6 Common Sports Betting Rookie Mistakes

Hand Holding Money With a Sports Bet Background

Whether it’s a quarterback making an ill-advised throw that gets intercepted or a point guard committing a turnover at the end of a game, rookie mistakes are a well-known phenomenon in sports.

These errors in judgement that can be chalked up to inexperience are also very prevalent in the world of sports gambling.

Each year, countless sports bettors lose huge amounts of money due to mistakes made as a result of their lack of experience with sports gambling. The good news? It can be fixed.

In this article, I’ll lay out the top 6 most common rookie betting mistakes and what you can do to turn them around.

1 – Not Managing Your Bankroll – Or Not Even Having One

It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but it’s vitally important. Yes, I’m talking about bankroll management.

Before you place your first bet, it’s important to set yourself up for success through proper money management. If you’re unfamiliar, a bankroll is pool of money from which you bet.

When deciding on your bankroll, make sure you’re only putting it together with money you can afford to lose. Think of it as a purchase for which you’re probably not going to get a return. Obviously you would hope this isn’t the case, but it’s necessary to think about it in this way to avoid potential financial issues.

Once you’ve determined what your overall bankroll number will be, the next step is to determine how much of your bankroll you’ll bet on any one play. This isn’t so much a specific number, but a percentage range.

Roll of One Hundred Dollar Bills

Most experts recommend setting your range somewhere around 3% to 10% of your overall bankroll. This would mean that on any single play, if you had a $1,000 bankroll, you wouldn’t bet less than $30 or more than $100.

If you’re thinking that a bankroll and its percentages seems restrictive, you’re not considering one of the most important aspects of sports betting and gambling in general: minimizing losses is a crucial part of success.

2 – Not Shopping for the Best Line

When you go to make a purchase, it’s likely that browse a few different sites to find the best deal. Even if you’re only saving a few dollars, it adds up. Right?

The same philosophy should apply to sports betting. Just as there are a number of different sites selling the same retail product, there are dozens (if not more) reliable gambling sites offering odds on the same games.

Because the lines can be impacted by the action a sportsbook receives, you’ll find that the numbers can vary from site-to-site. It’s important to find the best value for the play you want to make, even if it’s just a small difference. Just as with purchasing things, small savings add up in the long run.

The next time you’re considering a certain bet, take a look at five or six different online sportsbooks and find which line gives you the best risk vs. reward proposition. You might be surprised at how much the numbers can differ, especially on bets that receive less action like props.

Shopping around takes time and effort, but if you’re serious about winning money, it’ll pay out nicely in the long run.

3 – Not Handling Losses Properly

It’s called gambling for a reason. Anytime you put a wager on a sporting event, there’s a very real chance you’re going to lose at least half of the time. In fact, some of the best gamblers, those who do it professionally, only win about 55% of the time.

Since the success rates of even the best in the world are relatively low, it’s important to recognize what sets them apart from amateurs and other inexperienced gamblers. One of the factors is discipline after losses.

When you have your hard-earned money on the line, emotions can run high. It’s completely understandable that many bettors’ first instinct after losing is to try to win that money back (and then some) as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, trying to recoup your losses in your next bet often leads to worse outcomes. When you lose, the most detrimental thing you can do is double down on your next play. For example, if you lose $50, you shouldn’t bet $100 on the next bet so that you’ll come out ahead on the other side.

Gambling, especially on sports, is a long-term game. To reiterate a point I made previously, part of becoming a profitable bettor is minimizing losses.

If you’re going to be a sustainable sports gambler you need to accept that how you deal with losing is going to be a huge part of your success. Ending the day “even” isn’t necessarily the worst thing. Maintain discipline and don’t let emotion drive your bets following losses.

4 – Not Doing Adequate Research

Oddsmakers have special instruments at their disposal that allow them to set accurate lines. That doesn’t mean that they always take into account every aspect of the game or match that could have an impact on the outcome.

Before placing any bet, it’s critical to do some type of research on the game that helps you make your decision. You shouldn’t be gambling based on gut feelings or team allegiances, and should rely on the things that can affect the competition itself.

Going over the injury reports, checking the team’s schedules (specifically the most recent game and the next game), and evaluating motivational factors can give you a significant boost in your likelihood to win a bet.

If you’re able to do an even deeper dive into the data, such as historical data for the matchup you’re going to be betting on, even better. However, just taking 10 to 15 minutes to read through some game previews and top-level statistics can have a significant impact.

Even if research only helps you win 5% more of your games, it’s going to be worth it in the long run. Always remember, informed decisions are an absolute necessity when it comes to betting your own money.

5 – Thinking Expert Advice Is the Answer

Even with something as data-driven as the stock market, “experts” often get it wrong. When it comes to something even more unpredictable, like sports, it’s all-but-impossible to reliably predict outcomes.

Sports betting has been on the rise for several years now due to relaxed laws and public acceptance of gambling. With this rise has come a large number of sports betting gurus who are looking to make a few dollars without actually taking any risks.

Row of Slot Machines

If you look around the internet, you’ll find a number of websites and individuals claiming to have a 60% success rate in the NFL season, or tremendous earnings betting on baseball. I’m not saying that they’re lying about their success, but having one good season doesn’t guarantee they have the recipe for success.

Paying for gambling advice is almost always inadvisable, and if the advice doesn’t help you out (which it likely won’t), you’ll be out even more money than if you had just made the betting decision yourself.

6 – Choosing Favorites Over Value

If my experience is any indication, new gamblers love the idea of choosing huge favorites on the moneyline in hopes of getting an easy win. Obviously the payout is small compared to the risk, but it’s a sure thing right?

What these gamblers fail to recognize is that it only takes one loss to derail this whole strategy. And there are endless examples of upsets that can quickly derail the “favorite moneyline” strategy.

Consider this: if you’re taking a favorite at -500, which means it would take a major upset to lose, that still means you have to win 6 bets before losing 1 in order to make any money. Simply put, it’s just not worth the risk.

Instead of looking to get easy wins, focus on betting for value. Any time you can win more money than you have to risk, it’s worth seriously considering.


It’s a great time to be a sports bettor. Increased accessibility, overall security, and of course. Increased accessibility to sports gambling knowledge, all make it a hobby that sports fans can get behind.

Just be sure that you take the necessary steps to jump in responsibly. Make sure you avoid falling victim to the rookie mistakes above, and you’ll save yourself quite a bit of cash.