There’s just something about the word “syndicate” that conjures up the imagination. You picture shadowy figures wearing fedoras and long coats with popped collars sneaking about in the dark, participating in some dark, seedy underworld that you can only imagine.
It’s a word used to refer to organized crime families and people involved in criminal conspiracies. In fact, syndicates and conspiring go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Luckily, in the context of sports betting, the word syndicate represents something else entirely. In the world of gambling, these tight-knit organizations spend all of their time crunching numbers in Excel and simulating games with analytic models, not breaking kneecaps and making offers that can’t be refused.
Despite lacking both the violence and glamor of their underworld namesakes, sports betting syndicates are a serious business that requires the full dedication of each of their members to experience any success.
One would think that starting a corporation with your buddies for the purposes of betting on sports would be a blast. After all, what’s better than sitting around watching the festivities with your friends? In reality, the day-to-day operations of a betting syndicate resemble a hedge-fund operation more than gambling.
What Is a Betting Syndicate?
Simply put, a betting syndicate is a group of people working together in an effort to quickly identify value in the odds, capitalize off of line movements, and make a living through sports betting.
These organizations come in all shapes and sizes, though they all share the same mission. To profit off of a mostly ignorant betting public.
The way betting syndicates approach sports gambling is comparable to a day trader or hedge fund manager. Members spend upwards of seventy hours a week analyzing the betting market and watching for line movements across numerous sportsbooks.
When a line changes, the syndicate springs into action, calculating what the move is worth and attempting to place their bets at the most advantageous moment.
A betting syndicate can have many different methods of operation, but the primary concept is identifying mispriced assets and exploiting them. Bets may become mispriced due to a mistake on behalf of the bookmakers, or in response to the uneducated betting public.
The professional line shoppers recognize these exploitable odds through sophisticated analysis of past events and weighing competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
If their analytics are accurate, exploiting weak lines is a cakewalk. They merely wait for the odds to reach a point when the implied probability is less than the actual likelihood determined by their process, and then jump on any wager that carries positive value.
In fact, they spend no time at all trying to handicap winners. No matter what fluctuations of the outcomes take place during any small sample size, as long as they stick to the math, they can expect to profit over the long run.
What Are the Benefits of Forming a Betting Syndicate?
Operating a betting syndicate is grinding, labor-intensive work. Professional gamblers work over seventy hours a week either crunching numbers, shopping for lines, or placing bets.
As all-encompassing this profession is for a team, it would be overwhelming for a single handicapper. There is strength in numbers; and forming a betting syndicate offers many advantages over individual professional gamblers.
Having a group of bettors working together towards the same vision gives syndicates a considerable head-start in the sports gambling world. The more members that a company has, the more resources that are available for investment capital. These organizations pool their resources and chip in to fund their bankroll.
The faster they obtain a large bankroll, the quicker they can begin putting those finances to work in the marketplace. In most cases, having multiple contributors to invest in the company is a massive advantage over individual sports gamblers that must build their bankroll on their own.
Due to their numbers and cooperation, these cohesive sports-wagering units are able to divide responsibilities and tasks to cover more ground in an efficient manner. For example, one member may be focused on a specific specialized bet, such as second-half totals bets.
While they are planning for those wagers, another member may be monitoring the odds across the industry. Then another could be preparing their devices so that when the time is right to place their bets, everything is set up and ready to go.
Having multiple people to share responsibilities also allows members to focus on their strengths.
Different people will possess different skills and backgrounds. Having a variety of skill sets at their disposal keeps people focused on their specialties rather than being stretched too thin and being forced to take on tasks outside their expertise or comfort zone.
Easier to Get Around Betting Limits
An intriguing aspect of these betting syndicates is their somewhat contentious relationship with many of the online betting sites. Some offshore gambling operations refuse to let unions place any bets. They also set limits on how much an account can stake on a single bet or even a single day.
These limits can be circumvented by having numerous people all betting the ceiling at once. Unless the online sportsbook can see that the accounts are all working together, there’s nothing they can do. This helps the syndicate hammer weak lines with everything they’ve got.
Can Place More Wagers Simultaneously
Gambling the way these professional syndicates do is nothing like how the average person places bets. For these groups, having the ability to submit large volumes of wagers quickly is the difference between profit and failure.
