For most of you reading this, it’s your first stop on your learning journey to becoming a successful sports bettor. If you didn’t navigate to this page from our beginner’s hub, we highly recommend navigating over to our strategy guide linked at the bottom of this page. It’s completely free and is the number-one resource on the web for training and building new and successful sports bettors.
Now that we’ve gotten the administrative stuff out of the way, let’s dive into some of the most important aspects of a solid sports betting foundation. These are the top 10 things that our expert bettors wish they would have been taught before they started betting on sports. These are the lessons they were forced to learn the hard (and expensive) way.
#1 – Don’t Force Betting Opportunities
We absolutely love people who are eager to win, who are go-getters, and who like to get out there and try and make something positive happen. However, this can cause you problems when it comes to sports betting. We constantly see new sports bettors who learn a few things, do some research, and then get out there and fire off a bet at every single game on the slate.
Why? Well, they usually say that you can’t win what you don’t put in play. They feel that by betting more games, they are giving themselves a better opportunity to get rich quick and join the big leagues. While we respect their excitement and drive, this is the completely wrong way to approach sports betting.
When you start trying to get action on every single game or every single type of bet out there, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And here’s a big point – not every game, match, or race is going to have value. This means that you’re going to be firing off on games where you’re, in effect, just gambling.
Here’s the takeaway. Do not bet every single game on the slate. Do not bet games where you aren’t sure you’re getting value if you win. We commend you for wanting to eagerly get out there and take over the world, but that’s the wrong approach. Sports betting is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and you need to approach it as such so you can learn to avoid these mistakes.
#2 – There Is No Such Thing as a Lock
If we had a nickel for every single time someone told us they had the “lock of the century,” and the team ended up losing, we would have an obnoxious amount of nickels. There’s no better way to say this than to be completely blunt. There is no such thing as a lock in sports betting.
We don’t care how great a team is or how terrible the line is; you are being paid out based on the percentage chance that bet has to happen. Even if something is 95% likely to happen, there is still a 5% chance that it’s not going to happen. And you’re most likely not getting paid anywhere close to even money for that bet, which means there may not be any value in the bet.
Too often, we see people betting large portions of their bankrolls on things that they claim to be locks. The problem is this. Sports are a wild and wacky thing where you never truly know what is going to happen. The only way that you could make a valid claim that something is a lock is if you could see into the future or if you were cheating and fixing games. If you’re a wizard, awesome; you don’t need our help. And we will go ahead and assume you aren’t fixing games.
The takeaway here is that you need to follow your rules you set out for yourself. Don’t inflate your bet sizes over what your personal bankroll rules state just because you’re convinced it is a lock. Sure, you can bet at the top of the range you set out for yourself, but do not go higher than that.
#3 – Never Chase Your Losses
If there is one tip on this list that you might have heard before, it would be this one. That being said, please don’t gloss over this, roll your eyes, and say, “Yeah, yeah, I get it.” It’s easy to say right now that you’re never going to chase your losses. Just like it’s easy to say you’re not going to have too many drinks at that wedding coming up. Or that you’re not going to spend too much money when you go to the grocery store.
Everything is easy to say you’ll do when you aren’t in the heat of the moment. But after that first cocktail goes down and the awkward family member starts talking to you, or you walk down the chips aisle at the grocery store and everything looks glorious, or you lose a few bets you were sure you were going to win, things change.
We are not saying you’re weak or that there is anything wrong with you. But you do need to realize that we are all human, and you’re going to be tempted to chase your losses. Here’s a quick scenario to tell you what this might look like in a real-world example.
Let’s say it’s college football Saturday, and you are pumped to have a winning day. You make five picks in the first slate of games for $50 apiece. Things go terribly. You somehow lose every single one and head into the afternoon slate down $250.
You had originally planned to bet four games at your normal $50 apiece. But that means if you win 100% of your afternoon games, you’re still going to end the day down $50. Does that sound appealing? Probably not.
Well, if you were a good sports bettor, you would accept that your sports betting career is not broken down into days or small sessions. You would bet the four games and start getting yourself prepped for Sunday’s NFL games or for next week’s college games.
