For millions of Americans, betting on sports is a source of entertainment that spans the schedule of every professional and college league. But for a select few, wagering on sports is also a source of supplementary income.
By combining discipline, strategy, and statistical insights, successful sports bettors are capable of cashing tickets on a consistent basis. If you’re looking to join their ranks, look no further than the seven tips below to propel yourself to steady success at your favorite brick and mortar or online sportsbook.
1. Less Is More When It Comes to Your Daily Betting Schedule
For most casual bettors, flooding the zone with as many wagers as possible is the preferred play. These folks size up the schedule on Sunday and see dozens of opportunities to get in the action at their favorite NFL betting site.
And in the worst-case scenario, they expend their entire bankroll chasing earlier losses with even more plays.
What they don’t realize is, when it comes to sports betting strategy, limiting yourself to just one or two daily wagers is the best way to achieve sustained success. Instead of spreading your precious bankroll out on a series of smaller bets, you’ll be better served by targeting only the most advantageous spots available.
Unfortunately, with 10 bets listed in your “Pending Action” window, your odds of winning six wagers – the necessary number to squeeze out a profit assuming even money odds – aren’t all that great. And your chances of nailing eight or nine winners to earn the big bucks are slim to none.
Sports betting simply involves too much natural variance to notch winners at a 70-80 percent clip.
In fact, the most successful sports betting professionals in the world can reliably count on winning just 54 percent of their wagers.
With that in mind, one of the best ways to take your sports betting hobby to the next level is to scale back your daily workload. That might seem counterintuitive, as most pursuits require people to put in more work in order to improve and progress.
By taking your time to identify the one or two best bets available, and focusing your bankroll ammunition on those targets, you’ll have much better odds of winding up in the black by day’s end.
Think about it… are you more likely to win seven out of 10 plays, or going two-for-two for a perfect 1.000 batting average?
2. Don’t Just Make Educated Guesses
Far too often in my own sports betting “career,” I found myself basically throwing darts at the wall.
No, I’m not talking about my college days betting against fraternity brothers in heated 501 matches.
Instead, I’m referring to the natural inclination most recreational sports bettors have to simply take two teams and pick one to back.
When you’re eager for a little action and see a game is about to start, it can be all too easy to look at their respective win/loss records and choose the “better” team.
After all, one of them has to wind up victorious in the end.
Well, the bookmakers are counting on hapless bettors to do just that. When you do nothing more than guess winners, you’re essentially donning a blindfold before aiming at the dartboard. Sure, you might hit the bullseye every so often, but only by virtue of good luck and random chance.
The best sports bettors out there never put that blindfold on in the first place.
Before they ever part ways with a piece of their bankroll, they sit down and do the work required to gain an edge:
- That means poring over injury reports and waiver wires to see exactly who will be playing come game day.
- That means researching statistical models and algorithms designed to crack the code behind which side of a bet truly deserves to be favored.
And circling back to the first tip, that also means abstaining from a wager when the data doesn’t give you a clear lean either way.
3. Avoid Parlays Like the Plague to Preserve Your Bankroll
One of the most popular types of wager for bettors, and most profitable for bookmakers, is the parlay.
By tying two or more bets together on a single ticket, you can substantially increase the payout odds offered on a winner.
By placing three $100 bets on each team, you stand to win $272.70 in total profit if all three teams score the win ($90.90 at -110 for each team).
On the other hand, you could go for the gusto by making it a $100 three-team parlay bet…
Should your three teams all manage to find the winner’s circle, your profit margin just increased to a whopping $595.70. And remember, you didn’t even have to bet $300 with $100 spread on three different wagers – that $595.70 can be earned for the price of a single $100 bill.
Well, there’s plenty to hate when you look closer. As it turns out, winning a three-team parlay requires you to beat 6 to 1 odds against. Sure, the return is much more sizable, but backing a 6 to 1 shot means you’ll lose six of these bets for every one that you win.
Even worse, the strict rules of parlay betting mean you must hit on all of the attached bets to cash a ticket. Lose even a single “leg” of your parlay, while scoring on all of the others, and you’ll be paid precisely $0 for your trouble.
On the flip side, when you take the more cautious route and separate your three wagers into three separate tickets, you can lose one wager and still turn a profit on the others.
Overall, parlay betting is a product designed by the sportsbooks who want to separate suckers from their money.
4. Only Bet Money That You Can Afford to Lose
Remember when I revealed that elite sports betting pros only eke out a 54 percent win rate?
That math means most of us mere mortals tend to lose at a 54 percent rate – or much higher when a rough run of luck comes around. An unfortunate truth about sports betting is that the industry is built on the backs of losing players.
On the contrary, it’s incredibly difficult, which is why you have to be responsible with your bankroll management.
Unless you can completely afford to drop the dough, it’s not worth risking on a wager where the odds are tilted against you. Between the sportsbook’s built-in “juice” or “vig” – which ensures they hold an edge on every single ticket printed out – and the inherent variance of one-time athletic competition, you’re already behind the 8-ball.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the hobby though, not by a longshot.
It simply means that betting over your head with money that isn’t considered disposable is a disastrous idea.
5. Stick to a Strict “Unit” System for Sizing Your Bets
Along the same lines, bankroll management is best achieved by setting yourself up on a “unit” system when it comes to sizing bets.
The units in question can be as small or large as you can afford, that comes first and foremost.
But once you’ve decided on a unit – whether it be $10, $50, or $100 – sticking to the script is an efficient way of mitigating your long-term risk.
Professional sports bettors often refer to their plays using the unit system –
“I’m putting two units on the Arizona Diamondbacks (-1.5 runs) and a half-unit on the D-Backs / Rockies to go UNDER (10.5).”
Using units is the best way to ensure that all of your sports bets are standardized across the board.
6. Consider the Futures Bet
If you’re a diehard fan of the Miami Dolphins, you might find yourself betting on all 16 of their regular-season games.
These are your boys, after all, so why not support them every Sunday with a wager on them to win?
You could do that, but as discussed already, the slightly less than 50/50 odds on any individual game mean you’ll be riding a roller coaster – winning some, and losing a little more.
Throw in the carefully calculated payout odds set by sportsbooks, and even a 10-6 run for the ‘Phins can mean you actually lost more money on those six Ls than you won on the 10 Ws.
A terrific alternative to betting on your team’s various games is to bet on their full season via the futures bet. For the rebuilding Dolphins’ sake, the industry has set their 2020 win total at 6.5 wins.
That means you can back the “Over” side by placing a single bet that Miami will win at least 7 games. If they do, you’ll earn a double-up payout at odds right around (-110) or (+110). And if they don’t, you only lost a single wager rather than the majority from a 16-game schedule.
Better yet, a single season-long future bet means you can still sweat every game your team plays – all without the additional risk created by several single-game bets.
7. Don’t Let Your Heart Overrule Your Head
Finally, as the previous entry alluded to, many casual bettors let their own personal allegiances to a team or player take precedence.
In fact, many of the most successful sports bettors today have completely sworn off backing their own team with a wager – they just cheer them on like a fan.
By removing emotional connections from the equation, you’ll set yourself up to use hard data and cold facts above all else.
Betting on sports has always been the de facto “national pastime,” but the industry has gone big thanks to statewide legalization over the last few years.
That means more people are betting for the first time than ever before, and most of them are losing more than they win. By taking advantage of the seven tips above, you can avoid the downhill slope on which most rookie sports bettors see their bankroll slide.
Bet judiciously, bet intelligently, and bet wisely. When you do, you’ll notice that the games are more fun to watch and the tickets get cashed more often.