18 Common Sports Betting Mistakes To Avoid
Knowing what not to do in sports betting can save you a lot of time, pain and heartache.
Betting mistakes happen to everyone, but if you can minimize your major mistakes, you can use them as learning experiences rather than painful reminders of ill-fated bets.
We’ve chosen 18 of the most common sports betting mistakes that can set you back and leave you scratching your head. These mistakes can happen to bettors of all experience levels, but knowing what to watch out for can lessen the chances of them happening to you.
Don’t fall victim to the following costly sports betting mistakes.
1. Failing to seize free betting opportunities
As the legal sports betting industry continues to grow, so too does the competition. Sportsbooks are doing all they can to stand out in a crowded field. That translates directly into benefits for you in the form of:
- Free bets
- Risk-free bets
- Matched deposit bonuses
These offer a lot of extra value for anyone who signs up for a new sports betting account at an online sportsbook. If you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re leaving a lot of free money on the table.
There are no restrictions on how many Tennessee online sportsbooks you can open a new account at. Doing so will open up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in promotional cash or bets from eager sportsbooks.
2. Overestimating your skill level
If you’ve been around sports long enough, chances are you’ve acquired a good deal of knowledge about teams and players in a number of sports. But there’s a big gap between being knowledgeable about sports and being a proficient sports bettor.
No matter how much you think you know, there’s a learning curve to sports betting. Going from Joe to pro overnight is the stuff of fantasy.
If you enter sports betting with the idea that there will be nothing but smooth sailing ahead because you know sports, you’re in for a rude awakening. Sports betting should be treated like any new endeavor. You have to learn how to walk before you can run.
3. Betting over your head
When you play with fire long enough, you’ll get burned. The same holds true with betting on sports. You’ll have your share of winners, but you’re going to lose bets. There’s really no way to get around that; it simply comes with the territory
It’s important to stay in your lane. You should have an amount that you’re comfortable betting with a single wager, as well as weekly and monthly budget parameters. That may not sound flashy or exciting, but it will help to instill discipline.
No matter how much of a sure thing you think a bet is, stay at your comfort level. There will be plenty of time to increase stakes as your skills and bankroll grow. That’s not going to happen if you get sloppy and bet 70% of your funds on one game.
4. Treating live betting like a shiny new toy
There are plenty of reasons why live “in-game” betting is one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry. At the top of the list are that it’s fun and exciting. There are also numerous spots to find good lines while watching the games.
While all of that is true, don’t get too swept up in the action. Live betting markets move fast, and it can be pretty easy to get caught up with bet after bet after bet. Before too long, you could lose track of how much you’re betting.
Don’t be that bettor. When getting set to bet on live games, do so with a clear budget and a mindset of being really selective. If your budget dries up before the game ends, it’s time to call it a wrap and live to fight another day.
5. Chasing losses with a vengeance
Losses are part of sports betting. Some can be particularly biting, such as an NBA bet decided by a missed layup or an NFL bet that goes awry thanks to a shanked field goal.
It can be really frustrating when it happens. But don’t let that frustration boil over into a need to get even because you’ve been wronged. Chasing losses is a recipe for disaster. So is doubling down.
A bad beat doesn’t mean that you’re due for a win, either. It simply means that you lost the bet. The best course of action is to reflect on what happened and see if there’s anything you can learn from it. Afterward, simply move on and brush aside the loss as something that happens.
6. Listening to your heart
We all have rooting interests when it comes to sports. Whether it’s a particular team (the Tennessee Titans, for example) or a certain athlete, there are times when we really hope to see something awesome happen for the team or player we cheer for.
With sports betting, you have to leave your emotions at the door. When it’s time to bet on or against those you root for, it’s time to be as objective as humanly possible.
If you simply find that you can’t do it, there’s a really easy solution. Just pass on the games in which you have a big rooting interest and focus your betting energy elsewhere. In fact, you may enjoy those games that much more without having something on the line.
7. Assuming that winging it will work out well
It takes time and effort to become a successful sports bettor. Those who put in the work, take some lumps along the way, and pay for their education in the form of bets and bankroll management at least have a shot at making it work.
As for those who have no desire to put in any effort and expect results to magically follow, good luck. Beginner’s luck or hot streaks can happen, but winging it and hoping for the best is not a recipe for long-term success with betting.
There’s a place for gut feel, and you’ll find that’s even more of the case as your skills expand. However, there’s also a lot to be said for following the principles that have led to success for other handicappers. Winging it is not on the list.
8. Having rampant overconfidence
Confidence is a good thing. Teams and players who are more confident in their abilities have a much better shot at success than those that constantly doubt themselves.
When betting on sports, confidence can be a good thing, too. But overconfidence can lead to a quick and unpleasant downfall. You should have a level of conviction on the picks that you make, but not so much so that you’re blind to the reality that things could break differently.
Overconfidence can impact our decision making. It can also lead to betting WAY too much on a single outcome that you’ve convinced yourself is a sure thing. There’s no such thing.
9. Always choosing favorites or dogs
If you always bet on either favorites or underdogs and hope for sustained profitability, it’s time to reconsider. Favorites lose plenty of times, and the scores you make backing a big dog won’t cover all of the other losses you incur.