But your human element starts to creep in. What if you just upped your bets to $75 a piece? Then, if you won all four, you’d end the day a winner. Or say there is a game that you think is almost a lock (those things that don’t really exist). What if you kept $50 on the other three games and decided to bet double on this game? That way, if you won all of your games, you’d at least leave even on the day minus the juice. Or what if you try and find a few more games to bet? You won’t be breaking your rules by raising your bet amount, right?
All of these are terrible ideas that sound terrible now but might sound a lot better in the moment. These are forms of chasing your losses and will do nothing but get you in trouble. You have to start viewing your sports betting as a long-term endeavor and learn how to do serious research. How much you win and lose is not calculated by where you are at the end of the day, but more where you are at the end of a month or a season or a year.
When you can get yourself away from thinking of betting in terms of short sessions, you’ll start to lose the urge to chase your losses. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to your self-discipline and your ability to keep the human element out of the equation. Just remember, the better you are at this, the better shot you have at being a long-term winner in the sports betting game.
#4 – You’re Theoretically NOT Betting Against the House
Who do you place your bets against when you sports bet? The house (the casino). But are you really betting against the house? Technically, yes. But theoretically, you are betting against the other sports bettors. This is important because for literally any other bet that you place against the house, the house will have the advantage. When this is the case, you mathematically have zero shot of ever turning a long-term profit.
You can’t be a professional roulette player. You can’t be a professional slots player. But you can be a professional sports bettor betting against the house. The reason is two-fold. First, there is a human element involved. When the sportsbook places their opening lines, they can be wrong. The casino can’t be wrong when they spin the roulette wheel because the math is fixed. With sports betting lines, though, someone has to pick the line. Yes, they use computers to help, but there is still a human element that is not perfect.
When you can find these errors, you can make money. The second reason that you can still be a professional sports bettor is that once the sportsbook puts out the initial line, the public controls how it moves. Based on how they choose to bet, the line will move accordingly. When the line moves the wrong direction, you can find value. So, even though you’re placing your bets with the sportsbook, you’re really betting against these line movements made by the public.
#5 – Always Double Check Everything
We wish we had the time and space to share all of the individual stories our team of bettors had regarding this tip. For the love of everything on the Earth that you hold dear, please double check every single bet you make. If you’re betting in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, check your tickets before you walk away from the counter. If you’re sports betting online, make sure you’ve put in exactly what you want to bet and double check it as soon as you click the submit button.
When you’re betting at a brick-and-mortar location, you’re leaving your bets to the mercy of the gate agent if you don’t double check their work. Imagine betting on a team to win, sweating the game, pulling off a huge win, and then finding out when you go to the window to cash your ticket that the agent put it in wrong and bet you on the other side.
If you don’t think this happens a lot, you have another thing coming. This happens daily at sportsbooks all over the world. You know what happens when you try and tell the sportsbook manager what happened? Absolutely nothing. They’ll tell you the responsibility to check your tickets is on you. You might get a free drink ticket out of it, but that’s about it. There are zero sportsbooks in the world that are going to pay you out on a losing ticket.
Online, you do get the perk of not having to go through an agent to place your bets. But you can still fat-finger the wrong bet from time to time. For this reason, double check your entries before you click the submit button AND after you submit your ticket. Make sure that you have the correct bet type on the correct game and for the right amount.
If you see anything that is wrong, contact someone immediately. Do not wait until the game starts or even a second later. If you’re at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, tell the agent immediately. They will gladly fix it for you while you’re up at the window. If it happens online, contact their support immediately. If you’re working with a reputable online sportsbook, they will help you out as long as it’s not something that happens habitually or as long as it doesn’t look like you’re trying to pull a fast one. This is why you need to do it right away. The benefit of the doubt will not be in your favor in most situations.
#6 – Never Bet Something You Don’t 100% Understand
This seems to happen a lot when someone gets a tip from a friend about an upcoming game or match. The friend or “sharp bettor” recommends a particular bet that you decide to blindly follow. This also happens when you think you know what’s going on but really haven’t put in the adequate time to understand the situation.
