I distilled advise from dozens of the worlds best and most successful sports bettors in a post called How professional bettors win long term. That is the best short resources on this topic. In this post I will expand on some of their recommendations and add a couple of things that I think they forgot to mention.
Sports betting can be a fun hobby for a sports fan or gambler but the vast majority of sports bettors lose. It only takes a bit of insight, preparation and discipline to win some of the money your fellow sports bettors are losing.
You need to be getting good odds to be profitable in the long term. To see who has the best odds on the sports you are interested in check out our odds comparisons.
At first you will probably get a feel for things by betting on many different sports. After a while look over your records and you will find you are more profitable on certain sports or leages.
When you have developed a way of making selections and a staking plan, it will suit certain sports more than others, due to the characteristics of that sport. For example, in rugby the average winning margin is 10 points, in basketball it’s 7 and in soccer it’s 1. NFL teams play 1 game per week for a regular season total of 16, whereas MLB teams play 6 games per week for a regular season total of 164.
These differences mean no one system can work for all sports. Betting systems that work on sports with 2 possible outcomes, like tennis or basketball, normally don’t work on sports where the draw is a common outcome, like soccer or cricket.
Specializing in major leagues vs obscure leagues
If you can specialize in an obscure league, you can gain an edge by knowing more about it than the sportsbook does.
A sportsbook will know everything about every player and match-up in leagues like the English Premier League or the NBA. In major leagues the most you can do is be as informed as the sportsbook, which gives you no edge. But if you can become a true expert of obscure leagues, like the Philippine Basketball League or the Paraguayan Second Division of Football, you can be more knowledgeable than the sportsbook and gain an edge.
Although be aware most sportsbooks don’t calculate the odds for themselves, they are paying customers of professional odds services like Don Best and use odds comparison sites.
Generally speaking the more obscure the sporting event is, the worse value the odds will be. This is because there is less liquidity and less competition between sportsbooks. If a sportsbook’s odds provider does not think they have enough information on a game to offer a sharp line, they will offer it at poor odds.
Have a system and do the research
A system is a way of making betting selections and a staking plan. You need to have a system and have enough faith in that system to stick to even when you are nervous about losing.
With past sporting results and odds available online, you can back test your ideas or test out systems in real time by paper trading. Paper trading is writing down your bets but not actually placing them. After a while, look over the results of what would have happened if you did place those bets.
You are better off actually making the bets, but starting at the sportsbook’s minimum stake, which is extremely low with crypto sportsbooks.
Always study the form and relevant conditions for a game to be well prepared to make your bets. When you are betting in your system, on a league you specialize in, you will know what information you need and where to find it. With the information available online it’s quick and easy to research a team’s relevant past performances, injuries and so on.
Set yourself rules and be disciplined
You will need some betting rules or a code you can stick by to avoid making common betting mistakes and to bet in a consistent and controlled way.
I am a successful sports bettor and share my rules here to serve as an example. These rules work well for my betting systems and counteract some mistakes I am prone to make. Because you will be using your own system and you have your own tendencies your rules will have to be specially tailored to suit you.
- Only bet on team sports.
- Only bet when undistracted and able to concentrate.
- Never bet on something because you want it to happen.
- Only bet within a system, never bet for the sake of betting or for fun.
- Don’t chase losses.
- Always research before betting.
- Place bets at least 5 minutes before the deadline.
I do not stick to these rules 100% of the time, but when I do I am profitable and when I don’t I am not profitable, which proves the value of the rules.
Your bankroll is not necessarily your betting account balance, it is the total amount of money you have available for betting. Even as a winning sports bettor it will probably not be your only source of revenue and it will definitely not be the only demand on your crypto. As such working out how much you can invest and how much you need to take out in winnings is important.
Your staking plan, that is how much you stake per bet, is almost as important as your bet selections themselves. You can choose to stake a certain amount per selection and let the odds decide your potential winnings, or you can choose to win a certain amount per winning bet and let the odds decide your stake.
You need to be able to survive a bad run. If you’re staking 10% of your bankroll per bet you can only go on a losing streak 10 bets long before you bust. My stakes start at 1% of my bankroll but can go higher when appropriate.
An example of a bad staking plan is the martingale. This has you increase your stakes during a losing streak enough that if you eventually win before you go broke you recover all the losses. Have a stop loss or be willing to lose your whole bankroll if you want to run a martingale.
An example of a good staking plan is the Kelly criterium. This has you betting small with the exact stake depending on how big our edge is.