Sports Betting is not just about luck. Sure you can get one or two lucky picks but if you want to take this seriously and possibly start making money from Sports Betting then you must follow some concrete betting strategies and put in the time and effort to set up a system that will allow you to come out on top in the long run.
To help you with this I’ve asked a good friend of mine who’s been practicing the art of sports betting for decades to help me write this 10 part guide, and I must say he did not hold back.
So sit back, relax and get ready for some real, actionable guides and tips for your next betting session.
Part I: Old Habits and New Beginnings
So, I am assuming you have tried your hand at betting sports and keep reverting back to the same mistakes all bettors make: some guys are simply too lazy for the grind that is betting sports; some guys are risk takers who love the thrills too much to study up or manage their bankroll properly; and some guys are trying to make money too fast and inevitably end up putting too much money on the line while trying to make it in this business.
I have seen some of the smartest bettors come and go because of some really simple mistakes. The good news is that the mistakes that hinder most sports bettors are really easy to fix. Sometimes you just have to start over and take a good look at yourself before things will start to turn around. If you are not making money, then now is the time to do that.
First, a quick question: what is the biggest difference between winning and losing sports bettors?
In my experience, this seemingly complicated question boils down to one thing: gamblers usually do not last in this business. If you got into betting for the thrills and ups-and-downs of diving head-first into the unknown, then you will usually lose your money in a quick, albeit dramatic, fashion. The ones that last seem to all be the guys (or gals) who loved sports more than the gambling part; they started gambling because they knew so much about sports that they felt they had an edge.
A successful sports bettor is usually a combination of tons of sport’s knowledge (statistics, situations, injuries, players, etc) and proper bankroll management. Those two things minus the gambling mentality should be the goal for most all new bettors.
Your attitude and approach must also be subject to change at this point. You must be ruthless and determined to meet goal after goal if you want to bet professionally one day. You want to take all emotion out of it, including the highs of wins.
If any one game is making you nervous or excited then you have bet too much on that game (more to come in the Bankroll Management Part of the series). You must realize that one bet is only a tiny speck in the elaborate process that is sports betting. No one bet can ever make or break you.
The top sports bettors I know take all of the emotion out of the game, because they are so emotional about winning at the end of the day. Studying situational stats or heavy trends may be boring to some people, but if you are focused on winning (and passionate about it) then it is all in a day’s work.
Breaking down games (which I cover in part 8) is actually the part I enjoy most; I love seeing how some teams play well in some spots and continuously underwhelm in other spots. I don’t know about you, but I also enjoy seeing hours of study turn into money in my account.
Don’t be the emotional bettor who gets pissed off and bets way too much on a couple of games. Become the cold, calculated bettor who attacks any weakness in the lines; become sharp enough to win money betting sports and disciplined enough to hold on to it.
Part 2: Get Set-up with Many Online Books and Other Services
Ideally you should have a decent bit of money to really get started betting. I would say a $500 minimum will be what it takes to get things going, be able to manage your bankroll correctly, and be able to shop for the best numbers.
I did the $50 experiment just to teach people the things I am going to show you in these following lessons. More importantly, you can win by sports betting. It just takes dedication, focus, and a relentless effort to win and make money.
From now on you will follow a strict bankroll management of your creation (or you can go by mine). The next step, however, is creating the atmosphere that you can win in; there are 8-10 good betting sites that allow American players. You will need to sign up for 4-5 sites with whatever you can afford.
Some people can only spare $100 bucks or so, and they really need to save up first before approaching the ideal way to bet. I would open up 4-5 accounts with online sites (the best and highest rated on the web) and deposit $100-$500 into each account, depending on how quickly you want to be able to make bets for more than $5.
The 2 best sites I definitely recommend signing up for your online betting is FanDuel and DraftKings.
Here is the betting software I recommend you have as well.
Part 3: Money Management in your Sports Betting Strategies
Managing your money when betting sports is a lot easier said than done.
Even the most experienced gamblers I know still remember that dreaded day they first went broke. Usually it started with a few bad breaks at the end of a Saturday morning session and ended with all their money on a big game (because they couldn’t keep losing all day).
