Many sports betting experts have betting tips they swear by. Some people love betting home underdogs, some are certain that their basketball betting strategy of betting against a team playing their third game in four nights, is a surefire winner. Some of those rules might work, some do not, but there are a few strategies that are guaranteed to help you become a better sports bettor. Think of them as the four golden rules of sports betting. These rules are less who to pick, and more how to pick winners.
- Track Your Bets In A Spreadsheet To See Your Progress
This sounds incredibly simple but you also probably are not doing this right now. Every bet you ever place should be tracked and you should be analyzing the data. Why do you need to track your bets? For starters, you need to know at all times how much money you are up or down. If you listen to one of our later rules, you will have accounts on multiple sites and this makes it easier to track your overall progress. But what you really need the spreadsheet for is to see what types of bets you excel at.
Perhaps you are up 10% on the year, but if you tracked all of your bets, you would realize that you are winning your NBA bets at an excellent rate, but are actually down betting on college football. Alternatively, you have been losing recently, but if you analyze your spreadsheet, you might see that all of your losses are coming from one sport, say college basketball, while you are actually up betting on the NFL. Additionally, you should be tracking your bets by type as well. You might be up ten units betting on NFL moneylines and down multiple units betting on the spread. You might be losing money on NBA player props but crushing NBA futures bets.
The spreadsheet will not only help you keep track of your bets, it will help you develop a better sports betting strategy for each sport. The important thing is that you know how much you are up or down for each sport and for each type of bet, so you can adjust your betting habits to better suit your strengths.
- Always, Always Line Shop
Suppose you want to bet on a Week 17 game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The final week of the NFL season is always a nightmare for people with a football betting strategy, because for many teams you just don’t know who is playing. Your usual book has Pittsburgh at +8.5 and you feel good enough to bet on the Steelers at that number. But, if you look around you will see a book that has Pittsburgh +9, and a third book that even has Pittsburgh +9.5.
In this era with dozens of options to place sports bets, if you are only using one site, you are at a severe disadvantage. Using only one site means you are forced to use the lines they provide. If you have accounts set up with multiple sites, you can pick the line that benefits you for every game, and of course the more sites you use, the more options you have. If you use multiple sites you will often be able to pick between different lines on the same game. So, being able to line shop will frequently buy you a half point in a game or give you a -108 moneyline instead of a -110 moneyline.
- Bet Openers
The people who set betting lines are really, really good at their jobs. They know where to set the line so that about half of all people bet one side of a line, and the other half is on the second side. But, lines also get firmer during the week. Sports books look at what number the other books are posting for each game, and they look at what percentage of money is being bet on each side. Injuries can also impact a line after they are posted. If a football team that is -7 is getting 81% of all money, the line might move to -7.5, so more money goes to the other side. But, if you bet the opener, or the initial number a sports book puts out, you are getting your money in before the oddsmakers can adjust to the market reactions.
- Track units, not winning percentage
You will often see sports betting “touts”, or experts, bragging about having a 58% winning percentage or having gone over 55% on bets for several years in a row. While you should be wary of all experts who claim to never lose, even if that percentage is correct it can be a facade. If you bet a small amount of money on a team that is -400 to win a game, you are going to win that bet, you just aren’t going to win a lot of money from the bet.
For your own tracking, you should be focusing on the amount of money you have won, not the percentage of bets you have gotten correct. A unit is the amount of money you typically bet on a game, and that number can be different for every person. One person might bet five dollars on each game they bet, another person might wager five hundred dollars. Either way, your regular wager is your betting unit. So, to use a round number, if your betting unit is one hundred dollars per bet, and you are up eight hundred dollars on the year, that means you are +8 units. If you are down two hundred dollars on the year, you are -2 units.