If you think that picking who you think is going to win a game, match, or a fight is the right way to make sports bets, you’re in for a treat today. Why? Because that couldn’t be further from correct. While this is the way that most of the betting public choose their bets, it’s a recipe for a slowly leaking bankroll and no profits. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the right way to make your betting selections. When you get done here today, you will be far more equipped and educated on what it is going to take to be a successful and winning sports bettor.
What Does the “Right Way” Mean?
Before we start giving you the tips and breaking things down, we need to make sure we are all on the same page on what we’re attempting to accomplish. What does “the right way” mean when we’re talking about picking betting selections? Well, we’re referring to picking selections to win. Anyone can look at a game and make a random selection and a bet. What we’re talking about is making picks that give you a better chance of walking away a long-term winner.
If all you care about is having fun, then feel free to bet however you’d like. We’re attempting to address those bettors who are serious about their selections or are looking to become more serious with their approach. Becoming a winning sports bettor is not easy. We’re not going to sugar coat that for you. It requires a well thought out intelligent strategy and plan for making the best selections possible.
So, if you’re just someone who wants to make some bets for kicks and giggles, you can probably disregard this guide. But, if you’re looking to turn a profit and take your betting to the next level, buckle up and dial in because we’re going to help you a lot today.
Look for Value, Not Winners
Wait, What?! You probably think we’re crazy right about now. Did we just tell you that you shouldn’t be trying to pick winners when you’re making your betting selection? Yes…yes, we did. The good news for you is that we’re going to fully explain what we’re talking about and why it’s crucial to the success of your sports betting career.
The best way to start explaining this concept is by proving a fact. You can have a winning sports betting record (meaning more wins than losses), be betting the exact same amount with every bet, and still be losing money. Additionally, you can have a losing sports betting record (more incorrect picks than correct), be betting the same amount with every bet, and be making money. If you’re confused, that’s okay. Let’s walk through this and then talk about how to apply it to your betting selections.
The key here is that not all bets pay the same. If you’re betting big favorites, you’re probably going to win a lot of your bets, but you might not be making money. On the flip side, if you’re betting a bunch of underdogs, you’re going to win less often, but you’re going to get paid out a lot more when you are correct.
If you bet four bets that are all (-500) favorites for $100 each and you win three out of four, here’s what your profit will look like.
In this scenario, you are 3-1 on your picks, but you lost $40. You are winning 75% of your bets, but you’re losing money. What you should be tracking to gauge your success is your Return on Investment and not your win/loss record. The amount you’re profiting or losing is much more important than your record even though that seems to be what people tend to share.
Why is this important when making your selection? Well, hopefully, it’s clear that your goal when making picks should not be picking winners. Anybody can come out and fire on huge favorites to pad a nice looking win/loss record. It takes an expert to come out and make bets that win you money. This is called making bets for value. Your entire goal of sports betting should be trying to find bets that have value.
Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t bet favorites or that you can’t make money by only betting favorites. Here’s what we mean. This is the important part so get your papers and pencils ready for this knowledge bomb coming your way.
It’s important to note that you can find value in underdog picks as well. Should you bet these picks even if you don’t think the underdog is going to win? In most cases, you should be betting these. Remember, sports betting is not about winning the next bet. It’s about winning money in the long run. The more bets that you make that have value, the more you’re going to make in the long run.
The thing to remember when betting underdog bets for value is that it may take more games and bets for you to realize your profit.
Your total profit would be $0. You would have lost 8 of 10 bets, but because you were getting paid the correct amount it balances out. Obviously, you can’t bet the same game 10 times, but the idea is that if you’re always making bets that pay out the correct amount you will always break even.
In this scenario, you would be turning a profit of $1000! You were betting on games you expected to lose, but because there was value you were able to turn a profit in the long run.
Build a Predictive Strategy
Successful sports betting is not about throwing crud against the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s also not about sitting around staring at a blank wall or a page of lines and looking to see what jumps out at you. Successful sports betting is much more about using a well-formulated and carefully crafted predictive strategy to find the bets that you should and should not be making.
In the above section, we talked about finding value by converting your predictive probability into a moneyline odds number and comparing that with what the sportsbook is offering. If you find a better payout, you take it and laugh all the way to the bank. While this sounds simple in theory, the complexities and challenges come in figuring out your predictive probability. When you’re right, you’re going to make money. When you’re wrong, you’re going to lose money.
To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s talk a little bit more about what our predictive probability is. This is a number presented as a percentage that says how likely we think a team is to win a game. It’s a fancy term, but the premise is simple. If you think a team is going to win 75% of the time they play a game, your predictive probability is 75%.
