Upside-Down Performance & How To Handle It

The below article was originally published as a “My Two Cents” section of the TSP Newsletter on October 18, 2022. It is being republished as an independent article on for future reference. Enjoy!

One of my goals in helping people become better bettors is breaking down preconceived notions that bettors have about how professional betting works. If I could get bettors to let go of these unrealistic perceptions and beliefs about professional betting…those bettors would see an increase, not just in performance, but in their enjoyment of gambling. When you are fighting reality…you will lose…every time!

The notion I want to break down today relates to upside-down performance. Upside-down performance is when lower tier content outperforms upper tier content. It happens all the time, but when it does, it blows bettor’s minds as they just assume something is broken.

Almost every gambler at some point has the following beliefs about gambling….

  1. When someone releases a “big” play…whether a bullshit tout releasing a Game of the Year, 50 Dime Lock, 100 unit BANGER…OR…even just an actual professional bettor who says they like this game enough to warrant a “2 unit wager”. The belief in either instance is that those plays will inevitably hit 75-80% or some other outrageously unrealistic win percentage. I am sorry to tell you, your performance expectation is wildly inaccurate.
  2. Another belief is that if someone is truly a winning gambler, bankroll pain will be very small and limited. Sure, even the idiots out there who gamble realize you can’t win every week. What I mean is the belief that even when a professional gambler loses in a given week, the loss is orderly and manageable. LOL!! Gambling even at the professional level is what I consider “random consistency”. Basically, what happens in the short term can vary wildly and be highly volatile (random). However, when you smooth out performance over time…the longer you go out, the more “consistent” the performance would look as a whole.
  3. A third belief, and the final one I will touch on is that life as a professional gambler is relatively easy and leisurely. You travel all the time, sit by the pool as you handicap games and check lines, relax watching sports all day, watch some game films during the week and then make your money every weekend of football. If you are a true professional gambler with and an actual edge…and not just the actor in some tout’s infomercial, you bust your ass harder than most professions. Unlike most professions, your earnings are tied to the ability of some college kid to kick a FG. He misses…you don’t get paid this week…he hits it…you get paid. You could put in hours of work to handicap a weekend’s card…and then lose money for those efforts…and have to do it all again the next week because you aren’t getting a paycheck just because you tried!

As you can probably tell, all of the bolded beliefs above are total horseshit…but like a good Nigerian prince scam…once you are sold on the above beliefs…you will NEVER let them go. You NEED them to be reality because you just want it so badly! I won’t rip down all the ridiculous beliefs about professional gambling that people have…I don’t have the time now. I’ll just tackle one.

Most people bet top tier content like it will never have volatility, variance, bad runs, bad luck or underperformance (compared to its past performance or other content). In doing so you just set yourself up for stress, aggravation, and extreme bankroll fluctuation & financial pain.

Nothing in gambling is uniform and perfect. Gambling content will perform in one of four ways…

  1. There will be times where the top tier content kills it and the lower level content does not.
  2. There will be times when the bottom tier content kills it and the top tier content does not.
  3. There will be times when BOTH the top tier and bottom tier content perform.
  4. There will be times when NEITHER the top tier nor the bottom tier content perform.

At any given time in gambling…whether my content, your own betting, or some other service…one of the above four situations will be occurring. Of course, we as gamblers only want #1 or #3 to be occurring…it makes life easy. Life as a professional bettor is never easy.

You will experience EACH of the four scenarios above MULTIPLE TIMES over the course of a year. Be prepared for it, know what scenario you are in, and bet intelligently. Those scenarios will last for weeks or months…be prepared that it won’t just be scenario #4 for two weeks and then it’s back to #1 or #3. If you bet smart…none of this will ever be an issue.

Eventually, the progression to the mean will come. When you zoom out and look at performance over 6, 9, 12, 24 months the top angles will likely outperform lower level angles. However, we don’t live life in 6 or 9 month blocks. We live every second of every day. Which means we have to sweat and experience the day to day ups and downs. Which means over a short period of a week, a few weeks, or even 2-3 months, you could see some wild swings in performance. Maybe when you zoom out to 9 months you hit 55% across all your bets and made money…but zooming in on any given month in that period might see you hit 35% of your bets…damn…who are you…Mr. Poison? Then in another month you hit 70%! WOW!!

As I discussed in an alert on Sunday, people have these simple visions when they look at a performance record. If I told the average gambler that over the past year my magical coin was hitting 67-33 for 67% winners…people would just assume this performance conveniently came as 2 wins, 1 loss, 2 wins, 1 loss, 2 wins, 1 loss…and maintained that 67% winners in a perfect, simple, clean pattern. No stress, no major bad runs, no sweat…easy money! LOL! Yeah, you must not gamble much. Like anything in gambling…it’s all about the runs…and those fuckers can be wild!

