Anyone can have a good day, week, or even month as sports bettor. Sustaining that success is much more difficult, and over time, the good sports bettors eventually rise to the top.
Most would agree that winning at sports betting consistently isn’t about luck, but rather more about having a strategy. I believe it’s adhering to a list of rules and not giving away easy money to the house.
In this article, I’ll lay out 5 of the traits that can be seen in nearly all sports bettors who win on a regular basis.
1 – They Do the Work
I don’t care how much sports you watch – sports betting based on “feel” or “instinct” is never a winning strategy. Those who bet professionally, or even enjoy success as an amateur gambler, always do the work before making a pick.
You don’t necessarily need to have complicated statistical models at your disposal (although it does help), but doing your research in some capacity is a requirement. Even if that simply means looking at each team’s schedule and evaluating the quality of the competition and how they’ve performed against it.
It should take you more than a couple of minutes to make your decision about how you’re going to bet.
- You need to make sure you’re looking at all the odds – you can’t find value in a play if you don’t look.
- You need to do a comparison of the hard numbers. This means looking at each team’s rank in certain categories that could be relevant to the outcome of the game.
- This one gets overlooked (in my opinion) – try to evaluate the things that don’t show up on paper.
Things like motivation, or a “need to win” do play a role in the final result. I know that it sounds cheesy, but even at the professional level desperation does a lot to propel a team to play its best. Just look at how frequently NBA teams win game 3 after going down 0-2.
At the end of the day, just have a reason for making the decision you end up going with. Ask yourself the question, “Why am I deciding to bet this way?” If you can answer that, at least you’ve fulfilled the bare minimum requirement for being a successful sports bettor.
2 – They Prioritize Profits, Not Wins
Winning is great, but at the end of the day it’s not about how often you win, but how much money you clear when you do.
To explain this point through an analogy, I like to think of it in terms of investments. If someone invests in 10 businesses and 7 of them end up returning money, that’s great. However, if they all return only a small amount of money, we’ll say 20%, it’s not going to propel the investor to the top of the Forbes list.
On the other side is another investor. He too puts money into 10 businesses, and only two of them return money. The difference is, those two resulted in huge amounts of money. So the question is – which is the better investor? If you’re thinking rationally, the right answer is: whoever walked away with more money.
While not an absolutely perfect comparison, this analogy illustrates the importance of focusing more on the size of the return than simply getting a return. In betting terms, I’m talking about the people who would rather win a few bucks on a huge moneyline favorite bet than take a chance with the underdog.
It’s simply a necessity to have some degree of risk tolerance as a sports bettor. If you’re consistently taking low-value bets because you just want to win the play, it’s going to catch up to you eventually.
The bottom line is not all wins are necessarily good bets, and not all losses are bad plays. The more plus-money bets you have, the more you can lose while still winning money.
3 – They Lay off Occasionally
Sometimes after doing your research and looking at the numbers you just don’t come to a conclusion – and that’s okay! Part of being a good gambler is knowing when to hold off. As Kenny Rogers said, “know when to fold ‘em.”
You should be selective when making your picks, and not throw money on a game simply because it’s available. Recognize that there’s no penalty for laying off. If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that there will be endless games to play in the future.
As much as winning money is the focus of sports betting, not losing money is a close second. You have to play to win, but you don’t lose if you don’t play.
One way to decide whether or not to make a bet is to evaluate your confidence of the play. Are you making the bet because you really believe in it, or are you making the play because you feel like you have to?
4 – They Track Results
Good, conscientious bankroll management is arguably the single-most important thing you can focus on as a sports bettor.
If you don’t know where your money is going, you’ll never know if your strategies are successful or not. The only way to truly know how you’re performing over time is to keep track of your results.
Each person is different, and the method you use to keep track of your bets, bankroll, and results can be completely up to you. Whether it’s a pen and paper with a notebook, an Excel spreadsheet, or a program online that’s specifically designed for the purpose of tracking bets, there’s an option out there for everyone.
In addition to helping you manage your money, tracking your results can help you see where you’re having success, and where your strategy needs work. For example, you might notice that you’re very profitable when betting on baseball, but can’t get out of the red when betting on football. This could mean you either need to put more energy and time into your football picks, or just go all in on baseball.
Regardless of how you do it, just make sure you have some method of tracking your plays. You wouldn’t run a business without keeping track of cash-flow, and you shouldn’t bet without keeping track of it either.
5 – They Focus on Long-Term Gains
Continuing with the comparison to a business, your betting career is going to go through good times and bad times. The rollercoaster ride isn’t for everyone, but those who recognize it can stay level even when it seems like they’ll never win another bet.
When you’re going through a losing streak, it can be tempting to throw a huge amount of money around hoping to win everything back quickly. The reality is this often leads to much more significant losses and can put you in serious financial jeopardy.
People who have managed to remain profitable bettors for years know that it’s essential to look at things through a long-term approach. Unless you plan on cashing out your bankroll in the near future, there’s really no advantage to being greedy in hopes of short-term gains.
Part of being a successful gambler is simply sticking around until luck turns in your favor. If you’re wasting your bankroll looking to get-rich-quick, that’s an unsustainable strategy that will likely come crashing down.
Develop betting habits that support a long-term approach, and you’ll put yourself in a position to be successful.
If you believe that the difference between a good sports bettor and a bad sports bettor is simply luck, you’re not going to be profitable. Because the margins between winning and losing money are so small, it’s important to do everything you can to set yourself for sustained success.
Follow these tips I’ve laid out in this article, even if it’s just for a couple weeks, and see if it helps you take your strategy to the next level.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …