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Paper Sports Betting – What Is It? What Are the Advantages?

Placing wagers first and learning strategy second is common for any beginning sports bettor. After all, who wants to learn strategy and bankroll management right away when the sports betting bug hits them?

Making bets immediately isn’t such a bad thing if you begin with low-stakes wagers. Doing so allows you to minimize your risk while slowly improving.

But what if you could learn how to become a winning sports gambler and get many of the same thrills without risking anything?

This is the idea behind paper sports betting, which I’m going to discuss in detail. I’ll also cover the pros and cons of paper betting so that you can see if it’s right for you.

What Is Paper Sports Betting?

Paper betting refers to participating in sports gambling without fronting any money. The idea is to learn the ropes without actually risking your bankroll.

As with anything, sports betting is difficult for beginners. Amateurs normally lose most/all of their bankroll before they become stronger bettors – if they even do improve.

Paper sports betting allows you to may make normal wagers. But the big advantage is that you don’t have to actually risk anything until you’re comfortable doing so.

Your process for paper betting can range from actually writing the wagers down in a notebook to using advanced computer programs. In any case, the key is to simulate sports betting without wagering money.

How to Make Paper Sports Bets

The first step to placing paper sports wagers involves figuring out how you want to record the action.

Here are some options for keeping track of your bets:

  • Pen and notebook
  • Word document
  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Advanced program that analyzes your win and loss rate

You also need to figure out what information you’re going to record for each wager. This is another area where you can get as basic or technical as you’d like.

I suggest at least reporting the following information for every bet:

  • Date
  • Matchup
  • Amount bet
  • Line
  • Your thoughts/analysis before the bet
  • Result

You may even go as far as to create a paper bankroll too. This gives you practice with handling a bankroll and being responsible with your wager sizes.

The best way to do this is by figuring out how much you can actually afford to put into a bankroll. Doing so requires looking through your income and finances, then determining what can go towards sports gambling.

Here’s an example:

  • You make $3,200 after taxes per month.
  • Your monthly bills and expenses are $2,200.
  • You have $1,000 left over.
  • You put $500 of this towards your sports betting bankroll.

The goal here is twofold: avoid betting money that you don’t have and use reasonable bet sizes to keep yourself in the game.

In summary, key components of paper wagering involve determining how much you can afford to bet and using proper bankroll management.

Advantages to Paper Sports Betting

Earlier I mentioned that the biggest advantage to paper sports betting involves mitigating risk. The last thing you want to do as a new bettor is wager too much money before you’re ready.

But there are more-specific advantages to be gained from this activity. Here are several benefits that paper wagering offers.

Excellent for New Bettors

Some people bet for pure enjoyment and don’t care much about improving their skills. This is perfectly fine for those who want a little action on their favorite team and like putting money on the Super Bowl.

If you’re somebody who wants to become a winning bettor, then you should work on developing a good strategy. Of course, learning strategy for a new gambling activity can be a trial-and-error process.

The last thing you should do is risk too much money when you’re just getting started with real sports betting. Paper wagering keeps you from doing this entirely because you’re not risking a single dollar.

All you’re doing his making wagers without actually betting. This is the perfect way to learn sports gambling without worrying about how much you’re losing.

Good Way to Acclimate Yourself to a New Game

Paper sports gambling doesn’t have to be relegated to new bettors. It’s also helpful if you’re an experienced bettor who’s trying a new market.

Let’s say, for example, that you normally wager on the NFL and NBA. However, you want to experiment with esports betting.

Jumping from one game to the next can be harmful to your bankroll. After all, you don’t know anything about esports betting in this situation.

Paper betting helps you slowly learn esports gambling without putting funds on a line. You can make a more-complete transition once you fully learn the esports players, teams, and betting strategies.

Practice Keeping Records

I want to reiterate how important is to keep track of your results in paper betting. Doing so ensures that you have measurable records of your successes and losses.

It might seem like overkill to both paper bet and track losses. After all, some sports gamblers don’t even like keeping records when they bet real money.

Again, though, the idea behind paper wagering is that you want to judge your success rate. Adding detailed records allows you to go back and analyze how you’re doing.

Reduced Stress

Sports betting involves putting your money on the line and taking a chance. Unfortunately, you’ll experience losing streaks when gambling.

A losing streak is stressful no matter how good you are at sports gambling. This stress affects other areas of your life too and ruin entire days.

