If you are new to sports betting or are just looking for some guidance to make better bets, you’ve come to the right place. For those just getting started with sports betting as it becomes legal in the state of Ohio, it’s important to understand how hard it is to turn a profit as a bettor.
First off, sportsbooks have the betting field tilted in their favor. Additionally, some bettors may not be familiar with the do’s and don’ts of sports betting. Without that knowledge, bettors can be at a disadvantage right from the start. On this page, we will guide you through 15 key sports betting mistakes to avoid, giving yourself a better chance if you decide to place some wagers.
With that said, here are the most common sports betting mistakes that will prevent you from becoming a profitable bettor.
1. Too much confidence as a beginner
Many bettors will never turn a profit and will lose money to the sportsbooks. Bettors who do this full time may barely surpass the 52.38% mark, which is the percentage you would need to hit to break even on bets with odds of -110. If you’re coming in thinking you will get six of every 10 bets correct, understand that that is unlikely to occur. That’s how hard of a business this is. You will be far from the first or last person to overestimate how well you will do against the books, but it’s good to have that understanding before diving in.
2. Going in without a mission
Before even placing a bet, you should identify what you want out of sports betting. Are you in this to entertain yourself during a game for a few hours, or are you seriously aiming to turn a profit? There is nothing wrong with either one. The majority of sports bettors, however, fall into the former category and are in this recreationally as a way to make their sports fandom more fun. If your main objective is to make some extra cash, you will need to take sports wagering much more seriously and treat it more like a business by setting aside hours during the week to get as much research in as you can before identifying the bets you want to place.
3. Not setting limits
Regardless of whether you decide to become a recreational bettor or one who is more invested in treating this like a job, you must set limits for yourself and remain disciplined no matter what. You can — and should — do this even before you start betting, and it’s up to you how you’d like to set up your limits. You could decide to never exceed a certain dollar amount over the course of a month or even a year. If you’re a big NFL fan, you could set a number you won’t go past for the season. However you decide to do it, make sure you’re sticking with it and remain disciplined.
4. Failing to take advantage of promotions
With so many sportsbooks battling to attract customers, they are offering some fantastic promotions to new users. Some books will match your first deposit up to a certain dollar amount or give new users a risk-free bet just to get you in the door. This is also useful for experienced bettors; Ohio sportsbook apps will have promotions pages with bonuses and odds boosts for returning customers. While many of these promotions may be worthwhile, be sure to check the fine print before selecting any.
5.Using one sportsbook app
Sports betting is all about gaining small edges over the books, and line shopping will help get you the best numbers. If you want to bet on the Cleveland Browns, and the FanDuel Sportsbook app has them as three-point underdogs but the DraftKings app shows them to be 3.5-point underdogs, you’d have a better chance of winning if you bet on them at DraftKings. Or you may find better odds for a bet you want to place at one sportsbook versus all of its competitors. With multiple sportsbook apps, you can also claim the promotions at multiple books. It may not sound like a lot, but in the long run, this strategy could help make a difference.
6. Betting illegally
With legal Ohio sports betting just around the corner, there is no need to try to skirt the law and bet in an illegal manner. Online sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM Ohio are some of the most popular legal betting sites in the United States, and that’s where you should be placing your wagers. Until 2018, the only options for sports bettors were illegal in most states. These included going through a bookie or using an offshore sportsbook, both of which can be risky. For one thing, such operations likely wouldn’t face any legal repercussions for failing to pay out bets. An offshore betting site can shut down, take all your money and not tell you why, and a bookie can take your cash and skip town. With legal sportsbooks available in a growing number of states, there’s no reason not to use them.
7. Freaking out over a string of losses
If you place enough wagers, this is bound to happen. There will be a stretch where it seems as if you might never pick a game correctly again. This happens to the best of the best in sports betting, so it’s no time to panic when this happens to you. This is where it becomes extremely important to remain disciplined. Many bettors — whether beginners or more experienced — will bet more than usual with their next wager to make up for the loss. This is called chasing your losses, and it’s a great way to dig yourself into a hole. After a losing bet, be sure to relax and never bet on a game you otherwise wouldn’t have bet on had you not just lost your most recent wager. How you handle losing in sports betting will go a long way toward how much success you will have with it.
