Having been in the game for a few years I’ve learnt some tricks and strategies on how to beat the bookies over the long term. Below, I will outline common traps that less experienced gamblers get into and how to avoid them. Also I’ll mention some ways to help beat the bookies.
1: Know what type of gambler you are and strategize accordingly
This is mainly aimed at people just starting in sports betting, you need to work out if you’re going to try and build a bankroll through singles or if you’re a more recreational better who just wants a bit of fun and are more likely to just put on Saturday accumulators and bet on the major events or go for a day at the races once or twice a year. This will help you work out how you’re going to manage your betting bankroll.
2: Bankroll Management
Before you put a penny into a betting account you need to consider how much money you’re willing to invest in betting as this can affect how successful you are. The main traps are depositing small amounts daily as if you’re consistently depositing without withdrawing anything, even though each deposit feels small they all add up and suddenly you’re £1000s in the red at the end of a year without realising. The other trap is depositing too much and suddenly being scared with how much you’re putting on, if the reaction to watching an event you’ve bet on is fear of losing instead of optimism and excitement then you need to strongly consider how much you’re betting and whether you’re enjoying it.
The best way to manage bankroll is to keep a record/spreadsheet where you track deposits, withdrawals and bet results. This will help you build discipline and give you perspective on how successful you are, this can also help when working out which sports you should bet more heavily due to having a clear edge.
I would recommend for people trying to make long term money to split bets into units and put 100 units in your account to start with and build from there to accommodate for the occasional downswing, also having regular reviews of your progress can help you determine when you are ready to move up in stakes or if you need to drop down in stakes until you find some form again.
3: Do your Research
This one applies to anyone who is betting, bookies are very clever people who will have models for all sporting events and they have employees who specialise in certain areas of sports to help them create odds that will make them as much money as possible.
So, if you’re not prepared to at least do some research on the bets you make then you have no chance of being profitable long term. A big trap on bookmaking sites is that the interface where you place bets has very little information or stats, especially on football they give you no information to work with other than a league table which is very little use.
For football, Sofascore and Soccerstats are great sites to do research with. Also check out what managers say in press conferences over how fit their players are and if they’re likely to rotate their side.
For horse racing, you can find ratings and trainer/jockey form on the racing post app. Also, on Sportinglife you can get replays of recent runs from horses running each day. Oddschecker is also useful as an advisory tool as it shows the % of bets going on horses in each race.
For American football use pro-football-reference for team stats to find exploitable matchups and for NBA use stats.nba.com
For more niche sports look for highlights and replays on Youtube and use Flashscore or Sofascore to see more in-depth details of individual results.
4: Learn some good tricks to get better value
When you’re looking to make a bet, you should shop around different firms to make sure you get the best price possible, Oddschecker is a quick and easy way of doing this. You’d be surprised at how different some markets are, this is especially important on some niche sports like Winter sports and Olympic sports where you can sometimes find multiple points in value.
Learning when professionals bet during a week is key as they are the biggest reason odds are driven down or up, usually the 3 main times they bet are as soon as a market appears, 8am on the day of the event, or right before the off. Line moves at these times are a very good indicator of what the result may be in most big events. You can either track them yourself by looking on betting apps and seeing if prices have changed on events you’re interested in or by looking on sports apps that show line movements.
Another thing to think about is the sorts of prices you want to play at, it’s hard to make a living betting on consistently odds on shots unless you’re hitting at an extremely high rate so you need to work out what strike rate you need to be hitting at to be profitable. For example, if someone is backing at an average price of 1/2, they have to be winning over 67% of bets to make money while someone who is averaging 4/1 as a price only has to hit at an over 20% rate to be profitable. As a personal rule I try to avoid odds on shots unless you’re looking at the best teams/athletes in the world. Some people will adopt a smallball low risk, high reward strategy while some will play singles aggressively.
Variance is another big thing to consider in what prices to play from sport to sport. Since humans are playing, they will make mistakes, so you need to take that into account for prices you take. For example I believe football can be low value at time since variance is so big in it, if you make a mistake in football it costs goals which are more valuable than a mistake that loses you a point in tennis or a mistake that costs you a try in rugby. So you need to work accordingly with variance when placing bets on a sport and not lump too much of your bankroll on 1 bet.
5: How to react to wins and losses
I always believe the difference between a bad and good gambler is how they react to losses and the difference between a good and great gambler is how they react to wins.
The main trap with loss reaction is to chase losses, it happens to nearly everyone that the initial reaction to a loss is to feel cheated or hard done by that the bet you researched or thought was a guarantee has lost. The main thing to remember is that variance is a thing and nobody wins 100% of bets, most successful bettors will probably operate in the 25-60% range depending on prices they take and that you’ll get some breaks in your favour and some things will go against you. So, there’s no point chucking money on something stupid like a random greyhound or a football match you’ve done no research on as you’re just playing into the hands of bookmakers and risk spiralling. This goes back to my spreadsheet point where if you’re tracking bets long term, you’ll realise you could still be making profit with the strategy you were using even if you have some losing days. If you let anger take you over then you can cause a lot of damage, sometimes all you can do is take a loss on the chin and walk away.
The next point I want to get to is how to react to a win. The big common mistake is just because someone has had a good day, they’ll start putting chunks of their profit on random sports events or roulette to try and win even more because they’re “on a streak”. In the long term this is stupid and will end up costing you money, obviously you should be happy to win since it means you’ve made a good bet, but getting carried away is very risky and could lead to something called chasing winnings where if you lose the small chunk you put on to try and boost profit you try and chase it back and damage all of your good work on stupid bets.
The main thing to remember is being a profitable bettor is a long term game and that to give yourself the best chance, it needs to be fun and that you need to exercise as much discipline as possible and take swings as they come.
If you feel you’re experiencing issues with gambling, then use the take a break options on the betting websites and if these don’t help, then go to https://www.gamcare.org.uk/ for further assistance.