Keeping Records & Analyzing Your Bets
Sports betting involves a lot of fine margins. The difference between winning and losing a wager can be very small. It might come down to a single point in a game of football, for example, or a single shot in a golf tournament.
It can be frustrating to lose a wager the smallest of margins. But that's the nature of betting. There will also be occasions when you win by a very small margin too.
The differences between being an overall winner and an overall loser from your betting can also be small. A tiny increase in your overall win rate might be all you need to go from making a loss to making a profit. The same is true of getting slightly better odds on some of your wagers, or practicing better bankroll management.
The fine margins in sports betting highlight the commitment needed if you want to be successful. You can't simply just place your wagers and hope for the best. There's a ton of factors you need to take into account. You also need to analyze your performance on a regular basis if you want the best chance of success. And the only way to do this effectively is keep accurate betting records.
In this article we explain why keeping records is so important. We also offer some advice on how to do it properly, and how to use your records to your advantage.
Why Keep Betting Records?
There are two main reasons why you should keep accurate betting records.
The first reason listed above is important regardless of why or how you're betting. You should ALWAYS know exactly how much you're winning or losing. It doesn't matter if you bet purely for fun or take things far more seriously.
Even when just betting for fun, you should still have a budget that you stick to. This is hard, if not impossible, without keeping some record of your betting activity. At the very least, you should maintain records of the deposits and withdrawals you make at betting sites. Something simple such as the following is fine.
Please note that this is the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM you should do in terms of record keeping. You don't NEED to do anything else if you're just betting for entertainment purposes. We do recommend that you go a step further though.
Although the above records are fine for keeping track of money won and lost, they are useless in terms of carrying out any analysis. And it's analysis that can really help to improve your results. To gain any kind of useful insight into your betting performance, you'll have to keep much more detailed records. Keep reading for some advice on how to do this.
How to Keep Betting Records
There are several different methods you can use for keeping accurate betting records. Here are the most popular ones.
Options one and two are significantly better than doing nothing at all. They're a bit limited though. You'll be able to review all the bets you've placed and do some analysis, but not as effectively as using a spreadsheet.
We highly recommended using a spreadsheet to maintain your betting records. It's by far the best option in our opinion. A spreadsheet makes it much easier to organize all the relevant data you need to record. This data can also be easily sorted to show certain specifics that you may want to view. Formulas can also be included to automatically make any calculations required. For example, a spreadsheet can calculate your win rate and your overall profit and loss. It can do much more too.
Once you've decided which method to use for keeping records, the next step is to decide what data to include. This is ultimately up to the individual and what suits them. But our advice is to record the following specifics for each and every wager placed.
- Date & time of wager
- Relevant competition/event/league
- Type of wager
- Odds of selection
- Result of selection
This looks like a lot of information. It only takes a few moments to note all these details for any wager you place though. Especially if using a spreadsheet. And the potential benefits are easily worth the time spent.
Some people advise also including which bookmaker or betting site is used for each wager. This certainly can be included, but we don't think it's necessary. It doesn't really tell us anything when we come to do our analysis. We do suggest keeping a separate record of all deposits and withdrawals made at each site though. Something similar to the table we showed earlier is fine for this, but it's better to have this information in a spreadsheet too.
You'll notice from the above list that we haven't suggested included the relevant sport. This is because we recommend keeping separate records for each sport you bet on. You'll want the ability to total up your overall results across all sports of course (which is incredibly simple if using a spreadsheet), but in terms of in-depth analysis it makes sense to look at each sport separately. This allows you to create summaries for each sport. Something like this, for example.
Summaries like this give you a quick snapshot of some key information that will help with your analysis. Again, it's really to create these summaries when using a spreadsheet.
There's one more thing you should include for each wager placed too. Ideally, your records should include detailed notes of the reasoning behind each selection. These notes should cover each of the factors that were taken into account when making the selection.
This last inclusion is not as straightforward as everything else. It's near enough essential if you want to get the maximum possible benefit from your record keeping and analysis though. This information will prove invaluable when it comes to actually analyzing your performance.
Analyzing Betting Records
Right, so we've shown you how to keep accurate and useful betting records. That's the easy bit. The next stage is doing some analysis of those records. This is not so easy, but it's a great way to work on your betting skills.
So what should your analysis entail then? In truth, there isn't really a right or wrong answer to this question. It's basically down to you to work out how to use the information in your records to find ways to improve your results. There's no single correct way to do this, but you should be looking to answer the following questions.
- Which sport produces the best results?
- Which sport produces the worst results?
- Which type of wager produces the best results?
- Which type of wager produces the worst results?
- Are results better when backing underdogs or favorites?
- Are they any selections backed too often/not often enough?
- What was your average stake on winning wagers?
Simply answering these questions alone can lead to immediate improvements in your results. Here's a hypothetical example.
Let's say that you bet exclusively on golf and tennis. When analyzing your records, you notice that you're making a small overall profit on tennis. You also notice that you're making a fairly substantial loss on golf.
In this scenario you could simply stop betting on golf. There's a good chance this would instantly improve your overall results. You might not want to do that of course, but at least you've identified that you need to work on your golf betting.
There are many more examples of how answering these questions can help you. Maybe you do really when betting on individual tennis matches, but not so well when betting on who'll win a tournament. Perhaps you're great at picking underdogs that go on to win matches, but not so great at finding value in favorites.
The point is that answering these questions enables you to determine your strengths and weaknesses. You can then choose to focus on betting where your strengths lie, or work on eliminating your weaknesses. Or a combination of the two of course.
Analysis can also help you to work out how effective your strategies for making selections are. This is where recording your reasons for betting comes in. You can then try to answer the following two questions.
- What went right when you won?
- What went wrong when you lost?
These questions seem simple, but answering them is not always straightforward. If you're able to, though, you'll be in a very strong position to make better decisions moving forward.
And you should always be trying to make better decisions. Good decisions are ultimately what will make you money.
Keeping accurate records and then analyzing them is not much fun. It's also time consuming. These two reasons are probably why so many bettors don't bother. We urge you not to make the same mistake.
The question you have to ask yourself is what's more important to you. Having fun or winning money? If it's profit you want, then you'll have to put in the required effort. You can then have some fun with the money you win.
The most successful sports bettors in the world never stop looking for ways to improve. Because there is always room for improvement. There's no perfect betting system or strategy that returns winner after winner. You have to keeping working on your skills and looking to gain an edge any way you can.
Analyzing your betting, and your reasons for betting, will certainly help you to do that.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: June 2016
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