6 Things Nobody Tells You About Sports Gambling

Man Scratching Head and a Handful of Cash

Relaxed gambling laws and increased accessibility to online sportsbooks has led to a massive increase in legal gambling) across the US.

Ask a handful of people at your local watering hole and there are sure to be at least a few “expert” bettors who are more than willing to give you their advice, which is almost always based off of a “feel” or instinct. Unfortunately, more often than not, listening to these individuals is going to cost you money.

With all the misinformation out there, this list goes into the six things nobody tells you about sports betting when you first start getting into it.

1 – Only a Small Percentage of People Make Money

The data is pretty hard to definitively track, but one of the general facts about sports betting is that very few people actually make money. Now, to be clear, that statement does mean that there are some gamblers who do turn a profit, they’re just few and far between.

Why is it so difficult to win? It’s hard to pin down one or two reasons exactly, but there are a few that come to mind. First, oddsmakers are literally professionals, most bettors are amateurs.

Those who set the lines for sportsbooks have a range of statistical models available to them that the general public simply cannot access. Also, the way the lines fluctuate based on public action means that the scales are always going to be tipped in the house’s favor, as they look to get even money on each side of a play and collect the juice as profit.

It’s possible to be on the winning side, but only a few stay there very long. This means that it’s absolutely critical to track your money closely in order to avoid falling into a financially difficult situation.

2 – Parlays Are Good for the House

You’ve probably witnessed it amongst your buddies. They choose a three-leg parlay on the evening’s round of games and just miss hitting it. It’s a story as old as time.

What you might not know is that, behind those complex odds, the house actually has a built-in advantage with parlay sports betting. It might seem like the attractive payouts are based on purely statistical models, but the reality is that until you get up to four or five bets in a parlay, the house has a slight advantage. Meaning, even if you do win, which is obviously very difficult, you’re still not getting paid out at the rate you should.

NCAA Football Players Celebrating

So, what does that mean for you? My advice is to stay away from parlays with one exception—a multi-leg parlay (four or more) in which you only wager a small amount of money. It’s not always the worst idea to take a flyer and hope you can hit it big. Just don’t risk ruining your bankroll in the process.

3 – No Reliable Winning Models Exist

People like to compare investing in the stock market to betting on sports. While the concept of betting on something and hoping to predict the outcome might be somewhat similar, there are some pretty important differences. Namely, the fact that there are no real models that exist for sports betting.

If you’ve ever done a deep dive into trying to find a good system for gambling, you’ve probably come across plenty of articles or books by “experts” claiming to have found a foolproof way to beat the house. I hope you didn’t pay for this insider content, because nearly all of it is bogus information that won’t actually help.

Sports are wildly unpredictable, and even those who have used a specific strategy to win over the course of one, or even five, seasons can’t necessarily be trusted to work going forward. No matter how good your plan might be, the odds are that sportsbooks are going to be one step ahead.

Winning consistently in sports betting, similar to betting at a casino on table games, requires a combination of strategy, skill, and yes, a decent amount of luck.

4 – Your Bankroll Is the Key to Success

Like I said above, there is no betting strategy that’s going to guarantee success, but there is one that can help you avoid falling into a seriously tough financial situation—an effectively managed sports betting bankroll.

Your bankroll acts as a safety net that keeps you from throwing money away until it becomes a real problem in areas of your life other than sports betting. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the good news is that it’s easy to learn. The bad news is that it takes a lot of discipline and conscientious effort to keep it functioning properly.

Here’s how you set it up: First, set aside an amount of money that you are only planning to use for the purpose of sports betting. This should be an amount of money that you feel completely okay with losing. Obviously, you don’t want to lose it all, but that’s the way it must be treated. In fact, I like to think of it as a purchase, where once the money is spent, the value lies in the product itself.

NHL Stars and Avalanche Players

After you’ve set aside your amount of money, determine a range or percentage for the size of your wagers. In fact, the gambling gurus usually suggest wagering from 2% to 4% of your bankroll on any single play. If your bankroll is $1,000 that would mean you would bet no less than $20 but no more than $50 on a wager.

It might sound tedious or annoying to place such small bets, but if you’re serious about becoming a sustainably profitable gambler, this is the way to do it.

Once you have your bankroll number and betting parameters in place, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to track your cash flow. It can be as complex as a spreadsheet with pre-programmed functions, or as simple as a pen and paper. The bottom line is, you just need to know where you stand.

5 – You Need to Step Back Sometimes

Betting on sports is supposed to be fun. It’s a way to add extra excitement to games that sports fans wouldn’t otherwise have any interest in watching.

In the best-case scenario, sports betting can be a lucrative side hustle, albeit one that’s noticeably unreliable. At its worst, the consequences can be serious and put you in real financial jeopardy.

Although it can be tough to take a step back, sometimes it can be the best thing for you. When your bankroll starts dwindling, the goal should be to make it last longer rather than to reload it.

6 – Streaks Are Part of the Game

As someone who has gambled on countless games throughout my lifetime, there’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty: No matter how smart you are, you’re going to go through losing streaks. The good news? You’re also going to enjoy some winning stretches.

The nature of betting, like all forms of gambling, means that long hot or cold stretches are just part of the fun. This is yet another reason why your bankroll is so important. It lets you know where you’re at overall.

NBA Player Jason Tatum on the Court

Recognize that, in order to be successful, you need to maximize your winning streaks. My suggestion would be that if you are having a good week, don’t get greedy. The more you win, the less money you should be wagering on the games.

A long-term approach is a smart sports betting strategy. Don’t jeopardize your success by trying to push your luck; whether it’s at the sportsbook or the roulette table, the consequences just aren’t worth it.


Betting can take your love of sports to the next level, but it’s necessary to keep it in perspective. Don’t go mortgaging your house or the kids’ college fund on a Monday night football game.

When done responsibly, sports gambling is a blast. When done responsibly and intelligently, it can give you a few extra bucks at the end of the month. Now that you’re up to speed, start creating your bankroll, put together a tracking system, and find a sportsbook that works for you!