Biggest Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid

Male Holding Head Looking at TVNo one likes to make mistakes, especially when those mistakes cost them money. In the wonderful world of sports betting mistakes, errors can get expensive. If you happen to slip up even the slightest bit, it can be the difference between a profitable day and one that will make you want to cry.

Thankfully, we’re here to help. We hope that this guide can warn you of these potential pitfalls and help you avoid making these “popular” mistakes. We only call them popular because so many people seem to struggle with them time and time again.

Take some time and read through these common sports betting mistakes that we sadly see from people all the time. If you need to take notes, take notes. Do whatever it is you need to do to ensure that you don’t fall victim to these sports betting mistakes like so many other people expensively have before you.

Forgetting to Check Your Betting Slips

The number one most painful way that you could ever lose a bet is by forgetting to check your betting slip. Here’s a fun scenario. Let’s say you go out and decide to bet on the Florida Gators to win the SEC Championship game by more than 2 ½ points (+2 ½). All the Gators have to do is win the game by a field goal, and you’re going to be rolling in the dough.

The game is tied with one second left on the clock, and the Gators are at the 16 yard line. They line up, snap the ball, the kick is up, it’s good! Gators win by 3 and cover the spread. You head on over to cash your ticket, and the agent says, “Sorry, this one’s not a winner.” What? What happened? Well, when you were making your bet, the agent misheard you and typed in a bet on the other team. You actually bet against the Gators even though your plan was to bet on them.

Because you didn’t check your ticket, you cost yourself a winning bet. This happens all the time in brick-and-mortar casinos and happens online, too. When you bet online, you might accidentally click the wrong bet or fat finger the wrong game. Trust us, it happens way more than most people are aware of.

Thankfully, this is easy to fix. Check your betting slips before and after you make them. If you’re betting in person, check your ticket before you leave the counter. If you’re betting online, check your ticket before you hit “confirm” AND after to make sure it’s correct. If something is wrong, alert someone immediately and get it taken care of. Do not wait and expect them to fix things for you at a later time because we can tell you with 100% certainty that that is not going to happen.

Ignoring Good Bankroll Management

There is nothing that irks us more than hearing “tragedy” stories from bettors who broke their own rules because they thought they had a lock. Usually, the story is accompanied by some terrible bad luck that happened in the game that “should have never happened.” Welcome to the world of sports betting. This is why we have bankroll management rules.


Before you make a single sports bet, you should have strict bankroll management rules in place. These rules will give you some latitude to bet more on games you think have more value, but they still have upper limits. If you’d like to learn more about setting up a proper bankroll and how to manage it like a pro, check out our dedicated bankroll management guide.

Losing Value on Parlays

Did you know that when you make most of your parlays, you are actually giving up some value to the sportsbook? This concession is much more in the brick-and-mortar setting, but it does happen online as well. When you build a parlay, you should be getting paid out at the likelihood those two bets are to happen. Without going into math, you figure this out by multiplying the two probabilities together.

But those are the true odds, and for some reason, the sportsbooks don’t like to give those to you. Instead, they shave off a little value because they figure you won’t notice or care because they payout already looks a lot bigger on a smaller bet.

If you’re planning on being a long-term sports bettor, this is something you can’t ignore. You can’t be running around giving up value for things that look flashy (like parlays). Does this mean you should avoid parlays? No, but you need to be aware of what is going on.

Here are a few takeaways and a trick that can solve this problem. First, only bet parlays online. The brick-and-mortar sportsbooks take way too much off, and it’s not worth giving up that much value. Second, here’s the trick that can solve this problem and allow you to bet parlays wherever and whenever you’d like.

Make sure that one of your bets on your card is not at the odds of (-110). Why? Well, sportsbooks pay out their parlays based on a chart that already has the odds figured out. That chart shows them exactly what to pay on a 2-teamer, 3-teamer, etc. But the chart only works if all of the bets are (-110). So, if you throw in a bet that is, say, (-115) or +120, it throws the whole system off. Instead, the sportsbook is forced to calculate the true odds and use those.

So, the bottom line is to incorporate one bet that is not (-110), and your parlay will pay out at true odds. But make sure that you put in a smart bet. Don’t throw in a bet you hate just to get the slightly better payout odds.

Using the Wrong Stats

Sports Betting Stats
Using stats and historical data to make your predictions is a smart move. There is nothing more neutral than cold, hard facts. But there are some problems when it comes to using stats to make your sports betting picks. Specifically, there are two pitfalls we want to address in hopes that you will avoid them.

First, don’t use stats that are meaningless. If the Texas Rangers win every game played on a Tuesday when the temperature is below 81 degrees and there is a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy on, it does not make a bet on the Rangers smart. While this is a cool stat (it’s not a real one), it isn’t really going to help you out. All you’re looking at is a coincidence that sounds pretty cool.

If that stat was that the Rangers win every game with their current pitcher at home, that might be a much more valuable thing to look at. The point is that you need to figure out the usefulness of the stats you’re basing your picks on. Don’t let things that just make great entertainment influence you.