Paper sports betting alleviates this stress in the beginning. Placing simulated wagers is far less nerve-wracking than having real money in play.

Fun Way to Put What You Learn Into Practice

Ideally, you’ll learn plenty of sports betting strategy before you even get started. Taking this approach gives you a stronger chance of winning right out of the gate.

The problem, though, is that learning strategy without actually placing wagers is boring. Paper betting allows you to take a more-active approach towards betting.

Paper wagers let you put your knowledge into practice. You may even feel like you’re really gambling on sports depending upon how the size of your imagination.

Disadvantages to Paper Sports Betting

Paper gambling is a low-risk and stress-free way to learn sports betting. However, wagering on paper still presents potential downsides.

Here are the main things you need to worry about before getting started with paper betting.

You May Miss Out on Good Betting Opportunities

You’re unlikely to be great at handicapping in your early sports betting days. However, you’ll eventually become better at analyzing matches and finding valuable statistics.

This hard works pays off when you have real money on the line and can capitalize. But paper betting robs you of this opportunity since you’re not actually wagering anything.

Again, paper gambling is about learning how to wager on sports without risk. Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on some good opportunities during this process.

Hard to Stay Motivated

Making sports bets on paper is exciting to a degree. But you’re never going to match the same thrills and entertainment that real sports betting offers.

Placing a paper wager only gives you mental satisfaction. It doesn’t, however, offer a monetary reward for your success.

Rewards are the primary motivator doing anything. Given that you don’t receive much short-term satisfaction for paper betting, it’s hard to stick with this method.

Constant Temptation to Bet Real Money

You need a disciplined approach to paper sports gambling so that you don’t wager real money. The whole idea behind paper gambling is that you’re placing bets without money involved.

But you’ll constantly be tempted to risk real money along the way. You may eventually crack and start placing actual bets before you’re ready.

The hope is that you don’t fall into this temptation and can continue your paper wagering efforts. Just remember that it’s extremely difficult to ward off feelings of wanting to bet real money.

Paper Betting Is Time Consuming with No Potential Payoff

You don’t become an excellent bettor without dedicating time and effort towards improving. Of course, the payoff for becoming great is that you can win lots of money.

The payoff for excelling at paper betting is simply knowing that you’re making the right choices. Unfortunately, you won’t receive any monetary compensation for your time.

This goes back to the earlier point about how it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re not winning actual money. It’s even more disenchanting when considering how many hours you may put into paper gambling.

Forming Biases in Your Results

Successful paper sports betting involves taking an honest look at your results. You want to determine how well you’re actually doing and how far you must go towards being successful.

Of course, you may want to see more success in your paper results than what’s really there. This bias might lead you away from paper betting and into real sports gambling before you’re ready.

Hopefully you’ll be able to look at your records in an impartial way. But don’t be surprised if you catch yourself putting a more-positive spin on the results.

Doesn’t Simulate Normal Sports Betting Emotions

The world’s best sports bettors can place wagers without worrying about past results or their biases for certain teams. Of course, these professionals also make so many wagers that they’re virtually numb to the process.

Keeping your emotions under check as a recreational better is much more difficult. You’re likely to put money down on games and watch afterward, hoping and praying that your wagers come through.

You’ll also experience the highs of win streaks and lows of losing streaks. The latter creates a number of temptations, including the desire to chase losses.

Mastering these emotions is part of what sports betting is all about. The better you can control yourself, the more likely you are to look at sports betting objectively and make money.

Unfortunately, paper betting doesn’t involve the same range of emotions as real sports gambling.

Given that you’re not actually winning or losing anything, it’s hard to feel much after a bet.

When Should You Move Out of Paper Betting and Into Real Sports Betting?

One of the biggest questions involving paper sports gambling is when you should move to the real deal. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that you should make at least 200 paper bets before moving on. Of course, this figure can vary based on the following factors:

  • How you feel about your handicapping abilities.
  • How much time you spend on improving beyond just placing bets.
  • Your success rate with paper wagering.
  • Your comfort level with betting real money based on your current skill level.

No two people will feel the same way about each one of these aspects. Therefore, moving on from paper betting is a personal matter that involves self-analysis.

Again, I suggest that you make at least a couple hundred paper wagers in the beginning. But you may decide to go with more or less based on how you feel about your current skills.

