To the uninitiated, sports betting may seem like a game of chance, as all you do is predict which team will win and wager money on it. However, once you understand how betting works, you’ll immediately realize it takes much more than plain luck to succeed.
We’ve created this guide to the best strategies for sports betting to help you become the best sports picker you can be regardless of your expertise level. Keep reading to learn more about how you can implement them to elevate your game and become a master sports bettor!
Beginner Strategies for Sports Betting
If you’re just starting out on your sports betting journey, here are some essential strategies you need to incorporate in your game:
Understand Bet Types & What Odds Mean
The first thing you need to learn as a novice bettor is the different types of bets. Don’t just rely on mainstream picks like the moneyline or point spreads all the time. These markets are the most popular and tightly monitored ones, which makes finding an edge challenging.
Instead, consider bets like the over/under to add versatility to your game. Plus, with less popular types, such as prop bets, finding good value is much easier.
Once you’re familiar with most bet types, you’ll need to understand how betting odds work. There are several different odds formats, but you don’t have to learn them all.
What you need to know is that betting odds show the probability of a specific event to happen. For example, if you bet on a team to win at -110 odds, this translates to around 52% for the bet to be successful.
Expert sports bettors try to find the best value bets, which are picks with higher probabilities than their odds imply, and bet on them to make a profit. However, if many people bet on the same side, the sportsbook may lower the odds to avoid paying out large sums of money.
Manage Your Bankroll
Proper bankroll management is key for any type of sports bettor, as it’s the only way you can make long-term profits. Bankroll management can be easy to grasp but hard to master and adhere to, as it requires dedication, patience, and a lot of discipline.
With bankroll management, you essentially bet a tiny percentage of your total bankroll to avoid depleting it quickly. You can keep a standard bet size, such as 2% of your bankroll, or a variable one, depending on your confidence in each bet.
In any case, avoid betting more than 5% of your bankroll for each bet, as running bad for an extended period may ruin it. Also, keep track of your bets on a spreadsheet to have a better view of which ones are more successful.
Avoid Huge Parlays
Beginner bettors tend to favor large parlay bets because they see them as a great way to win big without risking much money. But placing parlays with too many legs is a losing strategy for a few reasons.
For starters, the more legs on your parlay bet, the higher the chance for one of them to go wrong. After all, even the strongest favorites may have a bad game from time to time. What’s more, there’s added juice (the amount of money the sportsbook earns on each bet) for every leg you put into your parlay, which means you won’t get the best value out of it even if it wins.
Small parlays with two or three legs can be a good way to combine picks with low odds to make a decent profit. Instead of larger parlay bets, though, you can use a round robin betting strategy.
In a round robin bet, you create small parlays with all possible combinations of a larger parlay. For instance, if you want to parlay up three teams to win, you can create three smaller 2-leg parlays with all winning combinations.
While you won’t make as much of a profit if all three teams win, you’ll still make decent money if one of them were to lose. Plus, if you’re playing on the best sports betting apps, they should have built-in tools to help you create your round robin bets.
Intermediate Strategies for Sports Betting
If you’re familiar with the basics and want to take your betting game to the next level, here are some great sports betting strategies to help you out:
Utilize Data & Tools
We’re definitely living in a golden era for sports betting, as everyone has access to tons of statistics and data about teams and players. Make sure to do thorough research for every bet and ensure you’ve considered all the stats that may affect it.
Don’t just rely on your gut feeling or confidence about a specific result unless you’re very experienced with a particular team. Most of the time, there will be some stats you won’t be aware of and may impact your bet significantly.
You can find stats for all players and teams on each league’s website, or you can use third-party websites or tools. These may come with a premium but will help you translate the raw data into meaningful tips for your next bets.
Calculate Your Own Odds & Bet Size
The next step before placing each one of your bets is to calculate your own odds. Through study and research, you should be able to give a rough estimate of the probability of a specific bet to win.
If your numbers show you a better chance for a team to win than its odds imply, you have a great value bet on your hands. Then, you can use specific formulas, such as the Kelly Criterion, to help you determine how much you should wager.