Second, make sure the stats you are using are accurate. Just because an online site prints it does not mean that it’s true or accurate. People make sports betting mistakes all the time, and they can easily mistype one number, which will give you a wildly different picture of an upcoming game. Do the due diligence yourself and make sure the numbers you’re looking at are accurate. There are plenty of resources online where you can double and triple check your numbers.

Chasing Your Losses

We beat this dead horse at least once a day, and guess what? We’re going to do it again! Why? Because it’s that important that you understand how terrible of an idea this is. Do not under any circumstances chase your losses.

Most people roll their eyes when we mention this because they are sure that they know better. And most people do actually know better. But the problems start to come when you get in the heat of the moment. Those times when it’s late in the day, you’re down, and all you want is to squeak out a small profit or get back to even. You talk yourself into bets you normally wouldn’t make, or you up the size of your bets to try and get back on track.

Please, stop doing this. It might work once. Heck, it might work twice. But it eventually is going to catch up with you, and when it does, it’s going to be tragic. You’ll find yourself in such a deep hole that you will have to work for a long time to get out. Or you’ll be tempted to chase even further, and that, my friends, is the downward spiral that kills a lot of sports betting careers.

Stick to your rules and don’t chase losses. Sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint.

Starting Your Career Too Fast

We want to build on our last cliché phrase that sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint. Most of you reading this guide are probably fairly new to betting on sports. You may have made some bets, but you’re new to taking things seriously and looking to take your game to the next level.

First of all, we commend you for doing this. It’s most likely going to pay off some awesome dividends. But there is something that we want you to be aware of. Take things slow. There is going to be a temptation to take all of the new information you have and go out firing big bets on every piece of value you see. While this certainly might work, it’s risky and not the approach you want to be taking.

Betting on sports is not going anywhere for a long time. In fact, all it’s doing is growing, which means the opportunities will continue to grow. Start out slow. Get your feet wet. Start in the shallow end. You’re inevitably going to make some sports betting mistakes and have to learn some lessons the hard way. It happens to everyone and is part of the learning process.

But these mistakes don’t have to be detrimental. If you start out slow and catch your sports betting mistakes when they’re only for one bet or for a small amount, it won’t hurt your longevity much. But if you come out firing your entire bankroll and then realize you made a big mistake, it may be too late to recover at all.

Two takeaways – sports betting is not going anywhere anytime soon, and sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint. If you need to write that on a piece of paper somewhere to remind you, go for it!

Having Unrealistic Expectations

If you think that you’re going to sports bet for a couple of days and suddenly be bathing in $100 bills, you’ve got another thing coming. Also, if you think you should probably win about 70%-80% of your bets, you’ve got another thing coming. Our prediction is that if we’re all being honest, a lot of people reading this have something coming. Thankfully, we’re here to hopefully give you that reality check, so it doesn’t cost you any money.

The best sports bettors in the world don’t win anywhere near 70% or 80% of their bets. In fact, it’s a lot closer to just below 60%. And that is crushing it! This also means that you shouldn’t expect to come out of the gate crushing the world. These are the best in the world that we’re referring to.

You see, you can certainly make a lot of money sports betting, but it’s going to be a slow grind. It will be up and down, but hopefully, in the long term, it turns into a nice, steady profit. This is what you need to prepare yourself for. Forget the mental image of doubling your money or going nuts on every single day that you bet. It’s a slow crawl (or at least it should be). Anything outside of this is not sustainable.

We’re not telling you this to crush your dreams. We want you to succeed and make a lot of money sports betting. But we want you to approach it with the correct expectations. If you expect the slow grind, the big wins will feel better, and the bad days won’t hurt as badly.

Betting While You’re Drunk or Emotional

Drunk Guy Drinking
“Heyyy guysZ, I gotS a gReat picks on da gayummm (burp).” If this is what you sound like, you most certainly do not have a great pick on the game. Betting while you’re drunk or overly emotional is a one-way ticket to being broke. While it may seem fun, all we’ve seen it do is cause people problems. You’ll start making bets you normally wouldn’t and for amounts that sober you would not be comfortable with.

You think avoiding chasing your losses is hard sober? Wait until you see how tough it is when the sauce is flowing through your veins. You’ll start to feel invincible and make some of the dumbest choices that you will certainly regret.

Here’s the bottom line because we don’t want to harp on this all day. Be responsible when you choose to mix betting on sports and drinking. The alcohol can quickly turn a calculated profession into straight gambling. If you’re serious about your success, put the parameters in place that you need to in order to protect yourself or make some sacrifices to protect your sports betting career. Decide what is most important to you and act accordingly.

Betting Every Single Game

Remember what we said about starting out your career slowly? Well, this isn’t just a tip for day one. It’s a tip that should be continued throughout the life of your sports betting career. Specifically, we’re referring to what percentage of the game slate you choose to bet. For most of you, you will be picking your games individually. You’ll analyze each game and see if you think there is value there.

