When evaluating which play to make for a sports bet, there are three options: bet one way, bet the other way, or lay off.
Nobody likes the idea of sitting one out, but as the legendary Kenny Rogers sings, you’ve got to “know when to fold ‘em.” In fact, the song was even called “The Gambler.”
All late-1970s music references aside, knowing when to hold off on making a bet is just as important to your bankroll as choosing winners on a regular basis. In this article, I’ll explain four reasons why it might be best to lay off betting for a while.
1 – It’s Your Favorite Team’s Game
Emotion is the enemy of reason. Few things make people quite as emotional as their favorite sports teams. This is a bad combination for the people who are trying to win money by making smart plays.
While there’s nothing wrong with betting on your favorite team per se, there’s one striking issue that makes it clear why it’s not a good idea—conflict of interest. Would you feel comfortable betting against them? The answer is most likely not.
If you’re evaluating a game, and you know that there’s no information you could have that would make you bet on the other side, it’s clear that there’s a conflict of interest.
Sure, you might actually think that your team is the best choice for a particular bet in an objective way, but when so much emotion is involved, it’s hard to truly be objective in your analysis. Your judgment is always going to be clouded because you’re hoping for an outcome, regardless of whether or not you have money on it.
With all this being said, I’m not suggesting that you should never, under any circumstances, bet on your favorite team’s game. You should, however, keep the amount of action relatively low when compared to your other bets.
Most people bet on sports to make the games more entertaining. If you’re watching your favorite team, you’ve already got the entertainment box checked. If you do decide to bet on your team, at the very least, you should admit to yourself that it’s a “heart-bet.” And you’re accepting that it’s a roll of the dice more than a sound decision made after thorough analysis.
The bottom line is that just about all sports fans who are sports bettors are going to put money on their own team being successful. Just remember that if you lay off, losses won’t hurt twice as bad.
2 – You Don’t Have Time to Do Your Research
I can’t speak for every friend group, but I know that when I’m at the bar or my buddy’s house watching (and betting on) sports, I’ll frequently observe people going through the day’s next round of games and making their betting decisions in minutes.
To some degree, I totally get it. You’re watching the game, so you might as well have some skin in the game. The problem is, these uninformed picks mean that you’re just giving money away when you lose.
Many bettors that I know believe that wagering on a game via the spread makes it such that the odds are just about 50/50. Not only is this wrong, it’s a good way to lose money in a hurry.
Sports betting lines and spreads aren’t necessarily set based on what the sportsbook thinks is going to happen. For example, the book’s initial spread might start out at New England -4 against the Jets, but as money comes in on the Patriots, that could shift to -5 (or less) as the sportsbook looks to even out the money.
What this really means is that the spread is no longer an indication of what the experts (the house) thinks is actually going to happen. However, if you’re just checking in to view the line, you won’t be privy to this information.
Placing a bet means doing research on everything from team-specific information, such as injuries, prior matchups, the schedule, and more. But it also means being aware of line movement. Line movement is known as a main indicator that sharps look for to help them make the right decision.
If you’re simply logging in and making a bet without doing your due diligence, you’re probably not going to have much success in the long-term. You might have a good night or two during the football season, but it’s simply an unsustainable strategy.
3 – You’ve Had a Bad Sports Betting Day Already
Sports betting is all about taking a long-term approach. If you focus on winning money on a day-to-day basis, you’re missing the bigger picture.
Sometimes, the best move you can make is to stop the bleeding if you’ve been suffering a tough stretch of losses. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes any gambler can make is trying to win back their money by placing bigger and bigger bets. This almost always inevitably leads to major losses.
To bring this scenario to life, I’ll lay out an example that millions of football bettors have undoubtedly experienced at one point or another.
Let’s say you’ve struggled all day Sunday, and find yourself down a significant amount of money… But then, the Sunday night game approaches, and the opportunities it presents seem irresistible. Do you go for the big win and try to get back to, or close to, even?
If you’re like most, the answer to the question above is a resounding yes. Unfortunately, because of all the action that’s been taking place throughout the day, you probably haven’t taken the time to properly analyze the late game.
I’ve found myself in this situation countless times, and I’ve learned one thing: It’s better to take your losses on Sunday, do a thorough analysis of the Monday night game, then end out the week strong.
Not to mention, if you’ve struggled mightily already, you’re probably not going to be in the best mindset to make a rational decision. Sleep on it, and try again tomorrow.
4 – You Just Don’t Like the Odds
As a bettor, the number one word you should be concerned with is value, and sometimes, it’s simply not there.
For those who like betting on the moneylines, there are plenty of games where the risk just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s better to pick your spots than to try to bet every game and hope that things turn out in your favor.
If you’ve done your research and analysis and come to the conclusion that you don’t feel great about either choice, nothing is lost by sitting it out and waiting until a game that you like more comes along. To reiterate an earlier point, not losing—as obvious as it sounds—is a crucial part of keeping your bankroll in good standing.
True betting enthusiasts know that it’s not necessary to bet on every game. One thing is for certain: There will always be another game.
Perhaps, there are some question marks due to injuries, weather conditions, or just a general lack of knowledge of the two teams competing. In these cases, making a bet can feel like rolling the dice more than making an educated pick. While gambling does involve luck, sports betting doesn’t necessarily need to be left up to chance as it might be in roulette or another comparable casino game.
Sitting one out isn’t fun, but sometimes, it’s necessary in order to preserve your bankroll. As I mentioned earlier, there will always be more games to bet on. Feeling an obligation to bet on an event when you don’t feel confident in either choice is a quick way to find yourself in a financial hole.
If you find yourself in any of the four situations laid out above, remind yourself that the smart move is to lay off and start researching your next pick.