October 21, 2021

13 Mistakes That Cost Me Money When I Started Sports Betting

8 min read

Are you commonly making the same common mistakes when betting on sports and losing your money?

I started betting sports nearly fifteen years ago. I started betting heavily as soon as I turned 18, but for the first several years, I kept committing the same common sports betting mistakes.

Even to this day, I still struggle to not make the same common mistakes I made more than a decade ago, one of the most important lessons you can learn when you’re new to sports betting is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re not going to get rich overnight from any form of gambling.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the 13 common sports betting mistakes I made when I first started gambling on sports. Read through these carefully and you can avoid making these same mistakes, which will save you from dealing with the costly lessons I’ve now learned.

1- Develop a Bankroll Management Plan Before You Start Betting

The sooner you learn how to manage your bankroll, the better.

The first step is setting aside a “bankroll”, which is the amount of money you’re comfortable losing on sports betting. The next step is to choose a staking plan, such as the Kelly Criterion.

For new sports bettors, a unit staking system is simple, yet effective.

What Is a Unit?

In sports betting, a unit is the equivalent to 1% of your bankroll.

When you’re following our experts and AI sports betting picks, we use a unit staking system. If a bet says to wager 1.8 units, you should wager 1.8% of your bankroll on the bet.

sports betting mistakes

2- Start Maintaining Betting Records Using Excel or Google Sheets

I never kept sports betting records when I started out and that was one of the big common mistakes.

It’s simple to maintain records of your gambling using Google Sheets or Excel online. I recommend setting up one sheet to track deposits and withdrawals from online bookmakers.

Once you start betting at 10+ bookmakers, you’ll be glad you keep records.

Lastly, set-up a sheet to track every wager you place. At the very least, you should track the event, bet type, wager amount and the odds you placed the bet at. At the end of the night, you should grade the wager (win/loss) and then track how much you won/loss on every bet.

3- Learn What Value Means in Sports Betting (Expected Value)

Professional sports handicappers only place a bet they perceive as being +EV.

What does that mean? Essentially, it means the handicapper expects to win the bet more often than required based on the available betting odds. However, in order to determine if a wager is +EV, you need to create your own winning percentages for the betting market.

For instance, the Patriots are -200 to beat the Giants straight-up. At -200 odds, the Patriots have an implied probability of 66.7% to win the game. If I have run the numbers through my betting model and the Patriots have a 74% chance to win, then this would be a +EV wager that I would bet.

Learn more about betting probabilities, statistics and strategies in the Betting Academy.

4- Come Into Sports Betting With Realistic Expectations

The best sports handicappers in the world hit around 55%-60% of their bets. You’re not going to be the exception that hits 90% long-term, so make sure you don’t have unrealistic targets/goals.

If you win 60% of your bets at -110 odds, you’ll have a 14.55% return on investment (ROI).

5- Start Line Shopping Immediately

When I started betting, I placed all of my bets with a single sportsbook.

You might be wondering why that was a mistake. Well, it’s because a sportsbook will never have the best betting lines on every event. This is why it’s important to shop for the best odds.

Here’s an example: Bookie A has a UFC fighter at +150 odds and Bookie B has the same fighter at +165 odds. A $100 bet with Bookie A would pay $150 profit, while at Bookie B it’d pay $165.

$15 may not seem like a lot, but over 1000 bets that’s $15,000, so please find the best odds.

mistakes on sports betting

6- Quit Betting on Everything – Focus on Sports You Know Well

When I was young, I would bet on everything. I’m talking about betting on cricket at 2:00AM while living in Northern Canada because I was bored. That’s not a recipe for success.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned I’m best at handicapping the NFL, NHL and UFC.

So, what do I do? I focus on handicapping those sports and then I follow other expert handicappers to bet on the sports I don’t know as well. Here at GameAdvisers, we have a stable of the best sports bettors in the world sharing winning picks on lots of sports leagues.

That brings me to my next point.

7- Don’t Be Misguided About Buying Sports Predictions

When I first started betting all I read about was how buying sports picks was a bad idea.

As I matured and experimented with buying sports predictions, I came to the realization that there was money to be made by following other expert sports handicappers.

