Sports betting can reveal many things to bettors as they progress from beginner, to average, to winning.
Some of these things may not be surprising, but some of them can be downright shocking.
Here's a list of things you may learn from betting on sports:
Most sports bettors get started by betting on their favorite teams with other fans. Usually point spreads and vig aren't involved. They just bet on who will win the game.
If you start winning more often than you lose, you might start thinking it isn't that hard to pick winners.
When you start adding point spreads and vig, it gets a lot harder to win consistently.
It makes it so difficult that most sports bettors end up losing money in the long run.
You can find numerous opportunities that are heavily in your favor, but the existence of a sure thing in sports betting doesn't exist.
Never over-bet your bankroll--no matter how good a betting situation may appear.
Find someone giving you advice on a game that's a sure thing?
Be instantly skeptical.
Can the person benefit in any way from giving you the information?
Usually the person with the sure thing is trying to sell me something.
Home teams have an advantage in just about all sports.
But it isn't enough to be used in a profitable nature by sports bettors.
When they set the lines, books factor in home field advantage. So you have to find other things to use when handicapping games. You need to use the home team advantage in your calculations as well--so you can see where a sports book may be giving a home team too much or too little credit.
Betting on sports is easy
But becoming a winning sports bettor requires a lot of work.
Want to win?
You have to study players, teams, games, statistics, models (the statistical kind, not the swimsuit wearing ones), and anything else that might give you an edge.
Hoping to get an edge while spending a few hours a week watching games or looking at stats online is a quick route to the poor house. Even if you're lucky enough to win for a while, your luck will run out eventually--unless you put in the required work to be a winner.
I don't know why so many people associate the word nerd with something bad. It might not be the best occupation in high school, but most of the people with big money could be called nerds. Computer and software companies make lots of cash.
Sports bettors need to find and process a great deal of statistical data. It helps if you're already a stats person. You don't HAVE to be a stats nerd to become a winning sports bettor.
But you're probably going to have to hire out the work or learn how to process numbers.
If you can't pick winners, it doesn't matter how you manage your bankroll. Even if you're an overall winner, mismanage your bankroll, and you'll still lose.
You have to have enough money to bet on every game that gives you an edge without risking too much on any single event.
It's amazing how much more difficult it is to pick winners 53% of the time than it is to pick them 50% of the time.
You can pick winners by flipping a coin, and you'll win 50% of the time in the long run.
Assuming a standard 10% vig, you need to win 53% of the time to profit in the long run.
Only a select few sports bettors pick 53% or better. You don't find many of them.
Start tracking your sports betting results immediately. See how often you currently win. See if you can figure out how to start climbing toward the magical 53% mark.
Once you start betting in a serious manner, you often start seeing all of the flaws your favorite team has. As a fan you can usually ignore minor flaws, but as a sports bettor you have to see every flaw to make smart bets.
Only the best sports bettors are able to ignore their personal feelings about their favorite team and bet for or against them. I've been betting on sports for years. I still won't bet on a game involving my favorite team. I have a hard time being objective when evaluating their play, so I avoid the conflict.
It's hard to watch games for enjoyment once you start betting on sports. You find yourself looking for ways to gain an advantage and have a hard time getting into "fan" mode.
Anyone can find someone to take their bets, but only a few actually win in the long run.
The real winners in the sports betting industry are the books who charge a percentage on losing wagers.
Do you really want to start raking in the money?
Figure out how you can set up a legal bookmaking operation.
Winning sports bettors act like betting on sports is a business or a job, not a hobby.
What's the difference?
Hobbies cost money.
Businesses earn money.
In no way do I support problem gamblers placing wagers. If you have a problem, find help right now.
But many of the sports bettors I thought had a problem said this to me:
"It's only a problem if you're losing."
A problem gambler might be aware that he has a problem.
But he only recognizes it as a possible problem if he's losing.
Here's the thought process:
If you're winning you can't possibly have a gambling problem.
Not sure if you have a problem, even though you're winning?
Most bets are placed during football season. The sports books spend most of their resources making sure they put out the best betting lines possible for football games.
They want to publish good lines during baseball and basketball season, too.
But you can find many wagering opportunities during baseball and basketball season. Both games are easier to profit from than professional football.
College sports are easier to handicap than professional sports. The sports books focus on pro sports before they look at college games.
It's the same reason why baseball and basketball can be profitable—only more so.
When you start winning on a consistent basis, your bankroll starts growing. Eventually you can reach a point where the bets you want to place become bigger than your betting limits.
The next thing you do is start placing bets in more than one place. Eventually even this can become hard to manage.
This is a good problem to have. It means you're winning.
But when you have an edge, you want to get as much money as you can down on a game (while maintaining safe bankroll considerations).
Few sports bettors actually win in the long run.
Even some of the profitable sports bettors don't make enough to make it a better option than a job.
If you track all of your sports betting action, you can get an idea if you're better off financially than working.
You need to walk before you run.
You also need to pick a sport and start winning consistently before you start betting on other sports.
Dividing your attention between two or more sports can keep you from winning in any of them.
Most sports bettors start their betting career on their own, but as they grow they have the opportunity to use other people to help them get better. Instead of doing all of the research yourself, consider outsourcing it using a freelancer or part time employee.
If you want to be a professional sports bettor, focus on handicapping games, not picking them.
When you handicap a game you look at both sides, the line, and all of the information you have. Using all of these things you decide if the line offers an edge on either side.
If you just pick games, you aren't taking it seriously enough. Eventually you'll start losing.
Most sports bettors only pick winners about 50% of the time. If you're no better than average, you could just bet on red or black on the roulette wheel. You'd have roughly the same chance of winning.
When you pay the normal 10% vig on losing wagers, it means you have to win more to show a profit. Any lower amount of vig you can pay reduces the amount you need to win in order to come out ahead.
You can find special deals offering reduced vig by shopping around with different sports books--both land based and online.
Professional sports bettors are always trying to find inside information. They know if they can get the right kind of information before the sports books, it can be worth a great deal of money.
But they also understand that inside information, no matter how valuable it may seem, is only a part of their overall handicapping equation.
Don't put too much faith in any single thing about a game. Evaluate everything you know to make a winning decision before placing a bet.
Learning about these unexpected truths can help you avoid losing money in your own sports betting career.