I know guys who hit 58% of their games that have ran into 0-15 streaks more than a handful of times. It happens. Just as we seem to get all of the breaks when we are on a roll, the ball tends to bounce the wrong way during the losing streaks
Since you are reading this, I will assume you started out like most everyone else did. You put $100 in an online account and started placing bets. You started betting $5 or $10 a game and broke even for a while. One day you got really hot and got up to $150, so you raised it up $20 on each game. Before you knew it all of your money was pretty much in play during an NFL Sunday. 3-4 games didn’t go your way, so you decided to put your last $75 on the Cowboys -7 in the Sunday Night game. Before you knew it, your account was sitting at $0.00 and you didn’t know what went wrong. It didn’t seem fair.
Well, all of us have been there. I still remember a bad day back in 2004 when I had just started gambling professionally. I was in college and had started watching all the NBA games online while I bet on them. I had a few friends over and we had a few beers. We started talking about gambling and the picks I took. We studied the lines for a couple of hours and figured out 4 games we really loved. Since my friends were over, I decided to bet $1500 a game on these games (2/3 my bankroll that I had built for 15 months in college).
All 4 games should’ve probably covered but none did. My friends left after the games saying, “Damn dude, that sucks about all that money. You have plenty of money though, so you will turn it around quick.” But I didn’t. I spent the next couple of months steaming and making stupid plays, blaming myself for letting people that knew nothing about the NBA influence me into making dumb plays that cost me 6k.
I eventually sat down and decided new rules for managing money that have worked for me ever since. I started by betting 0.1% of my bankroll as one unit in every sport. I never bet more than 0.5% of my bankroll on any one game (0.1 X 5 = 0.5%). I also never have more than 15% of my bankroll at play at once (almost always much, much less).
That means if you have $100 in an account, then you can only bet a maximum of $0.50 on a game and never have more than $15 in play. You also want to drop a lot of the variance in betting, so you cannot parlay games anymore (2 team ML parlays are okay).
You can only place straight bets and smart teasers (no more 3-team 10’s).
You cannot unit bet under any circumstance (which I think is a great rule in general), so you got to stick to flat-betting every game at the same amount for a good long time (you can reintroduce this later on)… You also cannot take money out of your sports betting bankroll.
The money isn’t for paying any bills; it is for building a roll that will help you continue to bet sports. Only after turning that initial $400-500 into over $30,000 should you even consider taking out 1/3 of the money for yourself.
When you are just starting out, it is okay to have 20% in play at one time. $2 bets should be the lowest you ever need to go to. If you follow these guidelines you will be successful.
It may take a year or 2 to really start making good money, but at least you will not go broke gambling anymore. Besides, in 5 years you don’t want to still be losing your bankroll every month or so when you could easily have $25-$50k built up in that time.
Be smart, establish some guidelines, and stick with them. That is the only way you will ever be a successful gambler.
*Note that although I do advocate flat-betting only for beginners that I do give out unit plays on the site from time to time. Lots of pros or guys who feel comfortable betting units use the plays as well.
I personally only bet units when I feel the need to shake things up a bit or when the NBA playoffs are going on. I feel I have enough time to assign units to games since there are less games. If you have anymore questions then just hit me up on Twitter.
Part 4: Dealing with Losses and Tailing Bettors
Dealing with Losses
Learning how to deal with losing is the single-most important factor in deciding whether you make money or lose money when betting sports.
Staying focused on the next game (instead of the last game) and not worrying about a bad day (or even a bad week) is what separates 53% bettors without discipline who lose and 55% bettors with discipline who win every single year.
Some gamblers who lose one big game hate losing so bad that it pisses them off, and they end up doubling down or betting 2 or 3 games without much time to study and cap the games like they should.
Keeping your cool will save you more money than anything else you can do while betting; inversely, losing your head while betting will lose you a whole bunch of money in the long- or short-term.
You have to stay driven, level-headed, and mechanical before and after you place your bets. No matter if I am 2-8 over my last 10 bets or 8-2 over my last 10, I still place my bets the exact same way.
If you are having problems dealing with a particular loss, then shut your TV and laptop off and take a 5 minute walk outside. Quit worrying about that day and try to think of the big picture.
Thinking of betting as a marathon instead of a quick sprint also tends to help beginners cope with losing on some level. Do not ever place another bet (unless you have done the research) until you calm down and have gotten that anger out of your system.
If you are using sound bankroll management principles, then one loss (or even 10 losses) isn’t going to hurt you very badly anyways.
Tailing Others on Twitter or Facebook
I have known a lot of people who sit back and tail certain bettors and never make plays for themselves. They often do not get the best number available and often only take their favorite bets from a handful of bettors.
