Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sane Strategies for Sports Betting

While I am not advocating sports betting, I do think it is important to have a sane strategy for sports gambling if you are going to participate. Sports betting can be a fun way to stay more focused on sports when 'your team' is not playing, but it also can become an addiction if you have an addictive personality so you need to be cognizant of your own tendencies before gambling.

Unlike most gambling games, sports betting has a skill element in a similar manner to poker. In sports gambling, you are playing against the betting line which is actually developed based on demand from other sports bettors. As a result, you are not playing against the house as you are in roulette or blackjack. You are betting against the complete psyche of all sports bettors for each game.

Therefore with the right sports betting strategy employed, it is possible you could actually make money over time. However, keep in mind that only a small percentage of sports bettors do make money. Usually, those positive expected value (EV) sports bettors have a strong knowledge of the sport they are betting, a reasonable cash management system and an system (or knack) for finding betting line discrepancies.

Knowing your Sport
You cannot expect to be a positive EV bettor in all sports. Frankly, it would be tough to do in more than one sport (unless you were buying the expertise of someone in that second or third sport). If you know a sport really well and understand the psychology of the players in that sport, the affect of home court advantage, how injuries affect the game, etc, then you may be able to generate a positive EV in a sport.

I know college basketball and I have definitely won money betting on college hoops over the years. But that does not mean I know pro basketball and it certainly has no bearing on my knowledge of pro football. You need to critically assess your knowledge base and stick to what you know (or pay for expert advice in sports you don't know).

When and if I bet on pro football, I know that I am negative EV and I am just football betting for fun. While I love watching the game, I am not a student of the game. I do not study it or watch enough to truly know what matters in football betting.

When I bet on college basketball, I know that I have a much better chance of winning and I take into account all the factors that I know affect the betting line to make my picks.

Know your sport and stick to it.

Reasonable Cash Management System
In sport betting, you need to use your bankroll wisely. You want to make a lot of small bets to try to take advantage of a positive EV scenario over the long haul. I would advocate betting between 1% to 2% of your sports gambling bankroll on any one bet. In that manner you will have between 50 and 100 bets in your bankroll. For instance, if your bankroll is $1,000 for sports betting on your chosen sport, then you would bet between $10 to $20 per game.

This level of bet gives you enough cushion to sustain a streak of losses without wiping out your entire bankroll. It is also important to remember that you should not vary the bets dramatically, stick with one bet amount for the season to take advantage of your long-term positive EV in the sport that you know. If you vary the bets you run the risk of outsmarting yourself.

And definitely don't increase your bet size after a losing streak to 'try to get back to even'. If you are thinking like this then you are heading down the wrong path and should consider giving up sports betting altogether. Chasing your losses is a slippery slope that can get you into a lot of trouble.

System for Finding Betting Line Discrepancies
This is really where the rubber meets the road. If you know a sport really well you will have ideas about when a line is out of whack. Unfortunately, there is nothing specific that I can tell you here because the sport betting factors are specific to the sport, game and bettor.

The key is to use your chosen sport expertise (or that which you purchased) to apply a consistent methodology for finding betting line discrepancies. As I said, I stick to college basketball and I mostly wait to bet when the conference season begins. That way I have a better feel for the teams and the long running psychological factors that I can rely on in historical conference play and end of year tournaments

Remember that sports betting should be fun. If you are spending your weekends pulling your hair out because of your bets, then you need to give it up. Yes it can be profitable, but only if you have the right temperament. Stick to a sane sports betting strategy that increases your chance of winning (or at least slows your losses) and stick to a sport you enjoy watching since you will spend more time focused on that sport.



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