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Betting for Fun vs Betting for Profit

When betting on sports, we’re forced to make many decisions. We make decisions about everything from what sports we want to bet on to what wagers we want to place. Before we even start betting on sports, we need to decide WHY we want to bet on sports. This question may seem complex, but there are actually only two possible answers. We are either betting for fun or we’re betting to make a profit.

Now, having fun and making a profit are not mutually exclusive. We know that for a fact, because we make a profit from our sports betting AND we have a lot fun doing so. We’re sure there are other bettors that could say the same thing. Generally speaking, though, most bettors tend to prioritize one over the other, even if that happens subconsciously. There are lots of what we call “recreational bettors,” who bet primarily as a form of entertainment. Then there are the more serious bettors, who are mainly focused on trying to make money.

Does it really matter what your objectives are when betting on sports? In our opinion, yes it does. What your goals are will impact your overall approach. If the goal is to simply have fun, you need to focus on making sure that happens. That’s not especially hard to do. If the goal is to make consistent and regular profits over time, however, things become a little more difficult. To make an overall profit, there’s a lot you’re going to have to be willing to learn.

We’ve written this article to help you decide which approach is right for you. We start with some key facts you should know and some questions you need to answer. We then offer some simple advice for betting for fun. We finish up with an in-depth look at what it takes to be successful. By the time you’ve read through this page, you should have a clear idea of whether you want to bet for fun or bet for profit. You’ll also know what’s required to achieve your objectives.

Key Facts & Questions to Answer

Before you can think seriously about whether you should focus on the fun or try to make some money, there are four facts that you should be aware of.

  • Most sports bettors lose money.
  • Losing money can still be fun.
  • It’s possible to make long term profits from sports betting.
  • Making money from sports is not easy.

The first fact listed here probably comes as no surprise to you. It’s no secret that the majority of people who bet on sports do lose money. They may win wagers here and there, but they lose money overall. That’s what keeps the bookmakers in business.

Most bettors don’t actually mind losing money because of fact number two on our list. Losing money doesn’t exactly help make sports betting fun, but that’s not to say it can’t be fun DESPITE losing money. You don’t even need to view it as “losing” money. If betting is a form of entertainment, then the money lost on wagers can simply be considered the cost of the entertainment. Many other forms of entertainment cost money, so why should sports betting be any different?

We would like to point out that you don’t HAVE to lose money when betting on sports.

Some people believe it’s impossible to beat the bookmakers and make long term profits from betting on sports. We strongly disagree with those people, hence the third fact on our list. Although the bookmakers have a distinct advantage over their customers, their advantage can definitely be overcome. There are plenty of people who consistently make money from sports betting, so don’t ever think it’s impossible.

Not to sound contradictory, but we don’t want you to think it’s easy either. That’s why fact number four points out that making money from betting on sports can be quite challenging. Anyone has an opportunity to make money, but they have to be willing to put in a great deal of time and effort. One reason why is that successful betting requires ongoing research and analysis.

So, taking these four facts into account, which approach do you believe is best for you? Will you choose to focus on the fun or will you put in the extra effort required to make a profit?

There’s no “correct” decision here. This is a personal choice. Some people like to focus on the fun, and are happy to lose/spend money in the process. That’s fine. Others prefer to take things more seriously, and try their best to beat the bookmakers. That’s fine too.

Remember, fun and profit are not mutually exclusive. There’s no reason why you can’t bet primarily for fun and still put some effort into being profitable. And if you bet for profit and are successful, then you’ll probably have plenty of fun too. We just recommend identifying your main priority and acting accordingly.

If betting for fun appeals to you the most, you need to ask yourself the following questions.

  • Can I accept losing money?
  • Am I able to gamble responsibly?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, then there’s no reason at all why you can’t enjoy betting on sports as a form of entertainment. If you answered no to either of them, sports betting might not be right for you.

