Every sports bettor makes mistakes. The best sports bettors learn from each mistake and use the experience to get better. If you're able to avoid making mistakes it's even better.
Here are 9 of the most common sports betting mistakes:
The cornerstone to every successful sports betting operation is research. You can never do too much research.
You need to know how to use the research to make educated sports betting picks.
Make sure you understand how much information you need. Learn the best ways to acquire it, then use the research to build statistical models and systems that help you gain an edge.
Injuries can change the expected outcome of a game faster than anything. Bettors lose simply because they don't have enough information or, in other words, a lack of research.
You have to know as much about the health of players for both teams in any game you are going to bet.
It's easier than ever to keep up with injuries because of the Internet, cell phones, and tablets. You can check injury reports and live news feeds on your cell phone almost anywhere.
But if you can, you also need to build your own network of contacts and sources for injury information. Any information you get before the sports books can help you improve your overall profitability.
On the professional level this might be almost impossible.
But if you employ some creative thinking you may be able to get inside health information at the college level.
Think of all the players, coaches, trainers, media, and students involved with college teams on a daily basis. I've even known bettors who claimed to get information from the girlfriends of players at the college level.
Some winning sports bettors are able to bet on more than one sport profitably, but most of them master one sport before adding a second one. Beginning sports bettors need to focus on a single sport.
The percentage of long term winning sports bettors in comparison to people who place a bet every year is miniscule. Don't make the odds any worse against you by dividing your research time and attention over more than one sport.
Placing bets on sports you aren't familiar with is often an indication of what I call an action junkie. Some people can't seem to do anything without trying to place a bet on it. If they watch a cricket match they want to bet on it - even if they've never seen one before.
Even if you fall under the action junkie description, stay focused on your strongest areas of knowledge. Only wager small amounts on everything else.
Every sports bettor hopes to find sources of inside information to help them beat the sports books. This hope can cloud your judgment by making you accept possible inside information without considering or investigating the source.
Some people claim to have inside information because they think it makes them seem more important.
Take a minute. Consider why they would be sharing this information with you.
Why wouldn't they be profiting from the information themselves instead of sharing it with you?
Or are they selling the information instead of using it to place bets?
If you have to pay for inside information, it's probably just a wild guess dressed up like something special in order to get your money.
I'm not referring to sources of inside information you've built and cultivated yourself. You may pay for information with cash or other considerations depending on the value to your sports betting and the arrangement you've made. Some may consider things like this bribery or unethical.
I don't judge.
How far teams have to travel to play is one of the things that are important across every sport. People, including athletes, don't rest as well away from home and suffer from jet lag that makes them perform worse than normal.
The farther they are forced to travel the more their performance suffers.
Some teams play better after traveling than others, but you'll never know if you aren't aware of the possibility and don't track it.
Number 6 and 7 on the list of sports betting mistakes are inexcusable. Both of them boil down to either laziness or lack of ability to organize your priorities. They also both directly cost you money on a consistent basis.
When you shop point spreads, you can often find an extra point or half point in spread games or an extra $10 or $20 on a money line wager. Extra points on spread games can and will win you games over the course of a year that you'd otherwise lose. They'll also turn a few losses into ties over the course of a season.
If you can find 10 money line games over the course of a year offering $10 more than normal it adds $100 to your bottom line. Find 10 opportunities to add $100 to your bottom line, and you've found an extra $1,000.
Being a winning sports bettor is about finding (and exploiting) every advantage possible. Don't ever miss out on additional profit because you didn't shop for the best point spreads.
Just like ignoring opportunities to find better point spreads, missing the opportunity to place bets with reduced vig will cost you money. Every dollar in reduced vig per 100 wagered is worth a measurable amount of additional profit. The exact amount depends on your overall winning percentage and the amount of your average wager.
Sports bettors make the mistake of focusing on certain things too much and miss opportunities because of the "blinders" they seem to be wearing. Finding reduced vig opportunities is one of these areas.
Do you think the sports book or bookie is the only place you can make a bet?
Do you know other sports bettors?
If you could find a single game every month you could bet straight up with someone, it will save you money over the course of a year.
If your average wager is $1,000 and you usually have to bet 110 to win 100, you'll save around $600 a year making one bet with no vig a month. If you could make a bet every week without vig, you'll quickly get to a point where serious money can be saved.
In sports betting, just like in other areas of life, saving money is as good as making it.
Skill positions in football are important when handicapping upcoming games, but they're far from the only areas you need to consider. Most sports bettors focus on the quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs. They ignore defenses, special teams, kickers, and offensive lines.
Even taking all of these extra areas into account, you run the chance of missing important handicapping considerations.
Have you considered the weather forecast for the game, how far the visiting team has travelled, tendencies of the head coaches, coordinators, etc.?
Considering the skill positions are a great place to start, but in comparison to everything else you need to research, they only represent a small percentage of your overall handicapping details.
Number 9 is closely related to number 1.
But if you don't put in the time and effort to be a winning sports bettor, you won't win.
You can't get around this point. Even if you have short term success, there are no short cuts.
Winning sports bettors work harder than losing sports bettors.
Even if you develop winning systems, you can't start getting lazy. Even the best systems can stop working from season to season. You need to develop new systems and make your old systems better as often as possible.
Another thing you may miss if you get lazy is new ways to gather information. 20 years ago most sports betting information came from newspapers and television. Now you can find boatloads of information online. Most newspapers are worthless for sports betting information.
You have to adjust to advancing technology and learn how to incorporate it into your research and systems. Don't take the chance of missing out on something that can improve your bottom line.
Use the 9 mistakes sports bettors make described above to help you avoid many of the pitfalls other people make. Even if you do your best to avoid everything listed in this post, you will still make occasional mistakes.
Learn from your mistakes.
Add them to your internal list of mistakes to avoid in the future.