I often find that they are somewhat successful but eventually get tired of following and want to make their own picks; they often find they are not equipped to make their own picks since they never really learned the skill-sets that are needed to make money long-term.
My advice on tailing bettors is simple: don’t.
I used to have more respect for cappers on social media, but I have gradually started to see that most do not win over time. I only know a handful of guys who make a living betting sports and Twitter is the last thing on their minds.
Most pro bettors are not going to ever sell their plays or even want you to now what side they are on. You can certainly use information from free cappers, but I do not know of one person that posts plays on Twitter who actually logs their long term record. I see lots of “records” being updated via tweets but no evidence of its’ validity. I see no reason to care about anyone’s opinion if they cannot provide a simple Excel document with their daily plays. Why post in the first place if you aren’t going to track your results? The reason they don’t post them is because they do not want you to know how they are really doing in the long term.
If I were starting out betting today, I would use as much info from as many different sources as I could.
I would learn everything I could about money management, variance, betting systems, and I would open up at least 5-6 books online. The most important thing ultimately is psychological. You must learn to lose and not let it bother you at all; losses are part of it, and they are as inevitable as death.
You might want to look into coping skills (seriously) and not let the results of one day, week, or month bother you. You have to learn from them, of course, but you cannot let them wear you down.
Keeping a positive attitude and enjoying betting are what I think makes me a successful bettor. If your stomach is churning over one individual game, then you are betting entirely too much on the game. Your attitude dictates your success in the betting world.
Part 5: Difficult Bets, Best of Numbers, and Key Numbers
Now we have gotten through all of the sign-ups and psychological factors that usually hinder new bettors: it is time to start getting serious about this.
You are now following and tailing some of the best free bettors (who are usually the best) on twitter, and you have started trying to actively figure out why these guys have placed their bets on these particular sides and totals.
People that win money consistently betting sports will tell you the most important thing they look for is value. Sharps, as they are known, are the ones that can consistently find these winners over and over based on power ranks, trends, situations, formulas, etc.
Regardless of the means, we all are simply looking for the best way to determine the value of any bet so that we win money over time. It is no different than a Wall Street trader looking for a stock that is under-valued now in hopes of making a profit down the road.
Make Difficult Bets
I have a natural bias towards underdogs and unders. If you are new to betting then you need to adopt this approach from the get-go. Most players can break even each year simply by betting dogs and unders in good spots.
The key to a winning season is usually just understanding which dogs and unders offer little to no value.
So why do dogs and unders traditionally offer value?
It is simply because people naturally find it hard to bet the worst team or to bet the under and sit around rooting for no one to score. We like to bet on the better team that looked great on national tv last week.
We also prefer betting on high-scoring affairs where no team can stop the other.
Betting on favorites and betting overs are simply what come natural to most human beings. Because the books know this, they can set their lines a little higher than they should be in order to make money off your average Joe.
If the Pats-Packers are playing and the over should be 54 then the books will probably be able to inflate that number past 56 without losing much action. That number literally could not be high enough.
In some cases, just the opposite is true.
If Baltimore is playing Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football then the over-reactive public might love the under because of the two strong defenses. Betting the over 37 might be where you get value in a game like that.
These difficult bets are where you end up getting value. If it is an easy bet then you are probably not getting any value. Never be afraid to make the difficult bet because usually that is going to be the side with value.
Get the Best of the Number
A lot of sharps will tell you the most important thing to winning is getting on the right side of a key number.
If you can get a game that closes at -4 at -2.5 early in the week then you are getting the best of it. You even set yourself up for a good middle if you choose to do so. You should always try to predict where the line is going to go and get your money down when it is in the best spot.
If you think a line is going to go from +2.5 up to +3.5 (and you like the underdog) then you should wait and grab it later on when it does. If you like the favorite then you want to take the -6.5 before that line goes up.
Getting value is usually just synonymous with getting the best number available. The number is already going to have been shaped by sharp action before it is even available to you, so predicting where the number is going and getting your bet down at the right time are the two keys.
You should have 4 to 5 different books that you can place action on, so that you can compare books and get the best number. Some books have differentials of -2 or more and getting those points in the long run is the same as getting value and money.
The MOST important key to winning money betting the NFL is to consistently get on the right side of the key numbers 3, 7, and 10.
