There are two popular goals when it comes to sports betting. Bettors obviously want to turn a profit, but they also want to be entertained in the process.
These work together, because entertainment aside, you’re going to be enjoying yourself if you’re winning. Whether you like a certain sport or the teams/players associated with it, you’re going to be smiling at the end of the night while you watch a winning bet bring home some fat stacks.
Of course, you’re not always going to win. This is why considering the entertainment aspect is key. That sometimes means not placing wagers on genres that you normally don’t pay attention to, or aren’t going to get excited about.
This isn’t an exact science, and really, it’s just the start to formulating your personal (winning) sports betting strategy. The point is that you want to win and you want to be entertained – ideally both at the same time.
To help make that happen, we’re going to go over several basic sports betting strategies and tips that should make the process a little simpler for the casual sports bettor.
1. Entertainment vs. Profit
Long-winded intro aside, it is certainly important to be realistic with yourself and decide whether sports betting is purely for fun, purely for profit, or if you think you can handle both.
Making sports betting both entertaining and profitable can be tough, but it is more rewarding when you can wager that way. Regardless, the real reason you want to decide this is so you can gauge how much money you’ll be betting on a regular basis and how seriously you’re going to be taking the entire process.
Odds are that if you’re reading this right now, you care about winning, so we’ll proceed as if profiting takes precedence over being entertained.
2. Bankroll Management
The first step that you as a sports bettor looking to make a profit should follow is to know how much money you have to work with.
Whatever amount of cash you decide to bet with starts out as your base bankroll, and ideally serves as the amount of money you are willing to (and can afford to) risk over the course of any given week, month, or year.
You can even go down as far as limiting your daily spending, as well as how much cash you lay down on any one bet. A great rule of thumb is to never put more than 10% of your allotted bankroll on the line at any given time.
Adhering to these rules can be restrictive and even annoying, but there are going to be bad beats and off nights.
Having a set amount of money that you are willing to play with (and are okay with losing) is very key in making sure you can keep on betting beyond a couple of unlucky runs.
Another good idea beyond choosing your starting bankroll is deciding on a backup bankroll. What happens if you start with $100 and run through it in a week or a month? Do you have the money to go right back in with another $100?
Make sure you know your limits here, and think ahead enough so that you can reload safely if you initially experience a lot of losing. That, or you can go big at first (maybe double it to $200), and be very strict with the percentage you play on a daily and weekly basis.
3. Betting Style
We touched on this briefly in the bankroll section, but your betting style is going to be pretty key in deciding how you operate as a bettor.
There are several sports betting styles to consider, and also some that you simply want to avoid. Here are the three we’ll go over:
Kamikaze, the big one to avoid, is simply betting thoughtlessly on any game for any amount at any time.
You want some structure in sports betting. That starts with the amount of money you’re playing with as a whole, but it also extends to each individual bet.
Make sure there is logic behind every bet you target, whether it’s a favorite at home, a player prop bet, or a steep underdog with serious upside. Never place a bet just to bet, and avoid this kamikaze mindset that can quickly ruin your betting experience.
A better angle is the fixed bet, where you know how much you are putting on the line every time out, regardless of wager type. You’re only going to get so much back if you only bet $10 on every single bet, but for each bet, you’re also only losing a maximum of $10.
This is small stakes, but this will get you going in the right direction, and once you start finding success, you can adjust things. That will open the door to fattening up your bankroll, and in turn will allow for bigger bets.
Another method is to vary your betting and bet harder on favorites or “sure things,” and bet a smaller amount of cash on underdogs or wagers that provide big payouts. This contributes to the “grind” theory, where you can keep winning (and keep playing) as long as you’re only assuming so much risk.
It’s true that you can only win (roughly) what you put in, but you can only lose that same amount, too. In reality, if you’re successful, you can turn $10 into $20 in most of your bets, and when you nail the upset picks, you’re tripling or quadrupling your money.
There are more sports betting styles to consider, but these are the three to keep in the back of your mind at all times.
Avoid kamikaze strategies, generally stick with fixed betting, and loosen the straps a bit so you can double down on favorites every now and then.
4. Master of One
Before you place a single bet, it’s going to be extremely important to know about the sport you’re placing money down on. You should know the sport front and back, whether it be the players, how the game is played, the matchups, trends – the list goes on.
Anyone can win a bet with blind luck, but to win consistently and sustain success, you need to know what you’re doing as a sports fan and as a bettor.
Perhaps you fancy yourself a sports guru and you know a lot about several sports. That may be true, but there are a lot of nuances and changes during each sport’s season. Taking breaks to bet on this sport and then shift to that sport can create unnecessary confusion with how you bet.
