Common Sports Betting Mistakes
In the previous article in this beginner's guide we provided a few tips about what you can do to improve your chances of success when betting on sports. You can find the article here if you haven't read it yet. Successful sports betting isn't all about what you should do though, it's also about what you shouldn't do.
All bettors make mistakes at some point, even experienced ones. With real money on the line, these mistakes can be costly. However, they can also help you to develop your betting skills. You just need to accept when you've made a mistake and try to learn from it. Of course, you still want to make as few mistakes as possible.
To help you with this, on this page we have listed some of the most common betting mistakes that people make. We've also provided some advice on how to make sure you avoid making them.
Betting Too Often
This is one of the biggest mistakes that beginners and recreational bettors make. It's an easy one to make too, because there's so much you can bet on. Most betting sites offer markets on a huge range of sporting events, with plenty of different betting options, so it can be really tempting to place lots of wagers.
Bookmakers don't like arbers because they represent bad business for them. An arber will always lose a certain percentage of his bets with a bookmaker, because of betting on all the possible outcomes, but should make an overall profit in the long run. The bookmakers are aware of this, and they don't want long term winners as customers. If they suspect a customer of arbing they will limit their account or even close it in order to protect their own profit margins.
If you're just betting for fun, this isn't necessarily a major problem providing you're sticking to an overall budget. However, if your goal is to consistently make money, then it's rarely a good idea to regularly make a large number of bets. A much better approach is to place just a few well thought out wagers, where you have identified value and good reasons to bet.
Letting Your Heart Rule Your Head
This is another mistake that's particularly common among recreational bettors. It's all too easy to bet on what you want to happen, rather than what you genuinely think will happen. A lot of bettors lose money by always betting on their favorite teams or players, without really thinking about whether it's the right thing to do.
If you are serious about your sports betting, then you really need to try and take the emotion out of it. There's no room for sentiment, and you have to try and be objective. This isn't to say that you should never bet on something that you want to happen, but you do need to be absolutely sure that you're betting for the right reasons.
This is possibly one of the most damaging mistakes you can make in not only sports betting, but in any form of gambling. It's also one of the most common mistakes made. Chasing losses has been the downfall of many a gambler, and unfortunately it's all too easy to do.
One of the hardest things to do when gambling is to remain in control. A run of bad luck can be very frustrating, particularly if you're not really doing anything wrong, and it's tempting to assume that your luck must turn at some point. It usually does, but there's no way of knowing when that turnaround will happen.
This is precisely why you should never chase your losses. If you keep increasing your stakes and your bad run continues, you might just run out of money before you start getting the wins you need. It's important to stay disciplined and keep your stakes at a sensible level. This way you allow yourself time to turn the run around.
This is a practice known as bankroll management, and it's a skill you absolutely have to master if you are going to be a successful bettor. You can find more information and advice on managing your bankroll in the following article.
Blaming Bad Luck
We've just mentioned bad runs above, and the fact is you'll almost certainly have them from time to time. Even the most successful bettors in the world go through periods where they can't seem to pick a winner, so you don't necessarily have to worry too much if results don't go your way for a while. Luck does play a part in sports betting, and there will be times when it just isn't on your side.
However, losing runs aren't always due to bad luck. It may be that you aren't making the right decisions, so it's important to always look at the reasons why your bets are losing. With a bit of analysis you'll quite possibly be able to correct where you're going wrong, but only if you are honest with yourself and don't just automatically blame bad luck every time you lose.
Greed can manifest itself in several ways when it comes to sports betting, and it can cause all kinds of problems. Betting too much money, rather than sticking to a staking plan and practicing good bankroll management, is a common result of greed, and this invariably leads to going bust. The same could be said of regularly betting at high odds, and placing parlays or accumulators with lots of selections.
There's nothing wrong with going after a big win in the right circumstances, you just need to make sure that you take measured risks and are not reckless. It's fine to occasionally place a wager at higher stakes than usual if you genuinely believe you have a really good chance of winning. Equally, it's fine to place a speculative wager at high odds if you believe it represents good value.
The point is really that you shouldn't be in a rush to make as much money as you can, as quickly as you can. If you are driven by greed, and make decisions based solely on the potential returns you can make, then you'll almost certainly lose in the long run. The most successful sports bettors take a slow and steady approach, aiming to gradually increase their bankroll over time.
Being lazy can be just as harmful to your chances of success as being greedy. It takes time and effort to make money out of sports betting, and if you're not prepared to put the work in, then you can't expect to be a winning bettor.
This doesn't mean you should spend hours and hours on every single wager you place. Sometimes you'll be able to find decent opportunities without a great deal of work, and sometimes your instinct will be enough. The only way you're going to consistently identify good opportunities, though, is by studying the betting markets and carrying out research when necessary.
Betting On Sports You Don't Understand
You don't need to be an expert on every sport you bet on, but you should have at least some knowledge about how the sport works. If you don't really understand a sport, then you are very unlikely to make money from betting on it.
This is a similar mistake to betting too often, and our advice for avoiding it is basically the same. You should only ever make wagers when you have a good a reason to. It's very difficult to justify a bet on a sport that you don't know much about, because you don't have the necessary knowledge to make an informed judgment.
Betting Under The Influence
This might seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning anyway. Your judgment is impaired when you are under the influence, and so chances are you're going to make some bad decisions. It's very easy to blow through your entire bankroll in a drunken evening, so it's best simply to never bet when you are drinking.
If you can avoid all the mistakes we have discussed here, then you'll have a good chance of becoming a successful bettor. Remember not to get too disheartened when you do make mistakes though. Just learn from them, and try not to make the same mistake twice.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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