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10 Simple Strategies for Becoming a Better Sports Bettor

Learn basic betting strategies header

There’s a lot of information on the internet claiming to offer “foolproof” methods to instant sports betting success. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Becoming a successful sports bettor requires hard work, determination, knowledge, and experience.

Part of gaining these necessary skills is to learn which strategies to apply and when to implement them. In this article, we’ve compiled 10 quick betting tips and strategies that will move you towards being a stronger, more successful bettor over time.

Like anything worth doing, achieving a better sports betting winning percentage takes both time and perseverance. Sports betting is not tantamount to gambling, so we advocate betting with skill, measure, and precision. Don’t leave everything up to luck!

1. Manage Your Bankroll and Create a Unit Size

It’s integral that, as a sports bettor, you decide how much money you’re going to dedicate towards betting on sports. Of course, this hinges on your individual financial situation. It’s never wise to bet money that you can’t afford to lose.

Now that you’ve established a pre-ordained bankroll, decide on unit size. We recommend that beginner bettors stake 1-5% of their bankroll on every bet they make.

This is undoubtedly the crucial first step in becoming a more successful sport better. Every single “sharp” scrutinizes both their bankroll and unit size regularly. For more information, we’ve written a whole guide on sports betting money management.

2. Understand Your Risk Tolerance and Goals as a Bettor

Different types of bettors like to make different bets. The sooner you decide which types of bets you prefer making, the sooner you can perfect your strategy and start winning.

Some people like to bet on significant underdogs or highly improbable events. They’re attracted to the longest of long odds. These are the same bettors who are more inclined to create huge parlays and bet on games like the Browns beating the Patriots on Monday night.

Others have a preference for smaller profits, but more likely outcomes. Betting on heavy favorites and welcoming short odds may not pay out as big, but these bettors are likely to win more often.

Some bettors think strategically, with a long-term view of players or teams. These bettors spend a lot of their time and bankroll in the futures marketplace.

You may bet once a week or stay active in sportsbook live betting, placing many bets every day (or even multiple bets on the same event).

Of course, none of these types of bets are mutually exclusive. Seasoned sharps are highly active in every single kind of wager, no matter whether it’s got long or short odds attached to it.

Focusing on one particular kind of bet is a wise move if you’re looking to improve quickly.

3. Develop Realistic Expectations

A successful “sharp” wins 54% of the time. A historically great “sharp” wins at around a 60% clip. These are the best sports bettors in the entire world.

Wanting to achieve these numbers at the jump or even over an extended period of time is a tall order. We can’t stress this point enough.

Even if you win your first 10 bets (which is not unheard of), the law of averages suggests that unfortunately, you’ll come crashing back to the earth at some point. Knowing this and setting realistic expectations can help prevent you from doing anything rash.

Don’t deviate from the strategy and methods that made you win 10 in a row in the first place.

4. Keep a Record of Your Bets and Review Them Periodically

This strategy might seem unsexy, but it’s nevertheless incredibly important.

It isn’t fun to revisit losses, but if you do, you might prevent yourself from making the same types of mistakes twice. Sometimes, you’ll lose bets even if you’ve done everything right. Other times, you knew you were reaching, but made a bet anyway. Correcting misguided reasoning will benefit your bets in the long run.

An occasional retrospective on your successes and failures will doubtless provide a long-term boost to your bankroll.

5. Bet with Your Head, Not Your Heart

The majority of sports bettors began betting because they were sports fans. As such, they probably had allegiance to one or more teams. If this applies to you, we’d recommend from abstaining on betting on any event related to your favorite team (or teams).

Loyalty can cloud our judgment, and we recommend being rational and measured in your sports betting. Bias can affect us in both conscious and unconscious ways. For this reason, we recommend skipping lines that you have a personal interest or an emotional investment in.

6. Avoid “Sunk Cost Fallacy”

For this tip, we’re going to borrow a standard term from behavioral economics. The “sunk cost fallacy” means that the more time or money one invests in something, that harder it becomes to abandon. This encompasses everything from business investment to a bad relationship.

Decisions are colored and tainted by accumulated emotional attachments related to the investment. People engaging in the “sunk cost fallacy” will throw more money at a project or venture that’s doomed, just because they’ve invested so much time in it already. They simply don’t know when to cut their losses.

This applies to sports betting just as much as it pertains to investments. If you’re having a bad day, cut your losses. And whatever you do, don’t keep upping the size of your bankroll to cover a nasty losing streak.

7. Bet on One Sport

As Warren Buffet says, invest in what you know. The same applies to sports betting.

If you’re new to sports betting, it’s worth it to stick to the one sport you know the most about. You’ll already be ahead in the methods you need to get an edge in over the bookmakers, just based on your pre-existing knowledge of how the game is played.

You’ll already know how to evaluate players and teams, and where to gather information about the sport. This is integral to finding the smartest wagers.

8. Line Shop

Line-shopping is all about taking advantage of pricing discrepancies between the same event at different sportsbooks. Finding the best odds possible is guaranteed to have a significant positive effect on your sports betting ROI.

Line shopping is the closest thing to a foolproof, sure-thing strategy in sports betting. It’s guaranteed to net you bigger profits and long-term success in sports betting. The sooner you start doing it, the better.

We’ve written a full guide on all things line shopping, and why it’s essential.

9. Hedge Your Bets When It’s Appropriate

At its core, hedging is a risk management technique that can be applied to sports betting. It’s a way to either reduce your bankroll exposure or lock in a profit on bets.

Hedging is complicated and beyond the scope of this quick strategy guide, but every hedge you make will be done by betting on a result that’s different than your original wager.

Read our detailed guide on how to hedge your bets efficiently.

10. Do Your Research and Talk to Other Bettors

In the age of the internet, getting involved in the sports betting community has never been easier. Join sports betting forums, peruse sportsbook-related subreddits, and talk to anyone you know in real life who may be keen on sports betting.

Not only will you become more accustomed to sports betting lingo, but you can also exchange sports betting strategies with your friends.

Patience Is a Virtue

As we’ve mentioned, becoming a successful sports bettor takes time. As you develop more in-depth knowledge and comfort within the sports betting world, you’ll start to see a more significant ROI.

Remember, never become a gambler. Everyone has rough days sports betting, but betting responsibly and sticking to a plan will help you remain successful. Discipline is integral to keeping your cool, having fun, and staying successful.

Meet the authors

Matt McEwan
Editor-in-Chief
Dave F.
Sports Writer
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