Common Football Betting Mistakes

Professional football is not only the most popular sport to watch, but it's also the most popular sport to bet on. With that said, there are a lot of bettors making careless mistakes when placing football wagers. In order to achieve long term financial success, it's important to avoid the following football betting mistakes.

Taking the Off-Season Off

There's no rest for the weary, and there's no off-season for committed football bettors. If you are serious about increasing your bankroll and becoming a successful sports bettor, then you must maximize the time you have during the off-season. Without rehashing our entire article "Using the Football Off-Season Effectively", there are many things you can do during the off-season to prepare for the upcoming NFL season. The following is a list of actionable steps to make the most of the NFL off-season:

  • Review last season's bets
  • Analyze last season's football stats
  • Learn new stats
  • Learn new football wager types
  • Study the upcoming NFL schedule
  • Monitor all of the major changes for each team

Remember, betting on football is all about winning your wagers. In order to hit a high percentage of them, you need to take the time to prepare for the upcoming season and not go into football betting hibernation when there aren't any NFL games being played.

Not Watching Enough Football

Speaking of NFL games, if you don't watch football every week, then you are really digging yourself a deep hole. In fact, I'm willing to bet that you are just throwing your money away.

How can you know which teams to bet on if you don't even watch them play?

Guy on His Couch Watching Football

This is the true definition of blind betting, and there's a good chance you are losing most, if not all, of your bets.

There are NFL games on every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday throughout the season. There's plenty of opportunities for you to watch games. Additionally, the NFL Network replays games throughout the week, and you can also purchase the NFL Game Pass where you can watch replays of every game online. The Game Pass features condensed replays and all-22 coaches film where you really can get insight into each and every team.

There are many benefits to watching football. The following is just a few major reasons why you should:

  • Learn about each team
  • Learn more about players
  • Gain invaluable betting insights

Carelessly Following the So-Called Experts

As we alluded to above, don't blindly bet on football games. This includes putting your faith and bankroll in the hands of the so-called experts. For starters, ESPN and the NFL Network have numerous football shows and dozens of talking heads. Now, don't get me wrong, the former players that host these shows can provide valuable insight into football matchups. However, they do this without taking into consideration lines and odds. The best thing to do is take their insight and use it as one of the many factors that go into your football betting strategies.

Betting Experts

Football handicappers and sites that offer free betting picks should be taken at face value. Don't blindly follow these individuals just because they claim to have done well. There are some sites that offer picks based on a wealth of information. These are the sites worth examining further because they provide valuable betting data with their picks. Take their information into consideration, but don't blindly follow it. This is nothing more than another factor to include in your football betting strategy.

Overreacting to or Ignoring Injuries

The NFL is a violent sport, and injuries are part of the game. In 2017, concussions rose by 13.5%, according to the NFL. Additionally, the league reported that injuries were also on the rise. It's further proof of just how dangerous this sport can be. With that said, it's important not to overreact to injuries, especially since they're so common. For example, the NFL reported that there are 6.9 injuries in every Thursday Night Football game.

All too often, casual bettors and beginners overreact to injuries, especially when it's to a key player. Last year, Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury, and everyone wrote the Eagles off. They were able to cruise into the playoffs since they had a huge lead in the NFC playoff race. In both of their NFC playoff games and the Super Bowl, the Eagles were underdogs, as both experts and Vegas thought Philly would lose. Backup QB Nick Foles came in and led the Eagles to 2 playoff wins and a Super Bowl victory.

Conversely, don't ignore injuries. When Aaron Rodgers went out last year due to a broken collarbone, the Packers' offense was terrible. This had a major impact on the team's win/loss record and various wager types like moneylines and spreads. Ideally, it's best to wait a week or two after a major injury in order to evaluate how the team will respond.

Mismanaging Your Bankroll

One of the fastest ways to lose your bankroll is by mismanaging it. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most common mistakes made by football bettors. And if we're being honest, it's the most catastrophic mistake that you can make.

Before you even place your first bet, you should set aside a lump sum of money that's going to be used as your bankroll. This money should come from extra funds and not from the cash needed to pay your bills. You must also be prepared to accept the risk of losing this bankroll without it having a detrimental effect on your financial responsibilities.

The next step is to set rules for betting and staking. This is where bettors mismanage their bankrolls. These rules are put in place to keep you disciplined while betting on football. They should be established before the season starts. Typically, these rules are based on your betting goals, wagers, and strategies. Establishing these rules can help to prevent you from mismanaging your bankroll in one of the following ways:

Chasing Losses

Even the most advanced bettors have losing streaks, so you can expect to find yourself in the midst of a losing streak during the football season. The important thing here - don't overreact and chase your losses. What this means is to stick to your rules and don't increase your wagers to try and make up for your losses. This is where you can lose your bankroll.

Winning Streak Recklessness

Just like with chasing losses, bettors can get reckless when on a winning streak. They can get overconfident and greedy, which leads to increased wagers and the inevitable bankroll crash when a loss happens. The winning streak can come to an end, and all of your winnings could go back to the sportsbook. If you are going to increase your wagers, make sure it's in proportion to your increased bankroll. This will allow you to continue your betting rules without blowing through your money.