There are small windows of opportunity to place bets while they possess positive value. Any temporary delay can cost them large sums of money.
Having a full team at your disposal makes submitting bets in a rapid-fire fashion more manageable. Typically, syndicates will divide their tasks by sport or wager type. So, one member will strictly focus on betting football second halves.
Another will tackle basketball totals, and so on and so forth. When the time is right to make a wager, you simultaneously have experts in every event doing what they know best.
Greater Capacity for Data Collection and Research
When all of the bets for the day have been made, it’s time for data collection and research. The more sets of eyes a group has at their disposal, the more ground they can cover.
As instrumental as line shopping is to a syndicate’s success, there’s no way to identify value without first being able to determine a side’s probability of winning accurately.
Predictions are frequently made with the use of statistical models and simulations. These models require constant cultivation of data, weighing some stats over others, eliminating data that doesn’t correlate to wins, and identifying new factors that may further improve the accuracy of the team’s analytics.
Having a full squad of people to research and data mine means more information, which means faster improvements and ever-improving predictions.
Specialists in Multiple Fields
As we briefly mentioned in a subsection above, the best advantage that betting syndicates have are all the different specializations and areas of expertise that join together. Prominent betting groups have been known to utilize employees with diverse backgrounds.
They’ll have members that formerly worked in the financial sector, some mathematicians, and maybe even an athlete or former coach.
Having a wide range of personality types and perspectives allows a syndicate to approach problems from multiple angles. Each individual will have their own unique abilities to bring to the table, resulting in comprehensive solutions to problems and fewer redundancies.
If all of the members had the same strengths, the organization would be less agile with less capacity for change and adaptation.
More Eyes on the Lines
As dull as it sounds, an instrumental part of working for a betting syndicate is continuously observing all of the odds being offered at all of the sportsbooks, both domestic and offshore. There are some bookmakers that influence the remainder of the industry; when they change a line, it’s not long before everyone else is following suit.
A primary strategy for these teams is to spot line movements the instant they happen and place bets with sportsbooks that haven’t moved yet before they do. Having a larger group of people working together means more sets of eyes are staring at more monitors, anxiously waiting for the moment to react.
What Do Betting Syndicates Do?
We have already established that the primary mission for all betting syndicates is to spot mispriced odds and exploit them for financial gain.
It sounds easy enough, but this actually requires extensive knowledge, tons of studying and a whole lot of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Here are some of the activities betting syndicates partake in to ensure profit:
A primary responsibility of syndicate members is to continually analyze the movements in the market so that they may react accordingly. These gambling experts know precisely what every half-point is worth in every athletic event, and at what price they should strike.
For a syndicate to find success, they must be able to forecast upcoming trends in the market, react swiftly to changes, and understand the impact each subtle variation will have.
Shop for Lines
Along with market analysis, syndicate teammates spend a great deal of time ensuring that when they place their bets, they are getting the most favorable odds available. This is the reason they spend so much of their time watching tables of all the various sportsbooks’ odds.
Shopping for the best lines has a greater impact on the group’s success than accurately handicapping the competition. At this level, it’s all about math, without much consideration regarding the sports.
Time Bets for Maximum Impact
The nonstop market analysis and line shopping work hand-in-hand with timing the bets. For example, syndicates will gravitate more towards half-time bets than full-game odds.
The odds for the entire game are released early in the week, which allows the marketplace to react and level out. But bookmakers have to set half-time odds on the fly.
This results in a higher frequency of mispriced lines being offered during halftime of in-progress sporting events. The syndicates sit and wait for these opportunities in front of their monitors like vultures circling their next meal.
When the time is right, they strike before the rest of the industry joins in and moves the line, at which point the window for positive value is closed.
Analyze Data and Statistical Models
Betting syndicates spend countless hours analyzing previous performances, identifying the contributing factors, and predicting which of those factors will impact future outcomes. When the daily gambling is completed, the focus shifts to the data and statistics side of things.
The teams are always tweaking their equations and models in an effort to increase the accuracy of their models.
The better the statistical models get at accurately predicting the probable outcomes of an athletic event, the better the syndicate becomes at maximizing value. The cultivation of data and nonstop work on analytics and modeling are the backbones of any betting syndicate.
