's look at some numbers. With a starting bank of £150,000 and working under the assumption the tipster has a disciplined money management strategy and is staking 1% per bet, let’s calculate an annual income. For the course of this exercise, we are going to assume the tipster has a very respectable average edge of 4% over the bookmakers, 500 bets over the course of a year would result in the following average return
The starting bank of £150,000 would become £183,203 by the end of the year, a profit of £33,203. It's a respectable income admittedly but I think the reader will agree it's hardly setting the world on fire, particularly given the inherent risk that exists due to betting variance. In fact to earn the average UK salary of £26,500, using the numbers above they would need a starting float of £120,000. Given this it seems perfectly legitimate for a tipster to share their picks at a premium as a way to accelerate their float growth, especially if their picks are on high volume markets. For example, sharing that Arsenal to beat Liverpool at a price of x is value would not impact the tipsters ability to get down as much as they want at the published price as millions will be being bet on that outcome.
The sums involved are huge then to make a decent living from sports betting without taking risky shortcuts - namely losing discipline and upping % of bankroll staked per bet.
2) To smooth earnings
Even the best gamblers lose money occasionally. Negative variance stalks even the greatest from time to time.
"Everyone will eventually run worse than they thought was possible. The difference between a winner and a loser is the former knows he doesn't deserve it."
How best to mitigate against this inevitability? By developing alternative sources of revenue. When a tipster runs through a poor patch of variance, then subscription fees from his followers will help cover his losses. Of course, this type of cover only works in the short term as too long of a poor run will lead to subscriptions being cancelled. As long as the tipster can demonstrate to his subscribers that in the long run he is still making a positive return on investment, then it’s a relationship that is beneficial to both parties despite any short term setbacks.
3) To source legitimate income
Trying to get a mortgage on the back of a living gambling? Most banks in the Western World won't lend you a penny, you might have the biggest edge in the history of gambling, a fire proof method that will last for season upon season, it doesn't matter. To them you tick every box of a risky investment and in a post sub prime mortgage crisis World, it's even more difficult. Want to buy a car? Well here in the UK not in cash you can't, anything more than £5000 in cash and the owner will walk you straight out of their dealership. A tipster with subscribers, offering a taxable service is seen as more legitimate by lenders and so getting credit then becomes an option. Read Dan's story here, a successful professional gambler for 15+ years, who only began offering a service when he needed credit to fund a house purchase.
4) To make a name for yourself
Not necessarily a positive reason for offering a service as this can veer into ego building, but that aside, if a tipster becomes very good at what they do and builds a big enough of a following, other options open up outside of their immediate day to day remit. It can be used as a springboard to further opportunities and there is nothing wrong with aspirations.
So now we have established legitimate reasons for a tipster to charge for their service, let’s examine the essential tipster attributes you should always look for to maximise the odds of a healthy return on your money
1) One that records everything
A tipster should record every tip
- pre-event start,
- with no ambiguity
- no aftertiming
We can add to this list of course no manipulation of tip statistics post event, some social media tipsters have been known to make the odd tweet or post disappear relating to a losing tip and if someone calls them out on it, then it's easy enough to block them. The full, unedited tip history should be publicly available so would be subscribers can review performance.
At Betminds all tips made by tipsters are independently verified by us, we break down performance by month and by market as well as log the P/L of each individual tip.
It's a lot of admin for a tipster to maintain a record of their performance, which is why we do the heavy-lifting for them. Regardless of the effort involved if they want your money then a full published performance history is something they should always be prepared to provide.
2) One that's been around a while
The vast majority of active social media tipster accounts are accounts that were created in the current or previous month, active tipster accounts decrease the older they are. This can be explained through the phenomenon of survivorship bias. As new tipster accounts fail to return successful tips the accounts go dormant, leaving only those accounts that have had success remaining.
Many of these surviving accounts owe more to positive variance rather than judgement, it's easy to have an exceptionally good month. Of course the older the accounts the less likelihood that the tipster can ride luck alone, in the long run, any edge or lack of edge will be revealed in their performance. In fact, some rogue tipsters purposefully open multiple accounts knowing that they only need one to make a profit over a 2 to 3 month window before they can start pushing for paid subscribers, they jettison losing accounts and focus purely on the one that have resulted in a profit. In some instances they have covered all outcomes of a bet on various accounts, after all, you can't lose a tip if you have backed every eventuality, Derren Brown would be proud!
As it is the long run that counts then you should only look at Tipster with a minimum of 6 months posting history (preferably even longer).
3) One that recognises a tip without a value price is worthless
A tip without value odds is worthless, if a team has a 50% chance of winning that tip only becomes value if the odds are greater than evens. The greater the price over evens the more value the tip becomes and similarly the worse value it becomes as the prices decreases below evens. This is pretty obvious stuff it is amazing at how quickly price can become an irreverence in all the excitement of getting on a tip or the social angst of FOMO on a winner. Emotions do not help in this game, they hinder.
Hugh Taylor, a proven horse racing tipster at AtTheRaces makes a very nice return on his advised prices. However the moment he publishes his tips for the day, bookies slash the odds dramatically. Betting on these reduced prices means you will not make anywhere near the return on investment (ROI) he is recording and you would even run the risk of making a loss over a long period (the slashed prices on the winners do not cover the stakes for the picks that lose).
Find tipsters who clearly state their price for all selections and then have the discipline to walk away from betting on it if the price is no longer available. Always shop around to get best price, you should take the tipsters price at a minimum and even look to beat it if possible or instead combine with a bookmaker promotional offer e.g. receive a tip for first goalscorer at 4/1, if the price is available at Dafabet back there as you will get a refund if the player scores 2nd. To help you get the best possible price for a tip, be prepared to shop around, open multiple bookmaker accounts to ensure you have a good range of prices to choose from, Betminds does price comparison for multiple bookmakers, we advise to get accounts at all of them and use the comparison to ensure you are taking the best possible price. There are plenty of no frills established indie bookmakers that offer great prices, Marathonbet in particular is one that stands out with great Match odds. A general rule of thumb is you can never have too many accounts at reputable bookmakers.
So in summary, when choosing a social media tipster look for one with a long track record, one that has a full, unedited performance history published, who understands the relationship between price and probability and lastly of course one that has demonstrated a proven ROI over the long run. Realise that tipsters with an edge don't grow on trees, if they are having a bad month, stick with them, keep discipline with your staking strategy and ignore the daily ups and down, over time their edge will translate into profit. Making a return through following tipsters is entirely achievable, but be realistic with expectations. You won't be getting rich overnight, be patience, follow a good money management strategy and with it a 10, 15% or even 20% return on your money over the course of a year is possible, that's a whole lot more than you'd ever see in most other business investments and dependent on territory, that return could very well be tax free too.
You can view our all time Top Tipsters league table here. Drill into the league table to review a full audit history of each of our tipsters performance.