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Let’s be clear: winning money betting on sports isn’t easy.
Even above-average sports bettors rarely sustain a long-term winning percentage higher than the roughly 53% required to be profitable (despite what self-proclaimed experts proclaim).
There aren’t many models that can guarantee consistent winning—especially with how sports change over the years. There are some things you can do, however, to be a better sports bettor and give yourself a higher likelihood of turning a profit.
If you take the time to do research and follow our sports betting tips below, you just might be able to get over the hump.
Sports Betting Tips That Can Help You Win More
Most people view sports betting as a form of entertainment and aren’t in it to make money. Others spend hours a day researching markets with the goal of being profitable.
Whichever group you belong to, the following tips can help you win more bets and get a better return on your money.
1) Shop Around for the Best Lines & Odds
A half-point differential may seem minuscule, but going from only having to win by a field goal to having to win by more than that is huge when considering that 3 points is the most common point differential in NFL games.
What’s more, the same market can be priced differently at various books, depending on the amount of vig (aka “juice”) charged by the operator. While one site may have odds of -105 on one bet, another may give you -120 for the same wager.
>> Read More: How to Read Betting Odds
That’s why it’s recommended that you have accounts with multiple sportsbooks. That way, you can easily shop for the best lines and prices to receive the most bang for your buck. With a bit of legwork, you can boost your profits simply by quickly comparing lines and odds.
2) Learn How to Read Betting Odds & Calculate Implied Probability
If you’re new to sports betting, you must learn to interpret odds correctly. Learning how to read odds and calculate implied probability is a precursor to finding value, which every profitable sports betting strategy revolves around.
Generally, a bet is considered valuable if you think there’s a better chance of winning than the implied probability estimated by the books. For example, a -110 bet implies a 52.38% chance of the bet hitting. If you’re confident that there is at least a 55% chance that the bet hits, then you should consider betting it.
Of course, you can only make that determination if you know how to read odds and calculate implied probability.
3) Learn How to Manage Your Bankroll
The golden rule of sports betting and gambling, in general, is never to risk what you can’t afford to lose. Once you set a betting budget, you should stick to it, no matter what. How you do it is entirely up to you, but it should be made of disposable income only.
Ideally, you should establish a bankroll management plan and determine how much you should stake on each wager based on your total budget. We recommend not going over 5% of your total bankroll on any one play.
For instance, if your initial budget is $1,000, you shouldn’t risk more than $50 per bet. This will allow you to withstand dry spells without burning your bankroll too quickly.
4) Avoid Parlays—Especially Longshot Parlays
As exciting and lucrative as parlays can be, they’re mainly considered sucker bets, and most professional bettors steer clear from them. There are specific scenarios where parlays (or at least some variations like teasers) make sense, but you should avoid these bets for the most part.
The main reason for this is that parlays are very hard to hit because you must hit each individual leg in order to win the entire parlay. Also, parlays cause considerable fluctuations in your bankroll, and you’re taking on more variance than on single bets for no additional expected return.
Let’s say you bet a 4-leg parlay and only 3 of the legs hit. You lost the entire parlay, despite hitting 75% of your bets. If you employed a flat betting approach and bet on these 4 teams separately, you would be up a little under 2 units (depending on the odds).
5) Bet With Your Head, Not Your Heart
In sports betting, it’s about numbers, not teams. Most people bet on the sports they like to watch the most, and often, the teams they root for.
Backing your favorite team often leads to personal biases and irrational betting decisions based on what you want to happen rather than what’s likely to happen. Betting blindly on your favorite team will usually get you nowhere fast (unless you root for the Patriots or another perennially dominant team).
Look for favorable odds instead of favorable teams. You might want to avoid betting on your favorite team’s games unless you’ve truly found some value.
6) Don’t Chase Your Losses
Chasing sports betting losses is one of the worst things you can do. It’s a never-ending circle that often results in more losses and can lead to gambling addiction.
The truth of the matter is that we’ve all experienced losing streaks and prolonged dry spells. But that doesn’t mean that we should start pouring huge bets on longshots recklessly, trying to recover our losses. We all get carried away in the heat of the moment and maybe talk ourselves into bets that we wouldn’t typically make. But this mustn’t become a trend.
>> Read More: How to Gamble Responsibly
7) Look for Arbitrage Opportunities
Several wagering techniques can guarantee profits when properly applied, one of which is arbitrage betting.
With this betting system, you bet two sides of the same market with different sportsbooks that have an odds discrepancy. In short, if you can find opposite sides of a two-way market and the sum of the odds (in American format) add up to a positive number, you will win money no matter the outcome.
For arbitrage betting to work, you need to determine how much money you need to bet on each side. You can use our arbitrage betting calculator to determine the optimal wagering amounts for your arbitrage bets.
8) Do Your Research Before Betting
Remember, betting is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll find a vast array of opportunities to put your money down, but you should be selective with your picks. Betting randomly on whatever comes up will get you nowhere.
You should only bet on games where you can find value and ignore the rest.
How do you spot value?
By carrying out extensive pre-game research. Pro bettors spend a lot of time analyzing data, reviewing their past picks, watching game footage, and much more in order to find an edge.
9) Study & Look for Value in Prop Bets
Nowadays, sportsbooks offer an astonishing selection of prop bets for pretty much every game in major sports leagues. This type of sports bet can spice up the entertainment but also yield hefty returns.
Generally, props are a much better market than totals, spreads, and moneylines. This is because sportsbooks are more likely to misprice props since there are so many and less people bet on them compared to the major bets.
That said, you should avoid props that are completely luck-based, like coin toss prop bets, which have become popular in the NFL. Sportsbooks charge juice on all wagers, so you’ll lose money on true 50/50 bets over time.
10) Look at Lines When They Are Released
The timing of when you should place your bets matters. If you check out the lines when they are first released, you are more likely to spot those that are off and provide value.
After the first few hours, the lines have already been picked over by sharp bettors, shifting them to their more “fair” value.
11) Don’t Always Bet With the Public
One of the hottest betting systems is fading the public. In short, this just involves betting the opposite side of what the majority of public bettors are. This usually means betting against heavy favorites.
While we don’t recommend just blindly fading the public, there is one way to spot value in conjunction with what the public is doing: looking for reverse line movement.
Reverse line movement is when the majority of bets are on one side of a market but the line is still moving in the opposite direction.
For example, if 80% of the bets are on the Cowboys -3 but the line moves to Cowboys -2.5, this is reverse line movement and indicates that heavy sharp money is coming in on the opposite side.
12) Take Advantage of the Available Intro Offers
By signing up with multiple books and taking advantage of their intro offers, you can collect lots of free bonus bucks that can boost your bankroll before you even get in on the action.
There are several types of welcome bonuses you could run into in legal US sportsbooks. The most common is a risk-free bet that will refund your first bet if it loses with a free bet or site credit. The next most-common type is a deposit match that will match your first deposit by a certain percent up to a certain amount of money.
13) Take Advantage of Other Promotions & Odds Boosts
Welcome bonuses are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the benefits you can reap at U.S. sportsbooks. Most sites run a full suite of rotating promos for existing customers. These include parlay insurance deals, odds boosts, reload bonuses, and market-specific free bet bonuses.