Guide to becoming a better sports bettor

Guide to becoming a better sports bettor

What kind of a sports bettor are you? Do you throw your undying loyalty behind a favourite team, or do you only care about the odds? Do you blow your disposable income, or do you have a dedicated bankroll?

There are as many different ways to be a sports bettor as there are sports bettors out there; every individual has their own unique perspective, tactics, strategies and – you’d better believe it – superstitions around betting. Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally has their own fool-proof method of beating the odds and making a packet, and they will share them with the conviction of a True BelieverTM, sometimes without being asked.

The funny thing is, there actually are some tried, tested and true strategies that can help you become a better, more successful sports bettor – they’re just not magical. Mostly, they’re simple common sense, fine-tuned for a sports betting context. Here are our top strategies for becoming a better bettor.

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Just like with conventional gambling, there are thousands of so-called ‘experts’ out there who swear their special strategy is the one true magical action that will open up the winning floodgates. Some of these strategies may even be legitimate, but the wise bettor knows that there’s no such thing as a foolproof method, and that even the world’s greatest sharps only win around 60% of the time.

Good sports betting strategies won’t make you an everytime winner; instead, they will help you become a more thoughtful, considerate bettor, and protect your bankroll at the same time. There are three main types of strategies: money-based, betting-based, and the mental, or personal, types.

Do you even bankroll, bro?

Yes, we’re starting at the bankroll. We know, nobody wants to hear about it, but it’s the most important strategy, no matter what type of gambler you are. If you want to be successful at sports betting, you need to have a solid bankroll management plan in place. The last thing you want is to burn through your disposable income and have none left or, much worse, get into debt for the sake of betting.

Some ways to improve your bankroll management include:

  • setting a fixed monthly/weekly budget – by allocating a specific, regular amount of funds to betting, you won’t end up hurting your non-gambling budget and will be able to control spending more easily
  • setting a low, medium and maximum bet level – few sports bettors want to bet the same amount of money on a small local game as a huge international, so it’s a good idea to have a maximum bet limit for different levels of sporting event, and to stick to them

Don’t throw good money after bad

In economics, they call it the sunk-cost fallacy; conventional gambling has the gambler’s fallacy: in a nutshell, it’s throwing good money after bad bets, and it’s never a good plan. Don’t try to escape a losing streak by placing bigger bets or betting on a team that’s clearly underperforming; rather cut your losses, call it quits, and take a step back to evaluate.

Let’s go line shopping

Whether you’re flipping between shopping apps to see whose prices are cheaper or comparing odds and scrutinising price discrepancies between sportsbooks, the one thing guaranteed to improve your outcomes – even if only slightly – is shopping. Line shopping, in the case of sports betting. Unless there is only one sportsbook and one operator available, take the time to see if you can get a better deal.

Over (and under) the hedge

Bet hedging can be a fantastic strategy for the cautious gambler. Check out our guide to hedging your sports bets as a risk management strategy for detailed information on how to hedge bets.

Set your sights on the goal, keep an eye on the risks

Your strategies are going to be highly dependent on both your goals as a sports bettor and your tolerance for risk. Your personal preferences are important to how you place bets, and you should use those to play to your strengths. To stay goal oriented, you first need to know what those are – are you placing small, infrequent bets for fun when your favourite team plays, or do you place regular, large bets based on underdog/favourite status? Or do you – most likely – fall somewhere on the vast spectrum of sports betting? Try to develop a betting strategy that works for your preferences, goals, and, of course, your bankroll and ability to tolerate risk.

On eggs and baskets

We all know it’s not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, right? Except, when it comes to sports betting, it’s not the worst idea… kind of. We’re not saying you should bet your whole bankroll on a single bet – don’t do it; it’s a bad idea! What we do recommend is sticking to one, maybe two, types of sport. Each sport has its own game and betting-related complexities, so the more you bet on, the more complicated it will make your sports betting experience. You can spend a lot more time focusing on the statistics and odds when dealing with only one or two sports, rather than multiple.

There’s no A+ in sports betting

Nobody wins 100% of the time. Nobody. Even the most accomplished, experienced and successful sports bettors in the world rarely have a win rate of higher than 60-70% at best. That’s like a D+. Don’t enter the world of sports betting expecting to be that one person who somehow magically beats all the odds and wins every time, or even 80% of the time. If you can plan your bankrolling and strategies well enough to consistently achieve 60% wins over time, you’re doing well. Set your expectations according to the realities of sports betting, not the fantasy.

The never-graduate

Even if you think you know everything, you can always learn something new – including learning from your own mistakes. Review your previous bets; see if you could have done something different, or not. Revise your strategies if they stop working. Stay up to date with changing legislation, game rules, and any other changes that might affect how you bet. Information is power, and we can always learn more.

Make smart choices

Sports and sports betting present us with an interesting dichotomy – being a smart, successful sports bettor means being very different from a regular sports fan. With fans, their devotion to the win is purely based on emotion, loyalty and love for a specific team or player. Sports bettors, however, should ideally leave any emotions at the door and focus purely on the odds and statistics. It can be pretty difficult to entirely abandon your gut feelings, of course, and we’re not suggesting doing that. Instead, we’re simply saying, try to keep the emotional component to a minimum and make choices based on the best possible outcome.

There really aren’t any magical formulas to sports betting. It’s a matter of understanding the game – both the sport and the game of betting. Learn more about sports betting in our Sports Betting 101 series or our more advanced guides.