The BIGGEST mistakes people make when sports betting (and gambling), and how it prevents them from being profitable

in #gambling5 years ago

Hey guys,

When I first started out sportsbetting, I made a lot of mistakes that prevented me from being profitable. I actually come from a poker background and was doing that for a long time before dabbling in sports betting. I see a lot of similarities between the two, and in any form of gambling where you have to risk money to make it. I'm going to go over some of the biggest mistakes you can make when sports betting. Cutting these out will definitely improve your odds of being successful.

Not understanding Value and Expected Value

Betting is a game of numbers. You don't need much math to be successful, but you do need a little bit. I'm going to break down the most important things here. The first is understanding when a bet has a positive expected value, also known as "+ev." Some people make the mistake of betting on something that they think is a "sure thing" but is juiced to the point that it is not worth the bet. For example, the Rockets play the Jazz tonight in NBA basketball, and I have seen the Money Line for the Rockets at -1000 in some places. If you don't understand how odds work, this article will help. In this bet, we would theoretically risk 1000 to win 100. That means for it to be BREAK EVEN we would need to think Houston would win straight up 1000/1100 times or 91% of the time. I don't think any NBA team has a 91% chance of beating another team as that is just way too high.

Beginners would place money on this bet, and probably hit it around 70-80% of the time, so they could hit it multiple times in a row and think that their strategy is profitable, but it isn't. And, the time that they do lose, they would be losing more than they ever win. This is calculated in the expected value of the bet. The expected value is calculated with this formula:

(Probability of Winning) x (Amount Won per Bet) – (Probability of Losing) x (Amount Lost per Bet)

In our example, let's say that the Rockets has an 80% chance of beating the Jazz. If we bet 1000 to win 100, then our EV would look like:

(.80) x (100) - (.20) * (1000) = -140

This bet is not profitable. NOTE: if you plug in .91 for the probability of winning and .09 as the probability of losing, you will see this is equal to 0, which makes it neutral expected value. To be profitable, we would need to have better odds than that to make money. This same concept is actually true for almost all parlays as well. I will probably make another post sometime dissecting the math behind parlays, but when people parlay two heavy favorites because they like the new odds they are getting, just know that these odds are not as good as just taking the two teams separately over a long period of time. Now, you may be asking "how can I determine the real odds the Rockets have of winning the game?" No one can possibly know the answer to that, but our goal is to try to determine it as best we can and use even the smallest edges to our advantage to beat the books.

Having Poor Bankroll Management

This is LIFE-CHANGING advice. This applies to almost anything you do and does not apply to just sports betting. This applies to any form of gambling, investment (stocks, real estate, etc.), and just about anything where you have to spend money. You should not be risking more money than you can afford to lose. Variance is no joke, and even +ev bets can go on an improbable losing streak and make you go broke. Typically, in sports betting, we wager 1-3 units on every play, where 1 unit corresponds to 1% of your bankroll. Your bankroll is the money you have allocated to betting. For most recreational bettors, your bankroll might be more of a budget that can change on any given week due to your expenditures for that week. However, I would say that you should not be betting $200 on a game when you only have $2000 to play with. Many people think

"It's almost impossible for me to go 0-10 and lose all of it"

However, that is not the only scenario in which you would lose all your money. A downswing can be going 20-30 (W/L) over your next 50 games, which would make you -2000 and down all your money. Don't bet too big, and don't bet anything you can't afford to lose.

Going on Tilt

Tilt is when you are making poor mental decisions as it relates to your sports betting. This is a very broad term and can be construed in many different ways. The most common is losing a bad beat and then "chasing" your losses by placing an even bigger bet on same random game that is coming up later that night to make back your money. Other times, people can spew back their winnings because they are greedy and keep chasing the high of making money, so they place poor bets and lose everything they have earned. Mental fortitude is an overlooked aspect of this game, and is also important in every aspect of life. If you are not disciplined enough to handle losing, then I'd be worried about you making money in sports betting.

In Conclusion

These are some of the biggest mistakes I see people make, and have made myself. No one is perfect, and no one can be a "perfect" sports bettor. The key is to not fall into these traps, as they will absolutely make you an unprofitable sports bettor. Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, and have anything to say about what you think are some of the biggest mistakes people make when betting.

To end, I actually want to mention a theory I have that relates to these mistakes I just outlined. I think everyone knows that a casino makes money off of small edges they have in various games. For example, you usually have a 45-48% chance of winning, while they have the 52-55% edge. This is how they print money in the long run, through they positive expected value. I have a theory that if the casino was REVERSED, and they had the lower 48% odds of winning, they would STILL MAKE MONEY in the long run. I think that people would still go broke because of these three mistakes I have listed, and casinos would still be profitable. For example, someone could place a few big bets and go broke before ever getting the chance to win their equity. Or, someone could win a lot, then lose a few rounds and go on tilt until they gave it all back and more. The casino has no emotion and has a very very large bankroll, so it does not succumb to these issues.


Very insightful and I agree. Another common mistake is lack of diversification in markets. Most will stick to a particular market (win/loss/draw for example) without the knowledge of the additional underlying markets that exist for a given bet. Talking strictly soccer, I tend to favour team markets (win/loss/draw, both teams to score, under/over 2.5 goals, under/over 3.5 goals etc.) and I'm always looking for the right market for that given fixture at that time.

Yea that's a great point! Sometimes the best play is no play, but if you are adept in many different markets then you can probably find at least one good play a day in some area. I would definitely be worried about newcomers placing bets when they don't fully understand a market though. Like BTTS in soccer, they might think "what are the odds that one team is shut out, so i'm going to bet on all BTTS"

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