How to be a winning sports bettor

Sports betting can be a fun and enjoyable hobby for any sports fan or gambler but the vast majority of sports bettors lose. Because they are doing it for fun this is not a problem but 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.


Most profitable sports bettors specialize in 1 or 2 sports or even 1 league within a sport. At first you will probably try betting on many different sports when you are getting the feel for things, but after a while look over your records and you will find you are more profitable on some sports than others.

When you have developed a way of making selections and a staking plan it will suit certain sports more than others because of the characteristics of that sport or league. 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 games, whereas MLB teams play 6 games per week for a regular season total of 164 games.

It’s these vast differences that mean no one system can work for all sports and leagues. Betting models that work on sports with 2 possible outcomes like tennis or basketball normally don’t translate to sports where the draw is also a common outcome like soccer or cricket.

If you can specialize in an obscure league you can gain an edge by knowing more about that league than the sportsbook you are betting against.

A sportsbook will know everything about every player and every match-up in leagues like the English Premier League or the NBA so 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 the Philippine Basketball League or the Paraguayan Second Division of Football you can be more knowledgeable than the sportsbook therefore gaining 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. They do make slight adjustments to the odds as the game time gets closer based on controlling the sportsbook’s risk and reacting to what their “hot customers” are betting on, not based on the sportsbook’s opinion or calculations on the probability of outcomes.

Generally speaking the more obscure the sporting event is the worse value the odds will be as there is less liquidity and less competition between sportsbooks. If a sportsbook thinks they don’t have enough information on a game that they want to offer 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 it and keep investing in it even when you are nervous about losing.

With past sporting results and odds available online you can back test your ideas for systems or test out systems in real time by paper trading. Paper trading is writing down your bets but not actually placing them and then looking over the results of what would have happened if you had have placed them.

For real time testing we think you are better off actually making the bets but starting at the sportsbook’s minimum stake which is extremely small with crypto sportsbooks.

Always study the form and relevant conditions for a match to be well prepared to make your bets. With all the information available at your fingertips online it will usually take less than 15 minutes to research a team’s relevant past performances, injuries and so on. When you are betting in your system you will know what information you need and where to find it, meaning pre bet research will only take a few moments.

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.
  • Only bet amounts that you can afford to lose.
  • 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.

Bankroll management

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 so 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 selection and let the odds decide your stake.

You need to be able to survive a bad run so 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 his bankroll but can go higher when appropriate.

A martingale staking plan has you increase your stakes during a losing streak enough that when you eventually win you recover all the losses, you should have a stop loss or be willing to lose your whole bankroll if you want to run a martingale. You can also try a positive progression staking plan which can be seen as an inverse martingale where you increase you stake during a winning streak to risk a certain % of the streak’s profit.

One technique for building a bankroll without the risk of losing it all back is to withdraw half of your winnings and leave the other half in the betting account to grow the bankroll. You can adjust that up and down depending on if you want to grow the bankroll or if there are other demands for your crypto.

Full business continuity

You need every component of your preferred way to bet to be as reliable as possible and you need a backup option for every component. The components are

  • Funded betting account.
  • Hardware/internet enabled device.
  • Internet connection.
  • Power supply.

For example your preferred way to bet might be

Funded betting accountSportsbet (review, bettors in the must use a VPN)
Internet connectionHome broadband connection
Power supplyHousehold electricity

And your backup could be

Funded betting accountCloudbet (review, bettors in the must use a VPN)
Internet connectionSmartphone’s data connection
Power supplySmartphone’s battery

Job done… this was a lot more difficult before smartphones.

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