Skip to main content

How to Avoid the 7 Biggest Sports Betting Mistakes

by May 21, 2020
Week 1 Preseason NFL

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including Common Sports Betting Terms — or head to more advanced strategy — like 10 Tips to Become a Sharper Sports Bettor — to learn more.

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” There are many sports bettors who routinely lose money, yet never think to change anything about their routine. Perhaps they are not knowledgeable about the mistakes they are making in the first place.

Sports betting is not an easy industry to be consistently successful. There is a reason why sportsbooks claim hundreds of millions of dollars in profits each year. However, you can optimize your chances for success by learning the most common sports betting mistakes and making sure you avoid them entirely.

Here are seven of the most common sports betting mistakes to avoid:

View the top deposit bonuses and promo codes for each sportsbook >>

Poor Money Management

One of the biggest keys to success in sports betting is having good discipline in terms of money management. One will always be tempted to “up the ante” or “go all-in” when they see a bet they particularly like. However, in the long run, this will get you into trouble and will be a losing proposition.

Good money management begins with the idea that you should be betting at most 5% of your bankroll with each bet. Too often, bettors break from this habit if they enter a cold stretch and try to recoup their losses quickly. Bettors can grow frustrated with this slow-and-steady approach as it does not provide opportunities to hit big. However, the end goal should simply be making money. Being more cautious with your money will help to do just that.

Assuming Good Records lead to Good ATS Records

There is a major difference between a team’s SU (“straight up) and ATS (“against the spread“) records. Many bettors believe that a team that has a good win-loss record must cover spreads on a routine basis as well. That thought could not be farther from the truth. In fact, the opposite is more likely to happen. When oddsmakers see a very successful team playing a not-so-successful team, they are likely to inflate the betting line in an attempt to not get flooded with bets on the successful team. They understand the betting public is likely to wager on the better team and they do not want the financial liability with more bets on one side.

A perfect example of this theory is the 2007 New England Patriots. Those Patriots are considered one of the best NFL teams of all-time. They were the first team to go through the regular season 16-0 and were one Super Bowl loss away from completing a perfect 19-0 season. However, that year the Patriots went just 10-9 ATS. Therefore, if a bettor wagered $100 on all 19 Patriots spreads, they would have roughly broke even on the season.

Taking on Too Much Action

On a typical busy sports day, one can make as many as 100 bets across various leagues. Often times, bettors attempt to take advantage of a massive card and will place upwards of 10-20 bets. However, no honest bettor would tell you they are equally confident about all of these bets.

Too often, bettors make bets for the “thrill” or “action”, feeling the need to be more invested. As exciting as it is to bet on sports, it must be done responsibly. Bettors should limit their plays to the ones they are most confident in and eschew the feeling of needing to bet on more games.

Having Short-Term Memory

Bettors tend to fall in love with teams that have convincing victories in their prior game or are on mini-hot streaks. However, those same bettors fail to realize that oddsmakers are aware that these teams will become heavily bet on and will inflate their lines accordingly. If it were that easy to simply ride the hot team, everyone would win and sportsbooks would go bankrupt.

One example of this is the Baltimore Ravens’ first two games to start last season. The Ravens opened up the season with a dominating 59-10 win at Miami. What did they do the next week? They failed to cover a 13-point spread in their home opener against the Arizona Cardinals, winning 23-17.

This is just one example, and there are others that will contradict this theory. However, bettors should keep in mind that in the long run there will be a regression to the mean, especially from an ATS perspective.

Putting Aside One’s Fandom

When betting on games that involve one’s favorite teams, many people let their fandom get in the way and bet with their heads over their hearts. This is not to suggest that bettors should not wager on games involving their favorite teams. However, bettors should put their biases aside as best they can and keep an open mind when deciding on the right side.

Big conflict bettors face is not willing to bet against their favorite teams as they do not want to root against them. I would suggest if one cannot bring themselves to admit their team is not the right side, they should avoid involving their team in bets altogether.

Unrealistic Expectations

Bettors often get themselves into a world of financial trouble in sports betting thinking that they are not successful enough. In reality, even if a bettor is getting half of their bets correct they are doing better than most. However, they are still likely losing money given the “vig” or “juice” that sportsbooks take out of each bet.

The most successful experts typically only get 60% of their bets correct. Thus, it is unrealistic for an average bettor to think they can have much more success than that. There will be good weeks and there will be bad weeks, but stay the course. Furthermore, bettors should temper their expectations before they begin their sports betting experience. To think that one will turn a small deposit into life-changing winnings is simply not realistic.

Not Doing Research

The more time one devotes to doing the research before betting the more likely they will be successful. Doing adequate research can be done in many different ways. One can research weather forecasts or stay current with injury updates. Also, things like how a team is currently playing or past performances against their opponent should also be weighed.

All of these examples can be classified as research that does not require one to dig too deep. If you have to do extensive research into players or teams and feel like you are starting from scratch, you probably should not be betting on those games. Stick to what you know instead of tricking yourself into believing you can be successful at betting on sports you are not knowledgeable about.

View the top deposit bonuses and promo codes for each sportsbook >>

Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Betting 101, Betting Tips, How-To