At the end of the day, sports betting is super simple in that the goal is to show a profit. There are a number of ways to get there, but following a simplistic strategy such as this is not one of them. You may have hot streaks here and there, but they’re not sustainable.
Sharp bettors are selective. They won’t bet on every game, nor will they get hung up on one side or some kind of trend that they heard about. Each game is treated as its own event and decided on as such. You should do the same.
10. Having unrealistic expectations
The chances of hitting the lottery or winning on a progressive slot are somewhere between slim and none, but that doesn’t stop folks from lining up to play. Sports betting has its own form of a lottery ticket, and it just so happens to be very popular.
Parlay bets offer up the chance to win a lot from a small investment. Bettors love playing them, and sportsbooks are happy to oblige. In fact, parlay handle is one of the biggest revenue generators for sportsbooks.
Let that sink in for a second. Sportsbooks keep lots of the handle they take in on parlays. That’s because they’re hard to hit. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few shots here and there, but be realistic with your expectations for actual returns on parlays.
11. Entering unfamiliar territory without a plan
If you needed to get somewhere important and you’d never been there before, you would get together a plan to reach your destination without a hitch. Those who wing-it while hoping to arrive on time will likely be disappointed.
There are tons of options to explore in sports betting. From major sports to niche contests, and simple bets to those that are more exotic, there’s something for everyone. You can also expand your horizons as you wish with a new sport or bet type.
When the urge to do so comes up, be sure to take the time to step back and learn about the new territory you’ll be traversing. There’s no need to donate money while doing so. Study up and get a plan together before putting any of your capital at risk.
12. Not knowing when to retract your wings
It’s human nature to want to explore new things. That’s a good thing. But we also run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin if we don’t carefully manage our time and resources. If you do that with sports betting, you might find yourself feeling scattered and unfocused.
Those are two big problems to deal with. If you get to the point that this happens to you, it’s time to head back to the nest and reassess your approach.
There’s no need to try to conquer too many things at once. Stick with what works for you, and expand your focus to other areas as time permits. You can continue rinsing and repeating as long as it continues to work, but be careful not to pile on too much.
13. Betting on more games than you can handle
There are plenty of volume bettors who wind up doing quite well, and there are also bettors who are more focused in their efforts who do the same. For us as individual bettors, we need to find our comfort zone and stick to it.
If you try to break down lots of games and wind up feeling overwhelmed, that approach may not be what’s best for you. The same applies if you do just a handful of games and walk away feeling as if you can handle more.
One of the cool things about sports betting is that there are many approaches to take. Your job is to find the one that works for you.
14. Following the herd
Feeling the need to fit in or a fear of missing out are pretty common, but there are times when it’s more than apt to take an opposite stance. Betting on the outcome of games is one of those times when taking a contrarian view can prove to be wise.
This doesn’t mean that you automatically and always have to go against the public betting consensus. But it does mean that you should use caution when tons of folks are thinking the same thing. After all, sportsbooks have a better track record of being right than the general public.
The rampant growth in sports betting has led the herd mentality to grow even larger. This is actually a good thing for bettors who prefer to think for themselves instead of just going with the flow. The herd doesn’t always turn a profit with sports betting, so keep that in mind.
15. Listening to the noise
In addition to the herd mentality, there has been a massive spike in betting-related commentary. We’re not just talking within the industry either. Sports betting has gone mainstream, and there are tons of opinions on where you should place your money.
Some of the arguments can be convincing, but you need to learn how to tune them out. There’s nothing wrong with respecting the opinions from sources that you trust, but there’s lots to be said for not allowing a sound bite or talking point to influence your own opinion.
Much of the sports-related programming on the tube or radio is designed to be entertaining or engaging. Treat it as such.
16. Subjecting yourself to information overload
It can be easy to fall down the rabbit hole of research. There are tons of stats to digest around every game, and that can sometimes lead to the idea that piling research on research will leave you with the edge that you’ve been missing.
While it’s true that you can uncover nuggets here and there while researching, don’t waste your time digging for gold. If you stick to the information that really moves the needle, you’ll find that your thinking on what might happen becomes that much clearer.
Digesting too much information can lead to paralysis by analysis, which simply means that you’ve taken in so much that you don’t know which way is up. Don’t let this happen to you. Keep it simple and focus on what really matters while leaving the rest aside.
17. Disrespecting your bankroll
If you plan to stick around with sports betting, take heed of some key principles. One of them has to do with bankroll management. Failure to manage it properly has led to the end of many sports betting dreams.
To place it in perspective, think of your bankroll as your working capital, with each of your dollars filling the role of a worker bee. Each time you send a dollar out, the idea is for it to bring back some friends.
That’s not always going to happen, of course, but holding your bankroll in high regard will lead to you being more disciplined with the bets you actually place. Those who don’t value their balances as highly are often the same folks who click on the deposit button an awful lot.
18. Resisting change
No matter how strong of a system you may develop, there will be bad stretches that come along. There also may be times when specific tools in your arsenal just don’t work anymore, which can happen as the market and sportsbooks evolve.
Rather than lament your lot in life, assess the overall picture. Figure out what’s not working and why, and adapt and implement tweaks wherever needed. An aversion to doing so is not a sign of strength.
Banging your head against the wall over and over while expecting different results is simply not a wise call. Things change. Those who want to continue enjoying the scenery will adapt where needed. It’s that simple.