Perhaps you are like most other sports fans and have tossed down a few dollars on Super Bowl betting games with your friends. As you’ve surely learned, adding money into the sports watching equation amplifies the viewing experience significantly. With the Supreme Court passing sports betting, new state laws are beginning to form which will enable you to dive head first into it all legally. While you will surely have fun, I’d imagine you may want to win some money while having fun. In order to ensure you are giving yourself a shot and making wise investments with your money rather than flushing it down the toilet, I put together ten tips for sports betting beginners.
1)You are very unlikely to succeed without the assistance of experts
Unsurprisingly, this is precisely why we made BettingPros. Let’s get real immediately: sports betting is hard. That does not mean it is impossible or a sure way to lose money. It is just to say that you ought to have a significant deal of respect for the minds who set the lines, as they are extraordinarily talented and put in a lot of time to make money for their companies. There are plenty, however, who make money off those companies, and we will give you exposure to their minds so you can succeed as well.
2) Make sure to acquaint yourself with the injury report before throwing down money
This is an easy mistake to make considering most people who are willing to put down money on a game fancy themselves as the best sports minds. While that may, in fact, be true, even the most involved fans may be unaware of an injury to a key offensive lineman. I can guarantee you that whoever is setting the line did not miss it, however, and without question built the line around that information. Don’t be caught in a trap with less information than is necessary to make an informed investment.
3) Do not bet more because you are on a streak
Too many times, I’ve seen people lose their winnings because they consider themselves to be on a hot streak and bet more money than they would have otherwise. You may be doing better the past two weeks, but chances are, that merely increases your odds of correctly picking a prop from 52% to 59%. Don’t get a false sense of invincibility just because the 59% odds came out in your favor four times in a row. That is bound to happen given enough small sample sizes, but it by no means implies that you will win the fifth time in a row.
4) Do not bet more to make up for what you just lost
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Martingale betting system. The idea goes that if you double your bet after every loss, you cannot lose. While this is without question true in theory, it doesn’t work practically. The reason, of course, is that you eventually run out of funds. So if you bet $50 and lose, then $100 and lose, $300 and lose, $1,200 and lose, it really adds up. Eventually, you’ve gone from invinceable to a nightmare, and as you see, that was just a four game losing streak which is bound to happen for even the wisest bettors.
5) Do not place a bet just because you will be able to watch a game
While this is the fifth one listed, it may just be the most common error sports bettors make. Yes, watching the game is a blast if you’ve got money on it, but that won’t last long if you end up losing money because you had no idea what you were getting into. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you have enough general sports knowledge to coast into cash. It doesn’t work that way. If you plan on watching the game and want to bet on it, do your research ahead of time. Chances are, if you come to realize you’ve got a two-seven off-suit and fold your hand accordingly. Likewise, don’t just bet because you put in the research. Consider that lost time a sunken cost and move along without regret.
6) Do not act based on one nugget from a radio personality or an amateur friend
Yes, these people can have valuable information, no doubt, but that does not mean they’ve conducted a sufficient amount and quality of research to trust with your money. Rather, use their single nugget in addition to all of the other information you can gather. Perhaps you will find out that they were onto something, or maybe you will realize that they overlooked something, or even worse, were basing their analysis on a common fallacy. It is always best to validate an idea with more information.
7) Do not follow small sample sizes of teams beating the spread
This seventh piece is much like the previous one, but deserves it’s own mention because of how commonly it happens. Small sample sizes are death. Who cares if a team has covered a spread five out of seven times in similar circumstances. You can flip a coin seven times and it may turn up heads five times. If you hear this as advice, don’t just ignore it, turn around and run from their analysis in the future.
8) Take it easy on the parlays unless you are ok with risk
Risk can be fun, there is no doubt about it, and there is, of course, risk in any bet, but not to the same degree as with parlays. In order to hit a big parlay, you’ve got to have some luck on your side even if you do unlimited research. That is just the way sports work. Sure, if you do it enough, chances are that you will eventually win, but are you willing to wait for that to happen while going into the hole? You will almost certainly lose time and time again, so my advice is to not try to get too cute. Just go with the games you are most confident in and while it may be less exciting, it will likely pay off over time. With that said, if you don’t mind spending on a lottery ticket, go right ahead and enjoy yourself here.
9) Do not change your strategy just because you are cold
It can be tempting to do, no doubt about it. Chances are, you’ve done this numerous times in DFS, so you can get a sense of how this would look in sports betting. You’ve got your routine of reading articles, assessing underlying statistics, listening to podcasts, or whatever you choose to do. Then when you lose several consecutive days or go on a multi-week cold-streak, you decide to scrap it all and approach your research differently. Don’t do it! Sure, you can sharpen up your approach or perhaps you just need to refocus, but remember the success your methods have brought you. Those positive returns are likely right around the corner, but chances are that you will continue to go backward if you mix it up and run around like a headless chicken.
10) Don’t let betting ruin sports
This may sound like general life advice, and while that is true, it is also betting advice. You see, if you are allowing the game to get under your skin to the point that sports are no longer fun then you can bet the pressure is impacting your betting performance as well. Relax. Enjoy the research, accept the lessons you’ve learned and don’t let your soul rest of the results of the next game. Sure, this is basic, but constantly remind yourself that you win some and you lose some. There are ebbs and flows so take the rough patches in stride and continue to have fun watching sports.
Bonus) Keep a sports betting journal (seriously–super helpful)
This concept is useful in many parts of life whether we are talking about dietary measures or relationships in the business world. If you record detailed notes, you will be able to recognize your errors down to the detail and adjust accordingly. Jot down your bets each day and what drove you to choose them and avoid others. Go back the following day and add in the lessons learned, then every few weeks, read through it all as a way to audit your work. You’ll quickly be able to spot any unsuccessful or successful patterns. It takes two minutes a day and can be the difference between failure and great success.
Bobby Sylvester is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Bobby, check out his archive.