There is a lot of confusion when it comes to professional sports betting. Is it a daily grind, or is it passive and algorithmic? Do you wait and pick your spots, or do you attack the market aggressively?
The answer: all of the above.
From tipsters to machine learning algorithms, matched bettors to sports traders; there are a whole host of ways you can be a profitable bettor.
Today we are going to get a look inside the mind of a Sports Trader, Harout Massoyan (@betlikeharout) has been making waves (and money) trading the markets full-time for a couple of years now.
I was lucky enough to interview him. He’s given us an insight into his sports trading life, how he got there, and the best advice he can give to aspiring sports traders.
My name is Harout Massoyan and I am a professional sports bettor out of Las Vegas, NV. My journey has been a long one in the making, but every part of this experience has humbled me – knowing that I can wake up every morning doing what I love.
I look back now and realise that every part of this journey has had a direct influence towards getting to where I am now.
My path to betting started when I was 11. My family and I used to get together for main-event boxing fights. It was a ritual for my grandpa to place a $100 bet on the underdog, just for fun and entertainment. On July 30th, 2004, Mike Tyson was fighting Danny Williams, who was listed as a +900 underdog. When he was on his way to the sportsbook that day, I tapped into the birthday money I had saved 3 weeks prior and asked my gramps if he could place a $20 bet for me. In the 4th round, Danny Williams put on a clinic and knocked Tyson out seconds before the bell. In conclusion to the fight, I had officially won the first bet I ever placed on a fight. Was a crazy first experience, and winning $180 at 11 years old meant a lot.
This experience established a sense of curiosity for me and I carried this with me throughout the years as I tried to find my way in life. I was passionate about two things growing up, playing sports, and solving math problems. Anytime there was a timed math assignment in grade school, I can’t recall a time where I didn’t finish first amongst my peers. That’s how into it I was. These two interests would eventually become the basis of my betting career.
When I was 18 I signed up for my very first online sportsbook. I was going to college at the time and working at the bank as my very first job. I was so fascinated about how the entire market worked. I would spend my time in class doing everything I could to learn more about the business — spending time on twitter, online betting groups, forums and just emerging myself to the business. At the time I was second guessing about what I really wanted to do for a living, I was unsure. I just had no sense of direction in school, I didn’t know what my purpose was.
I dropped out of school to open up my own business, Power Up Gaming, an eSports and Video Gaming center. I tried that for a few years, and although i was extremely passionate about business, expected value, numbers, etc, my mind was stuck on betting profitably. My constant pursuit for betting helped me learn from mistakes early and gave me the experience I needed to bet the right way. I started learning about the key principles of good betting: market information, closing line value, betting with an edge, modelling, etc. All of this was starting to make sense and gave me the epiphany moment I needed to slowly transition into becoming a full time bettor.
In the summer of 2018, was my real full-time pursuit for betting. One of my good friends (@armenianbettor) and I became roommates, and that house became our betting grounds. We were testing a few models and seeing what worked and didn’t, but whatever we did was revolving around the principles of positive expected value, because we realised that once we discovered our edge, it was just a matter of replicating it. At the end of 2018, I took the leap and dropped a lot of my other commitments and decided to move forward with betting for full time. I’ve been doing that ever since.
What Is A Sports Trader?
How does sports trading work?
Much like stocks, or other forms of trade, sporting events have markets that allow us to trade within as well. We call this sports trading, and it is pretty much the practice of placing value bets in the market as opportunities present themselves. The sports betting market fluctuates throughout the day based on action and information, so good trading revolves around staying alert and keeping up with the market so that you can make trades at the most optimal time.
What is the difference between a regular sports bettor and a sports trader?
I think the terms are pretty similar to some degree. I think the biggest separation I make between the two is that anyone can really be a sports bettor, whether you’re a recreational or a pro, if you place bets you’re a sports bettor, whereas a sports trader on the other hand is someone who is staying on top of markets, understanding what is taking place in the line and price movements and then making betting decisions in real time that are in line with market opportunities.
What resources do you need to be a sports trader?
Having resources is an important part of this business. The more resources you have, the more powerful you become when trading and betting into the market.
Bookmakers, you want as many of them as you can get access to. As most of you already know, the life-cycle of accounts is not that long, so having a system in place to consistently replenish your outs is super important. Sportsbooks with more liquidity, such as Pinnacle or pure exchanges won’t limit you, so having access to these as well gives you flexibility as well when it comes to building your positions and making bets.
Having a good computer is also very important. There will be a point where if you choose to pursue this full-time and take it to the next level, you want to make sure your hardware and your setup are ideal so that you can work efficiently. The last thing you want is your computer to freeze or overheat during a critical trade, it becomes really costly so having the right equipment is critical.
