On the surface, sports betting seems relatively easy — pick a game winner here and there, guestimate over/under on points scored, and so forth. Yet, it couldn’t be farther from that.
And the proof is in the pudding: by and large, most sports bettors lose more often than not in the long run. All of which makes sense considering sportsbooks, both physical and online ones, stay in business. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case if they were losing more than winning.
Instead, bookies have created complicated systems to build a “house advantage” per se. For those that understand how betting odds work, that means an advanced algorithm that sets the very betting lines players are choosing from. An expansive data set — that accounts for scoring, defense, strength of schedule, injuries, and so much more — is powering those same algorithms.
If a bettor is to outsmart these algorithms consistently over time, they’ll need to be on their game. And for most, that includes not “beating yourself” with silly mistakes. Knowing that, we’ve rounded up the five biggest mistakes to avoid when wagering on sports:
1. Relying Too Much On Past Performance
Past performance does not indicate future results. Memorize that seven-word sentence. Write it on your mirror if you must. Knowing this will save you from costly losses.
Many bettors, typically unsuccessful ones, take mental “shortcuts” and make decisions based on what’s happened in the past. Well, guess what, things change. And they change fast, especially in sports when age and personal development is such a huge factor.
Rather, bettors should use current-day information to drive their decision-making. Is a team trending up or down? Has an injury set a player back? The answers to such questions typically mean more than something that happened a year or longer ago.
2. Betting With Your Emotion, Not Your Head
Remember earlier when we explained betting odds are made by computer models? Welp, computers care nothing — and we mean nothing — about emotions.
Humans are the complete opposite. Emotions, not logic, drive everyday decisions they make in all facets of life, little less sports gambling. This emotion-first thinking leads to bettors making picks based on who they like or don’t like.
Spoiler alert: sports don’t care about your feelings and it has zero influence on a betting outcome. So at least in this regard, take a more systematic approach to betting by wagering based on data and trends rather than personal feelings.
3. Not Managing Your Bankroll
Unfortunately, most bettors don’t have a bottomless budget for wagering. That means managing what funds you do have, whether big or small, is imperative to long-term success.
A rule of thumb when it comes to bankroll management is never risk more than five percent of your total bankroll on a single bet — no matter how confident you may be in it. This will safeguard you in the event the ticket is a loser.
Simply put, you need “dry powder” (e.g. remaining funds) to make up for possible losses. If you blow 60 percent of your budget in one fell swoop, well, it’s going to be hard to reclaim that with the leftover 40 percent.
4. Over Betting
All Licenses Owned.
Not to be confused with mistake number-three, this one means gambling on too many games, not the actual dollar amount risked. Simply put, the more you bet, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
Here’s why: you can’t possibly stay in the know about that many games (unless you have unlimited time on your hands). And if you’re not informed about the bets you’re making, then you’re already in trouble against computer models that are.
You’re much better off being selective when wagering. Find a bet you completely love and use that conviction to your advantage.
5. Not Having Fun
Alright, this is a big one, the day you’re gambling picks completely hijack your mental state — typically in a negative manner when things aren’t going your way — is the day you need to take a step back.
Gambling should be fun, first and foremost. If it’s not, there’s a chance you can lose control and self-destruct in more ways than one. Addiction is a real thing and it’s the biggest mistake a bettor can fall victim to.