The issue is placing a bet on something that you do not completely understand. This goes for the type of bet and the game itself. If you don’t have a complete grasp on both of these, you’re playing with fire. We have heard tons of stories of bettors wagering on something, thinking they won, only to find out that they didn’t understand the bet properly and didn’t bet what they wanted.
The worst part about these situations is that the prediction was usually right, but the wrong type of bet was used. Had they made the right type of bet, they would have won. Instead, they not only didn’t win, but they lost money as well.
How do you protect yourself from doing this? Simple. Before you make a bet, ask yourself these two questions. Do I fully understand what needs to happen for me to win this bet? Do I know exactly why I’m choosing this side of the bet? If you can’t answer yes to both of those questions, take a step back, put down the mouse, and do some homework. If you can answer yes to both, then go for it. But if you’re still struggling or letting out an unsure yes to either, just let the bet go and move on to the next one.
That’s one of the great things about sports betting. There are thousands and thousands of opportunities to bet every single day. There’s no need to force a bet that you don’t completely understand. That would be violating two of our tips at the same time, which should be considered a crime.
#7 – Don’t Let the Media Sway You Incorrectly
There are two types of media that you’re going to see about sports. Knowing the difference between the two is imperative to being a successful sports bettor. The first type of media is news. News is fact-based information about what is going on with a league, team, or player. The second type of media you’re going to see is opinion pieces. These are predictions, opinions, and feelings about a league, team, or player.
When you’re looking to make your betting picks, you need to stick to the news. Facts about what is going on, who is hurt, who is going to play, etc., are the things that really matter. A lot of times, sports channels and media sources will try and pass off opinions as news. This is where watching and reading about sports can be dangerous to your sports betting success.
Most sports networks and sources have the sole goal of entertaining their viewers. They couldn’t care less how that affects your ability to pick winners and find value betting sports. They’re going to ride feel-good stories, comeback and underdog stories, and anything else that pulls hard on the emotional heartstrings. They’ll throw logic and stats out the window to push a narrative that is more entertaining and hypes up a game.
If you let this information seep into your picks or betting strategy, you’re looking for trouble. The only exceptions that you can look at are predictions from talented sports bettors. This does not include the guys on ESPN putting out their game picks. All they care about is picking winners, but just trying to pick winners is not a successful sports betting strategy.
You need people who are in the game looking at odds, spreads, and the sports betting angle. Additionally, you need to make sure these people are talented. Sports betting pickers are a dime a dozen on the internet. Just because they have a website and can spit out some fun stats doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re doing. Only use the true experts and ignore the other garbage out there.
Also, don’t just use the experts to make your picks for you. The point of this is for you to learn how to become an expert. If you just take their picks and never take a chance at making your own, you’ll always be at the mercy of their success. If they start to fall off and stop putting in the work (or were never winners, to begin with), you’re going to start watching your bankroll vanish. That would be great if you were trying to become a professional magician, but that’s not why we’re here.
#8 – At the End of the Day, You Are the One Making the Bets
We want to take the point we were just making and run it a few yards further. You can take all the advice, input, strategy help, tips, and picks you want from other people and other sources. But at the end of the day, you are the one pulling the trigger on your bets. It’s your money that is going into play, and you’re the one that has to live with the wins or losses.
Why is this important? New sports bettors can lose sight of this pretty quickly, and it can create problems. Have a pick on a game, and some expert disagrees with you? Is it his money you’re betting? No, it’s yours. Go with your pick, and don’t let someone else control what you do.
Additionally, you can’t blame anyone else for your wins and losses. If you go on a terrible run taking picks from someone else, you can’t get mad at them. You were the one that decided to take their advice and make the bets. It’s not their fault, and you shouldn’t try and make it theirs.
Basically, you should take ownership of what you’re doing. Remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat. This means that your wins and losses are all a reflection of you. Even if you’re crushing based on taking someone else’s picks, you were the one with the foresight to see that they were a winner and pull the trigger to get behind them. This in itself is a skill. Being able to recognize talent and make it work for you is a part of being successful at anything, including sports betting.