Get off of Key Numbers
You do not bet on teams, you bet on numbers. In the NFL, 3 is the most important number out there.
A game lands on 3 more than any other number. You can work middles [taking the +3.5 (-120) and laying -2.5 (-110) on the other side] and will win both sides around 15% of the time.
Middling the 7 will win about 12% of the time, so you will still win money there too.
If you middle the 3 betting 100 bucks a game and do it 10 times, then you will usually profit $150-170. The 2-point conversion made the 3 especially important. If a team is down 17-6 and scores late, then the conversion gives the opportunity to middle the 3 with a 17-14 final (which would have been impossible before the conversion).
If you do not want to middle, then you still need to be on the right side of the number. Being on the right side of 3 or 7 is usually the difference between a sharp and a square play. Middling games is a key way to working your bankroll like a sharp. No matter if you are only betting $25-$100 a game, it will help you bet and understand numbers like a sharp.
Part 6: Understanding Line Movements
The next step is understanding how lines are set and why they move. Lines are nothing but different prices in a stock market that we call sports betting.
If you can get a line at -2.5 instead of -3 while laying the same amount, then you are getting a better deal in our market. If you keep getting these better prices, then that will lead to more value at the end of each year.
Getting value is the name of the game.
If two teams are evenly matched in every facet of the game, but because of some external factors (excessive media attention, star players being profiled on Sports Center, etc.) one team is favored by 6 points then you are getting value by going against them in this particular game.
Public perception creates media frenzy around a team; the frenzy inspires your average Joe to place a wager online; and the line adjusts to the influx of money coming in on that team.
I will break the process down from the beginning. Once you understand the line and why it moves, you automatically will have an edge over 80% of bettors.
There is a common misconception out there that the point spread (or line) is set with the goal of getting equal action on both sides of the game.
The logic behind this is simple: every bettor lays 11 to 10 on every bet placed, so equal action would mean a profit for the book on every game. According to this theory the line moves up and down and all around until money equals out and the house profits.
This could not be further from the truth. I will explain exactly why this is not true.
If the Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow then this line could not be set high enough for your average Joe to side with the Chiefs. If the line was -14, -17, or -20, then the public money would come pouring in on the Packers. The public bets teams not numbers.
So if the goal is to get equal action on both sides, why not make the line something extreme like -28 (just to ensure that money would come in on the Chiefs)?
The answer is pretty simple: wise guy action.
There are professional gamblers, or sharps, out there with plenty of money ready to exploit bad lines and numbers. If the sports book catered to this equal action on both sides theory, then the sharp would wait until the book released these inflated public lines and murder the book on the other side.
The book might take a lot of public bets on the Packers all week long; then adjust the number so that some action would come in the Chiefs; and then be pounded into the ground with sharp action on the Chiefs with 28 points.
But the books do want to make money off of the public with sensible line movements. I think this conversation between Chad Millman and Bob Scucci will help you understand exactly what I mean. Here is the transcript:
Millman: Another common question I get is bookmakers want to have even action on both sides, and that is not the way I see it. I see bookmakers gambling just as much as the wise guys. I know you guys have opinions, and I know there are going to be games where you guys are willing to take money and not have equal action on both sides because it will increase your margins and give you a better chance to make money at the end of the year. Is my opinion wrong?
Scucci: No. It is not wrong. We could not survive if we only got 50/50 on both sides. The juice is there, but it is not enough to pay our bills and to do what we have to do. It is not that great. And second of all, it never happens. It is impossible to get the same amount on both sides at the same point spread. At the same point spread is the key phrase there because a lot of people that don’t fully understand bookmaking say, “Why don’t you just move the line to get money on the other side?” And the reason we don’t do that is because it opens up our chances of getting middled or sided on a game. We are often buried on a game at -7 and you say move it to -8 and we still don’t get money. So you move it to -9 and we still don’t get money, so we move it to 9.5. And everyone says I will take 9.5 and you have a 2.5 point middle. Well the best case scenario for us is we break even because of the money on both sides. And our worst case is the game falls on 9 or 8 and we lose both bets. So instead the philosophy we like to use is let’s put up a game that looks attractive on one side where we feel the other side is actually the better play. Some people call it a trap. Some people have other phrases for it. But you look at a game and we feel this road team should be -3 and we know the public thinks it should be -6. So we put up -3 and get a ton of money on 3. So we go to 3.5 and maybe the wise guys take 3.5, and then we win the game. That is the ideal way. We just feel like if we have over 50% of the games where we win, then we will make money in the end. And that is our philosophy as bookmakers.
