5 Things Sports Gamblers Should Never Do

Hand Holding Money With a Cross Out Symbol and a Sportsbook Background

I’ve been gambling on sports for close to decades, and during that time, I’ve made just about every mistake you can make. Fortunately, I’ve learned from most of my mistakes, even if it took me a decade or longer to learn from some of them.

I’ve put together a list of five of the worst mistakes I’ve made as a sports gambler. No matter how long you’ve been gambling on sporting events, if you’re doing any of the things on this list, you need to stop immediately! Check them out below.

1 – Place Wagers Without Handicapping

Handicapping is a broad term that can mean many different things. Basically, when you “handicap,” it means evaluating teams and players in a way that gives you an idea of what to expect in an upcoming sporting event.

Once you handicap a contest, you look at the lines to see if there’s any value. Value is when your prediction is different than the available lines. When your handicapping prediction and the lines show a big enough gap, there’s value on the game.

When you find value, you place a wager. If you do a good job handicapping games and finding value, you make money from gambling on sports. You don’t win every wager you make, but you win enough of them to overcome your losses and show a profit.

NFL 49ers Versus Eagles

You don’t have to evaluate games the same as other gamblers. In fact, most winning sports gamblers develop their own handicapping systems. But you have to evaluate games and players before you can determine if there’s any value on the lines.

The main difference between most sports gamblers and professional sports gamblers is that the pros handicap games and everyone else doesn’t. The professional sports gamblers are the only ones that makes a profit, so you need to do what they do.

This means that you have to handicap every contest before you place a wager. If you’re not going to take the time to handicap games and learn effective handicapping methods, you might as well flip a coin for each game you want to place a wager on.

2 – Bet More Than 5% of Your Gambling Bankroll

Another thing that professional handicappers do is work with a sports betting bankroll and never over bet it. This means that you should never bet more than 5% of your total bankroll on any single sporting event.

The sports gamblers at the top of the game never even come close to wagering 5% of their total bankroll on one event. They work in the 1% to 2% range.

Here’s what the professional sports gamblers understand that most other don’t: You can’t win every contest you place a wager on. In fact, it’s almost impossible to win more than 60% of the wagers you place.

This means that you’re going to have losing streaks from time to time. And a long losing streak can destroy your bankroll if you’re wagering too much on any single contest.

If you’re wagering 5% per contest and lose seven games in a row, your bankroll is down 35%. If you’re wagering 1% per contest and lose seven in a row, your bankroll is only down 7%. This is a huge difference.

This is also why professional sports gamblers tend to work with a much bigger bankroll than other sports gamblers. You can be a professional sports gambler with a smaller bankroll, but anything short of $100,000 is going to make it extremely difficult to make decent money.

The top sports gambling pros operate with $1,000,000 or more. This way, they can make wagers large enough to make good money while protecting their bankroll at the same time.

3 – Bet on Anything You Don’t Completely Understand

I don’t know any sports gamblers who haven’t placed a wager on something that they didn’t completely understand. I’ve done this many times in the past. The reason why I did it is the same reason most other sports gamblers do it. I wanted to get some action on something and couldn’t find anything else to put money on.

The list of things I’ve bet on is quite long, and it took me several years to figure out that I needed to stick with a few things that I completely understood. I know how to play pool, but I don’t know enough about it to place wagers on professional pool players. But I’ve done it in the past anyway.

Professional Pool Match

If you want to become a profitable sports gambler, you need to develop a lot of discipline. When you place a wager on something that you don’t completely understand, it’s worse than placing a wager on something you do understand without handicapping.

The smart way to gamble on sports is to never bet on things you don’t understand. The smart thing to do is pick one sport and league, then focus all of your time and effort on it. After that, you can think about adding a second sport or league. Become an expert in a focused area first, only then should you expand your knowledge gradually.

4 – Force Value for Sports Betting Action

Another example of the mistakes that sports gamblers make is forcing value on a contest just so they can get action. Even if you handicap contests, you have to be careful that you don’t handicap them in a way that pushes your prediction one way or another just so you have an excuse to make a wager.

You have to evaluate and handicap every contest without any emotion or bias. I always handicap contests before even looking at the lines just to make sure that I’m not biased. You can find plenty of contests to evaluate and place wagers on. The main sport leagues have many games every day, or at least every week. You never have to force value.

And the fact is that even if you can’t find contests that offer value every day, there are still enough contests for you to make a good profit over the course of a season or year.

I mentioned the need for discipline earlier, and this is another place where discipline comes into play. Become disciplined enough to wait until you find a contest that has true value before you place a wager. The better you become at handicapping games, the more profit you can make. But you can never force value because it will cost you money every time you do it.

5 – Forget to Keep Detailed Records of Your Sports Gambling

How do you know how much you’re risking on every contest as a percentage of your bankroll? How do you know if you’re really making a profit? How do you know if you need to work on your handicapping skills?

Well, you won’t know any of these things if you’re not keeping good records as a sports bettor.

You need to record every wager you make, keep track of your bankroll, and track everything else you do as a sports gambler. You should even keep track of how many contests you handicap every week and how long it takes you to handicap each contest.

NCAA Basketball Kansas Player

The more data you keep, the more you can use that said data to improve your future results. The goal isn’t always to reduce the time you spend handicapping contests. It’s good to be able to handicap contests quickly, but it’s more important to handicap contests as long as it takes to make a profit.

If it takes you two hours to effectively handicap a contest, it doesn’t matter, as long as this time leads to profit. Of course, you want to do it in an hour or a half-hour, but don’t be in a hurry to save time at the expense of profits.

As you gain experience, your handicapping time will get better. But don’t rush the process.

Keep track of every single thing you do as a sports gambler. Eventually, you’re going to figure out the most important things to track. But until you’re turning a consistent profit, track everything. This is the only way to know how profitable you are and what you need to continue working on.


The number one reason why you need to avoid the five things on this page as a sports bettor is because each of these mistakes will cost you money. Even if you get lucky and win a few wagers, in the long run, doing these things is going to eat into your bankroll.

Every single wager you make must show value and be well-thought-out. Anytime you place a wager without handicapping the event, you’re doing the same thing every amateur sport gambler does. And we all know that average sports gamblers lose money overall.