3 Step Betting Checklist for All Sports

Mix of Images From Football, Baseball, and Hockey

Starting pitchers in baseball, quarterbacks in the NFL, head coaches in college football – there are a range of sport-specific factors that bettors should consider. With that being said, there are some pieces of information that should be looked at every time, regardless of sport.

No matter if you’re a professional handicapper or weekend warrior, there’s a good chance you’re always looking to add to your bankroll. If you don’t do your research, or don’t know what to look at, you probably won’t succeed in that venture.

It would be nice to have fancy, algorithmic systems at your disposal to help in predicting the outcomes of games, but for most bettors, that’s not a reality. Instead, quick and reliable sports betting tips are the best way to make sure evaluations remain consistent and realistic on a game-by-game basis.

If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s more likely than not that the overwhelming amount of information and statistics you have at your disposal can add more complication than clarity. Deciding what to look for in each sport often depends on your knowledge of betting that sport specifically, or just the sport itself. In short, it takes more time to learn how to do it.

What many bettors want is a quick, easy checklist to run through before making a play. At the end of the day, betting based on some criteria is much better than the alternative.

In this article, I’ll outline a checklist that you can use for betting in any sport you choose.

1 – Schedule Considerations

Few things seem so simple yet reveal so much as a team’s schedule. The hardest part is organizing all the information you gain into something usable in your betting strategy. For the sake of simplification, I’ll break down the two main aspects of the schedule you should consider into smaller sections.

Quality of Opponents Beaten

In the midst of betting on the NFL season there are almost always a few teams whose record doesn’t actually reflect how good they really are. Whether it’s a team who is 7-2 but has only been able to beat losing teams, or a 3-6 team who has two quality wins and four three-point losses, records only reveal so much.

The general public has a tendency to place way too much weight on a team’s record and not dig deeper to see the information the schedule can reveal. If you’re able to dig a little bit deeper, you can get an edge and identify where the public biases might be for different teams.

The game before and the game after

You might hear players and coaches say things like, “We’re only worried about the next game on our schedule.” However, human nature, and historical data will tell us that this is largely a myth.

It’s reasonable to believe that teams look at their schedule overall and know when the big games are going to be played. Additionally, they’re also aware when they’re going into a matchup in which they should win easily. Ironically, if these two things are combined in back-to-back weeks, it can mean the better team is at a disadvantage.

NFL Players During a Running Play

Most sports bettors understand the concept of trap games, which can be identified as the combination described above. To reiterate, a “trap game” scenario is present when a good team is playing against a significantly worse team, but then has a big matchup in the following game.

Players are human and have shown a tendency to overlook lesser opponents and look ahead to better teams. If you’re able to locate a game where this scenario is taking place, go with the underdog.

The get-right game

Even the best teams will inevitably go through some periods of adversity during the course of a season. Whether it’s after one loss or multiple losses, the better teams typically have a breakout performance known as the “get-right” game.

Keep in mind that this phenomenon is typically only seen with good teams, as bad teams just don’t have the capability to rebound and make a statement.

If you’re able to find a game where a team is coming off two straight losses and still is listed as a favorite, trust that they’ll be playing hard enough to cover the spread.

2 – Motivation

Most sports fans would like to think that their favorite athletes and teams give their full effort every time they compete. In reality, this isn’t the case.

Taking motivation into consideration has gained traction in the betting community, and the results prove that it’s worthwhile to consider what each team is playing for in a given game.

For example, if a team needs to win two out of their next three games to make the playoffs, expect them to be closer to peak performance than a team who has no chance to see postseason action.

Another major example where motivation is a factor in every league is seen in rivalry games.

I wouldn’t suggest that you throw out all the data when evaluating which way to bet on a rivalry game, but typically the lesser team plays up to the competition in these scenarios.

When you’re unable to find an obvious motivational edge for each side, sometimes it’s necessary to look at other factors that might play into how a team prepares. For example, if a team suffered an embarrassing loss the previous game, they might be more inclined to prove that they’re better than their last performance.

Evaluating motivation goes far beyond the numbers that many sports bettors rely upon to make good decisions. It truly is an art and a science predicting when a team will have an extra incentive to play harder, but if you get good at spotting those instances it can be extremely beneficial to your bankroll.

3 – Injuries

Although they may be more prevalent in certain sports, injuries are present throughout every single league. Evaluating how they’ll impact a game is crucial for sports bettors looking to get an edge.

To really benefit from looking at injuries, it’s important to recognize that when a star player goes down, sportsbooks will adjust their odds accordingly and you won’t be able to get much of an advantage. However, looking at other injuries to role players can help set you ahead of the general public.

Knowing just how much of an impact a peripheral player’s absence will have on a game requires a closer examination of the individual matchups. It’s also important to look at who will be filling in and how their skill level compares to that of the injured player.

For example, if an NFL team’s top wide receiver is out and there’s a major drop-off between he and the number two receiver, perhaps that injury might be worth more than the half-point (if that) the sportsbooks will give to the other team.

NBA Player Driving the Ball

As I mentioned previously, the other consideration that should be taken into account when it comes to evaluating injuries is matchups. For example, if two NBA teams are playing against each other and one team has a defensive specialist (a Patrick Beverley/Marcus Smart type) and the other team has a star scoring guard, if the defensive specialist is out that could have significant implications.

Although there are endless ways to think about how an injury to a range of different talent-level players might impact a game, to simplify things, stick with two. First, recognize the individual matchup that is impacted by a player being out with an injury. Second, evaluate their back-up and see if there’s a major drop-off or if the overall difference between the two isn’t significant enough to warrant an edge one way or the other.


While these checklist items are undoubtedly applicable to all sports, it’s important to use these as only a starting point. Learn the truths of sports betting if you want to get the best results over time.