5 Reasons You’re Losing at Sports Betting and What You Can Do

Upset Man With a Sportsbook and NFL Stadium Background

It’s hard to win consistently when betting on sports. In fact, very few, end their “career” with more money in their bankroll than what they had at the beginning. It begs the question, why do people lose so frequently when betting on sports?

While it isn’t easy to pin down one answer in particular, there are more than a few reasons that it’s so hard to beat the sportsbooks. The good news is most of them can be fixed with a little effort.

In this article, I’ll lay out the top five reasons sports bettors lose consistently, and what you can do about it.

1 – You Aren’t Doing Any Research

Don’t get me wrong – unless sports betting is your main source of income (which it likely is not), you probably aren’t going to have the time to spend several hours doing research on games each day.

With that being said, there’s no excuse for doing no research at all before making a bet.

Generally speaking, sportsbooks rely on uninformed bettors. Meaning that they need people who bet on things like “instinct” and “feel,” which inevitably leads to bad decisions. What you consider to be instinct and feel is usually more like recency bias or the gambler’s fallacy.

At the end of the day you should have a minimum criteria for why made a certain decision to bet on a team. Even if it’s not the greatest reason in the world, just have a reason that falls outside of your feelings based on the last game you watched from a team.

What You Can Do:

Simply put, stop betting on games without getting at least a little bit of background information on the teams and the matchup. Even reading through one or two game previews from reputable sites can provide enough information for better sports handicapping.

You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll do very brief research and think to yourself, “I didn’t consider that,” after reading up on the game. Save yourself the regret of feeling like you made a bet without doing your due diligence.

2 – You Get Greedy

I’ve witnessed countless sports bettors who seem to want to turn their $100 into $1 million over the course of one day or week. While that would be nice to do, it’s more than likely going to result in your bankroll being wiped out entirely.

If you’re not treating sports gambling as a long-term proposition, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining any type of winning. If every dollar you win gets throw in to the next bet you’re making, your bankroll is going to eventually run out.

NFL Eagles Quarterback Running the Ball

Keep in mind that once you’re up on the day, you’ve done what you set out to do – make money. While it might not be the most exciting thing to call it a day after a modest win, if you put together enough days of modest wins, things are going to turn out in your favor.

Just as you have to know when to “quit while you’re ahead” at a casino, the same philosophy should apply to sports betting.

What You Can Do:

I completely understand the not wanting to call it quits when you’re winning. You don’t always have good luck, and cutting it short feels like leaving money on the table.

One method that I use that helps me from going overboard when I’m winning (and yes, this is a good problem to have) is setting a “win limit.” This means that if I reach this number, I won’t place any additional bets that day.

Remember, it’s not how much you win, it is all about how much you keep.

3 – You Never Lay Off

Once you bring up you preferred betting platform with the intention of putting some action on a game, it’s hard to log off without placing a bet. Unfortunately, sometimes the sportsbooks will have their odds set in a way that you just don’t see a great opportunity to win. If that happens, just log off.

The thing about betting on sports is that you will never run out of games to bet on. Though you might want to bet on a game simply for the entertainment value, if you’re in it for the money, you should be waiting until you see a bet that you feel like is yours for the taking.

Being selective with your plays is a veteran move. Don’t place a bet just for the sake of placing a bet and then get mad when it doesn’t hit.

What You Can Do:

This one is pretty much self-explanatory – just lay off betting on a game if you don’t really feel confident about making a play one way or the other.

It’s not always easy to do this and it’s easy to talk yourself into rolling the dice, but once you get in the habit of laying off it becomes easier to pass on bets. Once you see the positive impact of the results, it will start to become easier over time.

4 – You Try to Outsmart the Sportsbooks With Unusual Bets

I don’t mean to make this as a blanket statement because there are occasionally some exceptions, but sportsbooks typically don’t have “holes” in their betting offerings. If you’re trying to outsmart the sportsbooks, it’s not going to work out even if you get lucky a few times.

If you’re wondering what I mean, here are some examples: trying to parlay several heavy favorites on the moneyline, use multiple prop bets because you think the sportsbook missed on the odds, or making a bet on an obscure event because you read a preview about it somewhere online.

NFL Patriots Celebrating

In addition to these bets, I’d like to add that parlays in general are usually not going to work out in your favor. Sportsbooks offer those attractive parlay payouts for a reason…and it’s not because they’re feeling generous.

In most cases, sticking with a more conventional bet is going to be the best way to experience sustained profitability.

What You Can Do:

Put the majority of you effort into the traditional components of betting strategy. Look for value with underdogs, seek out certain games or teams that you feel like have some familiarity, and avoid falling victim to the seductive payouts on multiple-leg parlays that almost never hit.

5 – You Double Down When You Lose

You’ve probably already heard that it’s a bad idea to chase losses. While this is good advice, not all loss-chasing is created equal.

For example, you might have bet on several NFL games on a Sunday at $50 per game, and heading into the night game you’re down $100. It’s probably tempting to put all your focus, and too much of your bankroll, on that final game of the night and bet $150 hoping to recoup your losses and then some.

The example above represents a mindset that is going to lose you a significant amount of money in the long-term. A smarter move would be to stick to your original bet amount of $50 and hope to get back some of what you lost. Making exorbitant bets because you’ve already lost money is often what separates profitable gamblers from those who experience serious financial problems down the road.

What You Can Do:

Losing is a part of gambling. In fact, how you handle losing is one of the most important parts of your gambling strategy.

What separates the sharps from the squares is the mindset that sometimes you need to accept your losses and stay the course. Even profitable gamblers go through ups and downs, but much like business owners, how they handle the downs will ultimately determine their fate.


If you feel like you’re losing on a regular basis, join the club. Even the highest-performing professional sports bettors lose at near-half rate. The difference is they know how to survive until things start to turn back in their favor.

If you’re guilty of committing any of these 5 reasons for losing consistently, work through them one-by-one and see if your bankroll begins to grow.