Here’s what you need to know. Not every game is going to have value. This means that if you’re out there betting every single game of the weekend, you are doing something wrong. Only bet the games where you find value and ignore the rest. If this means skipping a bet on the primetime game, so be it. Make a small $5 prop bet on something crazy if you have to have some sort of sweat, but otherwise, don’t force it.

It will be tempting to get more money in play, but you’re just going to eat away at your profits. If you constantly bet games with no value, you’ll slowly bleed your money away to the juice (the house rake).

Sometimes this will mean a really light schedule, and sometimes you’ll get to fire away like a madman. Don’t let the volume of your action dictate which bets you choose to take. If they have great value, take them. If they don’t, stay away. Forcing bets is a bad road to get started down.

Not Putting in Adequate Effort

Guy Sleeping On Couch Holding Laptop
Laziness = profit, right? WRONG. That’s not just a normal wrong, but it’s in all caps, which means it’s pretty serious. For real, though, if you are not willing to put in the work needed to be a successful sports bettor, then what’s the point? If you’re just betting recreationally, it’s completely fine. But if you’re looking to make a profit and possibly have this as a primary or secondary source of income, you need to be willing to work.

For some reason, people think professional sports betting goes like this. You wake up, watch SportsCenter, take a peek at the odds, scratch your head, stare off into space thinking for a few minutes, and then fire away with your bets. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Professional sports bettors spend a lot of their time researching teams, watching game footage, and pouring through stats to try and find somewhere they can get an edge. At times, it’s not a glamorous undertaking, but it’s what’s necessary to turn a profit.

How much work is enough? You’re not going to like this answer, but it’s however much work it takes to win. If you’re not winning, you need to work harder. If you’re busting your butt and turning a profit, you’re probably working hard enough. We wish we could give you an exact hours-per-week count, but that’s just not possible.

If you’re really concerned about this, start by picking a very specific niche to bet. For example, don’t just bet college football, but bet on only SEC college football games. See how much time and effort it takes you to win at that small niche, and then you can extrapolate that out if you feel the need to expand to other sports. You might find that it takes a lot more work than you ever thought for just a small niche and decide to stay focused. There is nothing wrong with betting a small market; the money you win is just the same.

Trusting in Systems

Everyone is always looking for a system to beat the sportsbooks. While we won’t rule out that there aren’t some mathematical systems out there that do work, we will say that most systems people peddle are garbage. The big dream is to find some magical system that you can just plug a few numbers into, and voila, you win all of your sports bets. This just isn’t realistic.

Does this mean you can’t come up with a winning system? Definitely not. There are people out there with winning systems that we would kill to get our hands on. What we’re trying to say here is that you want to make sure not to get sold on some silly system that doesn’t work. Additionally, we want to make sure that you don’t put too much faith in a system and ignore your basic logic.

Here’s something interesting you probably don’t know about mathematical betting systems. Once the system spits out its winners, the creators still give every single bet a sniff test. This means they don’t blindly take their system’s results and bet 100% of them. They make sure that things mix with their personal predictions and feelings. Most of the time, they go with the system, but they won’t make bets that they disagree with.

Why? Because they are wise enough to know not to put all their eggs in one basket. They know their system is good, and they trust it, but they also know not to blindly follow it because no system is perfect.

Systems are great, and we hope you find a winning one. But be careful of systems people try and peddle to you. If you do find a winning system or what seems to be one, make sure you still let your personal knowledge weigh in because not all systems are perfect.

Blaming Your Losses on Bad Luck

Sports betting is going to be an up-and-down rollercoaster. You’re going to have some amazing streaks and some streaks that make you want to pull your hair out. This is the nature of the business that you’re getting into.

What you need to do, though, is make sure that the above statement doesn’t cloud your judgment when you’re losing. It’s very easy to chalk up losing as a bad run or just bad luck. While in the short term this certainly can be true, in the long run, that blame should shift back to you and your picks.

Here’s what we’re saying. If you’re losing in the short term, it could just be a bad run. If you are losing in the long term, you may want to rethink your picks and your system. The longer the term and the more bets you make, the more this becomes true. If you’re losing over the course of 50 bets, it could just be variance. But if you’re losing over the course of 500 bets, you probably are doing something wrong.

Don’t be ignorant and keep saying it’s bad luck because you don’t want to face the music. It might save your ego in the short term, but it’s going to destroy your chances of success in the long term. When it’s bad luck, let it be bad luck, and don’t beat yourself up. When you’re making mistakes or losing, take some ownership and fix the problem.

In Conclusion

It always feels like such a negative conversation when we’re covering sports betting mistakes. But we want you to take away what you learned here as a positive. We shared all these negatives with you in hopes that it will save you from making these common sports betting mistakes.

The reality is that you will make some mistakes in your journey betting on sports. But if you can minimize the loss from these blunders and maximize the learning, you’re going to be just fine.

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