Do you know exactly how much you’ve won or lost from betting on sports? Do you even know whether you’re up or down overall?
You’re not alone if you don’t, as many sports bettors fail to keep records of how much they win or lose. They might have a vague idea of how much they spend each week or month, but they probably couldn’t come up with precise figures. If they’re just betting for fun, then this isn’t really a big deal.
It’s not exactly ideal either though. We firmly believe that even recreational sports bettors should keep accurate records of their betting activity. It’s just common sense. Without keeping track of things, it’s very easy for someone to spend more than they plan to. Things can soon get out of control, and the potential consequences can be extremely damaging.
Keeping records is ESSENTIAL if you’re a serious bettor that’s trying to make money. Tracking your results not only allows you to see how you’re performing, it can actually help you get better results. By analyzing your performance in detail, you can identify what’s working and what’s not. Then, you’ll know where improvements need to be made.
This article will teach you how to properly record your betting activity and analyze it. We start with the basics that you absolutely HAVE to do. Then we move on to some more advanced techniques that we recommend.
Tracking your overall results is the least you can do. Even if you only bet for fun, it’s a good idea to have a clear picture of how much you’re winning or losing. Maybe you’re losing more than you think, and need to cut back a bit. Maybe you’re losing LESS than you think, and could actually become a profitable bettor with a little more effort. Either way, you really should know.
If you bet online, an easy way to track your overall profit/loss is to just record all the deposits and withdrawals you make at betting sites. You could do this using a pen and notepad, but setting up a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel (or similar software) is better.
It doesn’t need to be a complex spreadsheet. Here’s a simple, easy to follow example.
It only takes a couple of minutes to set up a spreadsheet like this, and another couple of minutes to update it each time you make a deposit or withdrawal online. This is obviously a very basic record of your activity, but it’s enough to keep track of what you’re spending (or winning) each month.
We recommend going a step further though. The problem with the above spreadsheet is that it doesn’t account for any balances held in your online betting accounts. These should also be tracked, to provide a more accurate record of your total profit or loss. So we suggest setting up a spreadsheet with a little more information.
Here’s an example of what that could look like.
This will show you exactly how much you’ve won or lost each month. You can then note the relevant total at the end of each month in a separate spreadsheet, so that you can keep track of the overall amounts. The total of these amounts might not be what you expect. It’s very important that you know precisely how much you’re winning or losing, and keeping the necessary records will help you do that.
Recording & Categorizing Individual Wagers
Keeping some simple financial records is significantly better than keeping no records at all. However, they don’t tell you anything beyond your overall profit or loss. As important as this information is, there’s not much to actually analyze and learn from. Financial records by themselves won’t really help you improve.
This is why we recommend keeping MUCH more detailed records.
You should record more than just the basic financials if you want to properly analyze your betting performance. Specifically, you should record details of every single wager you place. This obviously takes time, but it’s not exactly hard to do. And the potential rewards are definitely worth it.
Here’s a list of the details we recommend recording for each wager.
Odds of selection
Result of wager
A simple spreadsheet is again the best way to keep track of this information. You just need to set up a column for each of the above items. Here’s a basic template you can use.
With the spreadsheet set up, you should then enter the relevant details in a new row whenever you place a wager. Again, this is very easy to do and it will only take up a few minutes of your time.
The next step will be to decide how to categorize your wagers. We’ll explain how we categorize ours before we move on to explain why categorizing your wagers is so important in the first place.
To start with, we keep separate spreadsheets for each sport we bet on. So we have one for football, one for soccer, one for tennis and so on. We also include some additional information for each wager placed, by adding some extra columns to the template shown above. These columns vary a little depending on the sport, but they typically include one for the relevant event or competition.
In our football spreadsheet, for example, we record whether a wager is on the NFL or college football. We actually break this down further, as follows.
Regular NFL season
Regular college football season
College football bowl season
College football playoffs
We carefully consider how we’re going to break down each sport we bet on.
We also include a column for the type of wager. This allows us to record whether each wager was a point spread, a totals wager, a futures wager or whatever.
These extra columns are extremely useful. Why? Because they help us to track our performance more accurately. We can see exactly where we’re getting our best results, and where our results are not so good. This is invaluable to us.