Understanding what Scucci is talking about will keep you out of a lot of unnecessary trouble while gambling.
Grasping his approach to handicapping will save you from getting trapped while helping you see the difficulty of getting even money on the both sides of a number.
Getting a ton of action at -2.5 and a ton of action on +3.5 does a book no good when 15% of games are decided by 3. Getting sided and middled are real problems that these bookmakers face. They are forced to forecast these games and gamble just like the rest of us. Fortunately we have a huge advantage in that we get to pick which games we wager on.
Knowing if a line is at the best price now or if it will move to a better one is the key to the game. If we love a team at +10 then we need to know where that line is going. Should we grab it now or is this line going to keep rising to an even better price?
Learning how the bookmakers think and figuring out which teams are being pounded by sharps or the public are the only way you are going to ever know that information.
Part 7: Think Like a Sharp
1) Don’t worry if your bet is sharp
Quit worrying about the sharp side of a game and/or fading the public. There is not a sharp/square side to every single game, nor should it really matter what side they are on (the sharp number could easily be gone).
A lot of times the sharp side is the public side, but the sharps may have just gotten the number ahead of the majority of the public. Instead try to make solid bets over and over again, and focus on knowing as much as you can about the teams who are playing the game.
2) Let-downs, Look-aheads, and Sandwiches
If a team just had a huge upset and is now taking their inflated egos and numbers on the road, always look for a let-down. Teams in college especially come out flat for these games because they are not mature enough to understand how to handle praise, media attention, or expectations.
Similarly if a team has a huge top 10 game or an Auburn-Alabama kind of rivalry in their sights, they tend to look-ahead to the game and come out flat the game before the rivalry.
If a team just came off a huge upset and is playing a rivalry game next, that game in between is called the sandwich game. It is one of the best spots you can ask for to fade a team.
3) Young dogs are the best dogs
In an NBA season that will have many teams resting or taking the night off, the most reliable dogs will be the young teams that are healthier and are playing for spots on NBA rosters next year.
Those ugly, young dogs that the public hates will offer more value and more effort per game than any favorite can or will. Look for times when these teams really start to gel and play them before the media starts to stroke their egos.
4) Bad teams and unders have inherent value
Books know the public hates to bet bad teams (and loves to bet overs hoping for a high-scoring affair), so the lines are usually adjusted slightly because of this.
This does NOT mean to bet every bad team and every under in every spot. Favorites are going to cover a good % of the time, but I have learned all sharp bettors have developed an almost natural bias to dogs and unders!
5) Get the best of the number
The lines that Vegas closes at are going to be pretty close to accurate over time. The real key is to try to beat the closing number when you bet.
If a game opens at Raptors +9 and closes at Raptors +6, then you got the best of the number if you grabbed it at +9. Try to start understanding and predicting where a game you like will move and hit it at the best of the number. This is so much more valuable and profitable than blindly trying to follow wise guy steam.
6) Bet the small games for small amounts
Manage your bankroll and bet less than .25% of your entire roll on each game (part of managing your bankroll properly), but also focus your attention away from the big games (which offer substantially less value and return) and look for your edge in small NBA games or Conference USA basketball.
You have a lot better chance of finding an edge in games where the book has less money, time, and attention dedicated to knowing what will happen. Small games for small amounts…
7) Old NBA teams without much rest should be faded or stayed away from
The Celtics, Spurs, and Suns are three teams that immediately come to mind when mentioning old age in the NBA. These teams also understand the season is a marathon, not a race; they will physically and mentally take games off during this condensed season, so any bets on these teams must be well-researched.
These teams are great teams to fade when they are favorites on the road, playing in b2b’s, or when they are playing in those 7 games in 10 days situations (or whenever you can make a strong case they just need some rest).
8 ) Always look to fade recent #1’s in college or teams on a roll in the NBA
When a team becomes the new number one team in college, a series of things happen: the lines are automatically inflated because of their new status, the public tends to place a large amount of bets on this team on the rise, and the players come out feeling great about themselves but lack focus on their upcoming schedule.
The same thing happens when a young NBA team wins 4 or 5 games in a row. Look for situations to fade these teams.