What’s important is to consider every handicapping service like you would a typical investment.

The first step is to study past results (we make this easy through our picks archive). The next step is to consider the membership cost. At the end of the day, if a handicapping service is profitable after paying the membership fees then why wouldn’t you want to participate?

Your bet size is important too. Here at GameAdvisers, we give our members access to hundreds of monthly sports predictions from the best handicappers in the world for one low price.

Some handicapping services charge $50+/pick. If you’re paying $50 for a single pick, you need to be betting enough for it to be profitable. Trust me, just because you pay $50 for the pick doesn’t mean it’s going to win either. This is why analyzing the return on investment (ROI) is important.

It’s like investing in a financial adviser. Sure, you can invest in stocks by yourself nowadays online, but you’re most likely going to experience bigger returns by hiring a financial expert.

Well, that rings true with sports investing as well. Sure, you can easily place bets online, but are you winning or losing consistently? Don’t be misguided about buying sports picks.

Perform research and then make an investment decision based on the service’s ROI.

8- Never Chase Your Losses

Who hasn’t hammered the Sunday Night Football game after having a bad Sunday? It happens all of the time, but it’s a slippery slope. What happens if you lose on Sunday night? Do you bet big on the Monday Night Football game now to continue chasing your losses from the previous day?

Absolutely never chase your losses, it never ends well for sports bettors.

9- You Can Bet on Parlays, but Look for Value

In some cases, betting on parlays makes sense. I place parlay bets every UFC event, as it allows me to bet on big favorites together while getting a better price.

Just like with straight bets, shop around for the best bookies to bet parlays. The payouts on fixed odds parlays (parlays where every selection is priced at -110 odds) vary from bookie to bookie.

Also avoid chasing big parlay wins. I’m sure you’ve read the stories of a lucky gambler turning $1 into $10,000+, but it’s extremely rare and there’s no value betting parlays with too many selections.

I used to chase the big wins, but you realize quickly, it’s not the path to profits.

10- Don’t Place a Bet Just to Place a Bet (Favorite Teams, etc.)

Sports betting common mistakes

If you’re casually betting recreationally, betting on your favorite teams is fine.

Once you decide you want to become a successful sports handicapper, though, you need to take all biases out of the equation and focus strictly on identifying bets that have value.

Should you avoid betting on your favorite teams?

Absolutely not. If the team is one of your favorites, you should know them better than the general public, giving you an edge. Just don’t allow biases to become involved in your handicapping process or you’ll regret it.

Another quick tip, just because a game is nationally televised doesn’t mean you have to bet on it.

11- Don’t Leave Your Entire Bankroll With Online Sportsbooks

There are multiple reasons leaving your entire bankroll with online sportsbooks is a mistake.

For one, you should keep a percentage of your bankroll completely offline. While most sportsbooks are safe and secure, there’s still always a risk of a bookmaker suffering financial problems.

It’s rare, but numerous bookies that were popular at one time, closed shop and stiffed players.

Secondly, you should keep a portion of your bankroll in an e-wallet or cryptocurrency wallet. What banking method you use will depend upon where you live. The reason you need to keep some of your bankroll ready to deposit is so that you can take advantage of shopping for the best line.

You may need to quickly deposit to a bookie to get down a bet at the best price.

12- Betting Under the Influence

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t be doing while under the influence – betting is one of them.

How many smart decisions do you make when you’re drunk? Probably not many. I’ve had mornings when I was younger when I’d wake up hungover and with an empty sportsbook balance.

You’ll always have something to bet on, there’s no need to bet while drinking.

13- Getting Too Caught Up with Live Sports Betting

Did you know you can bet on every single plate appearance in an MLB game?

There are hundreds of live betting markets for all major sports. While there are handicappers that are profitable betting in-play, it’s a lot tougher than wagering on pre-event markets.

First off, live betting markets have higher vig (juice) than pre-event markets, so overcoming that is the first hurdle. Secondly, with so many in-play markets on arbitrary things, such as a single at bat, it’s easy to start gambling on bets where you’re simply relying on luck rather than skill.

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