For instance, if you find an underdog at +150 odds, but you believe the game is a coin flip, the Kelly formula will tell you to wager 16.67% of your total bankroll, as this bet is fantastic value. So, the better your own calculated odds, the more profitable you’ll be in the long run.
Shop for the Best Odds & Betting Lines
One of the worst enemies of every sports bettor is playing on just one sportsbook, as it’s very difficult to find the best odds for every bet. Instead, you should have accounts on multiple reputable sportsbooks to utilize their best odds and promos.
Plus, two common betting strategies you’ll encounter are odds shopping and line shopping. Not all sportsbooks will have accurate or updated odds and lines, and you can utilize this to your advantage. Not to mention that if too many players wager their money on the same sportsbook, the odds will naturally be lower.
So, always shop around different sportsbooks to find the best possible odds for your bet. Some providers may even have specific promos or bonuses for a particular match, such as free bets or boosted odds, giving you additional value.
Advanced Strategies for Sports Betting
If you’re already an experienced bettor and just want to increase your overall profits, here are a few tips and betting strategies to help you:
Focus On a Particular League/Team
Once you start winning consistently in sports betting, your best shot at increasing your profits without adding too much risk is to specialize in a specific league or team.
While there are plenty of jack-of-all-trades bettors who can find value in almost any sport, focusing on one particular team of competition will eliminate many parameters and will help you make more accurate predictions.
If you choose to focus on your favorite team, you should have an advantage since you’re familiar with its tactics, players, and mentality. But beware of emotions taking over, and always use your logic when placing bets.
Fade the Action
We’ve already mentioned how tons of action can move lines or odds in one direction. That’s where you can take advantage of the increased odds in the other direction to make a profit.
Remember that most sports bettors are betting for fun and will bet the favorite or the team they know best. But that’s not always the best option, and if your research shows you there’s better value on the other side, don’t be afraid to fade the public and go with your pick.
This doesn’t mean you should just ignore what everyone else is saying; there are plenty of sports betting communities filled with expert bettors who can provide some excellent value bets. Just make sure to filter them through your own logic and not just follow them blindly.
Take Advantage of Hedging, Dutching & Middling
There are a few advanced betting strategies that can help increase your profits or minimize your losses, including hedging, dutching, and middling.
Hedging your bets means wagering money on the opposite bet to secure a portion of your profits. This betting strategy works great if you’ve bet on a huge underdog whose line has moved significantly. At that point, you can just place a bet on the favorite and ensure you make a small profit regardless of the outcome.
Dutching is very similar to hedging but is best utilized in bets with several options. For instance, on a long-term bet for the NBA Champion, it might be hard to decide between the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets, with both at +500 odds. In this case, you can bet a smaller amount on each team to increase your chance for a profit.
Finally, middling can be very rewarding but requires access to multiple sportsbooks and a sharp eye. In some less mainstream sports like college basketball or football, you may find a betting line on totals that moved drastically from where it opened initially.
So, if you have bet the “under” and the over/under line moved down by 5 points, betting on the new “over” will guarantee you a huge profit if the score lands right in the middle. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll still win one of your two bets, minimizing your losses.
Sports Betting Strategies You Should Avoid
While most betting strategies will be helpful for all types of bettors, there are a few of them you should avoid, either because they’re complicated to use or will lose you money more often than not:
- Betting systems - You should generally avoid systems like the Martingale or the Fibonacci, as they require huge bankrolls to pull off and can lead to huge losses if you run a long losing streak.
- Chance prop bets - Avoid betting on certain fun prop bets, like who will win a coin toss, since they’re usually heavily juiced by the sportsbook, and there’s no way to gain an edge in the long run.
- Arbitrage betting - While arbitrage betting can be profitable, you usually won’t make too much money on most bets. Plus, it goes against most sportsbooks’ terms and conditions, so they’ll most likely compromise your account.
Overall, there are a ton of betting strategies out there for all types of bettors, regardless of your expertise level. While they may seem difficult to implement, if you put in the effort, you’ll see immediate results in your sports betting game.
Don’t forget to look through our various sports betting communities, full of veteran sports bettors who can help you improve your game and even share their own betting strategies with you. Plus, you can follow their sports picks and tips to increase your profits!