It’s hard enough to consistently win in sports betting even when you do everything right. No amount of research, careful evaluation of the odds, or knowledge of the game can prevent you from losing almost half the time—if you’re lucky.
With that being said, there are some gambling faux pas that simply cannot be excused. Commit enough of them and you’re bound to drain your bankroll before you even know what hit you.
In this article, I’ll outline the five most unforgiveable sports betting mistakes that must be avoided at all costs if you want to be profitable.
1 – Picking Heavy Moneyline Favorites
Everyone likes a sure thing, especially when it comes to gambling. The only problem? It doesn’t exist.
Anytime you place a moneyline bet on a team that you think can’t possibly lose, there’s no doubt that you’ve risked too much for the opportunity to win too little. You might think your strategy of accumulating a high volume of low-profit wins will eventually pay off, but I’ve got some bad news for you: One of your favorites will get upset, and it will derail your bankroll.
Most gamblers learn the lesson of, “There are no shortcuts to winning money” the hard way, but I’m trying to save you the pain of a big loss. If you’re wondering what constitutes a reckless moneyline favorite play, I would say anything lower than -250 is territory you’d do well to stay away from.
In fact, I’d even go a step further and say that if you do want to utilize the moneyline, do it by choosing the underdog. Much in the same way that betting on heavy favorites will end up with you losing money over the course of time, betting on longshot (within reason) underdogs is a good way to make money.
Risk tolerance is something that is flat-out necessary in order to be a good sports bettor (not to mention investor, businessman, etc.). If you’re more concerned with looking for an easy win, or minimizing risk, than you are about making bets that pass the value test, then it’s going to be a tough go of it.
The bottom line is that you should never put yourself in the position where you have to risk substantially more money than you stand to win. For this reason, it’s unforgiveable to place big bucks on a heavy favorite’s moneyline in hopes of a meager payout.
2 – Betting On a Game With No Prior Research
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to do an hour-long background check on both teams before making a bet. That’s not my point at all. What I am saying, however, is that if you don’t do any research before a game, you’re putting yourself in a position to lose.
Regardless of the sport you’re betting on, it’s important to have the most up-to-date information available. Meaning, you need to know who’s playing. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Obviously, I know who’s playing, I follow the sport.” But the reality is that key NBA players, impact defensive players in the NFL, and stars in baseball and hockey can take a night off without you even noticing.
Nothing is worse than sitting down to watch a game that you’re playing only to realize that the team you bet on is missing a starter or key player. If you aren’t checking beforehand, you’re taking a major risk.
It takes no more than 10 minutes to look over a couple previews of a game. It’s the bare minimum you should be doing before risking any of your hard-earned cash betting on a sport. My recommendation would be to find a game preview site and use it for all the games you’re betting on. Once you have your go-to resource established, the process becomes even easier.
3 – Chasing a Loss
It goes without saying that nobody likes losing money. Ask yourself how many times you’ve seen the following situation play out: Someone has a not-so-great day betting on the NFL, and going into the Sunday Night game finds themselves with a 2-5 betting record. Because they don’t want to end the day a loser, they bet enough on the night game that if they win, they’ll cover their losses or end up with a small profit. Sound familiar?
The fact is that everyone is susceptible to chasing losses – it’s practically human nature to do so. However, that doesn’t give you an excuse to do it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “chasing losses,” it simply refers to trying to win the money you lost on previous games by betting extra on upcoming games. It essentially ignores every rule about disciplined sports betting and can destroy your bankroll quicker than you ever thought possible.
It’s a tough thing to accept, but sometimes, it’s necessary to recognize that not losing more money than you’ve already lost can be considered a win. As long as you stick around to fight another day, you’re giving yourself a chance to be profitable. If you wager all your money trying to win back what you’ve lost, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
Remember, everyone goes through hot streaks and cold streaks. The key is to maintain the same level-headed approach to gambling until the tide turns in your favor. And believe me, even though it may not seem like it at the time, it will.
4 – Betting With Your Heart
Gambling, in just about every form, is an inherently emotional endeavor. This is especially true when it comes to sports betting.
When you put some action on a game, you’re essentially investing in the performance of the players you bet on. It can be nearly impossible to remove all forms of bias when it comes to betting on (or against) certain teams or players based on how you feel about them.
It’s not news to suggest that it’s a good idea to stay away from betting on your favorite team. Sure, you could say that you really thought they had favorable odds, but it’s impossible to know if that’s good analysis or wishful thinking.
When making betting decisions, it’s critical that you leave your feelings at the door. Remember, online sports betting sites are well-aware of the biases the general public has toward certain teams or players and the odds reflect that. More often than not, if you bet against the general public sentiment, you’re putting yourself in the position to succeed.
Being able to separate reason and emotion is something that most people struggle with in all facets of life, especially in gambling. As long as you’re able to recognize when your heart is trying to control your decision-making, you can avoid falling into the trap.
5 – Not Keeping a Bankroll
This one might be the most important of all the things listed in this article. If you don’t have a bankroll set up, you simply don’t have the chance to become a profitable sports gambler.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, your bankroll is the pool of money you’ve set aside to use strictly for betting. It should be an amount of money that you feel comfortable losing. In fact, just consider it a purchase, meaning something that won’t get a return.
Once you have your bankroll in place, the next step is to determine a percentage range to guide you in deciding how much money you’ll risk on a bet. For example, if you have a $1,000 bankroll, it’s a good idea to stay between 2% and 5% for any one bet.
That means you shouldn’t risk less than $20 and no more than $50 on one play. This ensures you’ll stay in the game for a while without having to reload.
Everyone is aware of the importance of having a budget in your their personal lives. Sure, you can exist without it, but you’re taking a risk. In this case, gambling is no different.
Once you have your money set aside, put together a method to track the flow of money. It may not help you win or lose bets on an individual basis, but it’s going to help your bottom line significantly to know exactly what’s happening with your finances.
Becoming a profitable sports bettor is hard, and very few people are able to pull it off over the course of their gambling career. Stay away from these five mistakes, and you’ll put yourself in a position to be successful.
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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