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If you want to make money betting on sports, the first thing you need to do after learning the basics is the same thing you would do to improve your chances of success in any endeavor, so our advice, and one of our top betting tips is that you avoid common betting mistakes. This wagering tip means that you study the most common mistakes that have been made by others in the past and you learn not to make them yourself. Here are some of the more costly errors in sportsbetting that you should learn to avoid.

Betting more than you can afford to lose – The vast majority of people are able to wager responsibly, but some cannot and wind up betting over their heads. While doing so can be a symptom of deeper problems it can also be a simple beginner’s mistake made by a bettor who has not had sufficient experience or instruction. Even your bookmaker does not want you to lose all your money because a client who is broke is no good to him. Set aside only an amount of money that you can comfortably risk without having it affect your ability to cover life’s basic expenses like rent, food and health care. The peace of mind you will achieve by limiting your losses properly will only enhance your ability to make better decisions about sports wagers and thus increase the likelihood of winning your bets. See our article on Bankroll Management for more on this subject.

Trying to win back lost money – This is a mistake that results from an incorrect perspective about money which has been lost on a wager. People who make this mistake see lost money as a negative number on their balance sheet which must be changed into a positive, or at least returned to a break even point. This is a poor and unproductive attitude. Someone in manufacturing or retail sales might be correct in trying to earn more profits after a quarter of poor performance. But money which has been lost on a wager is no longer part of your financial equation. The only reasonable approach to betting after a loss is to place future bets using methods that are designed to minimize the potential for future losses. Not so strangely, these turn out to be the bets that have the greatest potential to be winners in their own right.

Not understanding the percentages – You need to realize that the whole system of betting lines and odds is a very tightly controlled business, and those who succeed are doing so by exploiting small percentage differences. One of the more usual misconceptions about wise guys is that they have winning percentages of about 65% of their wagers. In truth, most winning sport bettors are only successful about 55 to 58% of the time. Does that sound like a low winning percentage? It shouldn’t when you consider that with the standard odds of (-110) you would need to win only about 53% of your bets to make money. And when betting on the underdog with favorable odds you can actually win less than 50% of your wagers and still come out ahead.

Betting the first lines you see – We have just explained that the way successful sports bettors make a profit when wagering on sports is to get an edge by taking advantage of small percentage gains. That being the case, it should be obvious to you that when betting lines from one sportsbook can give you as much as a 3 to 4% advantage over betting lines from a competing sportsbook it would be foolish not to take the extra edge. Shop around before you bet and see what lines are being offered by different bookmakers. And don’t simply take a brief look and assume that all the betting lines will follow that trend. Look specifically at the event you want to wager on and check out the odds for Point Spread, Moneyline and Over/Under bets.

Betting too much on a single event – The people who make profits by wagering on sports will likely be betting the same amount of money on just about every game they are wagering on. Part of this has to do with their understanding of basic betting strategy as explained above and not chasing losses. But the larger reason is that they have accepted the fact that no particular team or player is so likely to win that it warrants risking any more than the amount you would normally bet on a game. Sporting events are uncertain enough even when just considering the strengths and weaknesses of the teams that are facing each other. When you throw in the possibility of poor officiating, colossal goof-ups by otherwise sure handed players or even acts that might be attributed to divine intervention, you start to realize how flawed the concept of a “sure thing” in sportsbetting really is.

Betting on the wrong criteria – For some unfathomable reason many sports bettors still evaluate games using outmoded methods of analysis such as a team’s win-loss record, ranking of the team’s offense and ranking of the defense. Bettors who depend on a team’s winning percentage as an indication of their likelihood to win any given game are giving those stats way too much credit. Even simple performance statistics such as a football team’s net yardage earned per game or yardage earned per passing or rushing play are usually a much stronger basis for comparison than the number of total yards that an offense has gained or a defense has given up. If you have ever wondered why major online sports networks are so focused on power rankings, it’s because performance stats that compare two teams head to head on a per play basis are the better indicator of what’s going on in the trenches and are therefore the better predictor of winners.

By exercising discipline and adhering to the fundamentals of betting you increase your probability of winning. But it is critical that you avoid making the errors listed above. You need to be patient, focused and not overly emotional if you intend to succeed at sports wagering. With a consistent and informed approach by reading our betting tips and following them carefully, you can be a consistent winner at your favorite sportsbooks.

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