Betting on sports is regularly touted online as one of the best bets in any casino that allows it. The reason is simple – rather than paying against a fixed house edge, sportsbooks make their money through commission on losing wagers. A skilled handicapper and line-shopper can use skill to overcome the house's advantage.
People new to sports betting tend to make the same mistakes – betting their heart rather than their head, betting too much on a single play, and ignoring the basics of money management and line-shopping.
Want to increase your winning percentage on sports bets? I can offer a few solid pieces of advice that should affect your bottom line immediately. Here's how:
Betting on sports is the same as making an investment. Big-time stock traders and sports bettors are chasing the same dream – finding that perfect out of favor investment that pays off big time.
Learning to find value is a more sound investment strategy than consistently wagering on favorites. So unpredictable is the world of professional sports, and such is the nature of bookmaker's business, that betting on sportsbook favorites is a losing strategy. Stock market investors and other financial professionals avoid trendy stocks. It's up to you the sports bettor to find under-valued athletes and teams.
Finding high value teams and betting on them is considered a contrarian strategy. But don't think I'm telling you to only wager on long shots – teams that are, for whatever reason, undervalued. Maybe you've found a road favorite baseball team on the tail-end of a two-series away stand that's being given way too much leeway by Vegas – bet their opponent, rather than going with the main stream opinion.
Remember that finding value is much easier when you're talking about straight up bets. Things get more complex when point spreads are involved. Betting on point spreads, you can take a contrarian position that pays off even when the favorite wins.
I remember reading through my grandfather's racing forms when I was a kid. Back in those days, touts sold their services in all kinds of publications, and I guess horse bettors made good marks. Anyway, I remember how all these tiny ads for tout services would include big bold phrases like "PICK OF THE YEAR!" and "five-star pick of the month."
My advice here is simple – every play you make should be backed up by that same "five-star" level of confidence. This boils down to justifying your bet.
I can justify a sports wager in a number of different ways. If I'm planning on placing a bet on the NBA playoffs, I might look at the team's recent performance versus their opponent, historical performance in the playoffs, and the head-to-head numbers for the two starting lineups. From that wealth of data, it won't be hard to justify a bet with numbers.
I can even justify making a play that I might otherwise consider a sucker bet. Last NFL season, I placed a three-team parlay bet (and pulled it off) all because I felt like I had an angle on the games that I could use to rationalize my wager.
Would I have played a ten-team parlay? I probably wouldn't. I don't have the resources to make a smart move on so many different games. Playing a ten-team parlay during the NFL season without knowledge backing up your picks is like playing the lottery, with a slightly lower house edge.
You've heard the word "grind" applies to sports betting? That's because being a profitable bettor means grinding it out one game and one day at a time.
There's a philosophical side to this advice, too – you need to learn to accept and learn from defeat. I'm reminded of a quote from Bull Durham – "Some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains."
If you've read any sports betting strategy, you've probably read this advice a thousand times. Well, you're going to read it one more time.
If you're going to be a profitable bettor, winning a higher percentage of your games than last year, you need to do some line-shopping. What this means is you need to be prepared to be loyal to a number of different books.
So how is it done?
Whether you're betting in-person, on the phone, or online, you should always have three or four options for placing your bets. The reason you should have three is simple – when multiple books are available, so are multiple lines. This requires you set up and fund three different accounts, but it's worth it.
You can scan all your available books for the best offer and place a bet quickly. Having just one sportsbook account places you at the mercy of that book's lines.
Increasing your winning percentage isn't a short-term project. You may need to adjust your strategy, your financial management plan, and your sportsbook memberships over the course of an entire season in order to see results.
If you're looking to increase the amount of bets you win, following the simple advice above is a great first step.