If betting for profit is the route you’d like to take, please ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I have enough spare time to commit to my betting?
  • Am I prepared to learn all about the skills and knowledge required?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, that’s a good starting point. Be sure to keep reading though, as we take a more detailed look at what’s required to be a successful bettor further down this page. If you answered no to either of these questions, then it might be better to focus on having some fun with betting: for now at least. You can always start taking things more seriously further down the road.

Betting for Fun: Tips & Advice

Not everyone will enjoy betting on sports, but most people will. You’ll never know until you try! We provide advice for anyone interested in betting for fun, and following it will certainly increase your chances of having a worthwhile experience.

  • Have a set budget for how much you’re prepared to lose.
  • Don’t stake too much on any single wager.
  • Focus on sports that you enjoy watching.
  • Don’t place too many wagers.
  • Experiment with different types of wager.
  • Try live betting.
  • Learn some basic strategy.
  • Don’t worry about your results.

The first tip on this list is by far the most important. If you only choose to follow one of our tips, let it be this one! Decide how much money you’re prepared to risk losing, and be sure this is an amount you can afford to lose. Then, never spend more than that budgeted amount. If you start spending more than you originally planned, it’s very likely that sports betting will stop being fun. Losing is fine. Losing too much is not. Stay in control, and stick to a budget.

Our next tip is closely related to the first one. As well as having a fixed budget, you should also set some rules about how much to stake on each wager. Ideally, you should only ever stake a small percentage of your budget. We cover this more thoroughly in the following article.

Focusing on the sports you already enjoy watching is simple logic. You’re more likely to make good betting decisions this way, because of your existing knowledge. You’re also more likely to have fun. Watching the sports you already follow becomes even more exciting when you have a little money at stake.

Placing too many wagers is a classic sports betting mistake. Try to avoid it. Be selective about what you bet on, and don’t feel obliged to place wagers on every single game or event. It’s more beneficial to place a few well thought out wagers than it is to place loads of wagers at random. Again, this is simple logic really.

Our next two tips are not essential, but we still recommend following them. Experimenting with different types of wager keeps things interesting, and can even improve your overall chances of picking a winner. Live betting is probably the most exciting way to bet on sports, which is why it’s something that we certainly recommend trying. Want to know more about live betting? Check out our guide below!

Learning basic strategy is not essential either. If your goal is simply to have some fun, then it’s understandable if you don’t want to take the time to learn strategy. However, bear in mind that even just a little extra knowledge can greatly improve your chances of winning. We’ve put together a list of very simple betting strategies that are easy to understand and apply; looking these over will be worth your time.

Our final tip is an essential one. If your primary goal is to have fun, then don’t stress out about your betting results. As long as you’re not losing more than you can afford, it doesn’t really matter what the results are. Winning is preferable, of course, but there’s no point in getting angry, upset or frustrated as a result of a loss. These emotions will hinder your chances of enjoying yourself.

Betting for Profit: Requirements for Success

Before we get started, we need to make one thing very clear. We’ve labelled this section “requirements for success,” but this doesn’t mean you need to meet all these requirements before even TRYING to make a profit from sports betting. Many of them can be learned as you go along. That’s why we ask you not to get discouraged if you don’t meet these requirements right now. Some of them aren’t vital; they are just designed to make things easier for you.

Still, it’s important to be aware of what these requirements are. We’ve discussed them all below, and divided them into three separate categories. First we look at the personal characteristics that would be helpful. Then, we go over the knowledge and understanding that you’ll need. Lastly, we cover the skills required to be successful.

Personal characteristics

Certain personality traits will make betting for profit easier. We’ve listed the most valuable of these below. If you have all, or even most, of these characteristics then it’s fair to say that you’ve got a good head start in your quest for success.

  • Realism
  • Analytical mind
  • Patience
  • Discipline

Let’s take a look at exactly why these characteristics are so important to sports bettors.

Realism

Anyone who expects to make an easy fortune from sports betting is sadly mistaken. It takes hard work and commitment to even have a chance of making money on a consistent basis, and there are never any guarantees of success.