You have two main approaches that you can take to figuring out the predictive percentage for a team to win a game. There are more approaches, but most of them will fall into one of these two categories. The first is the “eyeball approach” and the second is the mathematical approach.
The eyeball approach is not really a professional term, but more of a way of describing the strategy of collecting data, analyzing stats and history, and then coming to your own conclusion. This is what a lot of sports bettors already do but in a milder form. Here’s where we’d like to put a twist on it, though. Most sports bettors look at the game coming up as a one-time game, and they decide either win or lose. This doesn’t help us if we’re looking for a percentage chance of winning the game.
Instead of looking at the game as a single game, imagine that the two teams are going to play 100 times. Decide how many times you think one team will win out of those 100 times. That will be your predictive percentage. If you think they’ll probably win 60 times out of 100, your predictive probability is 60%. You can do this with 10 games as well and multiply it by 10. It doesn’t really matter which you use. What does matter is that you’re able to get your mind thinking differently.
The second approach is to create a mathematical formula that gives you a percentage based on the stats and factors that you put into it. There is a multitude of different ways to build your formulas, but here is a general idea to get you started. Come up with the criteria that you think is important to figure out how likely a team is to win. This could be any number of criteria and usually the more, the better.
After you determine the criteria you think are important, you’re going to want to figure out how much weight each of those criteria will carry. Then, you want to give each team a rating based on your opinion or statistics. If you build your formula well, it will spit out the percentage that you are looking for. You’ll always want to be tweaking your formula until it’s perfect and you can print money on a sport.
Let’s look at a way oversimplified example to try and figure out the predictive probability of our ole’ favorites the Dogaroos versus the Seattle Stinkpots from our earlier examples. Let’s say you determine that offense, speed, and coaching are the three criteria that will help you determine who will win. Again, a real formula will have way more criteria than this, but this works for this example. You decide that offense is 50% of the equation, speed is less important at 30% of the equation, and coaching only plays into the equation 20% of the time.
Your formula would be the following:
You then give each team a rating from 1-10 in each category.
Do Your Homework
Sports betting is not something that comes easy to anyone. It doesn’t matter how sharp or smart you are. Sports betting is something that rewards those who are willing to work hard to get what they want. What does that mean for you? It means that you need to be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make the right picks and win.
Let’s talk a little bit about what that means, though, because most people initially misinterpret what this means. Here’s something you need to understand. Even if you watch every single game of a sport, you are not an expert. Unless you have some incredible rain-man lie ability to absorb everything that is happening at every second of every single game, you’re not an expert. Hint: none of you reading this have that ability because it doesn’t really exist.
This means that if you want to be an expert on a sport you need to be doing your homework. By homework, we mean pouring through stats, watching game footage, and doing everything you can to try and identify edges that you can take advantage of.
You have to make sure, though, that you are working smarter and harder. If you put in 20 hours a day studying pointless facts and drawing worthless conclusions, you’re still going to make the wrong picks and be a terrible sports bettor. If you put in less time, but on the right stats and draw the right conclusions, you’re going to be wildly successful. You have to be utilizing your research and prediction time wisely.
For some of you that are new, this may be quite a few hours into your picks. For those of you that are sharp and have been betting successfully for a while, this might not be as long.
We will tell you this, though. The more intelligent and well-spent time you put into studying for your picks, the more successful you should be. Sports betting has a way of rewarding the people who are willing to put in the hard work and the long hours to crack the system and make better picks. There is no reason that this can’t be you as long as you’re dedicated.
Be Rational, Not Emotional
When you’re making sports bets, you need to be thinking and choosing with your head and not your heart. Sports by themselves are emotional rollercoasters to watch. When you toss in the added stresses of winning and losing money, you’ll find that stress going through the roof. A missed catch or silly mistake by a player is no longer just a loss for your favorite team, but it’s now less money going into your pocket.
This rise in stress is going to have your emotions doing backflips from time to time. Is this something to be worried about? No, this is something that you should expect to happen. What you should be worried about, though, is if your emotions start to affect your betting choices. It’s easy to let our logic get clouded by our feelings, and the result is not good for our bottom line. The toughest part of it all is that our brains are smart enough to try and rationalize our emotions and convince ourselves that our emotions really are logic.
You need to have strong control over this before you start making your picks. One of the best strategies is getting all your bets in before any of the games that day start. While this is going to prevent you from making irrational choices that day, it might not be ideal. If you’re waiting on lines to move, you may have to wait until after other games have already started. If they’re not going well, you may be tempted to do something out of the ordinary to chase your losses or make you feel better.
