Best Sports Betting Strategies

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There are loads of sports betting strategies you can use to improve your chances of winning. All of them differ in terms of effectiveness and the time you’ll have to commit to them.

The guide below contains the 10 best and most profitable sports betting strategies, as well as a list of betting approaches you should avoid at all costs.

Table of Contents

Line & Odds Shopping

Effectiveness: High
Time requirement: Medium

Betting on sports online gives you a chance to sign up for many sportsbooks and easily compare their offers. This is especially useful when looking for the best lines and odds.

Lines will often slightly vary from sportsbook to sportsbook. While they may be mostly similar or downright identical, you might be able to notice small discrepancies that can give you an advantage.

For example, by shopping lines, you may be able to find an NFL team at -3 instead of -3.5 or +3.5 instead of +3—a big difference when considering that 3 points is the most common margin of victory in the NFL.

Odds often vary from betting site to betting site, as well. Certain markets may have more favorable odds on one site than another, even if the lines are the same.

For example, BetRivers and TwinSpires may both have the Chiefs at -7 points but one may have them at -105 while another may have them at -115. Taking the -105 odds gives you a better payout.

How to do it:

  1. Create accounts on as many different sports betting sites as possible.
  2. Compare the lines and odds on the same market on every sportsbook.
  3. Pinpoint the sportsbook with the most favorable odds and lines and place your bet there.

Middling Your Bets

Effectiveness: High
Time requirement: High

Middling is similar to arbitrage betting in the sense that you’ll be wagering on two opposite sides of the bet—only this time, you’ll be taking advantage of line movement. Therefore, this strategy can generally only be applied to spreads or totals

The goal is to bet on one side of the bet early, wait for the line to shift in another direction, and then bet on the opposite side. If the final score falls in the “middle,” you’ll win both bets. 

For example, if you take the Eagles -3 against the Giants when the lines open and it moves to Eagles -6, you could take the Giants +6 and hope the game ends up with the Eagles winning by 3 to 6 points.

The downside is that middling opportunities are few and far between, so this is a very time-consuming strategy. Still, when done right, it results in big-time profit. Also, there is a chance of losing money if only one of the two bets hit.

How to do it:

  1. Bet on one side of the spread or total (preferably close to when the lines are released).
  2. Watch to see if the line moves drastically either before the game starts or during the game.
  3. Bet on the other side of the bet and give yourself a chance to win both bets.

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Studying & Looking for Value in Prop Bets

Effectiveness: Medium/High
Time requirement: High

The majority of people stick to betting on moneyline, spreads, and totals. Therefore, sportsbooks tend to spend more time accurately pricing these markets, which is why there are fewer opportunities to find value.

On the other hand, there is a high number of prop bets on every game. Since there are so many of these bets available, less people bet them and sportsbooks spend less time setting the lines and odds. This means that they are likely to misprice at least some of them, presenting you with a great opportunity to find value.

One of the best ways to bet props is to focus on prop bets that should move with the spread or total, that don’t. For example, if an NFL game is calling for extreme wind and snow and the total drops by 10 points but the receiving yards for players or the QBs passing yard props don’t drop, they present great value.

How to do it:

  1. Focus on props instead of the main markets.
  2. Look for prop bets that should move in conjunction with the spread and total but don’t.
  3. Compare prop bet lines and odds at different books.
  4. Bet the props that you think aren’t being accounted for based on game updates.

Looking at Just-Released Lines

Effectiveness: Medium
Time requirement: Medium

When sportsbooks release the lines for a given market, there’s a good chance to find value, as there hasn't been much action on those markets yet, and the lines haven’t moved to the “fair market value.”

After a few hours, sharp bettors will have picked through the lines and placed large wagers on the ones that they think are off—and sportsbooks will quickly adjust.

Of course, spotting lines that are off requires a lot of knowledge, skill, and research. Just like any other bet, you shouldn’t just go with your gut when betting opening lines.

How to do it:

  1. Check to see whether a match or a game is offered by the sportsbook a few days in advance.
  2. Research the lines to see which seem off.
  3. Bet on those that you think provide good value.

Fading the Public (Low Effectiveness) & Finding Reverse Line Movement (Medium Effectiveness)

Effectiveness: Low/Medium
Time requirement: Low/Medium

Fading the public (betting against the public) is one of the most common sports betting strategies. The principle of fading revolves around waiting to see where most of the best are going and then betting on the opposite side. 