Part 8: Learn to Breakdown and Cap Games
1) Initial Perceptions and Bias
First key is to not go in with a bias towards any team. Let the situation, trends, and match-up information do the work for you. Do not try to decipher what is going to happen in the game before allowing all of these factors to set in.
Do you think the Lakers are the better team in a game tonight? Do you think the Colts and the Jaguars are poor teams? Do you think the Heat are overrated and the Hornets are underrated?
None of that matters; do not bring your biases into the discussion. Hold back on any decisions until all the information begins to set in.
2) Research the Game
Get started researching the teams and determining their strengths and weaknesses. Does Alabama have a great defensive line and Michigan suffer from a poor offensive line? Should they dominate up-front in this game? Does Sefolosha seem to take Kobe out of the game when they meet? Do the Lakers match-up poorly in the back-court but well in the front-court against the Clippers? Have the Braves struggled vs Lincecum in 7 of his last 9 starts vs them?
Try to visualize how you see the two teams playing versus one another. Will it be a low-scoring game or a high-tempo scoring affair?
Try to get a feel for how the pace of the game is going to be. What match-ups are going to benefit each team? Does Kobe struggle vs the athleticism that the Thunder bring to the table? Look at the two teams line-ups and benches and see who has the advantage at each position and how important that may be in this particular game.
3) What have they done recently? Where do they play next?
What if the Lakers are coming off of 3 straight wins (2-1 ATS) and will be playing their 3rd game in 4 days tonight? Suppose they played Phoenix last night and their starters did not get much rest in the game.
What if they are playing this back-to-back, and they are 0-3 ATS in b2b’s this year? Suppose the Lakers play the Cavs in 2 days at home, do you think looking ahead will be a factor?
Suppose their opponent played Cleveland last night in a game that was not decided until late. The opponents have also won 5 games in a row SU and have won ATS in 4 straight. The game tonight is at their home where they are 4-1 ATS this year. It is a back-to-back game for them as well, and they are 2-2 ATS (1-2 on the road and 1-0 at home) on b2b. They also do not play again after the game tonight until the 14th against the Nets at home: do you think they will be pretty focused on the game at hand?
If you want to get all of this info without having to look it up yourself then you can subscribe to sportsinsight or a similar membership service.
If you don’t want to spend the money for the subscription then you should create tons of Excel and Word documents with all of this info it. Start storing it and studying it.
4) Analyze the data you have compiled so far
Let’s say the Lakers are an older team and seem to either take the second leg of b2b’s off or just not have the strength to muster up wins and covers. They probably will not give their best effort and stand a good chance to lose the game SU.
Their opponent does really well at home and has defended their home court pretty well so far. They are performing great ATS at home also.
Suppose the Lakers do not match-up with them well at SF and PG either and you feel the Lakers are going to lose this game. Maybe you end up capping the game at Opponents -1 vs the Lakers. But you get onto your book and the Lakers are 4 point favorites in the game. You end up taking the home dog with 4 points and they win the game by 7 over the mighty Lakers.
5) Public Perception and Injuries
If you have a subscription to SportsInsights, then you have the upper hand here. You can track the flow of the bets from one second to the next. The key here is to try and grab the game at the best number.
Getting the best number is part of being sharp, as we have discussed before. A two or three point swing kills almost all value in basketball and football games especially. Those points add up to your overall % and ultimately affect the size of your bankroll in the end.
Another factor you must consider is the injury reports for every team. If you have SportsInsights, you do not have to worry about this as you will be notified any time any injury of significance happens and have a list of the sportsbooks whose lines do not reflect the injury just yet.
For those that do not have it, you can always check other sites although the line may already have the injury reflected in the line. VegasInsider for example has a page with free injury news.
6) Motivation and Consistency
After you have an initial understanding of where you are leaning in the game, only a couple of questions remain.
Does Team A have any reason to not play with motivation in the game tonight? Do they have any extra incentive to play for? What about Team B’s motivation? Are there any winless teams that really need the win coming into the game? Any playoff hopes on the line? Is this a rivalry game? Do you trust Team A to come out ready to play?
These are all valid questions that must be asked whenever you cap a game.
Part 9: Manage Expectations
Betting sports for a living (or for extra income) isn’t as easy as people make it out to be.
You have to be prepared for the grind that comes with it. In fact, until you get a decent-sized bankroll you aren’t going to be bringing home large sums of money for a while.