If you’re someone who has to wait for lines to move, write out what it is that you are going to do. You can write down that if X line moves to Y points, you will bet Z amount. That way, as long as you have enough self-discipline to follow your own rules, you won’t end up making a silly bet selection that you normally wouldn’t have.
This will protect you for that day, but you still need to make sure that your emotional responses don’t carry over to the next day and your future selections. You need to be in a clear and stable state of mind before you go picking any teams to bet. If you’re not, take some time to calm yourself down and get your mind clear. If you can’t, then don’t make any bets until you are.
We won’t get on our soapbox today to preach to you, but self-control and discipline are almost as important as being able to make winning selections. If you lack either, you need to put safeguards in place or choose another hobby or way to make money. It’s that simple.
One additional tip that’s very popular is to avoid betting on any of your personal favorite teams. Many sports bettors report struggling to avoid bias and get what they want to happen out of their mind when placing wagers for or against their own team. It’s up to you whether or not you’d like to follow this tip. From our experience, though, most sports bettors struggle with this even if they claim they have no issues with it.
Quality Before Quantity
We need to make sure that you notice this is slightly different than the phrase you’re probably used to hearing. The cliché phrase is quality OVER quantity. However, we say that when it comes to picking your sports betting selections, it should be quality BEFORE quantity. You see, the first phrase says that you should abandon quantity completely for the sake of quality. What we are saying, though, is that you should establish quality first and then push to increase your quantity.
In Other Words, You Need to Find a Way to Make Quality Sports Bets First
Once you’re able to win on a small scale, you can work to expand and make more bets. That’s how you’re going to make some serious money. The key, though, is doing this without ever sacrificing your quality. Too often, people want to double their bankroll and take over the world overnight. Sports betting is by no means a sprint. It should be viewed as a marathon. It’s not a race to see who can fire off the most low-quality bets the fastest.
Quality Is the Most Important When It Comes to Sports Betting Because Low-Quality Bets Equal Losing Money
This is probably something you already knew. However, while most people know this, they tend to neglect its importance in the name of trying to win too quickly. Allow the quantity to come naturally. If you’re only able to make one or two quality bets a week initially, that’s okay. As your strategy grows and your game is sharpened, you’ll be able to find more edges, and the number of games you bet will increase. Do not force this under any circumstances.
Quantity Is Still Important When It Comes to Sports Betting
This is because sports betting is a long-term betting game that will require you to deal with variance. Variance is a math concept that says no matter how good you are, you will have short-term winning and losing streaks. In the long run, the sharp bettors will always win out, but that requires them to make a large volume of bets. Obviously, the quicker you get through that large volume of bets, the quicker you’ll be guaranteed to overcome the variance and realize your profit and gains. If you do that while sacrificing quality, though, you’re going to be digging yourself a hole that you may never get out of.
Game Predictions Before Bet Types or Looking at Lines
Many times we hear that new sports bettors will pick out the type of bet they want to make first and then worry about which side to choose. For example, they’ll say something like, “I want to make a moneyline bet on this game,” and then they’ll begin their research and predictions. Other bettors may pull up the list of bets and lines and look for some they like and then begin their research to validate that bet. While these may seem like the correct approaches, there is a better and more effective way to approach betting.
What you should do instead is start by predicting how you think the game is going to go. Do this before you even look at any lines or opinions by anyone else. Why? Well, there is something known as the self-fulfilling prophecy. Basically, if you want to see something, you will subconsciously start looking for things that validate that. If you want to bet that Team A will win, you’ll start noticing stats that support that viewpoint and ignore ones that don’t. All of this usually happens without your brain consciously being aware of it. To avoid this, make your predictions about the game before you look and get any lines or odds in your head.
Predicting the game flow and outcome before deciding what type of bet to make does quite a bit for you. You see, you may find a lot of other bets that you can make that you would never have thought of. You may also find that the type of bet you were looking to make is not the ideal bet you want to make.
Putting It All Together
Hopefully, you’ve now seen that just throwing darts at the wall or pulling picks out of thin air are not the ways to be a profitable sports bettor. If you really want to do things the right way, you need to follow a structured approach, put in the adequate amount of time and research, and stick to your system and rules. Everything we’ve provided for you in this guide is not intended to make sports betting more work and less fun, but it’s intended to help you be a more profitable and successful sports bettor.
Remember, sports betting isn’t a sprint to the finish, but a slow, methodical, and calculated move towards profitability. Don’t rush anything and give your expertise time to grow and shine through. Trust us; you’re going to be thankful one day when you realize how much this information has helped you achieve your sports betting goals.