There is something to be said about truly having one sport down at an elite level, too. In addition, the idea of finding your betting groove cannot be overstated.
These are very real facets to sports betting, and to win on a regular basis, you should consider both every time you start betting on a specific sport.
Eventually, you can diversify your betting and branch out, but when you first get going, sticking with (and mastering) one betting genre is a great practice. In fact, as fun as betting on every sport can be, once you find the one that brings you profit, it’s not a bad idea to just ride it out with that sport until it’s out of season.
5. Find the Right Site
Before you can ever place bets, you’re going to need to find a place to wager. You have your bankroll, you know how you want to bet and which sport you’re wagering on, but you don’t have your sports betting site decided on yet.
This is actually huge for your entire process, as the right sports betting sites are going to offer a collection of criteria you won’t want to ignore. Here are a few to consider when picking a site to bet at:
Safe and Reputable
Good Wagers and Odds
Great Bonuses and Promotions
Good Customer Service
Make your personal list if you need to, but for all intents and purposes, this list will do the trick. Rule number one when picking a sports betting site to place wagers at is they need to pay you.
Read reviews, go to gambling forums, or even test the waters yourself with small amounts of money. You wouldn’t blindly put your money into a bank you don’t trust, so don’t do the same with your cash when you plan on betting with it.
There are a lot of betting sites that will gladly take your cash, but then conveniently run into problems once you win and want to withdrawal.
Avoid this! Find a collection of sites that you love that are never catching heat for slow payments or failure to pay.
If you can find a site that pays and is also safe and has a good history, all the better. Sites that have been around for a longer period of time tend to have a good reputation and also have stout customer service – two more things you’ll want in your go-to sportsbooks.
Albeit coming in as secondary necessities, you’re also going to want upside with your books. One path to that is finding books that offer really creative and unique wagers, as well as competitive odds. There are some powerhouse sports betting sites out there that are safe and pay you your cash, but they don’t have creative wagers, or they offer weak odds.
Hunt for that value when picking your site, and do the same for bonuses and promotions.
Ideally, the perfect site(s) will have a good combination of all of these criteria. The best sports betting sites are called that for a reason.
Bovada, BetOnline, and Bookmaker are some of the best that we’ve come across, but don’t just take our word for it. Get out there and discover which sites meet all of your demands and expectations.
6. Value Hunting
Value was touched on for a second, but this certainly isn’t confined to just which sites offer the most playable wagers.
Once you have picked your favorite sites to wager on, it’s then up to you to hunt out the top value bets every single day across all of your favorite sites.
The trick here is that value is fairly subjective, so you’re only going to know it when you see it. One good idea is to start your day by looking at every site’s opening lines and start gauging where the best value resides.
The easiest way to see the value is to just compare the same exact bet between sites. If Bovada is offering the Patriots as -265 favorites, but BetOnline is giving you that same favorite at -225, it’s obvious which site you should be placing your wager at that day.
Hunting for value isn’t as taxing as it sounds, and it is absolutely necessary if you want to maximize your earnings.
7. Tilt Vacation
We could probably go on and on about sports betting tips to consider, but one of the most important strategies is to not have a strategy at all.
Win or lose, sometimes the best thing you can do when betting on sports is to simply take a break. Those big losses can put you on tilt, which isn’t just a poker or gambling term, but truly an actual feeling.
When on tilt, you’re vulnerable to betting more than you’ve agreed with yourself, or you will look at value and wagers in a biased manner.
Instead of going into a new day with a warped betting perspective, just swallow the loss and take a day or two off.
Once you get your bearings right again, you’ll be completely refreshed and ready to take on a whole new slate of bets.
This can also be something to think about after a big win. Often when you take down a huge prize, you can feel invincible, or make silly bets because you talk yourself into betting with “free money.”
That’s a dangerous game, as you start working against the betting tendencies that got you into a successful pattern, and you start making obscene bets.
This can have you tricking yourself into seeing value that doesn’t exist or betting more money than you should based on your predetermined bankroll rules. That might not always backfire, but it absolutely can, or at a minimum, it can get you off of your current path and mess up the way your process operates.
Anytime you suffer a big loss or reel in a big win, embrace it the best you can and take a small break.
Doing so sharpens your focus and keeps everything in perspective.
Following these sports betting strategies and tips don’t guarantee a thing. However, these tips collectively should help you play at safe sites, get the most bang for your buck, and prolong your run as a sports bettor. Whether or not you’re successful at an elite level during that time is up to you.