How to Win at Sports Betting
Learn how to win at sports betting and why the impatient gambler always loses in the long run.
In this article…
- How to win at sports betting, consistently
- Why impatience is your biggest sports betting mistake
- Why streaks in sports betting are unavoidable
- The difference between winning and losing
- How to become a winning sports bettor
If you don't like to lose or find yourself getting really upset after a loss, you might not be cut out for sports betting unless you can change your attitude.
Learning how to win at sports betting starts with the right attitude because, as you will see below, losing days, weeks, or even months is inevitable. They are built into the fabric of life thanks to the laws of statistics.
The key to being a winning sports bettor is to understand and embrace the realities instead of fighting them.
Bursts and Streaks are Inevitable–in Life and in Sports Betting
Don't believe it? Think you can somehow find a way to win consistently without suffering losing streaks? Think again.
Consider the stock market. According to Money Magazine (April 2008), had you invested in an S&P 500 index fund in August 1997 and sat tight for 10 years, you’d have racked up an 88% return. Had you missed just the 20 best days in the market over that period, you would have had a 20% loss!
Think about what that means.
Out of 3,650 days, 20 were big winners, and the rest, in aggregate, were losers!
Stock returns come in bursts. The same is true in sports betting, especially when picking underdogs in moneyline sports like baseball and hockey. Variance is inevitable.
While figuring out how to win at sports betting, you'll learn this one way or the other.
Winning streaks happen, and as much as we like to deny their existence, losing streaks happen, too.
Even in a season where you hit an unbelievable 60% winner (as good as it ever gets), there will be losing days, losing weeks, and maybe even a losing month
The good news is that’s expected, and it’s okay.
Consistent day-after-day winning cannot happen. Read that again if you must.
Expecting losing streaks sets you up to be a successful sports bettor.
By expecting their occurrence, you’re less likely to get upset when they happen. Getting upset only makes things worse as the emotion forces you to do the wrong thing (chase or stop).
You need to stay the course, again, shooting for 55-60% winners over the long haul. If you’re getting upset after a losing day or a losing week, you’re probably betting too much.
You need to be able to take the short-term hits so that you can be around for the long-term spoils.
Bet a small enough percentage of your bankroll that you can survive the short-term losing streaks.
Begin to manage your sports wagering like a business that doesn't need a good day, good week, or even a good month to survive but rather needs to show a profit at year's end.
If you can cap out 55%+, you will achieve this goal.
What's the Difference Between Winning and Losing?
The difference between winning and losing at sports betting is subtle.
Even when you’re winning, it can feel like you’re losing.
The best way to describe what winning feels like? It feels like losing!
Yes, you read that right–winning at sports betting often feels like losing, and that is why most gamblers crumble to the impatient psyche that initializes their demise!
To further demonstrate how hard it is to "win" consistently, check out these probabilities presented so you can get a feel of what winning feels like.
Let's say you're having success handicapping, and you feel like you know how to win at sports betting long term. You are a long-term 55% handicapper, yet somehow it doesn't feel like it was supposed to.
This is why:
Let's say you like four plays on any given day, and based on your long-term 55% win percentage, you can expect to win 55% on average on these four plays. These are the probabilities of your 5 potential outcomes:
Now you can see where the problem lies. If you’re not anchored in the realities of what it takes to win, you’re prone to make mistakes like chasing.
For example, you go 2-2 on your well-capped plays, but after a 2-2, 1-3, or the rare 0-4 day, you decide you need to make money for the day, and you play an ill-advised game. This is typically classified as a chase.
The chase play will, by definition, have less than a 55% chance of winning because if it had a 55% chance, you would have included it in the first place and made five plays.
You left it off initially because your handicapping dictated it had a less than 55% chance of winning.
Another common scenario for those in chase mode is for them to increase their bet size, looking to catch up.
To win at sports betting, remember losing is part of the equation.
How to Win at Sports Betting: Expected Outcomes
Think of it this way. If we flip a coin, we expect to see heads 50% of the time and tails 50% of the time.
So if we flip a coin 3,500 times, we would expect to see close to 1,750 heads and 1,750 tails.
It would be extremely rare, with 3,500 "trials" to vary far from that.
But if we flip it 200 times, we are much more likely to vary from the expected 50-50 hit rate of 100 heads and 100 tails.
It would not be unreasonable to see 60% heads on 200 trials.
Sports betting goes beyond basic money management. To win at sports betting takes a substantial amount of bankroll discipline to accept losing 60.9% of the time in order to win.
Why? Because it feels like losing!
Until this is understood, the sports bettor, even the one that can hit a good winning percentage, will show a loss at year's end.
In summary, remember:
- Even at 60% winners, you lose 52.48% of all days you bet!
- As counterintuitive as it may sound, winning feels like losing.
- Don't fight the losing days or weeks. There will be many of them.
Variance is a normal part of sports betting. Take a deep breath and ride it out until the winning streak comes along.
For more on how to win at sports betting, check out my comprehensive video series where I break down exactly what it takes to become a winning sports bettor.