Optimizing Your Selection Process

Optimizing Your Selection Process

It perhaps goes without saying that a fundamental requirement of successful sports betting is being able to make good selections. If you can’t consistently make good decisions about the wagers you’re placing, then your chances of long term profitability are close to zero. To put it another way, you need to make accurate predictions if you’re going to make any money from betting on sports.

Making accurate predictions is hard though. There are so many factors that can affect the outcome of a game of soccer, a tennis match, a golf tournament, or any other sports event, that it’s impossible to determine exactly what impact each one of them is going to have.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be a profitable sports bettor though, despite a lot of people believing it is. In fact, quite the opposite is true. ANYONE can make money from betting on sports if they are prepared to put in the required time and effort.

There is no magic recipe for guaranteed success though, and even if you’re the most knowledgeable sports fan in the world it won’t come easy. Successful sports betting takes a great deal more than just sports knowledge, and there are many other things to learn too.

With that being said, it’s possible to overcomplicate things. If you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been betting for a while, please don’t think that you need to learn everything there is to know about sports betting to stand any chance of making some money. Even just knowing the basics can go a long way, and you can learn about the more advanced aspects as you go along.

There’s one thing that you should definitely try to get right from the outset though, and that’s your general approach to making selections. Your selection process can be fine-tuned as you gain experience, but there are some important principles that you should follow in the meantime. We explain these below, and by following our advice you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your selection process without any further betting knowledge.

Be Selective

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when betting on sports is placing too many wagers. It’s easy to assume that placing more wagers provides more opportunities to make money, and to some extent this is true, but that’s no excuse for betting for the sake of it.

It’s the quality of your selections that matters the most, not the quantity of them.

We’re not suggesting to only ever bet when absolutely certain you’ve picked a winner, as that won’t happen too often, but you will get much better results in the long run when being selective about what you choose to bet on. This selectivity to should apply to all of the following.

  • The number of sports to bet on.
  • The number of leagues/competitions to bet on.
  • The number of games/events to bet on.
  • Which wagers to place on a game/event.

Let’s address these points in detail.

The number of sports to bet on

You don’t necessarily have to specialize in a single sport to be successful. You’re unlikely to be successful, however, when trying to bet on every sport under the sun. You need as much knowledge as possible about a sport in order to make informed decisions, so you should really only bet on those that you truly understand.

Even if you happen to know a lot about many different sports, it’s not realistic to think that you’ll be able to do enough research and analysis to accurately judge upcoming events for them all. It’s absolutely fine to bet on three or four sports, but we wouldn’t advise trying to focus on any more than that.

The number of leagues/competitions to bet on

This is only relevant for certain sports. When betting on tennis, for example, it’s relatively easy to follow everything that’s going on in the professional game. When betting on soccer, though, it’s impossible to keep track of all the teams and players participating in all the different leagues around the world. In Europe alone there are dozens upon dozens of leagues, and there’s just no way anyone can be an expert in them all. It’s perfectly possible to become something of an expert in just one or two though.

The number of games/events to bet on

Again, this only applies to some sports. We’ll use football as an example. If you were betting solely on the NFL, then you’d have around 16 games to bet on each week during the season. You could place wagers on each one of these games, but would you really be able to make valid judgements about each one? We’d suggest almost certainly not. Picking just a few to bet on would yield much better results in the long run.

Which wagers to place on a game/event

With most sports events there are a variety of different wagers you can place. Let’s go back to football again. The following are just a few of the betting markets available for each and every games.

  • Point Spread
  • Outright Winner (moneyline)
  • Total Points Scored
  • Winner at Half Time
  • First team to score
  • First player to score
  • Number of interceptions
  • Total passing yards
  • Number of sacks
  • Number of field goals

How likely is it that you could make accurate predictions for each one of these betting markets? The correct answer is “not very”. In fact, most of the markets listed here are very hard to make money from even if focusing solely on them. Bookmakers offer them for precisely that reason.

So it’s also advisable to be very selective in the types of wagers you place too. Try to focus on the ones that offer the best chance of long term success.

Remove the Emotion

There is no room for emotion in your selection process when betting on sports, as emotion almost invariably leads to bad decisions. So you need to remove the emotion completely. This is easier said than done, but it’s something that you should really try to work on.

Good betting decisions are based on rational thinking rather than emotion.

If you struggle to think with your head rather than your heart, try to avoid betting on events where you are partisan for whatever reason. This will help to prevent you from betting on what you want to happen rather than what you think will happen. If you’re a soccer fan, for example, don’t bet on matches involving your favorite team. If you’re a huge fan of a particular tennis player, don’t bet on matches they’re involved in.

Emotion can manifest itself in other ways too. During a winning run, for example, you might feel invincible and start placing wagers that you wouldn’t normally place. During a losing run, you might feel very low on confidence and avoid making decisions even when the reasoning behind them is sound. Neither of these situations are likely to turn out well, but can be avoided if you’re able to stay in control of your emotions.

Consider Influential Factors

In the introduction to this article we mentioned how there are many factors that can affect the outcome of sports events. We also mentioned how it’s impossible to determine the overall impact that each one will have. That doesn’t mean that these factors should be completely ignored. Far from it, fact.

Your selections should ALWAYS be based on factors that are likely to affect the outcome.

At the very minimum you should consider the possible impact of the most influential factors. If you don’t, you’re betting based on nothing more than guesswork and gut instinct. This is not a recipe for success. You should be looking to make informed predictions about what you think is going to happen, and you can’t do that without taking into account a variety of different factors.

Obviously the relevant factors vary from sport to sport. And, to some extent, it’s a matter of subjective opinion as to which ones matter the most. This is where successful sports betting is more art than science. It’s impossible to say for sure which factors are the most influential, so this is something that you have to be able to judge for yourself.

Look for Value

Looking for value is arguably the most important stage of the selection process for each and every wager you place. Actually, it’s our opinion that it’s DEFINITELY the most important stage. Successful sports betting is essentially all about finding value. Pretty much all the strategies that you can learn are ultimately about helping you do that.

You should only ever place a wager when you find value.

This is an excellent rule to stick to. If all your bets have positive expected value, then you’re well on your way to success. Don’t understand the concept of value in relation to sports betting? Then this is the very next thing you should learn. It’s nothing short of vital that you have a solid understanding of value and how to identify it if you are to stand any chance at all of making money from sports betting.

Value Explained

Value in sports betting is about the relationship between the probability of an outcome happening and the odds of a wager on that outcome happening. Positive expected value is when the odds are greater than the probability, and negative expected value is when the odds are lower than the probability.

To explain further, imagine a hypothetical basketball match where the two teams are perfectly matched and each one has exactly the same chance of winning as the other. Team A has a 50% chance of winning, and Team B has a 50% chance of winning. Odds of higher than even money for either team would represent positive value, while odds of lower than even money would represent negative value.

This is a very simplistic explanation, and it’s purely to give you a brief insight into the basic concept. If this is not a concept you are familiar with already, we strongly recommend reading our article where we explain value in more detail. This also covers how to identify it, which you need to know if you are to include this final step in your selection process.