Simulate Contests to Determine Probable Outcomes
Once the data has been collected, prioritized and weighted, it’s time to put those models to good use. The syndicate will account for every conceivable factor that may impact the outcome of a game and load them all into the data sets. The next step is to run thousands, if not millions of simulations of the contest.
Each simulation takes place in a vacuum under the same circumstances. When the model has completed running, the team has a vast range of possible outcomes, including which results occurred most frequently.
From there, they know what percentage of the time each side wins, what the range of possibilities are, and where the parameters are for each extreme.
Compare Predictions to Implied Probability
After the simulations, the syndicate will have a decent idea of how this competition will play out, the majority of the time. However, this doesn’t mean the game will go according to plan.
In the real world, only a single instance of the game is played, and performances can vary in unpredictable ways. The model could be 99% certain of a particular outcome, but if you happen to bet on the day that 1% happens, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Regardless, after the many simulations, the group will have percentages of probability for each team winning, and a basic idea of how things will play out. They then take these numbers and compare them to the odds being offered by the bookmakers.
Using the odds to calculate implied probability is a simple equation. Once that’s done, all they have to do is compare the percentages of likelihood created from their simulations to the implied probability from the odds. If the implied probability is lower than the possibility of their expected outcome, they place the bet.
High Volume Betting
Betting syndicates place hundreds of bets per day to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They bet on any sporting event under the sun. As long as the line has value, they attempt to bet on it.
If their data preparation and modeling is sound, the math will work itself out over time, leading to significant profits for the syndicate.
How Do You Start a Betting Syndicate?
There’s no set way to establish your own betting syndicate. All you need is two or more people, a place to work and the desire to capitalize on mispriced odds. How much effort you’re willing to exert will be based on how seriously your operation takes betting on sports.
The most hardcore betting syndicates make sports-betting their full-time job. Really, it’s more than a full-time job, as the successful participants dedicate way more than forty hours a week on their craft. Once you’ve found a level of involvement that you’re comfortable with, it’s time to get started.
The first thing you’ll want is a location for your syndicate to work together throughout the day. You’ll need to be in constant verbal communication to react to line movements, so being in the same place is ideal. Many syndicates operate out of a residential house, although office spaces aren’t unheard of.
Next, you’ll need to figure out which skills each member brings to the table. You’ll want everyone focused on the tasks that they are best at to extract the maximum amount of productivity and talent from the team.
Also, divide up the additional duties so that they are streamlined and efficient. Again, there are moments when the market begins to shift; that is when you must strike quickly or you’ll miss your shot.
After you’ve got your team and your workspace, running your betting syndicate is just a matter of continually analyzing data, making spreadsheets, crunching numbers, and watching the odds. If you’re lucky, you will be rewarded for your hard work. If you’re not, you’ll have to continue adjusting your data models and working on your processes.
Running a betting system is just a numbers game. Once you’ve got the math correct, the rest will work itself out over time.
The Wrap Up
While professionally betting on sports for a living may seem like a luxurious, fun life, it’s actually an insanely time-consuming, labor-intensive job.
Betting syndicates are created in an effort to attack the gambling markets as a team. Members of the syndicate pool resources, divide various tasks and work together to identify and exploit weak betting odds.
But finding the correct bets to place is only a portion of the battle. Some sportsbooks will refuse to do business with betting syndicates. Others don’t mind bringing in the cash on the side opposite the public’s money, as it helps them balance their lines.
These organizations inevitably spend the bulk of their time shopping for the best lines and waiting for changes in the marketplace to create value. Picking winners is a complete afterthought. The only thing that matters is value.
The process of capitalizing on valuable lines includes several factors. First, the team must have accurate predictions on which to base their probabilities. Then, they must discard scenarios in which the implied probability is too low.
Last, you must time your bets to benefit from weak lines before the rest of the marketplace responds, the line is moved, and the opportunity is lost.
Forming a betting syndicate is an ambitious undertaking. Finding any success at all is going to take enormous amounts of work and a decent amount of capital.
But if you have the desire, ability, and temperament for that lifestyle, it can become an extremely lucrative venture that rewards you for your effort.