10 Top Tips for Improving Your Sports Betting

Bradley
Gibbs

Our Editor-in-Chief Bradley Gibbs pinpoints the key areas where punters can improve in order to stand a chance of profiting long-term from sports betting. 

Being a successful sports punter certainly isn’t easy and therefore it’s not surprising that it’s something that is rarely achieved. However, a long-term profit can be accomplished and certainly is by a minority of shrewd punters. There’s no doubt about it that a small percentage of punters do enjoy sustained success or even make a living (often a good one at that) from betting on sports.

Profiting from sports betting can by no means be guaranteed and unfortunately there are no shortcuts or ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Having said this, for those who are serious about making a success of their punting efforts, over the long haul, then there are a number of important ‘tips’ (covered in this article) which if followed can provide aspiring punters with a solid platform for success.

Understand and appreciate value 

Understanding the value in a bet is undoubtedly one of the key components to long term punting success. Ask any successful gambler and value is one of the first things they will point to. An old saying among those successful at gambling is: “to profit long term, the punter needs to be betting at odds which are greater than the selections’ real chance of winning”, there is truth in every bit of this statement. In fact, this short snippet pretty much sums up the concept of value.

Here’s an example (horse racing):

Value in a particular bet exists when the odds available are greater than the horse’s chance of winning (the horse is over-priced). Let’s say after analysing a race, you believe one particular horse has a 40% chance of winning and therefore should be a true price of 6/4. However, the horse is actually priced up at 3/1 in the market, which would suggest the horse has a 25% chance of winning. Assuming you are correct in your analysis and the horse does have a 40% chance of winning, betting on the horse at 3/1 represents good value.

Perhaps one misconception that punters tend to have is that for a bet to represent value it has to be a big price. This really isn’t the case. Any horse, in any race, can represent value.

Even short-priced favourites can be good value. For example, the implied winning chance of a horse priced at odds of 6/4 is 40%. However, if you’re of the belief that this horse actually has a 50% chance of winning then the true price would be evens (or 2.00) and, therefore, placing a bet at odds of 6/4 would represent good value.

Placing bets at odds which are greater than they should be is vital to achieving long-term profit.

Compile your own odds 

Pricing up events for yourself ties in very closely with the understanding of value. It is being able to price up races which allows the punter to exploit the existence of value.

It can’t be stressed strongly enough that pricing up races is absolutely pivotal when aiming to profit from sports betting in the long run. There have been any number of great form judges, whose failure to both price up events and bet according to value has contributed to their punting downfall.

The best way to come to an accurate conclusion of when to place a bet is to price up races to 100%. This means that the combined odds of each entrant must equal 100%.

Here’s a simple example:

if you price up a three runner event at evens, 3/1 and 3/1 this equates to 100% based on the conversions of fractional odds to percentages. Let’s say that once pricing the race in the above manner you discover that the prices available are 6/4, 2/1 and 5/2, the value lies in betting the 6/4 shot.

By pricing up events and betting only when value exists, the punter not only maximises their chance of success, but will avoid wasting money on ill-advised bets.

To see our easy-to-follow odds percentage table click here.

Understanding the maths 

Unfortunately if you’re someone who struggles with maths or at the very least doesn’t have someone who is good at maths on hand to provide regular help, realistically, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make it as a gambler. In contrast to this people might say that it’s more about having a feel for betting or that they know plenty about the sport they’re betting on so maths isn’t really that important. In reality, betting on sports is a numbers game. Having a solid understanding of the maths involved is an important part of the game and is required if success is to be had.

Work hard, learn as much as you can and avoid laziness 

The bottom line is the majority of punters are lazy. There’s no two ways about it. Most punters either put no time and logical thought into a bet or their efforts to do so are slack. Either way they arrive at the same conclusion, which is of course negative results. Punters are living in a golden age, never before has there been so much information available yet, on the whole, it remains unexploited. For example, it’s not reasonable to glance over some vague information about an event and expect this to yield results. Nowadays – particularly online – there are many resources for punters to take advantage of. There are masses of form/data/statistics out there (detailing almost everything imaginable), not to mention the key resource of video replay footage (particularly useful for horse racing punters).

If serious about being successful in the hardest business of all, you need to invest. Not just money, but time. Seek all the advice you can, be on the lookout to learn and adapt all the time. As is always the case, those who put the most time and effort into something will be the ones who get the most out of it. Sports betting is no different. Hard work is a must.

Avoid chasing losses 

Chasing losses is something that, for as long as betting has been around, has been tried and failed by almost every gambler. More so it is a method that will continue to be tried and failed for years to come. Speaking frankly, chasing losses is nothing but a shortcut to the poorhouse. Even though chasing your losses may seem like the way to eventually arrive at a profit, it really isn’t.

Firstly, It’s probably fair to say, that there aren’t any gamblers who can boast an unlimited betting bank and therefore if losses are regularly chased then at some point (probably sooner rather than later) you will go broke. Secondly, when punters chase losses they’re generally looking for a quick way to make something back. When in this state of mind logical thought tends disappear and thus rash decisions are made. This leads punters to place bets and stake amounts that wouldn’t normally be sanctioned.

