Sports betting strategy

It is possible to win money betting on sports but it takes discipline, knowledge, a decent bankroll and good sound strategy to ride out the bad times.

To successfully bet on sports you need to take a long-term approach, making several smaller successful bets, is far more beneficial long term than a boom-boom-bust approach.

This article will run you through some of the most important things to remember when betting on sports, including patience, discipline, knowledge about money management, betting systems and the way the market works.


Patience in sports betting is key

Do not bet on impulse. This means not betting on your favourite team just because they are playing today or betting on a game just because it is on TV.

It’s hard enough to beat a sportsbook when you have all the data and knowledge about a specific game, let alone when you are throwing money at a game you have limited information about.

If you want to win in the long run, you can’t bet on games (regardless of the sport) just by guessing or having a feeling about it. Be patient and be selective.

Only bet when you think you have solid reasons to make a play and you are confident that you have an edge over the sportsbook. 

Stay disciplined and walk away a winner

Displaying patience and discipline are the first and two of the most important aspects to consider if you want to become a successful sports investor, but they are very difficult to apply.

First and above all, never bet more money than you can afford to lose. No matter how good you think you are or how confident you are that you have picked a winner, you can still lose, whether it is through poor judgment or bad luck (many unpredictable things might happen during the game: injuries, mistakes, bad plays and bad calls by referees to name a few).

To help you maintain discipline it is important to establish a bankroll that includes only money that’s not essential for anything else such as rent, food, mortgage payments or your family support, and that you play within your means.

If after a while you are on a long losing streak or your losses are negatively affecting your personal life, stop immediately.

Don’t be stubborn about it and never double up or use similar money-management systems that tell you to bet more money to chase the losses. Take a few days or weeks off and relax. It’s a long season and there’ll be plenty of games to wager on.

Examine your previous bets and what went wrong, learn from your mistakes and restart slowly when you think you’re ready.

Exotic bets cash in on gamblers’ stupidity

How many times have we fallen into the trap of a five-leg parlay or multibet only to land four legs and fall at the fifth hurdle? Too many times and we’re telling you that successful punters are wary of exotic bets.

As time progresses there are more and more outlandish bet types being offered by bookies, with most of these heavily favouring the company taking the bet, not the bettor.

Sportsbooks make it appealing to place bets on exotic plays such as parlays, teasers, half-times and propositions because they know a huge percentage of them lose.

Sportsbooks like their clients to make as many uninformed, undisciplined, poor-value, impulse bets as possible. You should stay away from them.

Healthy mind, healthy bankroll

If you’re having a bad day or have a physical ailment stay away from betting until you have recovered. We’re far more likely to have our discipline interrupted when we’re feeling under the weather. Weeks of carefully placed bets and profits can be undone in a few clicks and your mental health will be even worse. Only bet when your mind is clear and you’re making the best decisions.

Money management in sports betting

If you can be patient and disciplined the next important aspect you need to master in order to become successful, is money management.

We all know someone who’s very good at picking winners but after a while is reloading their accounts. Why is this? This usually happens due to several reasons, one of them being poor money management.

Although there are several money management techniques that can be used, they all seem to agree to the following basic principles:

Play only a small percentage of your initial bankroll: It is commonly accepted that 1% to 4% maximum is the optimum percentage to be played. I would recommend you to start with 1%. This will allow you to slowly increase your bankroll if you get a good streak going and it will keep you away from trouble for a while if you have a bad one.

In a nutshell: If you’re on a winning streak consider increasing the size of your bets a little bit, if you’re on a losing streak consider decreasing it.

Never chase your money: This is considered to be the biggest money management mistake of all. Remember, this is a long-term endeavour and not a short-term one. Everyone has good and bad days and good and bad weeks. If you had a bad day, resist the temptation of placing that one big bet that will cover for all your previous losses. If you don’t, most likely you’ll be seriously disappointed.

In a nutshell: Tomorrow is another day and you’ll have the opportunity to do better than today.

Betting systems: avoid or embrace?

Some people claim to constantly win 65%, 70% or more of their bets in a season with their systems. This might happen one day or another but nobody has this winning percentage in a full season betting every day. Most investors in sports betting or professional bettors will be more than happy winning 53% to 55% of their bets in the long run.

Important things to remember:

  • In certain occasions and certain sports (the so called “moneyline” ones, such as the NHL or MLB), you can even make good money by winning just 49% or 50% in the long run. The winning percentage means little here as they are considered “units won” sports (you can have a 55% winning ratio and still lose money and have a 49% winning ratio and win good money…it all depends on the “value” of each bet).
  • In sports using “points spread” (such as the NBA or the NFL), you need to hit 52.38% of the time (considering the usual average odds of 1.91 in European format or -110 in US format) to “break even”. Here the winning percentage counts because there is a “point spread” and the odds are equal on both sides. If you’re above 52.38%, you’re making money!
  • This means you need betting systems that focus on the winning percentage (because that equals making money above 52.38%) in “point spread” sports and systems that focus on the bet value in “moneyline” sports.
  • Statistics, player injuries, motivation, current form, coaching edges and other indicators should be accounted for.

Sports betting markets

One of the main reasons betting sites make so much money and most individuals lose is simply because of human nature.

That’s right, people just love to bet favourites, fairytales, favourite teams or going for the over bet when playing total number of goals or points. It’s human nature to go for the positive outcome.

Just look at the betting percentages in any site that makes this information available before the games take place and you’ll see this. Sportsbooks know this very well and work it in their favour.

That’s why it is important to look at the value of each bet against the probability of an event occurring and also to look at how the market is behaving before the games start in order to make the most balanced decision when placing a bet.