It’s not exactly breaking news to say that the vast majority of individuals who regularly bet on sports don’t come out ahead. For most, sports gambling is simply a way to increase a game’s entertainment value by giving them someone to root for when their team isn’t involved.
With that being said, just because most people don’t win money doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Although, it certainly isn’t easy. In this article, I’ll explain the reasons why most bettors aren’t able to be profitable and show you what you can do to change that for yourself.
1 – They Don’t Have a Real Bankroll
Imagine running a business without a carefully maintained balance sheet. If you don’t know how much money is coming in and going out, it’s nearly impossible to know where to make adjustments. The same concept applies to sports betting, but instead of a balance sheet, you need a bankroll.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a bankroll is an amount of money you’ve set aside specifically for gambling. It should be an amount of money that you can afford to lose; in fact, it’s best to treat it like a purchase where there’s no expected return. Your number one goal should make this pool of money last long enough to see luck turn in your favor.
Gamblers who don’t have a bankroll run the risk of simply reloading their balances on various sports betting platforms whenever their current balance hits $0. This makes it extremely difficult to know the true cost of your betting losses over a long period of time.
What You Can Do About It
Before you start betting, set aside money and determine a percentage range between which you’ll bet. For example, if you’ve put $500 in your bankroll, you might say, “I’ll bet between 2% and 10% on any one play.” That means the most you’ll wager is $50, and the least amount you’ll bet is $20. The goal is to keep yourself from making big and potentially devastating (to your bankroll) bets.
Winning money in sports gambling is a long-term endeavor. Go into it with that mindset and you have a much higher chance of being successful.
2 – They Don’t Consider Value When Making Picks
On the surface, it might sound like a good idea to bet on a favorite using the moneyline. I mean, all they have to do is win and you’ll get paid, no point spread involved. That -400 play looks safe enough until it’s not.
To use another business comparison, it’s important to remember that in sports betting you need to have some level of risk tolerance. If you’re always looking for the safe bet and not the value associated with it, you’re going to suffer big losses which set your bankroll back dramatically.
With that in mind, what exactly does value look like in sports betting?
Here are two prime examples that put you in a position to win more than you have to risk: futures bets and moneyline underdogs.
In terms of moneyline underdogs, I understand that it’s tough to put money on a team that is not expected to win. With that being said, if a favorite is -140 and the underdog is +150, the sportsbook is telling you that it really could go either way. Why not play the odds and go with the underdog?
With futures bets, the challenge is two-fold—accounting for an array of unforeseen variables and having the patience to wait. Futures bets often provide massive amounts of value (the earlier you bet, typically the better odds you’ll get), though it can be tough to make a bet in which the outcome won’t be settled for weeks (or months).
What You Can Do About It
I hate to make a blanket statement like this, but if you want to be successful, stop betting on moneyline favorites. These are sucker bets that the sportsbook loves to have you bet on.
Do yourself a favor and start getting comfortable putting your money on underdogs, especially moneyline underdogs. Any time you can win less than 50% of your bets and come out on top, it’s a good position to be in as a bettor.
3 – They Don’t Do the Research
The reality of sports gambling is that very few bettors actually take the time to gather all relevant information before making a bet. It’s understandable, too. I mean, who has time to do a 20-minute deep dive into the numbers every time he or she is going to make a bet?
Unsurprisingly, the more effort you put into researching the teams or players involved in your bets, the better your results are going to be. Many people believe that the odds the sportsbooks put on games are perfectly accurate, meaning you already have all the information you need to know right there. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sportsbooks Put Together Opening Odds
But once the market opens up, the public’s money determines where the lines will close. That means the closing odds might not accurately reflect reality because they have a heavy dose of public bias as part of the equation.
Now, this might be the time where one would expect the age-old advice of “fade the public.” It’s not a bad philosophy (despite what some will tell you). But it’s also important to recognize that unless you’re betting on nearly every single event, fading the public doesn’t exactly work as a hard and fast rule.
Develop your own little routine for research before making a bet. For example, I like to find two articles—one that comes to the conclusion of betting on Team A and one that comes to the conclusion of betting on Team B. This way, you’re exposed to both perspectives and can make your own conclusion based on all the information while removing as much bias as possible from the situation.
What You Can Do About It
Establish a go-to routine for doing quick, efficient research before making a bet. You don’t have to internalize every single stat available for either side, but don’t just go into it blindly.
You’ll be shocked at how much better your betting outcomes will be when you have some rationale behind the decisions you make at the sportsbook.
4 – They Bet Emotionally
It’s been said that the opposite of reason is emotion. Throw sports and money into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
As sports fans, it can be extremely difficult to see things logically. Even teams that you don’t have a rooting interest in, you probably have some opinion about them that could skew your thinking one way or another.
Never, under any circumstances, is it a good idea to make a bet on a particular team or player because that’s who you want to win. Of course, you’re still going to win even when you do bet based on your personal outcome preference sometimes. But over time, it’s a losing formula that clouds your judgement.
Sports bettors using their heart instead of their head is nothing new. It’s always happened and always will happen even though everyone knows it’s not exactly logical. If you’re feeling like you can’t bet one way or another because you don’t want that result to happen, it’s probably best to simply lay off the game.
What You Can Do About It
If you’re looking at betting options and have the thought of, “I don’t want to bet against this team/player/result because it’s something I want to see, even if I don’t feel confident it’s actually going to happen,” do yourself a favor and move on.
This is especially true when it comes to your favorite team. You’re probably not going to bet against them, but that doesn’t mean you need to be on them either. If you really care about the outcome, it’s almost impossible to make a completely rational decision.
Only a small percentage of sports gamblers make money, but there’s no reason why you can’t be in that group. Most sports gamblers just don’t put in the necessary time or mental energy to be successful. Keep these tips in mind and you might be one of the few who makes sports betting a profitable endeavor.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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