Anyone who bets on sports with any degree of regularity will experience a bad run from time to time. Even the most skilled bettors in the world encounter periods when nothing turns out as expected, and it feels like picking a winner is simply impossible. What sets the best bettors apart from the rest is they know how to deal with it.
I've had a fair few losing streaks in all my years of betting on sports. Some of them have been little more than blips, and I've handled them fairly easily. Some of them have been nothing short of disastrous, including one that happened not long after I started taking betting seriously.
I didn't handle that one at all well, and it cost me my entire bankroll. I very nearly quit betting right then and there; and although I'm very glad I didn't, there was a strong case for doing so. The bets I was making were fundamentally sound, but I had just broken some of the golden rules of sports betting.
There's a saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm not usually one for quoting proverbs, but I think it's justified in this case. I learned a lot from losing that money, and it made me determined never to do the same again. So far I haven't, and I now cope with my bad runs a whole lot better.
There are no hard and fast rules for dealing with losing streaks, and what works for some people may not work for others. I do have a few pieces of general advice, though, which should help you prepare for, and handle, the bad runs that you will inevitably face at some point in your betting career.
The first step in preparing for losing streaks is accepting that they WILL happen to you. If you think they won't, then you are going to be in for a shock at some point. You stand a much better chance of dealing with bad runs well if they don't come as a surprise, so please don't kid yourself that you can avoid them.
What constitutes an exceptional run of losses for one bettor may be nothing more than standard variance for another. Therefore, an important part of preparing for bad runs is defining what a bad run actually is.
If you bet mostly on outsiders at high odds, for example, then you are not going to worry if you lose five or six wagers in a row. If you bet on really short priced favorites, however, then just a few losses in a row could easily be considered a bad run.
Ultimately, it comes down to you to determine when acceptable losses turn into a bad run. As a general rule, if they are starting to have a noticeable impact on your bankroll, then it's time to take some action.
If you are remotely serious about your sports betting, then keeping accurate records is absolutely vital. It will help you with many aspects of your betting and is especially useful when it comes to dealing with losing streaks.
One of the first things you should do when you encounter a bad streak is to carry out some analysis of your previous bets. This analysis can really help you identify what the problem is, or if there even is a problem, and it's obviously impossible to do if you don't keep decent records.
When it comes to actually doing the analysis, you need to keep an open mind. Don't assume that you are doing something wrong, as it may be that you are doing the right things and simply having a spell of bad luck. Equally, however, you shouldn't automatically blame bad luck. It could be that you are applying a strategy that just doesn't work, or are making bad decisions.
Getting to the bottom of why you are losing is probably the hardest part of dealing with bad runs. If you've recently changed your selection criteria and suddenly start losing most of your wagers, then it should be fairly obvious that your new approach isn't working. But not every problem is going to be that easy to spot.
I'll give you an example of a bad run I once had some years back. I had been having a really good season betting on the English Premier League (soccer); but during the last few matches of the season, I was picking a lot fewer winners. I'd get some right, but nowhere near the consistency I'd been having throughout the season.
This was only over a relatively short period, and it certainly wasn't a disastrous run, but I was convinced there was an issue I was missing. I was still a relatively inexperienced bettor, and I couldn't seem to work out the problem. It wasn't like there had been a load of huge upsets, and I hadn't changed my selection criteria at all. I ended up asking someone else to take a look for me, and they found out what was happening.
My success that season largely came down to picking the winners of matches where the opposition teams were relatively closely matched. My hit rate wasnt amazing, but it was above 50%, and I was mostly winning at fairly good odds.
Towards the end of the season, when I had started losing more bets than winning, there were several teams that basically had nothing to play for in the league. They were safe from relegation but not threatening the top positions. A number of them had been drawing or losing the matches theyd been winning earlier in the season, and this was costing me. I hadnt taken into account the possibility that these teams might not be as motivated as I would usually expected.
The sample size involved was very small, and I will never be 100% sure that certain teams were not putting in their maximum effort; but this example does serve to show that even factors that may appear insignificant can have a noticeable impact on your betting.
The point I'm trying to make here is that you have to be prepared to analyze the smallest details if you really want to get to the bottom of what may be causing your bad run. This can take a lot of time, but it may prove to be time well spent.
I can't really offer any more advice than this respect unfortunately. The number of factors that could cause a losing streak is virtually limitless, and the only way to way to find out what is behind any particular streak is simply to keep investigating until you uncover the problem.
What arguably is the single most important thing you need to do when dealing with a bad run is to maintain your discipline. It is all too easy to let frustration get the better of you as you start chasing your losses, but this is only likely to make the situation worse.
If you are struggling to find the cause of your losing streak, then you need to keep calm and stay in control. Your only chance of turning things around is if you make rational decisions and consider your options.
Your first option is to keep on betting the way you have been in the hope that things will turn around. If you genuinely think you are doing the right things and are just having some bad luck, then this is a perfectly viable option. It's a good idea to reduce your stakes, however, and to slow down your rate of losses, and you should set a point at which you'll accept things are not going to turn around.
If things do turn around, that's great. You've managed to get through a bad run and, hopefully, have prevented too much damage to your bankroll. If things don't turn around for whatever reason, it's time to think again.
At this point there are several things you can try. You could bet on a different sport or adopt some different strategies. You shouldn't be too disheartened just because one approach hasn't worked well, as there is more than one way to make money from sports betting. It's always worth employing a new approach if you still have confidence in your betting skills.
Another option is to simply take a break. This will give you time to reflect on what you may have been doing wrong and to think about what you can do in the future to improve your chances of success. A prolonged period without betting can help give you an entirely new perspective on things, and you may well come back with fresh new ideas that will work well for you.
The final option is to quit completely. Sports betting is not for everyone, and if you have tried your best but have not managed to make it work, then there is no shame at all in giving it up. It makes a lot more sense than throwing good money after bad and causing yourself more frustration.