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best practices for choosing an instagram handicapper

Thanks to the proliferation of social media, people are more connected than at any time in human history. Whether you’re aiming to sculpt your body into a mirror image of Gerland Butler in 300, trying to decode what a cryptocurrency actually is, or searching for the best techniques to bet on sports, you can use social media to reach out to real people.

However, this era of uber-connectivity has inherent downsides. It is easier than ever for imposters and charlatans to dupe the unwitting public on social media. The phenomenon of the phony is particularly endemic to Instagram; those selfies that take hundreds of tries don’t really represent reality, and neither do the doctored betting slips that “scamdicappers” plaster all over their profiles.

Scam artists are getting more and more sophisticated as time passes, so it takes a keen eye to know how to pick a quality sports handicapper on Instagram and how to avoid the many, many scamdicappers.

Here, we present the best and worst techniques for determining which sports handicappers deserve to be trusted with your bankroll.

Best Practice #1: Choose a Transparent Handicapper

This one is simple. If you can’t find a comprehensive public record of a sports handicapper’s wins and losses, don’t give them your money. Legitimate handicappers will be more than happy to promote their overall record, not just their successes. If a handicapper doesn’t make this information readily available, they’re hiding something, and if they’re hiding something, chances are they’re a scamdicapper.

We touch on the importance of honesty and transparency in greater detail in our fantasy vs. reality article, where we illustrate how legitimate handicappers promote themselves by touting their hard work, research, and overall performance, while scamdicappers use some combination of bombast, lies, and bluster.

Bad Practice #1: Get Sucked in by Displays of Wealth and Status

Unfortunately, more sports bettors fall prey to this trap than you might imagine. After all, photos of someone on a bright red Ferrari holding stacks of cash are a lot sexier than a block of text claiming a 55% winning percentage.

This is a Ferrari. What does this have to do with sports betting? Absolutely nothing.

Setting aside the possibility that the Ferrari is borrowed, someone’s wealth isn’t a measure of their sports-betting acuity. The two things are entirely separate, and a flashy lifestyle isn’t indicative of anything except a desire for attention.

Best Practice #2: Buy into Reasonable Claims

The vast majority of successful professional sports bettors hover around a 55% lifetime winning percentage. The sharpest of the sharp are only about 2% better, and they tend to keep their wisdom to themselves instead of selling picks on the internet.

When you’re selecting a sports handicapper on Instagram, do not choose one that guarantees wins, because there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to sports betting. The only reasonable promise a handicapper can make is that they will work hard, do quality research, and provide access to their predictions and betting history. If they promise something more, something that sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Bad Practice #2: Get Drawn in with Memes and Vapid Inspirational Messages

Much like public displays of wealth, scamdicappers will often try to pull you in with their personalities. There’s nothing wrong with an injection of humor into a sports handicappers’ account, but this shouldn’t be the reason you sign up with a particular pick service. While it takes a certain genius to make people laugh, it takes an entirely different skill set to determine the likely outcome of sporting events.

Including memes like this one reflects nothing but good taste in television.

The same warning applies to accounts that post a ton of inspirational messages. Yes, it can be a bit of a boon on your day to see Tony Montana reminding you that the world is indeed yours, but this shouldn’t be the deciding factor in your decision to sign up with a particular handicapper.

Best Practice #3: Check the Comments on Multiple Posts

Signing up with a sports handicapper is similar in many respects to finding a mechanic. If you check the reviews of a highly regarded automotive repair shop, you’ll find numerous happy customers singing its praises.

The same holds true for sports handicappers, and it’s even easier to determine whether customers are content: just check the comments!

This is a classic example of an account to avoid.

If most commenters are lambasting the handicapper for not being true to his word, that’s a sign to stay away.

Conversely, if the comments show a majority of satisfied customers, it’s a sign of a legitimate handicapper.

Of course, you have to put time into this research. You can’t just look at the top comment on a couple posts; it’s very easy to fake a few happy customers. Be sure to read dozens of comments on dozens of posts to get an accurate gauge.

Similarly, do not judge the legitimacy of an account or post by the number of followers or likes. These days, those can be easily bought.

Lastly, don’t be put off by a few negative comments about isolated picks. No handicapper nails all his plays, and even the best will have dissatisfied customers whose expectations were unreasonably high.

Bad Practice #3: Choose an Account That Specializes in Only Sides or Big Games

Betting only sides (the moneyline or spread) is a tough proposition, especially for big sports such as the NFL and NCCAF. These lines garner the most action at sportsbooks and, as a result, oddsmakers spend a ton of time scrutinizing them. That makes it challenging to find value and even harder than usual to win at a break-even percentage.

For that reason, most successful sports handicappers follow in the footsteps Warren Buffet and diversify! They play sides, game totals, team totals, first-half lines, and more. They know that sports betting is like treasure hunting: finding a diamond in the rough is hard, so you might as well search for rubies, sapphires, and emeralds while you’re out there, because they can add just as much to your net worth.

Picking an account that only handicaps NFL games isn’t smart if you’re looking to end up like Floyd.

The same goes for marquee matchups. Handicappers who are exclusively focused on the biggest games every week are often trying to reel in customers by capitalizing on the popularity of the matchup.

Successful ‘cappers know that you’re much more likely to find value on the Minnesota Wild-Columbus Blue Jackets O/U in early February than on the AFC Championship game. Finding value is all about having a knowledge edge, and oddsmakers know everything there is to know about NFL teams come playoff time.

Legitimate handicappers don’t shy away from less popular sports and less popular teams. After all, if you’re in it to grow your bankroll, it shouldn’t matter what sport or game you’re betting on.

Best Practice #4: Pick an Account that Pairs its Name with a Face

Handicappers are selling a product (their picks), and they should be willing to have their true identity associated with that product. Providing some measure of personal information (their face, hometown, location, education, etc.) helps establish an account as trustworthy. It shows the handicapper is willing to be accountable for their performance.

It’s not really all that different when you hand over your savings to a money manager. No reasonable person would give their cash to someone who wouldn’t reveal even a modicum of their identity.

Of course, for privacy reasons, we don’t expect handicappers always to use their full legal name or give out their cell phone number, but you’re entitled to some standard of transparency.

Bad Practice #4: Sign-up for a “Coaching Service”

Some sports handicappers also offer to be “gambling coaches” on top of their pick-selling services. To be blunt, we don’t advocate signing up for one of these services.

The most you’ll gain is a recommendation to put in hard work, research betting strategies, learn more about specific sports, and then apply this newfound methodology to your sports bets. You won’t learn anything you don’t already know or can’t find for free.

There’s no shortcut to becoming a stronger bettor other than a ton of hard work, and wasting your money on a so-called “gambling coach” isn’t going to get you there any faster.

Want to Learn More about Scamdicappers on Instagram?

Well, you’re in the right place. If want to learn how to spot fraudulent sports handicappers, and what tricks they use to dupe prospective sports bettors, check out our “6 Easy Ways to Spot a Scamdicapper” guide.

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Aaron has been SBD's Lead Betting Analyst and lead researcher since 2017. He has been featured in publications such as Intelligence Magazine, The Investing News Network, Haven, Tech Bullion, and many local and national publications. Western B.A. '14, NYU M.A. '17.