#9 – Be Careful With Alcohol, Emotions, and Drugs
This is another tip that you’ve probably heard before and are thinking about glossing over. Please don’t. You would be shocked to know how many tragically terrible sports betting stories we’ve heard about people losing control thanks to alcohol, drugs, or emotions. Here’s the bottom line up front. You have to keep complete control over yourself and your decisions at all times when you’re sports betting. The second you start to lose that control is the second you start running down a dangerous path that does not have a pretty ending.
It’s okay if you want to drink or partake in whatever while you’re sweating games. Heck, we don’t even care if you have a few beers while you’re making your picks. But the second this starts to affect your judgment or slow down your decision cycle is the second it becomes a problem. When people are a little drunk, high, or upset, they tend to start doing things they normally wouldn’t. They might bet a little more on a game, chase a loss, or bet a game they typically wouldn’t get near just to get a rush.
If you are going to partake in some added fun while you sports bet, make sure it’s not affecting what you’re doing. What a lot of people do is place their bets sober, and then start hitting the sauce while they sweat the games. As long as they know that drunk-them won’t start making any more bets, they know they’re good to enjoy the games as they please.
For those of you that want to partake but are worried about yourself when you start feeling it, you need to put some things in place to protect yourself. This might be leaving your money somewhere else, deleting your sports betting app off your phone after you make your bets, or asking a friend to keep an eye on you and not let you do anything dumb. If none of these ideas work, and you’re still worried, then maybe you shouldn’t be drinking or doing drugs while you’re sports betting.
It all comes down to how seriously you want to approach your betting. If it’s just some recreational hobby that you don’t care that much about, then do as you please. But if this is something you have aspirations of doing for a living, you might want to take it a bit more seriously. This might mean sacrificing a few of the things you normally do when watching sports in the name of profit.
The last thing we want to touch on here is betting when you are emotional. If you are sad, angry, hangry, or any of the other negative emotions out there, you should be nowhere near a sportsbook or the betting scene. Angry and upset people tend to deal with their emotions through reckless betting. The worst part is most of them can’t see in the moment that they are being reckless. They write it off as what they normally would be doing, which is certainly not true. After the fact, they look back and regret what they did because they usually do not come out a winner.
If you’re feeling any of those bad emotions, take a break from the betting. Watch the games and just enjoy them for what they’re worth. Or skip the game and go handle what’s making you upset. Stressed out? Hit the gym or go for a relaxing walk. Angry at someone? Call them up and talk it out. Once you get your emotions back under control, then you can think about getting back on the grind. Again, we are all human. The quicker you can realize that, the better your chances of long-term success in the industry.
#10 – Don’t Stop Enjoying Yourself
Well, we’ve made it to the last section of our guide. We wanted to close with something a little positive since we harped on some negative things pretty hard. No matter what, you should never stop enjoying yourself when you are sports betting, whether you’re a recreational bettor or an aspiring professional. Sure, there are going to be those losing runs where things just can’t seem to go right, but you should still be enjoying the chase.
When it stops becoming fun, you should take a step back. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more potential for success you have. You’re going to be more driven to do research, search for value, and put in the time and effort needed to win. If you hate what you’re doing, every research session will be a struggle just to get started. The quality of what you produce will suffer as well.
If you’re just here because you want to make easy money, you’re not in the right business. Winning at sports betting is tough and requires a lot of hard work and perseverance. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, it’s going to be hard to keep convincing yourself to drive on.
The Next Step
Hopefully, everything that we shared with you today resonated. These tips are not just fluff that we came up with to put words on the page. These are tips that come from pretty terrible stories of lessons our team of bettors had to learn the hard way. We’re hoping that by sharing these things with you now, you won’t have to learn these things the hard way like we had to.
If you came here from our strategy guide and are ready to get to the next lesson we have for you, click the link below.
If you don’t know what our strategy guide is, it’s our online training program for beginner sports bettors. It’s completely free and has all of the information you need to go from knowing absolutely nothing to hammering on the sportsbooks for big money. To get started, you don’t have to sign up or anything. Just click the link below, and you’ll be whisked away to our mountain of incredible information provided by our team of successful expert sports bettors.
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