Back Testing – The Alternative to Paper Betting

Some of the biggest downsides associated with paper wagering involve the lack of real action and difficulties in staying motivated. You may want to consider back testing if these are deal breakers.

Back testing is a systematic form of paper betting that involves analyzing matches. Below you can see more on this method, how it works, and what back testing can do for you.

What Is Back Testing?

Some sports gamblers create systems that they can use again and again to win wagers. But the problem with systems it’s impossible to know if they work without measurable results.

Back testing offers a way to evaluate these strategies by using historical sports data. The goal is to test your system on previous matches over a certain sample size.

The results will show if your system is capable of beating a relevant sport over any measurable amount of time. For example, a strategy needs to win over 52.4% of bets with -110 odds to show profits.

You should scrap any system that can’t produce a winning rate. The alternative involves tweaking and retesting the strategy in hopes of achieving better results.

Back testing and paper betting have their differences. But back testing is also similar when considering that it doesn’t call on you to actually wager money.

How Can You Use Back Testing?

The first step to back testing involves creating an actual system. You do this by combining a number of statistics that can indicate a trend.

Developing systems is an unlimited activity that can include as many or as few factors as you’d like.

Generally speaking, though, you want to stick with 3-8 elements that could provide a possible trend.

Here’s an example of creating a system:

  • NBA favorite coming off a road loss.
  • Playing at home.
  • Favored by at least 5.5 points on the spread.
  • Playing a sub-500 team.
  • Will they cover 5.5 points or more?

The next step after creating your system is to back test it by looking at historically relevant data.

In other words, you want to look through recent seasons to find games that match your strategy’s parameters.

Ideally, you’ll find a dozens of games within the past few seasons that can be used to test your system. A larger sample size provides more confidence in your results.

The last step is to figure out how to back test your strategy. Before PCs became big, gamblers had to comb through newspapers and magazines to find games that fit their parameters.

Today, you can use advanced programs to quickly find relevant data and back test your system. For example, KillerSports offers a nice tool that you can use to crunch sports betting data.

Pros of Back Testing

Being a successful sports bettor is a time-consuming matter that involves handicapping games. You can only effectively wager on so many matches when handicapping each game individually.

However, systems give you a shortcut towards finding profitable betting situations. A system can be used again and again on games that fall within the boundaries of a winning strategy.

Back testing is how you determine the success of these systems without risking money. Identifying a strategy that’s worked over the past several seasons will likely indicate future success.

This goes against the gambler’s fallacy, which states that past results don’t indicate future outcomes. But back testing is different, because sports betting isn’t a fixed-odds casino game.

Back testing is essentially a different version of paper betting. The main difference, though, is that you can start betting money right away upon finding a successful system.

Cons of Back Testing

The idea of crunching stats together and producing a winning strategy seems great. But the reality is that back testing isn’t as easy as it sounds.

You might put together and test dozens of systems, only to find out that they’re all unsuccessful. This scenario becomes tiresome when you continually craft elaborate strategies that don’t pan out.

You must also learn how to use a program to crunch the data. This is a onetime learning curve that you can master after a short while. Nevertheless, figuring out how to use sports betting programs isn’t the most-exciting activity.

Another problem is trying to be impartial when looking at back testing results. Much like paper betting, you may want to see success in your system just so you can begin using it.

A strategy that tests out with a 52.2% win rate doesn’t beat -110 odds. But you may convince yourself that it’s close enough to a winning system.

Paper betting is an excellent way to practice sports betting. You can make wagers like normal without risking funds. You may find this preferable to actually gambling while still navigating the basics of sports wagering. Of course, you don’t have to be a new bettor just to use paper gambling. This technique also works well if you’re transitioning to a new market or just want more practice after busting your original bankroll. Another great thing about paper betting is that it offers a stress-free way to “wager” on sports. You go through the same process as a normal sports gambler – only without putting money on the line.

It’s also important to be aware of the downsides regarding paper betting. These include missing potentially good opportunities, finding it hard to stay motivated, and feeling tempted to bet real money. Back testing is an interesting alternative if you feel that back testing’s downsides outweigh the good. You can create a betting system, back test it, and start gambling immediately if your strategy tests well. But back testing is advanced for the average beginner. I definitely suggest paper betting if you’re just starting out and getting a feel for sports wagering.

Paper gambling is a great way to practice betting on sports if you have the patience. Keep in mind what I’ve discussed in this post and put it too good use.

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