The popularity of online gambling has led to the rise of an entirely new subculture based around the art of the bet. Now, people who gamble (and gamble well) aren’t just considered good gamblers, they’re considered experts, professionals and celebrities. This has created the demand for so-called bet professionals named handicappers who can tell you where you should put your money.

But how does it all work, how can you choose a handicapper yourself – and what are some tricks for spotting the good from the bad? Here’s everything you should know about handicappers and whether they work.

Introducing the Handicapper

Apart from the gamblers themselves, handicappers can almost be considered to be the celebrities of the gambling world. Their profiles often boast their successes, and great fame comes with being able to predict the outcome of a game successfully – it’s a for-pay service offered by those who are sure they have either a keen eye or a lot of experience for the next win.

How does it work?

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Sports betting handicappers promise that they can, for a small (or sometimes huge) fee guarantee a certain amount of wins or percentage of return for your bets. This is a for-pay service that rests on the fact that they know what they’re doing – at least a little more than you do.

Businessmen have always relied on paying people who know more than they do; why can’t the same apply to gamblers?

The Road to Handicapping

To understand why handicappers do what they do, you have to understand how someone gets to be a handicapper in the first place. Generally, it’s people who view themselves as experts in trend-spotters and damn good gamblers – but just because they advertise themselves this way doesn’t mean they are.

You don’t have to be qualified to be a handicapper. You don’t have to register anywhere to do it. You don’t need special training, and you don’t need a degree.

You just need a profile that says, “I’m a handicapper. Hire me!”

So, simply, how do you know who sucks?

The Tests of a True Handicapper

If anyone on the internet can just change their Instagram profile and call themselves a handicapper, there must be some sort of way to see who is good and who isn’t. Of course, there is: The clients – and the overall reputation.

When you’re looking at a list of several handicappers and you have to pick one out of the lot, you’ll quickly see who has the biggest, happiest following – and who has repeat business. It helps to see who has stuck around the longest, and who has had the highest success rate for their clients so far – at the end of the day, that’s what counts most when you’re putting your money and bet in the hands of a handicapper.

Why Hire a Handicapper?

Betting is about more than just a random choice, and anyone who considers themselves a regular better will know that it’s about much more than just this – it’s about strategy, and it’s’ about many factors on the day, including the previous betting track record for the horse or greyhound, the weather and their temperament.

Most people who want to place a bet don’t have the inclination or the time to take all of these factors into account before they place their bets. Do you? The likely answer is no.

Hiring a handicapper promises that they’ll be doing most of the hard work for you: They’ve already done the calculations and weighed up the variables so that you don’t have to – and many handicappers offer package deals spread across several bets, so that you get a return out of it; the mark of a successful handicapper versus a terrible one, of course, is whether you’re getting more out of it than you paid them for the job.

Signs of a Terrible Handicapper

When faced with the option of several handicappers, you want to start weeding them out quickly until you find the best option for you – someone who offers you the right amount of return, but also someone who admits that they’re able to lose.

Someone who offers you a 100% return rate is lying, and there’s no amount of fancy-pants marketing that’s going to change this fact. But someone who admits the possibility of being able to lose, and doesn’t BS you about it when it happens is the kind of handicapper that you should consider sticking with.

It’s fairly simple to evaluate your handicapper to find out if they’re terrible. Who is making the most money out of this in the long term – them or you? Do they welcome your input, or override your thoughts on the bet – and then lose you the money anyway? Do the tips they send you actually check out, or are they just keeping you hanging on a thread with smaller bets so that you stick around?

You should also, after some time of working with a handicapper, be able to spot when a good handicapper is just having a bad time – or when a bad handicapper is just on a once-in-a-lifetime winning streak.

Reputation matters, and previous client testimonials will go a long way, too.

Famous Doesn’t Mean Good

Great, so the handicapper you found has several thousand followers and they seem to be pretty active – that’s a good sign, right? Not necessarily, and we’ll tell you why: Famous doesn’t mean good.

Famous combined with all of the best elements mentioned above (including actual participation and a winning record that proves they know what they’re going) can make for great success, but fame alone (or an impressive amount of followers on social media) just isn’t enough to tell you that someone knows what they’re doing.

When it comes to trusting someone with your money, whether we’re talking about investment in the stock market or letting a handicapper decide your bets, you want to choose someone who has experience in increasing the money of others – anything else just isn’t good enough.