Even the most successful sports bettors win slightly more than half the time. Simply put, there’s a reason they call it “gambling,” not “winning.” Although throwing your money at a 50/50 proposition might seem like a risk, gaining a slight edge can have a major benefit over a long period of time.
Because sports betting is gaining popularity, with the US hitting record betting revenue levels, I’ll lay out seven sports betting hacks you can try that might help you gain a slight edge over the books.
1 – Take the (Free) Money and Run
Sportsbooks know that the more you gamble the better chance they have at winning more of your money over the long run. Thus, many online books offer free bonuses to incentivize new players to join their community. While it’s true that the books might make their money back, and then some, off less experienced bettors, that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Whether it’s a deposit match or free credit to use in a specific sport, don’t overlook these bonuses.
2 – Do Your Sports Betting Research
Everyone has their own strategies for deciding which bets to make. With that said, very few put as much time and effort into gathering all relevant information as the pros. The best part? They tend to share a great deal of their insight online, often for free.
You might think you know what you’re doing after a hot week or month of gambling, but these experts have developed strategies that are based on numbers, not feelings or even sports knowledge. Do yourself a favor and learn how they decide which plays to make, and their reasoning behind it.
3 – Bet on Familiarity
The most successful bettors are those who have developed a familiarity with a small number of different sports or events. It’s difficult to pick up on trends if you’re betting on too many sports, especially when you don’t really know much about them. Finding your specialty could be as easy as settling on your favorite sport or simply deciding which sport you think gives you the best odds to turn a profit.
I had a friend in college who bet on the WNBA and ended up winning so frequently that the bookmaker no longer allowed bets on WNBA games. Do some experimenting of your own and you might be surprised where you have the most success.
4 – Shop Around
It’s unlikely that lines and spreads vary greatly between gambling sites, but make no mistake, there are differences. Before placing a bet, it’s a good idea to shop around and see if you can find the same bet at a better price (read: more favorable spread). Gaining a point when betting the underdog, or giving one less point when sports betting on a favorite can make all the difference over a series of bets.
The good part about line shopping is that the formula for choosing the most favorable bet is typically pretty easy. Next time you’re ready to place a bet, check two or three additional sites to see if you can find a better deal. A point here and there might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that the margin between success and losing money is very slim, and every advantage matters.
5 – Know Your Sports Betting Bankroll
The reason most people lose money on gambling is because they simply lose track of money in and money out. One way to avoid this is by creating a strict bankroll and monitoring it closely, just like you would when managing your casino bankroll if you were gambling at the casino.
That’s not to say that you won’t end up losing money, but you’ll at least have an idea of what’s happening.
Most bettors have their own strategies, but there are a few basic rules that experienced gamblers stick to in order to avoid major losses. First, you should allot a specific amount of money to use for the week/month/year. This is your bankroll. Next, determine a percentage that you’re willing to play in one particular bet. For example, many experts say that they won’t gamble more than five percent on any particular play. This mentality also helps you recognize gambling as a money-making endeavor, and not just a cheap thrill.
6 – Find Your Favorite Sports Bets
From over/under to props, spreads to moneylines, there’s no shortage of bet types you can play on a sporting event. Much like familiarizing yourself with one or two sports, getting comfortable with a couple types of bets can pay dividends. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. Maybe your intuition lends itself better to predicting different aspects within a game, than the final score itself.
Throughout the NBA playoffs, I frequently utilized single-quarter bets to increase my success rate.
Many gamblers find it easier to single out prop bets such as an individual player’s performance, than it is to worry about the game in its entirety. Not to mention, when you single out a specific part of a game to bet, it’s easier to keep on trends as you know exactly what information you need to get informed.
7 – Risk vs. Reward
Few sports betting wins are more exciting than when you’re able to turn a small bet into a huge return. On the other hand, few losses are more painful than betting a heavy favorite and watching it all collapse before your eyes. It may be tempting to throw high amounts of money on big favorites in hopes of scoring an easy win (albeit with a low payout), but be wary of these bets as a few losses could be damaging to your bankroll.
Seeking value in a play is always a good thing to consider, and when you’re risking 5-6 times the payout, the value just doesn’t add up. That doesn’t mean that sports betting on a heavy favorite is always ill-advised, but recognize that you might be taking on quite a bit of risk for a low reward.
Each time you make a bet, you’re accepting that there’s a real chance you won’t get that money back. However, if you take a more scientific than emotional approach to sports gambling, you can make some decent money in your free time. Always keep in mind that having a plan, even a rudimentary plan, is better than throwing your money at every game you have a “feeling” about for one reason or another.
Regardless of what your strategy is or what bets you make, keep a record of everything so you can keep track of your wins vs. losses, and pick up on trends that can help you in the future. No single piece of advice will make you a winner overnight, but over time you can get to that 52-53% threshold that makes gambling profitable.