8. Getting lured in by sucker bets
How many times have you heard about the guy who won thousands of dollars on an extravagant parlay with a wager of $10? Stories like this may appear on SportsCenter, social media, etc. Sportsbooks want that news out there because they understand parlays are good business for them, and you don’t hear about all the ones that don’t cash. Parlays are examples of sucker bets because they can be extremely difficult to win, and the payouts are not as high as they should be.
Another example of a sucker bet would be betting the moneyline on games where one team is a prohibitive favorite. If you back the favorite, you’re risking a significant amount for a very small reward. And if you bet on the underdog, you are highly unlikely to win. A good rule of thumb is to stick with the bets that have just two potential outcomes and around a 50% chance at cashing.
9. Paying for picks
As you start getting into sports betting, you could see some advertising that a certain handicapper can “guarantee” some high percentage of winning bets if you pay for the service. This is not a blanket statement, but it’s probably best to stay away from services like this. It is hard enough to break even in sports betting. Add on paying for picks, and, even if you’re winning at a higher-than-average rate, a portion of your winnings are going to somebody else. There also are scammers out there looking to take advantage of new and gullible bettors and with ridiculous promises of 80% win rates.
10. Going in alone
This is not necessarily a mistake, but if you know somebody who is into sports betting well enough, it could be a solid idea to keep tabs on each other. People love talking about sports with others, and many sports bettors love talking about sports betting. They congratulate one another on winning bets and share stories of bad beats. This can build a solid camaraderie, especially if the people closest to you aren’t into sports betting. You can also help hold each other accountable just by talking. If you are secretly into sports betting by yourself and do not have much discipline, it could become difficult to bet responsibly. With someone to talk through these things with, you may be able to get help avoiding bad practices like chasing bets or betting more than you should.
11. Using basic stats for research
If you want to make it big in sports betting, you need to dive deeper into the metrics and take things like points per game or yards per game in football with a grain of salt. For an example of better stats to look at, let’s take a sport like college football. The term “total offense” is synonymous with per game for an offense. However, college football teams could have very different styles of play, which would help or hurt their standing in total offense.
When an offense averages 80 snaps and another averages 65, of course the team that runs more plays is much more likely to have more yards per game. To determine which offense is better in your handicapping, a stat like yards per play is a much better tool. Similarly, in basketball, points per possession is a much better statistic than points per game because styles of play can be so different.
12. Betting on everything
For new bettors, it can be helpful to bet on what you know. If you are a big NBA fan but cannot remember the last time you sat down to watch a college basketball game, it might be best to focus on the NBA. Once you determine you’re ready to branch out to other leagues, go for it. Many bettors will bet year-round depending on what sport is happening, but that doesn’t have to be you if you’re only comfortable in your knowledge of one sport.
The same is true for big sporting events. Just because everybody is talking about the different bets available for something like the Super Bowl, it doesn’t mean you have to bet on the Super Bowl. Some bettors need to have action on a game in order to watch it, and that is certainly not a good idea if your goal is to earn a profit because that should be more about picking your spots with the best value — not just what’s on TV.
13. Staying away from live betting
Bettors used to need to make sure their wagers were in prior to a game starting. That’s not the case anymore, thanks to live betting. As you might recognize by the name, this is when you bet on a game as it is happening. Bettors need to be quick in getting their wagers in because the numbers could move against them at any moment. Many successful bettors have developed strategies for live betting that involve halftime adjustments or just watching the early action to see how things appear to be playing out.
14. Waiting too long to place bets
For a sport like football, lines will come out days in advance, and the numbers will shift and react as bets come in. The key is getting in on a game with the best possible value by determining where the betting line could move. If the Cincinnati Bengals open as 6.5-point favorites and a ton of money comes in on them, oddsmakers may adjust them to seven-point favorites as it gets closer to kickoff. Obviously, seven points mean a lot in football games, so you would’ve loved to bet on the Bengals at 6.5 earlier in the week. Selecting the right side early could make a significant difference between winning and losing.
15. Not staying the course when winning
Just like you need to learn how to respond well to a losing streak, you need to do the same when you go on a tear and it seems as if every pick you make is working. Sometimes, bettors will start to bet more often or bet more money when they start to win instead of doing what got them there. It’s very important to learn how to win, and that includes doing your research, picking areas where you might have an advantage and staying disciplined with your budget to keep growing that profit over the long run.