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Inside a sports betting service that actually wins

Hundreds of fingers hover over sports betting apps.

The bettors have been told to prepare to wager on Louisiana Tech +26 against Mississippi State. They have logged in and selected the game and are waiting for confirmation to proceed.

Finally, a word pops up in the group messaging app: “GO.”

The bettors simultaneously punch in their wagers. Less than a minute later, the line is Louisiana Tech +23½ and dropping.

That is the market influence of Right Angle Sports, the sports betting handicapping service that, over 25 years, has earned something rarely seen in the much-derided pick-selling industry: respect as a long-term winner.

Edward Golden, the founder of Right Angle Sports, said he is proud of the work RAS has done, but he understands why “tout” is a dirty word.

“I’m the first to admit that it’s a bad industry. There’s a lot of bad actors … There’s a lot of dishonest people,” he said. “Most people don’t win, so whether they’re honest or not, they’re not offering a lot of value.

“But there’s nothing inherently wrong with selling. Can you provide value or not? Are you honest? Are you trying to do right for your customers?”

According to the RAS website (handicapper.net), the service has won at a 55-percent rate over the past 10 years for a profit of more than 250 units. (A unit is whatever standard wager size an individual bettor uses.)

This season, RAS was 34-19-1 in college football (+13.1 units) and 30-24 in the NFL (+4.5 units). RAS is done with football for the season and is now focusing on college basketball.

‘The human element’

Golden and his partners agreed to discuss the history of RAS, the pick-selling industry, their approach and why the service has lasted. They asked not to be photographed, and Golden’s partners Mike and Jeff asked not to reveal their last names, in part to protect their anonymity with sportsbooks who could limit or ban their accounts.

Golden, a 47-year-old who lives in California, said he started RAS in 1996 after gaining a following on internet message boards by writing detailed analysis of games with his betting picks. He began emailing plays to a small group of subscribers.

RAS continued to gain clients, but Golden said its profile exploded around 2010 when the service’s plays began to influence the market on college basketball totals.

“The market was really soft,” he said. “We would play these totals, and they would just move two, three, four points, sometimes even more — six, seven points, even.”

Two Las Vegas sportsbook executives declined to comment on RAS.

In a handicapping world increasingly dominated by computer modeling, Golden, Mike and Jeff cited “the human element” as a chief reason for their long-term success. They read as much as they can and watch as many games as they can.

“We rely more on subjective handicapping probably than any top pros,” Golden said. “… I think that’s what kind of makes us different from everyone else who’s very model-organized and probably either doesn’t value or doesn’t know how to quantify some of the things that we’re looking at.”

Golden said RAS has 10 employees besides the partners, and a lot of their job involves searching for information on injuries, scheme changes or anything else that might impact how a game plays out.

A learning process

Mike and Jeff said they were passionate about sports betting but were unsure how to turn that into a livelihood until working for Golden.

Mike said he had a finance background but started a sort of “unpaid internship” with RAS in 2005., researching games and trying to find information for Golden. Over time, Mike’s ability grew, and so did his responsibilities.

Jeff followed the same path. He was a journalist before joining RAS in 2012, then started doing “grunt work” for the service — maintaining spreadsheets, entering data, investigating injuries — while picking Golden’s mind every chance he got.

“I just exhausted him with questions deep into the night my first six months, just trying to get a better sense of his process, what worked and what didn’t,” Jeff said. “And then slowly as I kind of figured that out, he gave me more responsibility.”

Jeff said he still keeps an eye on Twitter, Reddit and sports betting forums looking for talented people who display an aptitude for betting, but most importantly a passion and willingness to work that could make them a fit with RAS.

Mike said the growing legalization of sports betting is opening up the profession to people who might have shied away in the past.

“Sports betting now seems like a more viable career path that didn’t exist 15 years ago,” he said. “When I came out of college, you wouldn’t be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to go bet on sports.’ You might tell your closest friends that, but you wouldn’t tell the world that.”

Winning isn’t easy

Despite the success of RAS, potential buyers should beware before rushing out to purchase the service.

First, it is not for casual weekend bettors. The full-season college basketball package is $2,495. Golden said a bettor should be wagering $1,000 per game to make the service worthwhile and should be able to wager multiple units daily.

RAS has introduced a lower-cost college basketball service that ranges from $19 for one play to $299 for 20 plays, with one play released per day at a set time. Golden recommends bettors wager at least $300 per game for this package.

Second, bettors have to be ready to wager when the plays are released. RAS released a few college football plays on its free Betting Talk Slack channel during the fall, which served as a demonstration of the service’s influence on the market.

Lines at most sportsbooks moved quickly after RAS’ releases, and the plays grow weaker with each half-point lost.

Golden said RAS has worked hard over the years to perfect its “set up and go” release method, in which bettors receive a play at the same time, but must wait in a Slack channel for confirmation (“GO” to complete the bet, “CANCEL” to delete it).

That method gives the best chance for the most people to put in the play at the same time, Golden said. Anyone who tries to jump the gun risks betting a play that RAS is not backing, or is maybe even the opposite of the actual RAS release. Multiple “CANCEL” notifications might occur before the real play.

Finally, as with many investments, past performance does not indicate future results. Sports betting is getting tougher and tougher to beat, and Jeff said he can see a future when RAS is no longer viable.

“We’re not stupid,” he said. “At some point the music will stop, and the hourglass will run out, and we lose our edge and we have to find a new way to carve out a living. It’s kind of scary, but it’s also kind of exciting.”

For now, Right Angle Sports motors on.

Louisiana Tech went according to plan. The line moved all the way to +20½, but Louisiana Tech was good at any number in a 35-34 defeat.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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