Too Many Parlays

Parlays offer attractive payouts, but they're difficult to win. Additionally, they could hinder your overall betting success. For example, NFL Sunday comes, and you go 3-1 in your picks. Unfortunately, you combined those four picks into a 4-team parlay, which means you lost your money. If you would've just made 4 individual bets, you would've walked away significantly ahead for the day. Limit your parlays to a maximum of one per week until you are more experienced, and your bankroll has grown.

Betting on Your Favorite Team

We've all been guilty of this at some point. It's not an issue if you do it sporadically. The problem is when you consistently bet on your favorite team almost every week.

Denver Bronco Fans at a Game

This is when you run into trouble. More times than not, beginners and casual bettors feel that they know more about their team than Vegas does. They're blinded by favoritism and can't see some of the betting factors that impartial parties can see. Betting on football has no room for favoritism. Don't fall into this trap.

Unrealistic Expectations

Let's get this out of the way right now - the majority of bettors lose when placing wagers on football. Unfortunately, that's largely due to bettors making many of the mistakes in this article. Another trap that amateur bettors and beginners fall into is having unrealistic expectations. Whether it's past luck or some overinflated knowledge of betting on football, many amateurs come into this venture thinking they will win a lot of money. Sadly, they mostly end up losing their entire bankroll.

Yes, it's definitely possible to win money and have long-term success. But that's largely due to putting in hard work and staying disciplined. As we said above, make sure that your bankroll is a sum of money that you can afford to lose. Don't gamble with your mortgage payment because you think you have a sure bet. The only sure thing here is that you will not have any money to make your mortgage payment.

Shotgun Betting Approach

All too often, the excitement of football betting can lead to bettors placing numerous wagers. I call this the shotgun approach, as you just place a lot of wagers and hope that most of them win. This flies in the face of a disciplined approach and will definitely chew up your bankroll before you get to Week 3 of the NFL season. You need to exercise patience when betting on football. Find value in your bets, systematically analyze the data, and make an educated wager. Don't just bet on every NFL game that's on TV that day. Additionally, stick to just football. Don't dip your toes into the waters of other sports, especially when you have very little experience and understanding of that sport. The goal is to place a wager that gives you the best chance at winning, not place as many bets possible in the hopes that you will win.

Impulsive or Casual Betting

This shotgun betting approach is a perfect example of impulsive gambling. It's based on emotions rather than a betting system. Other examples are betting on the game you are watching, doubling down on your fantasy games by betting on the NFL games, or placing wagers when you are intoxicated.

Casual betting can be just as dangerous as impulsive betting, as there is not much work being put into the bets. Additionally, there's no plan for long-term success or a proper bankroll management strategy.

Impulsive and casual bets may be fun, but they're almost always a losing bet. You are just throwing away money. If you are going to bet on football, then you need to take it seriously and put aside your emotions.

Not Shopping for Odds and Lines

Other than laziness, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't shop for optimal lines and odds. Since the goal is to win money, shopping for lines is a must. Comparing lines from different sportsbooks can be the difference between winning and losing a bet.

For example:

Site A vs Site BFavorites
Site A Ravens
3.5 points
Site B Ravens
-2.5 points

The Ravens are a 3.5-point favorite over the Bengals at your primary sportsbook. A second top-rated sportsbook has the Ravens at -2.5 points. The game ends with Baltimore winning 20-17, and you end up losing your bet because you stuck with your primary sportsbook and the -3.5 line. If you would've shopped around and placed your bet at the second sportsbook, you would've won your bet.

Another example would be if the Bears and the Lions are listed as even for the spread, and you want to drop $100 on Detroit.

Site A vs Site BSpread
Site A Lions
EVEN (-105)
Site B Lions
EVEN (+110)

However, your primary sportsbook has the Lions as -105. So, you bet $105 to win $100. A second reputable sportsbook has the Lions at +110, which means you could've bet $100 to win $110. The Lions win, and you ended up shortchanging yourself because you didn't shop around.

There's no room for laziness in sports betting. The Miracles, an old-school musical group, said it best: "You better shop around."

Not Betting for Value

The term "value" tends to take on different meanings and connotations within the industry. A simple definition of value is when the probability of a wager winning is greater than the odds suggest. In other terms, it's a bet that gives you a perceived edge.

Betting for value means that you are looking for bets that offer value based on the definition above. Typically, casual bettors and beginners just bet based on what they know or think they know. They don't look for value bets. Over the long haul, value betting is how you will make money. Learn how to identify value bets and improve your chances of winning.

Take some time to read up on value betting and prepare yourself for the upcoming season.

Don't Learn from Mistakes

Lastly, and probably the most disheartening, is when bettors don't learn from their mistakes. In life, it's inevitable that we're going to mess up, make a bad choice, or make a mistake. But those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In the case of betting on football, those who don't learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of others are doomed to lose all of their money.

After reading this article, there's no reason or excuse for you to repeat these or other mistakes. If you aren't going to put the effort and discipline into being a successful football bettor, then you might want to consider spending your time and money elsewhere.

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