Let’s say I started doing “The Sharp Plays Game of the Week” and these wagers went 33-19 over the first year. When we just see that 33-19 record our gambler’s brain thinks…WOW…these Games of the Week are awesome! Great job TSP, you have some TOP TIER content! What you don’t realize just looking at the final record is that under the hood not many gamblers could have handled the swings to get to that 33-19 record. Under the hood that record was anything but predictable, orderly and stress free. More than likely this is how you got to your 33-19 performance…

5 Game of the Week wins in a row…damn this new content is fucking awesome!

5 losses in a row…fucking TSP is such a dickhead…plays are bullshit…let me, as a 30 or 40 year old adult now go act like a 2 year old on Twitter!

6 wins…I LOVE YOU TSP…take my wife!!!

3 losses…you just can’t win at gambling…ever

4 wins…bounce right back…that’s how we do it with TSP!

1 loss…ok

1 win…come on…just one win

2 losses…oh my God, this is so annoying we can NEVER win back to back weeks

4 wins…About time…this was getting ridiculous that my last four week period was 1 win and 3 losses…4-0 is how this should be!

2 losses…Come on…losses…did TSP have a typo again and tell us the wrong side of the bet?

10 wins…When I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this…50-inch screen, money-green leather sofa…Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur…Phone bill about two G’s flat…No need to worry, my accountant handles that…And my whole crew is loungin’

6 losses…does anyone know a good bankruptcy attorney?

3 wins…I’m BACK!!!!

Obviously, the above is a bit longer than it has to be…but I did it for emphasis. If you add it all up those 13 separate Game of the Week runs provide a final record of 33 wins and 19 losses for +12.1 units. A profitable run of solid content that hit 63.5% winners! HOLY SHITBALLS BATMAN!! Content that hit 63.5% over the course of 1 year…betting only one game a week!!! Damn, how easy is that? Yeah, looks easy after the fact, but what were you thinking during the 5 week losing run right at the start…or look at what you were thinking when you lost 6 weeks in a row right at the end of the year! Anyone can handle the 5 win run or the 10 win run…few can handle 3 losses in a row, let alone 5 or 6.

When you look at the above and see “5 losses” think of what that means too. Since these are “TSP Games of the Week” it means you bet this week and lost, next week lost, week after lost, week after that and lost, week after that AND STILL LOST!! Yep, that’s five bets…one per week…and you lost five weeks in a row. How many people would have given up around week #3? Could you imagine what the morons on Twitter would be saying during that run? Yet, in the end…that exact same content provided 33 wins, 19 losses, +12.1 units of profit, and 63.5% winners…I would consider this top tier successful content.

Therein lies my point. Too many people avoid the big picture because they can’t handle short term realities. In the short term, flipping a coin could provide you a 5 game win streak.

When the TSP Game of the Week was in the midst of a five week 0-5 run it is likely that other content…lower level content…was performing well. I know, blows your mind that a Game of the Week could lose five weeks in a row, but during the same time the NHL algorithm was hitting 80%! Sorry folks…that’s just how it goes sometimes. If things were consistent and uniform in gambling…this would be a pretty easy business…and it is not.

So, what should a gambler do? Stay the course. The longer you gamble with an edge, the greater the chance of turning a profit. It is the same theory as the casino. The casino doesn’t change the game of craps after a day where they lost money. The casino keeps the game exactly the same knowing that over the year they will do just fine on those same craps tables. Eventually the progression to the mean will come…and with it will come the profits.

Book Positions are 0-4. Prior to that run their were considered top tier content. However, this 0-4 run has had people question their quality and their very existence…despite the long-term performance of the same content (59%+ winners). Below is how Book Positions performed last football season…

2 wins, 1 loss, 1 win, 2 losses, 1 win, 2 losses, 5 wins, 1 push, 1 loss, 3 wins, 1 loss, 1 win, 1 loss, 3 wins, 1 loss.

The above record is 16-9-1 for 64%. If the content can have 5 wins in a row…it likely will have 5 losses in a row at some point. The key is that it grinds a profit over time and that’s what it has done. Finding the right unit structure is key or as I always say…if you flat bet you would be a lot happier for it.

Betting the same amount on top tier content and bottom tier content ensures that if you are in any of the above scenarios #1 through #4 that your performance won’t be so volatile. If you bet 2 units on top tier content and 1 unit on bottom tier content, then in scenario #1 and #3 you will make money…but in scenario #2 and #4 you will lose money. HOWEVER, if you bet 1 unit on everything you would make money in scenarios #1, #2 and #3, but you’ll lose money in scenario #4. No matter your strategy you will always lose in scenario #4 when neither top nor bottom content is performing…but your losses will still be less flat betting. Which goes to a final point…you can’t win all the time, so don’t try. Have a bankroll management plan that allows you to weather the inevitable scenario #4 when it comes around!

Also remember, flat betting allowed you to profit in three of the four possible betting performance scenarios…and minimized your losses in the 4th scenario. Betting tiered amounts only lets you profit in two of the four scenarios! Which is why I always say…flat betting might not be optimal (because you will make more tiered betting when scenario #1 is going on), but for most casual bettors it is the best setup.

Good luck in your action!
~ The Sharp Plays