10 Commandments of Sports Gambling
There are ways to help even the odds in your favor.
The truth is there is only one proven way to win consistently (although having lady-luck on your side is also a major plus). You MUST know the sport you are betting on, and you have to pick out the games where the oddsmakers erred in setting the odds.
There’s no magic formula, no computer simulating system, and there are no ‘insider’ secrets. But there are ways to increase your chances, so you win more than you lose.
I like to call these the 10 Commandments of Sports Gambling.
1. Do not bet on sports if it affects your health. If you are a hard loser, if you have high blood pressure, a bad ticker, or just can’t let those bad beats go, then this isn’t the game for you because losing is inevitable. Betting on sports is like the stock market … you’re going to win sometimes, and you WILL lose sometimes. The goal is consistency and longevity. Think marathon, not sprint!
2. If you pass the first commandment, and you really want to win money, then you must approach sports gambling as a job. It cannot be a hobby, and you cannot go about your business half-assed. Each spread (or game) is a business deal that you’ll either do or you’ll pass on. A knowledgeable businessman should research each deal on its merits, then decide. Going into a business deal without knowing anything about the teams, terms or circumstances usually results in bad business. Which means you go outta business real quick.
3. Bet the same amount of money on every game you bet. This one will cause a few arguments amongst some bettors, but it’s a common mistake among social or weekend betters. Even if you really like that one game, but only kind of like two other games, bet all three the same. When you put $500 on one, but only $100 on the others, you’re only setting yourself up to fall hard. Sure, the $500 game might cash in, but how many times has the $500 missed, dropping you into a hole you never recover from. There is no 5-star, 3-star, 1-star … there is no ‘system’ … anyone that tells you these things is not a successful gambler unless they have extremely deep pockets to eat a 5- star loss every now and then.
4. Stay away from parlays, teasers, props, and other exotic bets like first half/second half bets and the first five innings bets unless you are willing to just hand over cash. They are all a bookies’ (or sportsbooks’) wet dreams. Sure, you get paid 10-to-1 if you hit a 4-teamer, but the chances of it happening, consistently are about the same as your odds of sleeping with Heidi Klum. Instead of one bet on four teams, put your money on the four teams separately. That way, when 3-out-of-4 win, you walk away from a winner instead of cussing ‘that damn fourth team!’ There’s a reason sportsbooks offer these bets, and it’s not because they like to pay you 10-times your bet when they lose. It’s because they ALL put more money in their own pockets. The lure of fast cash is too enticing for some people to not realize they’re walking into a trap.
5. Know when to walk away and don’t chase! This is obviously the biggest problem for most gamblers. How many times have you lost on a noon NFL game, dropped into a hole, then made it worse by betting a couple of afternoon games to try and make it up only to take it deeper without lube? Likewise, you win a noon game, then try and double it by betting an afternoon game only to lose and break even. DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Pick the games you’re going to bet on ahead of time, bet them, then walk away. Don’t compound your problems by trying to double it or win it back by betting on a game you didn’t want to bet on in the first place. Don’t chase by betting on the second half because you already lost the original bet in the first half. This is the hardest rule to follow sometimes because it goes against every gambling fiber in your body. But if you want to win, win consistently, you have to follow it.
6. The walk away rule also applies before the games as well. If you look at the point spreads in the morning, and nothing appeals to you, don’t bet. Let’s face it; oddsmakers are good at what they do. Sometimes too good. You must remember that you’re looking for an oddsmaker’s mistakes, but if you have a hard time finding a game you like, take a day off and start fresh tomorrow.
7. Don’t bet on games if the odds have changed too much for your taste. If you like a game that has a spread of 3, only to get to your bookie and find out the odds changed to 4 1/2 … stay away. It’s no longer the bet you thought it was, and therefore it’s no longer worth betting on. Different bettors will give you a different level of variance, but I recommend using a point to point-and-half guideline. But you can determine your own comfort level about how far you’ll let the line move before it becomes a bad bet.
8. This one is called the ‘Bull Durham’ rule after a line in the movie. ‘Don’t mess with a streak.’ If you’re winning, don’t brag aloud to everyone, gloat or do anything to piss off the Betting Gods. Likewise, when you’re losing, don’t cry in your beer or piss and moan. Be like the athletes you’re betting on and try and stay on an even keel. When you win, act like you’ve been there before. When you lose, be mad but determined to do better next time.
9. Since you’re treating this like a job, do what every self-respecting human does whenever possible and take a vacation from betting. Take a week off every now and then to recharge the batteries. If you’re winning, this may go against the previous commandment, but pick and choose the best times of the year to step aside and take a break.
10. The last commandment pisses a lot of bettors off and takes some of the fun out of sports gambling for most, but it’s something you MUST DO to win constantly. DO NOT BET on your favorite team. If you’re honestly going to try and make money, you have to remain unbiased in every way. When you bet on your team a large percentage of the time, your judgment is clouded. Sit back and enjoy their games while looking at the scroll for other scores. If you must, betting on an over/under with said favorite team is a much smarter bet anyway and easier on the heart and mind.
Following all of these rules will increase your chances of beating the house. If you are an ‘action junkie’ and can’t stay away from parlays and teasers and all of the other traps discussed in this piece, then you will have a hard time following these rules and will find yourself reloading your bankroll more often than you cash out.
The bottom line is that you have to be smart about the plays you make. Be smart, do your homework and have fun and remember that you will not become a millionaire in one night betting on sports. Those are the exact kind of egomaniacs that sportsbooks are hoping to attract.
Best of luck to you!