If you manage your bankroll properly and do not attempt anything crazy, then for the first year (or however long it takes) you will slowly be building a bankroll that you do not pull money from under any circumstance. At this point you are not trying to become a professional sports bettor; instead you are trying to accumulate enough money to simply become an amateur bettor.
You are going to experience many losses along the road, and how you respond to these losses will ultimately decide if you have what it takes to make money betting sports. The best gamblers in the world rarely break 60% anymore, so 40% of their bets are going to lose (and that is the BEST case scenario).
I get mocked almost every night for posting losing bets, but these are things that come with the territory. You have to have thick skin and deal with criticism (and mockery) very well.
Congratulate them on their lean in the game and move on. Most people that love betting sports do not win and therefore doubt that you win either. You have to be prepared to lose games, lose money, get mocked, and still wake up the next day ready to start the process all over again.
The good news is that you do not have to post your plays anywhere. That is something that is reserved for only the most depraved of us.
I have found there are actually a large % of people that simply are not mentally equipped to handle losing. They have very small breaking points and after experiencing many losses (no matter the % of wins) they break down and start gambling (my term for betting with disregard to money management) their money away.
We have all seen the poker player who grinds out 3 days in a tournament, accumulates the most chips, experiences small loss after small loss, and finally goes all-in with nothing and loses it all.
That is your average Joe and your average bettor.
On a daily basis you have to resist your urges to bet outside of what your bankroll dictates. You have to fight your human instincts that want you to impulsively get somewhere fast.
Your goal is to still be betting and making money tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. You do not want to become that angry, cynical guy that points out everyone else’s losses on social networks.
You have to become almost robotic in how you look at games and place bets. The same factors are at play every single day and require the same energy you put forth the day before.
When you bet sports, manage your expectations so that you expect a lot of things at a very reasonable rate.
Part 10: Just Do It!
I am going to make this short and sweet, because now you are equipped with all of the basic knowledge you need to get started. You have learned about bankroll management, line movements, and even how to breakdown games.
It is now time to fight the number one enemy: apathy.
It is time to become passionate about sports betting while staying focused and calm when you are assessing all of the information that comes at you each day.
Strive every day to be get better at something that you are weak at; if you lack much knowledge about pitchers in the MLB, then spend tonight reading up on one division’s pitchers and how they have fared against their competition. If you do not know much about the bench of the remaining NBA teams, then right now is as good a time as ever to start learning about them.
Equip yourself with new weapons (knowledge) to attack your opponent (the lines) each day.
If you are not good at betting totals, then find out why.
Are you following trends that are no longer relevant? Are you predicting how a game will flow in your head just based on one game you saw last week? Are you looking at how a team has performed on each Tuesday night game this year (useless data)? Or are you actively looking for holes in your game? Are you looking for data to confirm your preconceived notions? Or are you looking for data that will create a new way of looking at the game?
The best sports’ bettors are willing to change old and out-dated habits pretty quickly. Staying ahead of the curb is the name of the game. A good bettor can see a game go under 10 times in a row, watch the books over-compensate, and nail the over without even hesitating.
You have to become confident in yourself, the way you break down games, and the bets you end up placing. Confidence combined with knowledge can be a very powerful weapon in this line of work.
It is also time to stop worrying about money and games. If you are doing this right, then you should never have a large enough percentage of your bankroll on the line that would make you worry very much anyways.
If you are worrying about that kind of stuff, then start back at the first step and get back on track before placing any more bets. You need to be an assertive, confident, and lethal sports bettor. Pick your spots, track your bets, and see how well you do with different styles of betting.
Are you the kind of guy that only needs to look for 1-2 bets a night in the NBA? Or are you the kind of guy that needs to throw some volume around in order to get on the right track?
Track your % both ways and see which one wins you the most money (even track your leans). But most importantly, stop sitting around not doing anything. Learn as much as you can and become active in this business. Start interacting with others on twitter and on some message boards and fill your head with as much useful information as you can. Otherwise, you aren’t going to get very far.
Every day try to a) learn something new about sports betting, b) look at new data that is available online, c) look over the bets you won and lost the day before, and d) look at the bets you didn’t place the day before. Start looking over all of the games just to observe the numbers instead of trying to confirm any preconceived ideas.
The most important thing is to keep your confidence up and bring the same energy every single day. I am pretty sure that you know what has to be done next.