Realists will understand this, and will set their expectations accordingly. With realistic expectations, it’s much easier to approach things in the right way and deal with situations where things don’t go as expected. Unrealistic expectations, on the other hand, are a surefire way to experience disappointment and frustration. That can lead to all kinds of other problems.

Analytical Mind

Analysis plays a huge role in sports betting. We need to be able to analyze all the possible factors that can affect the outcome of events, and determine which ones are the most relevant in any given situation. We then have to analyze the strength of any impact that they will have, so that we can determine the most probable outcome.

We also have to analyze movements in the betting markets and interpret what they mean. We need to be able to analyze our own betting performances too, and assess where improvements can be made.

These things are, somewhat obviously, much easier with a naturally analytical mind.

Patience

Patience really is a virtue for a sports gambler. There’s always going to be some level of desire to place as many wagers as possible, but it’s the quality of the wagers placed that matters: not the quantity. The key to success is waiting for the right opportunities, which can be hard to do for someone who is impatient.

Discipline

This is arguably the most important characteristic of all. It’s vital for any form of gambling, as a lack of discipline can end up being very costly. Without discipline, we can easily end up taking far too many risks. In a worst-case scenario, a situation could get completely out of control with disastrous financial consequences.

If you don’t think you have the ability to remain disciplined, then you need to seriously question whether sports betting is right for you. At the very least, you should proceed with extreme caution.

Please Note:

With the exception of discipline, none of the characteristics we’ve listed above are 100% essential to be successful at sports betting. You can still make money if you’re an eternal optimist who is very impatient and has no analytical mind. Just make sure that you recognize WHY these characteristics are important, and act accordingly. Try to balance optimism with a more realistic outlook if possible, and try to curb impatience as best you can. If analysis doesn’t come naturally, then you’ll just have to dedicate some time to improving in that area.


Knowledge & Understanding

The requirements listed here are perhaps the easiest ones to accomplish. It’s really just a case of learning the necessary information, and most of what you need to know can be found right here on this website.

  • The concept of value
  • General sports knowledge
  • Betting options
  • Betting strategies

The Concept of Value

It’s no exaggeration to say that understanding the concept of value is vital for anyone who wants to make regular and consistent profits from betting on sports. Value is something that we have to consider for each and every wager we place. If there’s no value, then we shouldn’t be betting. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with this concept yet. As important as it is, it’s not particularly complicated. Please take the time to learn about it though by reading our article on the role of value in sports betting.

General Sports Knowledge

A lot of people believe that simply knowing a lot about sports is enough to be successful when betting on them. These people are wrong.  Sports knowledge alone is very unlikely to lead to betting success. This doesn’t mean that sports knowledge is not important though. In fact, the opposite is true. We really need an in-depth understanding of the sports we’re betting on if we want the best chance of making money. It’s not essential to be a bona fide expert, but the more knowledge we have, the better our chances of making accurate predictions.

Our knowledge must stay up to date!

Take soccer for example. The relative strength of a team can easily change from one season to the next with a few changes in personnel, so we need to keep up with all the relevant transfers. The current form of teams and individual players is a big factor in the likely outcome of results, so we need to keep track of who’s playing well and who isn’t. Injuries and suspensions are also relevant.

Staying up to date with everything we need to know can be very time consuming. It usually proves to be time well spent though.

Betting Options

Choosing which type of wager to place on a sports event is just as important as choosing which selection to back. To do this effectively, we obviously need to know and understand all the different options. Or at least the main ones.

If you’re not familiar with the various options available, you should read our article on the different types of wagers.

Betting Strategies

There’s an almost endless list of different strategies that can be used when betting on sports. It’s impossible to learn them all, but it’s important to spend some time studying the basic concept of sports betting strategy and learning about things such as hedging, handicapping, and predictive models.

The eventual goal should be to develop your own systems and strategies. To start with, though, we recommend reading through our strategy section. It’s packed full of useful information and advice that will teach you a lot.

Learnable Skills

There are many skills that will help you along the path to sports betting success. The four skills listed below are the ones we feel to be the most beneficial.

