Sports betting can be a great investment if we understand key tips for successful betting. Profitable sports betting theory is not complicated and easy to understand, but the process of becoming successful in betting is usually hard for novice gamblers.
Wrong sports betting approach, skipping the basics, and focusing on short-term results without any patience is not the right path to making a profit. Because we want to help you to have the best chance at winning in sports betting, we prepared top tips on how to be successful in sports betting.
These tips and steps will help to ensure that you know what to do, and they’ll give you a good foundation to work from if your goal is to win money from sports betting.
Here is a quick overview – keys to successful betting:
- Learn sports betting basics
- Set a budget for betting
- Estimate the probabilities, compare odds and find discrepancies
- Bet only small % of your bankroll
- Play the long game and be patient
- Track your betting performance
- Improve all the time
- Ignore emotions and personal bias
- Re-invest profits
- Don’t compare with internet sports handicappers
Table of contents
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Table of contents
Learn Sports Betting Basics
Understanding sports betting basics is crucial before we even start betting. This is one of the biggest mistakes many sports bettors make, who rush with placing wagers. All successful and professional sports bettors are incredible at basics.
The basics alone may not help you to make a huge profit right away but is an important foundation for later success in betting.
What are sports betting basics for successful betting?
Sports betting basics are the essential facts or principles that we must understand in order to become successful at betting. Basics include things like:
- Understanding how betting odds work – Video
- Understanding the concept of a value, which is basically judging probabilities more correctly than the market does
- Understanding how online betting sites work and how they win money
- Understanding different betting markets and bet types
The good thing is that we have prepared sports betting basics for you that cover all important topics.
Set a budget for betting
The sports betting budget is the money set aside for betting and is locked for some time without touching it. The sports betting budget must be affordable and should never affect the quality of our lives.
Betting money should never be the money we take constantly from our monthly income streams or monthly salary. This is our investment money that is used for placing wagers and will be taken out or re-invested only after we reach our betting goals.
Sports betting is a speculative business, where most gamblers lose, and no matter how confident we are, we must put this into a perspective.
These tips will help you setting sports betting budget:
- Always bet the money you can afford to lose without any serious consequences.
- Never borrow money for sports betting.
- Set a plan and strategy. Stick to it.
- Don’t start risking your money from a budget before you fully understand how sports betting works.
- Be honest to yourself and never lie about your losses and your financial situation.
Estimate the probabilities, compare odds and find discrepancies
The key to successful betting is finding value bets. A bet is good only when the likelihood of a given outcome is higher than what the odds offered to reflect.
- Your estimated probability: 50%
- Your projected odds: 2.00 (+100)
The ability to estimate independent probabilities help us to identify mispriced odds on the betting market.
Winning sports bettors use betting analytics, game statistics, bet algorithms, sports betting models, or similar number-based methods to estimate the probabilities of the outcomes before they place an actual wager.
Compare estimated odds with bookmakers’ odds
Estimated probabilities, turned into the odds, must be compared with the odds on the betting market. Odds on the betting market represent the prices and we must compare what we are willing to pay and what is offered on different bookmakers.
- Your estimated odds: 1.79
- Bookmaker 1: 1.75
- Bookmaker 2: 1.80
- Bookmaker 3: 1.86
- Bookmaker 4: 1.73
As we can see, the best odds are at the Bookmaker 3 and this is the best price to pay. This is why we must compare our estimated odds with bookmakers’ odds in order to be successful at sports betting.
Look for the discrepancy and bet where the difference is in your favor
Sports bettors use different ways to set criteria when the bet is qualified or not. This criterion is based on the discrepancies between estimated probabilities and bookmakers’ implied probabilities.
Our betting model estimations and bookmakers’ odds are not perfect. This is why it is important to find the criteria and look for enough discrepancy.
The bigger the discrepancy the bigger the value and this directly means more successful betting.
- Your estimated probability: 50%
- Bookmakers estimated probability: 49%
- Small value or small discrepancy
- Your estimated probability: 50%
- Bookmakers estimated probability: 40%
- Bigger value or bigger discrepancy
These discrepancies help us to find an optimal bet size.
Being selective means being careful about what you bet and how much. It is very important to stick to the strategy, a well-defined betting model, that has the edge and not gets distracted by emotions. Betting too much, or betting just for the sake of betting will lead to a loss.
Bet only small % of your bankroll
While most novice bettors pay attention to winners and sports betting picks, many successful sports bettors pay much more attention to bankroll management and how much they bet per game.
The budget or a bankroll that we use for sports betting is our investment money and because of that, it is important to protect it. Without this money, we are out of business.
How much of my money should I bet?
Recommended bet is around 1% of your bankroll.
There are different variations and different money management strategies that are used by professionals and it really depends on what stage of your betting journey you are. But betting around 1% of your bankroll as a unit is a good start. In some aggressive strategies this percentage can go up to 5% per game, but no more.
With this, you will protect your bankroll in bad streaks that will come for sure, no matter how successful you are in betting.
Play the long game and be patient
One of the hardest things for all sports bettors is being patient and playing a long game. Not only rookie bettors but also sports bettors, who bet for years may face this problem at some time. No matter how good we are at betting, we will always face ups and downs.