Last but not least, having a real time odds software and an information feed, something that helps me monitor the markets as they move in real time helps me identify the trends and allow me to catch information as it comes into the market.
Building A Sports Trading System
What is the process of building a sports trading system from scratch?
The first step should be to decide what you want to specialise in: do you want to be an arbitrage bettor, advantage trader, a modeler/tipster, etc., and then from there discover which resources are going to be most valuable for you in that niche/specialization. There are many paths you can take that will help you get to the same destination. The most important piece of advice I can give you is that your system must be +EV for it to sustain and yield profits in the long run. Which path you decide to take comes down to preference, and how you do it is completely up to you. It’s your world.
What are some concepts you need to understand to build a sports trading system?
The coolest thing I learned in this industry is that there is no one way of doing things. We can all agree that some things, like betting with an edge (+EV) must remain consistent if we want to make money in the long term, however there are a variety of paths we can take to get us to a +EV trading system. When I first started out, I stuck to a very basic process when it came to finding value bets in the market. I would check sharp market prices and play whatever I could in soft bookmakers for prices that were far better than what were being offered in the efficient markets, however in a short amount of time I realized that relying on this solely was not sustainable. So, I started adapting a more real-time approach with my trading. I subscribed to several real-time odds software and other useful tools that would help me monitor and analyze the market. From there, I set parameters in place that would give me the minimum edge I needed to make a bet or trade.
The Life Of A Sports Trader
Do you enjoy the life of a sports trader?
One of the common questions you get when you’re young is, “What do you want to be when you grow up”. Our answers are almost never influenced by money, rather they are influenced by the things we care about the most and see ourselves doing passionate work in. I never thought I would be a sports trader growing up, but comparing to everything else I’ve tried throughout my years, there is nothing else that even comes close to giving me the amount of enjoyment I get from trading sports.
How much do you work on an average week?
My hours vary depending on the time of the year. During the fall and winter seasons, its not uncommon to be working 70+ hours per week. During the spring when things are a lot slower, it can be a lot less.
Would you recommend the lifestyle to other people?
It has been a fun ride. As i’ve said before, I am blessed to be able to wake up every morning doing what I love to do. It’s a short 15 second walk from my bedroom to my office when I am ready to start my day, however there is nothing really extraordinary to the life I live. I am really focused on building our operation and I give it everything I have to take this as far as we can. The work hardly ever stops. In the busy fall and winter seasons, its not uncommon to work 80-90 hour work weeks, and i think you really have to love what you do in order to sustain that day in and day out.
Recommendations And Advice
If you could recommend three pieces of writing for aspiring sports traders, what would they be?
The greatest advice I can give you is to first, discover what it is you really want to do in life. Life is too short to invest time in things that are not really aligned with our vision or our goals. I think the most important thing you can do is to always keep your curiosity high so that you can search for, discover, and pursue something that is of interest to you, whether its within the betting business or not.
Here are three books to get you into the betting/trading mindset, perfect for beginner or intermediate bettors:
What are three pieces of advice you would give to anyone wanting to turn sports trading into a full-time job?
Take the time to do your research before you dive into anything. I know betting can be fun and the idea that being able to do this for a living is really exciting, but it costs a lot less in the long run if you take some time to read, absorb as much quality information as you can to give you the foundation of knowledge you need to go into this full time.
Define your vision and decide which direction you want to go. If you have a lot of financial commitments, I’d probably advise against leaving your job right away, but at the same time you will need to have some type of a plan in place that will make sure you’re not stuck in your current job forever. If you work 40 hours now at your current job, put yourself in a position where the hours you are putting into the betting are yielding you more than they do at your current job, so that you can trim the hours at your job and invest more time into betting.
Lastly, leave all your emotions out of this business. Swings are part of this game, and you will be tested over and over again when the going gets tough. When you’re having a good week/month, don’t get too high, and when you’re having a bad week/bad month. Don’t lose sight of what matters most. Stick to the system and know that your decisions are what result in success. The outcomes are beyond your control. If you make good decisions, consistently, you will do very well for yourself in this business.
Thank-you to Harout for giving us a little insight into what it takes to be a Sports Trader!
You don’t hear much about Sports Trading, to much of the world there is either Investing (Stocks, Currencies, Property, Options) and Gambling (Sports Trading, Sports Betting), but with the accessibility and liquidity of the market growing, and the number of bookmakers and exchanges also ballooning, more and more people could start considering Sports Trading as the genuine career prospect that it is.
Clearly, hard work, cool temperament, and a stoic personality type are pre-requisites. But, the opportunities to teach yourself the art of Sports Trading are open.
Are you looking to take your Sports Trading full-time? Why or why not?
As Always, Happy (Value) Betting.