7 Mistakes Sports Bettors Make Every Day

A Man at a Sportsbook Palming His Face

If you’ve ever made a bet on a sporting event, in person or through an online sportsbook, odds are that you’ve probably made a mistake before. Don’t worry, everyone else does, too.

The only difference between average sports bettors and profitable sports gamblers is the profitable ones learn from their mistakes and correct them. If you’re not learning from your mistakes, you’re not going to figure out how to win.

Another way to become a better sports gambler is to learn from other punters and their errors. Here’s a list of seven sports betting mistakes every sports gambler makes. Learn from this guide so you can avoid any mishaps and become a better gambler.

1 – Always Bet on Their Favorite Teams

Most casual sports fans who place bets on games place wagers on their favorite team. Many of them don’t even consider the point spread, they just want to get some action down on their team.

It’s okay if you want to put a few dollars down on your favorite team from time to time, but don’t make the mistake of believing you have any chance to win in the long run doing it.

The way you become a winning sports gambler is to find games and lines that offer value on one side. Any other betting strategy that you use, like always betting on your favorite team, is the same as throwing darts at a betting sheet or flipping a coin to pick games.

In the long run, you’re going to win close to 50% of your point spread games using these methods, but this still means you’re losing money because of the vig. Only bet on your favorite teams when the line looks like it’s offering value.

Most sports fans have a difficult time evaluating their favorite team. They tend to overvalue their team and players, so they make mistakes when they handicap games. I usually don’t bet on games with my favorite team to avoid this mistake.

2 – Only Evaluate Popular Stats

Winning sports gamblers try to find every edge they can, and use everything they can access to make smart betting decisions. On the other hand, most gamblers just look at the main stats and make a quick pick on which team to bet on.

It’s easy to look up the most popular stats in each sport, but you need to dig into statistics deeper if you want to find an edge. In football, look beyond yards and touchdowns and completion percentage. In baseball, look deeper than home runs, batting average, and ERA. Consider looking into pitching staff usage or wins above replacement (WAR) for position players when placing MLB bets.

Closeup of a Sports Statistics Book

You need to look at every statistic you can find when you’re learning how to handicap sporting events. As you learn what works and what doesn’t work, you can stop using some stats and focus more on other statistics.

Don’t make the mistake that most gamblers make and just look at the most popular stats. They don’t tell the whole story.

3 – Don’t Shop for the Best Lines

The single worst thing that any sports bettor can do is make bets without finding the best possible line. If you simply start shopping for better lines on every bet you make, it’s going to improve your sports betting results.

You can improve your long-term sports gambling results by shopping for better lines. You don’t have to improve your handicapping skills in any way to benefit from line shopping. So, why don’t more sports bettors look for better lines?

The only reason I can think of is they’re either too lazy to do it, or they simply don’t know that they can. Now, you don’t have either excuse. If you think it takes too much time or it’s too hard to shop for lines, it only takes a couple of minutes to compare lines online.

A half point or a point is often the difference between a push and a loss or a win and a loss. You don’t have to turn many pushes into wins or losing bets into pushes over the course of a year to make a big difference on your bottom line.

4 – Believe the National Media Hype

The national media focuses on the most popular teams and players more than others. This makes sense because the media is interested in selling paper and advertising, so they give people what they want.

But this is dangerous for sports gamblers, because it’s easy to get biased by media coverage. All you see and read and hear seems to be about certain teams and players, while you don’t see much of anything about their opponents.

This often leads to bettors overvaluing the abilities of popular teams and players. This is something you have to be conscious of and work to avoid. One of the best ways to avoid making this mistake is to ignore national media reports and follow local media sources for all of your sports news.

A Woman Sports Reporter Interviewing a Coach

Most sports teams have at least one beat writer that regularly posts on Twitter and other social media platforms in addition to writing regular stories. A good way to get information you need is by following these local beat writers.

You still have to watch for bias, but at least you’re getting detailed information about the teams and players that aren’t popular on the national level.

5 – Don’t Spend Enough Time Handicapping Games

The bottom line is if you want to learn how to become a winning handicapper, you have to put in a great deal of work. If you’re not spending at least 30 minutes to an hour handicapping each game you place a bet on, the odds are good that you’re not spending enough time to win in the long run.

Lazy sports bettors have a hard time winning long-term. As you gain experience and learn exactly how to handicap games effectively, the amount of time you need to spend on every game will go down. But you still need to put in the hard work if you want to win.

This is especially true if you’re not winning as often as you want now. The main reason why you’re not winning is because you’re not putting in enough time and doing the work you need to do.

The good news is this is easy to fix. Start spending more time handicapping games. Keep working on improving, look for different betting opportunities, identify mistakes you make, and correct them moving forward.

6 – Undervaluing Veteran Players

It doesn’t matter if you’re betting on college sporting events or professional games, most gamblers put too much faith in young players and undervalue veteran players. The best rookies get a great deal of media coverage, but many seasoned veterans produce better numbers than the rookies and get ignored.

Veteran players have learned the ropes and know how to play at a more consistent level over the course of each season. They know how to prepare and they know tricks that rookies haven’t learned yet. It’s costly to make the mistake of overvaluing young players and undervaluing established veterans.

7 – Risking Too Much on Big Moneyline Favorites

It’s easy to look at a big favorite and convince yourself there’s no way they can lose. Even if you have to bet 20 or 30 to win 1, you simply don’t see how losing is a possibility. You might see a moneyline bet at around -2000 or -3000, and you pull out your roll of cash, make a bet, and think you have a sure thing.

But in sports betting, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. The minute you think you’ve found a sure thing, you need to stop betting. You simply need to give up on sports betting if you believe any bet is guaranteed.

A moneyline at -2000 means you have to bet $2,000 to win $100. This is fine as long as you win, but you only have to lose 1 out of 20 of these bets to lose money in the long run. Look at any stretch of 100 games with one side as a big favorite and see how many times the underdog pulled off the upset. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

You simply have to risk too much for a small reward on these games. And it’s just not worth the risk.


You just learned about seven mistakes that sports gamblers make every day. The good news is you don’t have to make the same mistakes to learn from them. You can learn from them and correct them before they cost you money.

The worst mistakes that sports bettors make every day are failing to find the best lines and not spending enough time evaluating games. Avoid these two big mistakes and you’re going to start seeing better results right away.