True success in betting will not come overnight, this is why we must be patient and play the long game. By playing a small % of our bankroll we reduce volatility, but sports betting, in general, is still a highly volatile market.
This is why playing a long game is crucial because we start focusing on the bigger picture and not on short-period results, which is most likely based on pure luck.
Professional sports bettors have always long-term plans and long-term focus. Successful betting is ignoring the noise (single games) and focusing on a much bigger sample size of bets.
Track your betting performance
Bet tracking is record keeping of your betting activities, which includes different information about your past bets. Tracking your betting performance allows you to analyze your bets and that will help you identify bad and good betting systems, improving your betting skills, and most importantly helping to win in the future.
How to track betting performance properly?
Every sports bettor must track at least 10 statistics:
- Starting Bankroll (example: 100 units)
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Date of the bet (example: Monday, September 27th, 2021)
- Game (example: Red Sox at Yankees)
- Selection (example: Red Sox)
- Taken odds (example: 2.40 or US odds +140)
- Closing odds (example: 2.17 or US odds +117)
- Yield (example: +7.23%)
- Stake (example: 1.2 units)
These ten statistics are essential and should be tracked by every sports bettor.
The big sample size is important
Before we judge our performance we need to have a big sample size of bets. The more bets we track the more information we have. By tracking closing line value with a combination of yield, average odds, stake size, and profit loss we can get a better picture after 1000+ bets.
Everything below 1000 bets is in most cases too small a sample size and it is a bias from an average sports bettors, who focus on one successful weekend, successful month, or even one season. No matter how good or bad are the results, with a small sample size of bets, we can never tell for sure if this is luck or skill.
Improve all the time
Being successful in betting requires improving all the time, because sports betting is not a competition only against bookmakers, but especially against other sports bettors.
The sports betting market is changing all the time, bookmakers are smarter, the lines are sharper and the whole industry is growing all the time. Technology, sports betting models, betting algorithms, advanced statistics, and sophisticated strategies from the smartest minds in the market are making it so hard to win in the long run for so many bettors.
The fact is that in such markets, around 95% of all players lose. Only 5% have the edge and win in the long run. Without improving all the time being constantly among 5% that win at betting is almost not possible.
This is why improving all the time is so important and one of the keys to successful long-term betting.
Ignore emotions and personal bias
Many studies show (Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior study, Gambling-related Irrational Beliefs in the Maintenance and Modification of Gambling Behaviour are some of them) show that irrational behavior plays a big role in gambling, betting, and investing.
Irrational cognitions include an illusion of control, optimistic evaluation of betting skill, and denial of the role of chance in determining outcomes.
Sports bettors do not act rationally when making betting decisions. Instead, they are often influenced by emotions and biases.
Mistakes by sports bettors:
- Betting selections not backed by numbers and facts – bettors bet on their favourite teams without seeing the facts and numbers
- Betting the leagues they love – when bettors do not research markets and opportunities in terms of monetization, but bet the league/sport they love to watch
- Confirmation bias – we decide what we bet based on our emotions and then we start looking for statistics (usually trends) that will confirm our hypothesis
- Standings bias – when looking at standings, which is flawed information about the strenght and about chances in a particular game between two teams
- Outomce bias – when focusing on past results without going into the details why such results happened.
- Recency bias – humans to place too much weight on an event
- The gambler’s fallacy – looking for patterns in past gams that don’t have any predictive value
How do you overcome sports betting biases and exclude emotions?
- Make betting decisions based on analytics, stats, numbers and facts
- Avoid overreacting to small sample size of games and bets
- Focus on creating sports betting models, that help you to identify value bets
- Meditate – mindfulness and meditations help us to control our emotions.
Investment in sports betting has its own limits, because of bookmakers, locations, competition, and the risk involved. This is why it is important to re-invest profits and generating more income streams.
One of the biggest mistakes rookie bettors make is dreaming about living from sports betting. To live solely from gambling or sports betting is a very risky decision and is not recommended. Instead, the first focus should always be generating extra profits, re-investing it in less risky assets, and building overall wealth and diversified portfolios.
Being successful requires our effort, our skills, beating the closing lines, creating sports betting models, and having the edge against the market. But living solely from betting requires much more, including luck and it is not always dependent on us. There is a limit to how much money bookmakers are willing to pay you.
This is why re-investing at least part of the profits and using sports betting more as a channel for building our wealth is recommended.
High-risk investments have potentially bigger gains but are riskier and the goal of investors is to make profits and move money to safe investments.
Don’t compare with sports handicappers
Professional sports betting and making actual money in the real sports betting world takes a lot of action, energy, time, effort, and focus. Successful betting experts spend hours and hours analyzing the games, improving their betting skills and they don’t waste time on social media and betting groups.
Making the right betting decisions and dealing with daily stress is part of successful betting. The mind and the body have daily limits of energy and focus. Do not waste your energy comparing and arguing with other sports handicappers on social media, betting forums, betting portals, or other bet chat groups.
Whether you decide to bet for fun or bet professionally, we recommend that you learn how to bet on sports successfully for yourself. Following all the free betting advice on this website can help, but if you want to take the next step into the world of successful betting, check our Betting Masterclass.