  • Basic math skills
  • Sense of value
  • Good bankroll management
  • Emotional control

Basic Math Ability

It’s not necessary to be a math genius to bet on sports. We do need to be able to carry out certain calculations though, so some basic math skills is definitely a requirement. Some people might say that this is something that comes naturally, and you either have the ability or you don’t. We don’t subscribe to this theory.

We recognize that some people really struggle with math, while others find even complex calculations super easy. That doesn’t mean those who struggle can’t improve. Just because you don’t currently have strong math skills doesn’t mean you’re never going to make it as a sports bettor. It just means that you need to focus on finding ways to sharpen your math skills.

Sense of value

We’ve already mentioned just how important it is to understand the concept of value. Simply understanding value is not enough by itself though. We also need to be able to identify value in the betting markets. This isn’t an easy skill to master, but it IS a skill that greatly improves our overall chances of success. So, it’s worth spending time on.

Although this is a learnable skill, it’s not really a teachable skill. It’s something that can only really be developed with time and experience. We do have one tip though; this is something that has helped us improve our sense of value over the years.

Pricing up our own betting markets has trained our minds to identify value more naturally.

The main reason why it’s so hard to find value in the betting markets is because the bookmakers are exceptionally good at pricing up those markets. Why are they so good? They have had plenty of practice. By pricing up your own betting markets, you can get plenty of practice too! This may not be a particularly exciting way to spend time, but it can definitely pay off.

Good Bankroll Management

Bankroll management can be classified as an essential sports betting skill. There have been many bettors over time who were very good at what they did, but ultimately ended up broke because they were no good at managing their money. There’s a lesson to be learned from these people.

The good news is that bankroll management is easy to learn and simple to do. It involves setting aside a sum of money that should be used exclusively for betting purposes. Then, some rules must be set in place for how much to stake on each wager placed. Sticking to those rules can be challenging if you’re not naturally disciplined, but you try your best.

Emotional Control

There are many scenarios in life when showing emotion, or making decisions based on emotion, are the right things to do. Sports betting is NOT one of those scenarios. To put it bluntly, there is no room at all for emotions. Why? Because emotional decisions are not rational decisions, and rational decisions are what lead to financial gain.

We must always bet with our heads rather than with our hearts.

We’ve all been tempted to put a few bucks down on our favorite team before, or to back a well-loved underdog for sentimental reasons. And this would be fine if we were betting purely for fun. However, betting with the heart is not the way to go for the serious bettor.

Emotion can manifest itself in other ways too. Imagine being on a really bad run, for example, when every single result seems to go the wrong way. It’s natural to get disheartened and lose confidence during such times. This is an emotional response though, and not a rational one.

The rational response would be to analyze WHY the results are not turning out as expected. It could easily be just a few freak results that nobody could have realistically predicted, in which case the right thing to do is just carry on as before. It could be that you’re making some fundamental errors in the way you’re predicting results though, in which case you might need to change your whole approach.

It’s a simple fact that keeping your emotions in check and looking at things objectively will almost always result in making better judgements. This will not be easy, but emotional control is a goal worth pursuing.

We’re almost done now, but there’s one more requirement that’s important if you want to be a successful bettor. We strongly recommend developing a proper plan for how you’re going to approach your sports betting. Among other things, this plan should include the following.

  • Starting bankroll
  • Proposed staking levels
  • Which sports to bet on
  • Which leagues/competitions/events to bet on
  • When to do the necessary research and analysis
  • Short-term goals
  • Long-term goals

Writing everything down on paper may not seem necessary, but trust us when we say that it is. It will help keep you focused and motivated. When your goals are clear and your approach for meeting those goals is planned out, everything works out much more smoothly. Please read our article on planning your sports betting success for more information on this subject.

Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. Although this may sound cliché, it’s still true nonetheless. A solid plan can have a huge impact on your overall profit.

All that’s left now is for us to wish you the very best of luck in your sports betting endeavors. Regardless of whether you decide to bet for fun or for profit, we hope that the advice we offered will help you reach your goals.