Top 3 Mistakes Every US Sports Bettor Makes

Football Player Running With Ball, Dollar Bills
Sports betting is a tough business. Predicting how teams and players are going to perform is far from an exact science. All you can do is try to make accurate predictions and learn from your mistakes.

Learning to be a good handicapper is the most important thing you can do. This covers up most of the other mistakes you’re going to make. But this isn’t the only thing you need to do. Every mistake you can correct or avoid helps your bottom line as a sports bettor. Here are three mistakes every sports bettor makes, with some strategies to help you avoid them.

1 – You Don’t Handicap Games Properly

The biggest mistake sports bettors make is they don’t handicap games properly. The fact is that handicapping is hard. It’s also hard work, which is where most sports bettors fall short. If you aren’t willing to invest a great deal of time and effort into handicapping, your chances of becoming a winning sports bettor is slim.

The first thing to do is take an honest look at how much time you spend handicapping games you bet on. If you’re making betting decisions in 15 minutes or less and don’t already have a good system in place, you’re wasting your time. Without a good system or investing more time in research, you might as well flip a coin to decide which team to bet on.

I want to point out that there’s no shame if you just want to bet on a few games for fun, as long as you’re not fooling yourself into thinking you actually have a long term edge.

You can win around half of your spread bets no matter which teams you pick. This makes your only long term cost the vig you pay on your losses.

To make a long-term profit betting on spread games, you have to win around 53% of the time. This won’t create a huge profit, but it’s better than losing in the long run.

Can you win 53 out every 100 games you bet on? Statistically speaking, with normal variance, if you bet on enough games, you’re eventually going to have a group of 100 games where you win 53 of them. This isn’t what I’m talking about. You need to consistently win 53 out of 100 bets.

The way to do this is to learn how to accurately predict performances and find betting lines that offer value. You have options for placing US sports bets that range from a local sportsbook or bookie to placing bets with an online sportsbook.

This means you can, and should, shop for the best lines on any game you’re considering betting on. Some games have the same line across most sportsbooks, but some games have different lines. You’re not going to find lines that are three points off, but it’s not uncommon to find a point difference, which can make a huge difference in the long run to your results.

Here’s an example of line shopping:

The first step in improving your sports betting results is learning how to improve your handicapping skills.

2 – You Pay Too Much Vig

If you made bets without vig and won half your games, you’d break even. It’s not difficult to win half your games, so if you can find a way to reduce your vig, you can improve your results without making any other changes. The normal way to place sports bets is to bet with a sportsbook where you usually pay a 10% premium to place wagers.

You normally have to bet 11 to win 10, 22 to win 20, 55 to win 50, etc. When you win, you get back your bet plus the win, but when you lose you lose your bet including the 10% premium.

Inside a Casino Sportsbook

You can use two different strategies to find reduced vig. The first one is looking for sportsbooks charging less than the traditional 10%. Some sportsbooks charge less on a regular basis, and others run promotions with reduced vig from time to time. Any time you can place a bet with reduced vig, it improves your overall results.

So look around for different sportsbooks. If you need help on what to look for, we’ve listed 6 things to look for in an online sportsbook.

The other option is to find ways to make wagers without any vig. This is more challenging, but most gamblers do have some options to do this. The easiest way to make bets with no vig is to bet with other sports bettors and skip the sportsbook and bookie. Betting like this comes with some concerns, but this is something you need to explore.

3 – You Bet on Your Favorite Teams

Every sports bettor has to make a decision. You need to decide if you want to bet for fun or try to win. Most sports bettors claim they want to win and have fun, but winning sports bettors don’t put down bets for fun.

I’m not going to judge you if you want to bet on sports for fun. The choice is entirely yours.

If you want to place a bet on your favorite team or teams for fun, have a great time. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re doing everything you can to win.

You can be a winning sports bettor and have favorite teams. But you can’t bet on your favorite teams unless they offer value. Handicapping a game involving your favorite team is challenging. It’s difficult to accurately handicap a team you like because fans tend to overvalue their favorite teams and players.

Every fan does this, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But your best option is to avoid betting on games involving your favorite team.

This doesn’t make sense to many sports bettors, because a big fan should know more about his or her team than most other people. Knowing more about a team should give you an edge, but in most cases, it doesn’t.

When you’re rooting for a favorite team, it’s easy to get rose-colored glasses, which leads to overvaluing their abilities. I simply don’t bet on games involving my favorite teams.

Guy Sitting on Bus Wearing a Chicago Cubs Baseball Jersey

Another way to avoid making mistakes betting on your favorite teams is to have a dedicated bankroll for your sports bets, and any bet you make on one of your favorite teams comes out of your personal money instead of your bankroll. This way, you can concentrate on winning with your sports bankroll and still occasionally place bets on your favorite teams.

You should always have a dedicated bankroll as a sports bettor. It helps you track your progress and helps you decide how much to bet on each game. In a perfect world you’d have a bankroll big enough to make the maximum bet on every game you find value on when you handicap it.

But you don’t live in a perfect world, and most bettors don’t have a bankroll in the millions. As a simple rule of thumb, I recommend never betting more than 1% of your total bankroll on a single game. You can move this percentage up to 2% or 3% as you master your handicapping skills and improve your results, but you need to protect your bankroll as much as possible.


The best way to improve your sports betting results is to improve your handicapping skills. Once you learn how to be an effective handicapper, you should shop for the best lines and look for ways to make wagers with lower vig. If you want to bet on your favorite teams, use money that’s not earmarked for your sports betting bankroll.