10 Things You Need To Be A Successful Sports Bettor
How do you become a successful sports bettor? On our blog Andrew gives us 10 things all successful sports bettors possess.
#1 - Understand The Concept Of Value
Critical. If you don't understand betting value, walk away. Sure you might be certain that a favourite at odds of 1.45 is going to win, but are the odds being offered giving any value? Plenty of times I've heard casual gamblers say "There's no way this team is going to lose this game." Well they might be legitimate favourites, but is the probability of them winning better than the odds being offered? Betting with this frame of mind is a little like saying an over-priced €2000 wide-screen TV was good value just because you really really really wanted it. It doesn't work.
Value is a simple concept, but most of the betting public don't understand this. And perhaps thankfully so, because its this naive or 'square' money that can skew the market, leaving great opportunities for the minority of gamblers who do know how to recognise value.
#2 - Basic Maths
If you've ever said the phrase "I'm not a maths guy but....", then you probably shouldn't be a betting guy either. While plenty of gamblers can make a success of it by betting on instinct and 'feel', to be successful long term you need a viable staking plan and you need to understand what the odds reflect in terms of probability. In short, its a numbers game, and you need an adequate relationship with division and multiplication as a minimum.
#3 - Understand How The Bookmakers Make The Odds
This depends upon the popularity of the event, but in general, bookmaker odds will be more a reflection of what they expect the general public to play, rather than on the actual probabilities of either outcome. Of course, it's not quite that simple, but in general, bookmakers will set their odds so as to attract betting on either side of the odds, so as to balance their liability and take their commission.
This leaves smart gamblers to find great value opportunities where the general public's opinion is just plain wrong. It also means that great value can be found on events where there is expected to be greater interest than normal by the occasional and casual gambler, who lets be honest, knows nothing or very little in terms of profitable betting strategy. Events like the Super Bowl, Cup finals and major horse racing events are prime candidates for this sort of opportunity.
#4 - Ability To Fall In Love With The Ugly Duck
The longer I have been betting, the more I have come to fall in love with the team that nobody likes. In fact, I feel better about a potential bet the uglier it looks on paper. Sounds counter intuitive I know, but the less the general public likes a team, the more I like the look of them in terms of value. Especially a team that might have performed well over a long period but may have had a bad run of maybe 4 or 5 games. Just watch the general public jump off them, and watch their value rise.
#5 - Don't Dwell On The Past Or Celebrate For Too Long
Don't let a recent losing run throw you off your game. Put it out of your mind and stay with your analysis and have faith that the wheel will turn. Similarly, don't let a recent winning streak give you false courage and lead you to over extend yourself. Again, stay with your analysis and stick with your plan.
#6 – Don't Hope For The Big Score
Multi-bets. Parlays. Teasers. Whatever you like to call them, know when to bet them and when not to. Sure they offer the promise of the big score, the big pay day, but unless you have done your analysis and have located true value, they are a terrible way to bet. Look at it this way. If you place a multi-bet of 4 legs, and you were getting full price even money odds of 2.00 for each leg, the odds for that multi would be 16.00. Now lets look at a real world example where you're being offered lets say 1.90 for 'even money' with the bookmaker taking out 5%: the odds for that same 4 leg multi would be just 13.00. That's taking out close to 19% of the full price of that bet.
But if you have located true value, then multi's can be tremendous value as you multiply the value into each leg. The issue is of course, locating true value. Everyone who adds a leg to a multi does so because they believe they are finding value. Nobody bets odds that don't represent value to them. But key to creating value multi's is in finding true value or else you're only diminishing your chances of success with each under valued leg you add.
#7 - A Long Term Sensibility
It would be great to get rich quick, but its not going to happen. Think long term. Build your betting bankroll, steadily increase the amount you bet on each game, and soon enough you'll find you're making some decent pocket money on the side, and maybe, just maybe, if you stick with it long enough, you can make a living wage out of it.
This also includes not having the need to 'make it interesting'. I've heard it plenty of times. "Oh sometimes I bet just to make it interesting." OK, well that's fine. But don't expect to be a long term winner. If you want to make it interesting, join a fantasy league or a tipping competition where you're not putting down real money.
#8 - A Reasonable Betting Bankroll
If you want to make money, you need to start with a betting bankroll capable of absorbing losses. If you're going to bet in units, with an average bet of 1 unit, I would recommend a bankroll of at least 50 units. Minimum. OK so maybe you can only afford a bankroll of €1000, which means your average unit will be 20. Sounds small time I know and you want to be a high roller. Well a €1000 bankroll can quickly turn into a substantial amount with consistent value recognition and an intelligent staking plan. Lets say you bet 200 bets a year. And for argument sake lets say they are all of 1.90 odds, and lets say you hit at a 54% strike rate. Well with a fractional Kelly staking plan at the end of those 200 bets, depending on your winning consistency which should even out over a long term, your bankroll will be in the ballpark of €1100.00. Yeah I hear what you're saying - that's only 100.00 profit over the year. Well, that's just betting 200 bets a year, with a 2.6% average return per bet.
Now imagine you bet 400 bets in a year and are able to get still a modest 5% average return. That bankroll of €1000 at the end of the 400 bets would be in the ballpark of €1400 and at the end of 5 years that bankroll will be in the range of €5000, and after 10 years, around €30,000 with an average unit of 600. Not bad is it? Of course the hard part is to get that consistent 5% return, and perhaps the harder part is grinding it out until you build that bank up over a number of years. But the point here is to show how starting out modest with a viable bankroll and staking plan, can turn into genuine profits in the long term.
#9 - A Broad Bookmaker Portfolio
To make the most of every value opportunity, you want to be getting the best odds available. If you only use one or two bookmakers, you're really limiting your chances of getting the best odds and so limiting your chances of long term success. You should have at any one time, at least 6 bookmakers in your portfolio. The bookmakers you choose depends upon what you are wanting to bet on.
If you want to be a long term winner, you need to have accounts at each of Pinnacle Sports, SBObet and Betfair. While no bookmaker is perfect, these three welcome long terms winners and will not restrict you in the manner that more mainstream bookmakers can.
Now while mainstream bookmakers have their critics, it's valuable to have accounts (if possible!) with at least three at any one time, even if they have restricted your action. Why? Well it's simply a matter of options. While bookmakers like Pinnacle consistently offer great odds on most sports and leagues, there will be times when the best prices can be found at bookmakers such as bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes and BetVictor. Mainstream bookmakers such as these will also offer more varied betting markets. Again, long term success is very much a matter of opportunity meeting options.
#10 - Ability To Believe In Any And All Conceivable Gods And/Or Transcendental Possibilities
Hey, it cant hurt.
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