There is an old saying that you never see a poor bookmaker, which comes from the widely accepted fact that the bookmakers always win in the long run. Most bookmakers do indeed make very respectable profits, and the simple truth is that the majority of people who bet on sports lose money overall.
Some people would have you believe this is because the bookmakers make it impossible for their customers to win by making sure the odds are always in their favor. This is not really the case. Bookmakers certainly do have an advantage over their customers, but this advantage is not the reason why most sports bettors lose.
The bookmakers' advantage is essentially that they get to set the odds and lines. They do this in such a way that they are effectively charging a commission every time you place a bet. This commission is basically the cost of using their service, and there are plenty of successful bettors who can absorb this cost and still make a profit.
The fact is, most bettors actually lose money not because of the bookmakers' edge, but due to reasons entirely within their control. They don't manage their money properly; they place wagers for the wrong reasons; and they bet too often. These are all easy mistakes to make, but they are also completely avoidable.
In this article we explain each of these mistakes in more detail. We also provide some advice to help you avoid falling into the same traps as so many bettors do. Please note that this is by no means a complete list of where you can wrong when wagering on sports, but the points we cover are easily among the biggest reasons why bettors lose money.
There are very few certainties when it comes to sports betting, but one thing you can be sure about is that results will not always go the way you expect. This doesn't have to be a major problem if you are managing your money properly; but if you are not, then you will almost certainly end up going bust at some point.
Poor or lack of money management is probably the single biggest reason why so many people lose money when betting on sports. Even bettors who are skilled at picking winners have gone bust for the simple reason that they weren't very good at managing money.
Not managing your money in the correct way can lead to all kinds of mistakes. These include chasing losses and losing everything, placing a load of crazy bets after a decent win and giving all the profits back, or risking far too much on a sure thing only to see it lose.
Anyone who has done a considerable amount of betting in their lifetime has probably made at least one of these mistakes, or done something similar, and unfortunately there are many who have made the same ones time and time again. They are actually quite easy to avoid with just a bit of discipline and some bankroll management.
Basically, this means simply having a pot of money that is specifically for the purposes of betting, and having some clearly defined rules about how that money is to be used. Many bettors don't bother with this. They just use whatever money they have on hand when they want to place a bet, whether by depositing it to a betting site or handing cash over to a bookmaker. No real thought goes into how much they should be betting: they just decide at random how much to stake.
Betting in this manner is not necessarily a big issue for people just having fun, provided they only use money they can afford to lose; but anyone serious about making a profit needs to be more organized. You should know how much you have to bet with and establish rules about how much to stake.
There can be some flexibility based on factors such as your confidence level, but you never want to be staking more than just a small percent of your overall roll. This way, you shouldn't ever damage your bankroll too much through unexpected results and therefore should be able to cope with a bad run without losing everything.
Bankroll management is really quite simple. It's basically about looking after your money by not being reckless and staying disciplined. If you can do this well, you will greatly improve your chances of making money in the long run.
There are many different ways to go about choosing which wagers to place. All kinds of systems and strategies can be applied, and there is no single correct way to pick your selections. You just need to make sure there are sound reasons for making any particular wager.
Unfortunately, many bettors place wagers for the wrong reasons. They may choose a selection based on emotion or sentiment, for example, or based solely on the odds. These are quite common mistakes, and they are significant factors in accounting for why so many people lose money when betting.
Wagering out of emotion or sentiment usually results in betting on something you want to happen, rather than on what you genuinely believe will happen. An example is betting on your favorite team to win a match, even when they are facing a much better one. This is something a lot of sports fans do, and it's extremely unlikely to result in anything other than losing money.
Making a selection simply because of the odds available is also an incorrect strategy. You obviously want to take the odds into account, as it's the only way to determine whether a wager is good value or not, but it shouldn't be the only consideration.
If you bet at high odds just because you are tempted by a large potential payout, you will almost certainly lose far more often than you win. There's nothing wrong with backing outsiders at all, but there needs to be some solid justification other than how much you might win. The same principle applies to betting on favorites simply because they are the favorites. It's easy to assume a selection with low odds is likely to win, but, again, there needs to be more to your thought process than just this.
There is no magic formula you can apply when choosing which wagers to place. You have to look at a number of different factors and try to make selections that you genuinely feel have a good chance of winning relative to the odds on offer. To put it simply, there have to be good reasons for making a bet. If you bet for the wrong reasons, such as the ones just discussed, you are ultimately on the road to failure.
Betting too often can be just as much of a problem as betting for the wrong reasons. It's also something else that a lot of bettors do, and another reason why so many of them lose money.
Successful betting is not simply about trying to pick as many winners as possible; it's about identifying the right opportunities to back up your judgment. This means being selective. Some of the most profitable sports bettors are quite prepared to go for long periods without making a bet if the right opportunities do not present themselves, which is precisely why they are so profitable.
It might be tempting to try and pick the winner of every football match being played over a weekend, or of every tennis match in the first round of a tournament, but the reality is that it is close to impossible to do so. You are much better off looking for a small number of opportunities where you can place a bet with confidence.
It's also a good idea to limit the number of sports you bet on. To make money consistently, you should ideally be carrying out a fair amount of research and analysis, and this is very difficult to do properly if you're betting on loads of different sports. You stand a much better chance of success if you focus on one or two that you can be really knowledgeable about.
No matter how good you are at betting, you are never going to win every single wager you place. You don't have to though. As obvious as it sounds, you just need to win more from your winning bets than you lose from your losing bets. The more selective you are in the bets you place, the more likely you are to do this.