The Makings of a Successful Sports Bettor
If you are an experienced bettor, you'll probably have learned that there are several things you have to get right to be successful. It's something we try to make very clear throughout our sports betting guide, as beginners often think that making a profit from betting is a simple case of picking as many winners as you can.
Picking winners is, of course, very important. It's not quite as simple as just being good at making predictions though, and very few successful bettors are able to rely solely on their sports knowledge. There are other requirements too, such as understanding the concept of value and practicing good bankroll management.
In this article we explain what we consider the most important attributes and characteristics required to be a successful bettor. We wouldn't like to claim that this is a definitive list of what you need to make money from sports betting, because it isn't. There are other skills that are useful, and it's almost certainly possible to turn a profit even if you're not good at absolutely everything we've included.
We do, however, believe that you stand a very good chance of success if you can master what we discuss below.
Good Math Skills
You don't necessarily have to be a math genius to make money from betting on sports, but you'll definitely benefit from some fundamental math skills. Betting is ultimately a numbers game, and the better you understand the numbers involved, the better you are likely to do.
Solid Sports Knowledge
We mentioned earlier that sports knowledge is rarely enough, by itself, to be successful. It's clearly important though. You don't need to be an expert, and it's even possible to make money from betting on sports that you know nothing about, but things are a lot easier if you have some better than basic knowledge.
The more sports knowledge you have, the more likely you are to understand all the different factors which can affect the outcome of events. This, in turn, means you are more likely to make accurate predictions about what is going to happen. The more accurate your predictions, the more successful you'll be.
An Understanding of Value
Understanding the concept of value is critical if you are to be successful in the long run. You have to recognize that believing that a particular outcome is, or isn't, likely to happen doesn't necessarily create a valid betting opportunity. Ideally you should only bet when there's value on offer, but you can only determine this if you understand the concept.
The concept of value is actually quite simple, and yet many bettors don't really understand it. We won't go into an explanation here, as we have covered the subject in full in this article. Please take the time to read this if you're not familiar with what value is, and how to measure it.
Emotion can affect your decision making process in many ways. If your favorite team is playing, for example, you might choose to bet with your heart instead of your head. If you're on a particularly good run, you might feel over confident and place reckless wagers as a result. During a bad run, you might start to doubt your abilities and then struggle to make any kind of decision at all.
To make money from sports betting, or any kind of gambling for that matter, you have to be able to put emotion to one side and make decisions based on rational thinking. This might sound incredibly easy, and it is for some people, but many find it difficult. It's something you should try to master though, as letting emotions rule your decisions is a surefire way to lose money.
This is closely linked to the above point, and strong discipline could be considered a form of emotional control itself. In this context, though, it's more about the ability to stick to a plan and remain focused on your end goals.
For example, you should ideally practice good bankroll management and follow a staking plan of some kind. This requires discipline, because it's all too easy to start betting higher amounts than you should. This is particularly tempting when you are on a losing streak, but chasing losses is never a good idea.
You also need discipline to make sure you only ever place wagers for the right reasons. You should have some form of set rules about what criteria should be met before placing a wager, and there will no doubt be occasions when you are tempted to break those rules. Again, though, this isn't a good idea. Those rules are there for a reason, so you need to stick to them.
A Long Term View
You need to take a long term view with your betting. To put it another way, you need to be patient. You are very unlikely to make a lot of money very quickly through sports betting, unless you get extremely lucky, so it should not be considered a shortcut to getting rich.
It's definitely possible to make a decent profit, but it's not going to happen overnight. Building up your bankroll will take time, and you need to wait for the right opportunities to bet. Backing selections at really high odds just because you might win big, betting too much, or betting too often, are all classic signs of focusing on the short term. They are also more likely to see you going bust than making money.
Ability to Analyze Information
Good analytical skills are very useful in sports betting, because there's plenty of information you should be analyzing. Analyzing statistics, for example, can be very helpful in assessing the relative chances of a particular outcome happening. Analyzing past results can help you spot trends, and analyzing movements in odds and lines can help you find betting opportunities.
Analysis is particularly important when it comes to evaluating your own performance. You should always be searching for ways to improve, and looking at what you are doing right and where you might be going wrong is a great way to highlight how you can do better. The better your ability to analyze information, the easier this will be for you.
A Healthy Bankroll
This isn't an attribute, characteristic, or skill, but it's still worth mentioning. Successful bettors separate their betting money from their other money, by allocating a sum that's specifically for the purposes of betting. This is something you should do too.
Having a defined bankroll can actually help you to make sound decisions, as you can then view that money purely as a tool for making a profit. It also enables you to practice good bankroll management, which is a skill, to reduce your chances of going bust and prevent you from betting more than you should.
If you think you have all the attributes and characteristics that we have listed here, there's an excellent chance that you can become a successful bettor. Don't be too disheartened if you don't though, as most of these things don't come naturally to the majority of bettors. It's possible to improve in any of the areas we've mentioned above with the right attitude and plenty of practice.
Either way, you should always remember you'll have to put in the necessary time and effort. Profitable sports betting is rarely easy for anyone, and even if you have plenty of natural talent you'll still need to work hard if you want to maximize your potential returns.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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