It’s obviously easy to advise punters against chasing their losses, I mean let’s face it most gamblers have been in that position: you’ve lost a particular bet, done your money. The temptation to instantly go back for more can be a hard one to shake. However, it is the said shaking of such thoughts that can be one vital step towards long term success. The key thing to remember in these situations is that there’s always tomorrow, or the next day, or even the next day after that. The point is that punters should forget about short term success and focus on the long-term. The sensible thing to do is to wait for the right opportunities to arise as opposed to irrationally attempting to make losses back straight away on what are likely to be ill-advised bets.

Specialise 

Nowadays the sheer enormity of sporting fixtures, makes it very difficult to keep on top of everything. It is normal for those who are successful as gamblers to specialise in one sport, and more often than not, specialise in one particular area of that sport.

Attempting to keep on top of all the form across the board is simply counterproductive, the punter needs to specialise in one area.

Find a particular area where you can get to grips with all the form. For example, as a horse racing punter you might choose to focus on handicap races on the AW, or novice hurdlers in the national hunt season. Establish a specific area such as these, watch all of the races in this area and get to know the runners inside out.

Set aside a specific betting bank 

A fundamental error made by the vast majority of gamblers is the failure to set aside a sum of money from which bets are made – a specific betting bank. Regardless of the system used, something all gamblers need is a betting bank which is separate from all other finances and is used only to fund betting activities. It is essential that a betting bank is separate from personal finances, this should – to some degree – reduce the emotional attachment involved in the decision making process of a bet.

The size of the betting bank depends entirely on the individual and will no doubt vary depending on how much you have/wish to set aside for betting purposes. Failing to use a betting bank results in the punter betting randomly with whatever money they have available. This often leads to losing more than you can afford, and, naturally, when doing this keeping on top of your betting activity becomes much harder. The punters out there who have the right attitude and are serious about making their gambling work will set aside a betting bank which consists of an amount they can afford to lose.

Use a disciplined staking plan 

Just as many punters fail to set aside a betting bank, they, just as carelessly, fail to appreciate the importance of a staking plan. Having a betting bank is one thing but it becomes irrelevant if the punter proceeds to bet amounts at random without working out a logical stake. The best and most common way among serious gamblers is to bet to level stakes – betting the same amount on each and every bet.

Depending on the amount available in the betting bank, punters should align their level stakes accordingly. In other words this means that on any one bet only a small percentage of the overall fund is used. This percentage is really up to the individual, although it’s usually very small, say one or two percent. For example, let’s say you’ve set aside a betting bank of £1,000. A reasonable single stake would be £10 (1%) per bet. Of course this could be increased to £20 or £30 per bet without really affecting the bank roll in the short term, but stakes higher than this aren’t really advisable. Betting at this level means that the punter can endure losing streaks without drastically damaging the bankroll.

It’s unwise to stake large percentages at any one time. In fact, betting with large portions of your betting fund is nothing but a recipe for disaster. For example, if your betting bank stands at £5000, staking large percentage amounts such as £2000 (40%) is both an ill-advised and ill-disciplined action. Even if you were to win one, two or even more bets of this nature, continuing to staking high percentages would, before long, result in nothing other than a bankroll that stands at £0.

Keeping a betting record 

Another very simple but effective tool is to keep an easy to follow record of every single bet that is made throughout any given season/period. The record should detail the type of bet made and the amount staked, as well as the amount returned if the bet was a winning one. Keeping a record allows the punter to analyse their performance financially and assess whether things are going well or not. It is important to be on top of your results and the best way of doing this is to keep a record. Some people might argue that this isn’t really necessary and could say that it’s easy to judge how well you are doing just by knowing whether the amount of money in the betting bank has gone up or down. Although you should be able to tell whether you are in profit or loss just by measuring the current balance against the starting one this won’t provide any further insight into your performance.

Control your emotions

Being able to control your emotions is key. As the saying goes, you have to be able to take the rough with the smooth. If you’re someone who places a bet and then paces up and down, filling with nervous tension, or hides behind the sofa as the event takes place then betting, at least serious betting, probably isn’t for you.

When you’re winning don’t get too carried away and when you’re losing (every gambler regardless of how successful will place many losing bets) don’t allow yourself to get too down about it. There are going to be plenty of close calls, there will be bets that would have gone your way but for one bad pass in a football match or the jockey on your horse waits too long and gets beaten by a nose as a result. These things will happen that’s for sure, but it is important that you forget about them and move on. Take both the highs and lows with a pinch of salt and don’t get too attached to either. It is critical that you don’t let short-term results cloud your judgement moving forward.

Summary 

The information in this article won’t turn anyone into a profiting gambler overnight; however, understanding all of these factors, along with keeping them in the forefront of the mind, can help to form a solid base for success.

At the end of the day, whether a punter enjoys sustained profit in the long-term or not is very much down to the individual. Be disciplined, learn everything there is to know about your chosen betting area and invest not just money, but, more importantly, time.

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