The 10 Most Common Sports Betting Mistakes

Upset Man Slapping His Forehead With a Sports and Money Background

As a rookie sports bettor, I made a ton of bad choices. However, I quickly learned from these mistakes and was able to make fewer and fewer. It still took some time before I really got comfortable.

Sadly, I still make mistakes when sports betting to this day. Fortunately, I make them far less often than when I first began.

Here are 10 of the most common sports betting mistakes you can make.

1 – NFL Underdogs on the Road

It’s hard making NFL bets when the teams are on the road. That’s why the road team finds themselves as an underdog more frequently than a favorite. Typically, in NFL games where the visiting team is an underdog, the only value to be seen is with the home team.

Obviously, there’s not always value in the home team either. You shouldn’t just haphazardly throw money at the home team.

When you don’t see value on either side, the best option is to look at the total and the moneyline bets. You can often find value on the road underdog with a moneyline bet.

You’ll have to use cost-benefit analysis to see if it makes sense. However, when it is a good fit, you can do quite well making the moneyline wager.

2 – Betting on an NBA Team for Back-to-Back Games

Trying to predict how an NBA team will do on the second night of back-to-back games is one of the most challenging sports betting tasks. It’s like trying to wrangle a yeti, an elusive beast.

For years, I avoided games altogether if one of the teams played the previous night. I couldn’t seem to handicap them with any accuracy. Hence, I couldn’t sniff a profit on these games.

NBA Player Jayson Tatum Taking a Jump Shot

Some NBA coaches seem to have a knack for preparing their team for the second game back to back. Other teams tend to fall flat without a day off. The problem I ran into is that most teams will play out of their minds sometimes and look like a poorly disciplined junior team other times.

If you are looking for profitable lines, you must be able to predict the games with some degree of accuracy. When one team is on the back half of two consecutive games, betting on basketball that way is just not profitable long-term.

3 – MLB Home Team Trailing a Series

You may already know that MLB teams rarely get swept in a home series. This probably comes down to nothing more than a home-field advantage.

Baseball uses a 3-4 game series. This creates some unique opportunities. When you evaluate MLB games where it appears, there’s a value available on the visitors for the final game of a series. Tread lightly.

In baseball, value almost always lies with the home team. Regardless of the two teams’ records, I never bet against a home team in the final game of a series.

If anything, I’ll bet on the home team. When the value is just leaning too much in the other direction, I will skip the game entirely.

You should always look for the value when a home team is working to avoid the sweep. These wagers can be extremely profitable, even if the value doesn’t appear to be there.

4 – Trusting Your Gut

You know you’ve done it. I’ve done it, too. We’re only human, after all. There may not be a gambler on the planet that hasn’t made a bet off their “gut feeling.”

I really shouldn’t need to explain how bad this is, but I witness this cardinal gambling sin almost daily. What makes it worse is that gamblers seem to get these hunches right practically 50% of the time.

Man Placing a Sports Bet at a Window

We’re gamblers, and our brains are somehow wired to remember only the times our gut was right. We completely block out how more than half the time our gut costs us money.

Basing your bets on a gut feeling is akin to a coin flip. This means you can win about half the time. You have to win 52.4% of your bets to cover the juice when you lose if you want to be a profitable sports bettor.

Do yourself a favor and spend the necessary time learning to properly handicap. This will dramatically increase your chances of winning over the long-term. Remember, sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint.

5 – Blindly Betting on Your Favorite Team

I see way too many sports bettors that bet on their favorite team no matter what. They feel that if they don’t have skin in the game, they are somehow not real fans.

This is a guaranteed way to empty your bankroll over the long haul. In fact, it likely won’t take very long at all.

Suppose you are one of the many gamblers that can’t evaluate your team’s games without bias. In that case, you need to stop betting on your team, at least until you can figure out how to find lines with real value for your favorite team.

6 – Betting on Popular Teams

Sportsbooks know the amount of action they are going to see bet on most teams and matchups for the MLB regular season. Sportsbooks set the lines based on the amount of activity they anticipate on each side of a game.

The public tends to bet more heavily on popular teams like the Yankees or the Dodgers. Because of this, you’ll rarely find much value on either one of these teams.

For that reason, I highly suggest steering clear of betting on popular teams. The same can be said for the NFL and NBA favorites.

7 – Ignoring Statistics for Evaluations

We receive a mountain of data regarding sports. Thanks to the internet, these advanced statistics that cover every measurable metric are only a click away.

Pro sports bettors understand how to leverage these statistics to spot an advantage. The practice has become so common that I doubt you are winning if you haven’t employed them.

Suppose you have been studying the stat lines to get an edge and just can’t seem to win. You probably aren’t using them as much as you should.

Maybe you just don’t know which stats to key in on. Keep at it! Eventually, you will find the winning combination and begin to turn a profit.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, but the rewards will be amazing when you figure it out.

8 – Moneyline Missteps

Moneyline bets are pretty straightforward. You just pick the winning team for the game, and you win the bet. Except, you also have to pay a premium for the privilege of choosing the favorite. That’s where things begin to get complicated.

Wide View of a Casino Sportsbook

Many sports bettors see a considerable favorite on a moneyline bet and figure it’s a sure thing. They may bet $1,500 to win $75. Keep in mind, though, you’ll have to be right 90% to 95% of the time just to break even.

Instead of trying to take these small wins while risking big, look for money line bets that offer a better value in the long term.

9 – The Coin Toss Approach

An overwhelming majority of sports bettors would see similar results if they simply flipped a coin to pick games. In fact, some could probably see an improvement.

Remember, to make a profit, you have to win almost 53% of the time. This means you must learn how to properly handicap sports games.

I see many gamblers simply check a team’s record against their opponent’s and look at a few additional stats to make their decision.

They make their picks without ever uncovering any kind of actual value. If you don’t have a tried and true system to make your selections, you’re essentially flipping a coin.

10 – Paying for Picks

Depending on your source, buying picks can be a huge waste of money. Honestly, this is a subject that gets my blood pumping sometimes.

For starters, if the tout service were half as excellent as they claim to be, they’d be making tens of millions a year. They’d probably make more than that. Selling picks would be a waste of their time and resources.

You won’t have trouble finding these services to take your money. Still, you are not going to become a profitable sports bettor by using them.

That’s a fact. There’s no secret formula they’ve found for picking games.


I share these 10 most common sports betting mistakes because I’ve made the same errors myself. I want to help you avoid the pitfalls that have snagged me along the way.

If you can learn from these sports betting mistakes, you’ll shorten your learning curve substantially. Every mistake you can eliminate will serve to improve your odds of winning in the long term.