By keeping records in a similar way, you too can gain this kind of insight into your betting performance. You’ll be able to identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which can help you decide how to move forward.
Let’s say you’re consistently winning on tennis, but losing money on football. You could do one of two things. You could take a break from football and focus solely on tennis, which should significantly improve your overall results. Or you could dedicate more time to studying football and learning some new football betting strategies. This should also lead to an improvement in results.
The same principle applies to the events you’re betting on, and the types of wagers you place. Maybe you do really well when betting on the NFL, but not very well when betting on college football. Maybe you do really well with point spreads, but not so well with totals. Again, you can decide whether to focus on your strengths or work on your weaknesses.
Recording and categorizing individual wagers is a great place to start if you’re serious about properly analyzing your betting performance. It is enough though? We don’t think so. Identifying our strengths and weaknesses is a great place to start, but we’re also going to want to know WHY we’re stronger in one area and weaker in another. It’s up to us to figure out what we’re doing right and where we’ve made some mistakes.
This requires some more advanced record keeping and analysis.
Advanced Record Keeping & Analysis
We’ve found that one of the best ways to improve our betting results is to evaluate our selection process on a regular basis. At the end of each month, we look closely at how we decided to make each one of our betting decisions. This allows us to see which methods and strategies are effective and producing positive results. We also see which methods and strategies are not working as intended.
This kind of analysis is more complicated than the techniques we outlined above. It’s more time consuming too, and it requires us to record even more information for the wagers we place. We find it very useful though, so it’s something we definitely recommend doing.
Here’s a list of the extra information we record for our wagers.
Stats and factors considered
Weight given to each statistic/factor
Sources of information
Primary reason(s) for making selection
Supplementary reasons for making selection
The idea here is to make sure that we can look back at our records and see exactly why we made each selection. We want to be able to analyze our analysis, if that makes sense. Here’s an example of how we do this.
Let’s say that we’ve been betting on a lot of football totals recently. When studying our records, we notice that we’re getting good results when betting the over. Our results when betting the under are pretty poor though.
We then analyze our selection process, to understand why this might be. We see that we’re always looking at the same stats from the same sources, and that we give a lot of weight to average points per game and average yards per game. We also factor in coaching styles.
Our primary reason for backing the under is usually that both teams have an average points per game that’s lower than the posted total. Average yards per game and coaching styles are always considered, but it’s the average points per game that typically sways our decision.
Our primary reason for backing the over is usually that both teams have a coach who favors an offensive or aggressive style. The stats have to meet certain criteria too, but it’s the style of the coaches that influences us the most.
What does this tell us?
It’s clear that we’re using different criteria to make our decisions. Although we’re always looking at the same information from the same sources, we’re not always giving the same weight to each piece of information. We rely more on the points per game stat when backing the under, and more on the coaching styles when backing the over.
We’re getting good results when backing the over, so it appears that we’re right to give plenty of weight to the coaching styles. Since our approach seems to be working, we won’t change our process here.
We’re getting bad results when backing the under, so it appears that we’re wrong to give so much weight to the points per game stat. We should adjust our approach accordingly, and try to come up with some alternative methods.
Please note that this is just a hypothetical example, and we’ve simplified things somewhat. We’re just trying to demonstrate the basic principle of what’s involved here. There’s no definitively “correct” way to analyze your selection process, so we can’t teach you an exact model that’s guaranteed to help.
The important thing is to just make sure that you DO analyze things to this extent. This will be challenging at first, but it won’t be long before you find a system that works for you. Once you’re able to properly evaluate what you’re doing, finding ways to improve will become second nature.
Here’s a couple of additional tips to finish with.
Always consider sample size
Try to be patient
Sample size is important because it’s very easy to overvalue information that doesn’t actually tell you much. We recommend doing monthly reviews, but this doesn’t mean that a month’s worth of data is meaningful by itself. You’ll need to look back over a longer period to gain any truly useful insight.
Be patient because analyzing your performance won’t always lead to immediate improvement. It often takes time to identify where things are going wrong, and even longer to find appropriate solutions. So don’t give up just because you’re not seeing instant results. Stick with it, and you should see some significant benefits in the long run.
Want to know some other ways to improve your betting results? Of course you do! So be sure to check out the following article. We explain a few techniques that will help you make better selections on a consistent basis.