The logic is that the public is going to be wrong most of the time. To do this, you’ll have to find data on the percent of bets on each side of a market and bet the ones where most bets are heavily on one side. 

Even though fading the public is a popular strategy, we don’t recommend blindly doing it. Instead, you should look for reverse line movement

This is when the majority of bets are on one side of a market but the line moves in the opposite direction, indicating that sharp bettors have placed massive bets on the other side.

To find reverse line movement, look for markets that have the majority of bets on one side of the market but the line is moving against it. For example, if 80% of bets are on the Rams -7 but the line moves to Rams -6, you’ve found reverse line movement.

How to fade the public:

  • Find data on the percent of bets on each side of a two-way market.
  • Bet whichever side has the lower percentage.

How to find reverse line movement:

  • Find data on the percent of bets on each side of a two-way market.
  • Look for instances where the line is moving in the opposite direction of where the majority of the bets are placed.
  • Bet on the opposite side of where the majority of the bets are placed.

Specializing in One Sport & Bet Type

Effectiveness: Medium
Time requirement: High

Today’s sportsbooks allow you to bet on dozens of different sports and thousands of markets. And while it can be irresistible to experiment with various types of sports bets and sports, it’s much more effective to just focus on one sport and one particular bet type.

For instance, you can stick to an NFL prop like “anytime touchdown scorer” and spend some time studying trends and line movement. Such a strategy will eventually make it easier for you to find an edge. 

By constantly looking at a set of bets in one sport, it’ll be easier to spot irregularities and value.

How to do it:

  1. Pick a sport and a single bet type.
  2. Spend time studying that market to notice good betting opportunities.

Using Sports Betting Software

Effectiveness: Medium
Time requirement: Low

Being effective at sports betting means looking at a lot of data. While you can have a manual approach, this is sometimes just too time consuming to pay off.

That’s why you should consider taking advantage of sports betting software that uses a lot of data to help you build models or follow profitable trends.

How to do it:

  1. Purchase or find free sports betting software.
  2. Play around with the software’s features to analyze stats and trends.
  3. Use the gathered information to make more knowledgeable bets.

Managing Your Bankroll

Effectiveness: Low/Medium
Time requirement: Low

Knowing how to handle your gambling budget is one of the most basic but essential betting strategies. Decide how much you can spend betting, without it affecting your other financial obligations. Also, spread your bankroll evenly and try not to run through it in one go. 

The general rule is to never bet more than 5% of your entire bankroll on a single wager.

How to do it:

  1. Decide on your bankroll and stick to it.
  2. Distribute your bankroll evenly, betting between 1% and 5% on a single wager.
  3. If you are left with no more money, refill your bankroll only if your financial situation allows it.

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Sports Betting Strategies to Avoid

While all of the strategies we’ve mentioned thus far can be effective, they won’t mean much if you combine them with some bad strategies and betting habits. That said, here’s a list of things you should try to eliminate from your sports betting routine:

  • Betting parlays. Parlays are considered sucker bets due to their low chance of succeeding. Many bettors are so drawn by astronomical payout potential that they’ll sometimes make long-shot parlays with ten or more selections. Never bet these, as they are likely never going to win. Even parlays with a few legs have a lower expected value over time than simple straight bets.
  • Choosing complete chance prop bets. Avoid betting on props that you have no way of predicting, like the result of a coin toss, for example. The sportsbook will always have a juice on these bets, and you’re mathematically never going to be right more than 50% of the time, meaning that you stand to lose money long-term.
  • Betting on every game. Be selective with the games you choose to bet on. Not every game or market is going to have value, and focusing on too many games at once can result in big mistakes.
  • Always betting on your favorite teams. Leave your heart and fandom out of sports betting. We all wish for our favorite teams to win every time, but that’s never the case. If you can’t be objective when betting on a game involving your favorite team, it’s best not to bet on that game at all.
  • Buying points. Many sportsbooks will allow you to adjust the spread of a given game by buying points. However, this action implies higher prices or worse payouts and is generally not profitable. 
  • Betting while intoxicated. Always bet with a clear mind. You are betting with your own money, and there’s a lot of data you need to factor in. Doing that while intoxicated is a recipe for disaster.
  • Chasing your losses. If you’ve experienced a streak of losses, don’t try to make up for it by making quick bets with a lot of money.  Be patient and be sure to gamble responsibly so things don’t get out of hand.

>> Read More: Sports Betting Tips

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.