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By Sid J. Basheipoa


Sid J. Basheipoa is a serious recreational sports bettor with 7 years experience. 

People are motivated to bet on sports for a variety of reasons. Some people enjoy the thrill of the game, others are recreational bettors and still others place wagers on games in hopes of turning a profit. One thing is certain though, betting on sports can be hazardous to your bankroll if you don’t know what you are doing.

I wish I had a mentor when I got started in sports betting because over the years I have taken my hits. When I first started it was a guy in the dorms who introduced me to the world of online gambling. I always liked sports and betting on the games seemed like a no risk activity. I really didn’t know much and of course I was suckered into betting "sure things," "locks," parlays and other ridiculous low probability bets. Needless to say I lost money and over the next few years I experienced a lot of bad moments because of a lack of poise and amateur mistakes.

Now, however, I have a good grasp of the situation. This past year, for example, I turned a nice profit but there certainly is still a lot of work to be done. If you are interested in sports betting, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most important things that you should know. This is not a comprehensive list but I believe my tips will provide you a good overview of how best to approach sports betting. I’ve arranged my tips in order of importance.

1. Choosing a good sportsbook

Actually this really is not the most important thing, but if you don’t do this correctly the rest of the tips are useless so I need to place this here. My advice is to find a reputable sportsbook that caters to your style of play. If you are a professional, then find a book that welcomes professional players. If you are a recreational bettor, look for a book that accommodates your style. If you are a player who likes to bet underdogs, then find a book that has loose lines. If you like books that offer bonuses or reduced juice, they are out there for you! There are thousands of books, some good, some great, and others really bad or frauds. Consult for advice. Make a list of the most important things to you (payouts, methods of deposit, lines, customer service, bonuses, years in service, good juice, etc…) and then find a book(s) that satisfies these criteria.

2. Money management

By far and away this is the most important aspect of sports betting. This is the area of sports gambling that amateurs struggle with the most. Without this skill, you’ll be sitting on the sidelines on weekends or looking for a good bankruptcy attorney to get you out of debt like Cecil Fielder. Any good bettor will start out with a bankroll. This will differ among individual styles but a good bankroll can be anywhere between $100 to $1,000,000. From your bankroll, you should ideally wager 2% of your bankroll on each bet that you make, 1.5% to be conservative and 2.5% or higher to be a bit more risky but you’ll ultimately have to make the decision here. So, for instance, if you have a $2,000 bankroll, $40.00 would be your wager size on any given game ($2,000. x .02 = $40.00). Try not to vary your wager size unless you feel you have a very strong play otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble by overbetting.

3. Line shopping

It is a good idea to have multiple sportsbooks. Why, you ask? Well different sportsbooks offer different lines. Lines will move according to the cliental and reputation of each sportsbook. So you may have one sportsbook that offers a game between DEN/OAK with OAK +3, but another has it has +2.5, and yet another has it at +3.5. If you are an OAK backer you’ll look for that book with +3.5 and if you are a DEN backer you’ll find that book with -2.5. This way, when the final score is 16-13 you’ll be very happy you put in the extra effort to open and fund multiple sportsbook accounts. Over the course of an entire football year, you could add anywhere between 1-3% to your winning percentage. This literally could mean the difference between a good year and an exceptional year. It is up to you to put in the effort though.

4. Selectivity

On any given weekend there are anywhere between 75 to100 games on the NCAAF and NFL board. That does not include totals, half lines, quarter lines, game and player props, and alternative lines. There is no need to bet on every game. You should try to focus on a handful of games in each league, maybe 7-10 in NCAAF and 3 or 4 in the NFL and find the strongest plays there. It is much easier to hit 57-60% of your plays when you bet only 11 games as opposed to betting 60 games. In addition, there is no need to bet every marquee game on TV. It may be more interesting to watch the Tennessee/Georgia game on national TV, but it may be more profitable to bet the UTEP/SMU game.

5. Develop a consistent betting strategy

There are several methods players rely on to pick winners. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Pick a method that suits your style and you feel comfortable with. Some methods are very elaborate and require extreme patience and time such as the "sharp method" or the "game breakdown" method. Others like "trend strategies" or the "bet against the public" strategy require less effort and time but can be equally as rewarding.

6. Emphasis should be on the underdog

There is a reason sportsbooks and Vegas are a multi billion dollar industry. Quite simply, people bet on favorites way too much. This means there is an overplay on the favorite and an underplay on the underdog. As a result, sportsbooks are forced to adjust the line accordingly. This almost always means you are getting more value when you bet the underdog. Instead of a team being +7, they end up at +9.5 by game time. Remember, the underdog just has to cover the spread; it does not have to win the game outright. On the other hand, the favorite not only has to win the game, but it also has to cover a spread and it’s usually an overvalued spread at that. I would say anywhere between 85-90% of all wagers you place should be on the underdog. You just can’t win betting favorites. Remember, if you want to be a good sports bettor you better make the underdog the central part of your betting strategy. Anything else is like committing sports betting suicide.

7. Become an expert in your field

Read up on what it is you want to wager on. Just don’t bet blind on something. Have a good grasp of the teams, players, recent meetings, stadiums, etc… If you want to specialize in NCAAF on the Big Ten teams and someone asks you how good is the Indiana offensive line this year you better have a good answer! There is no sense on betting on something you are just not good at or have no knowledge of like tennis, Mexican league baseball, the WNBA, NASCAR, etc…

8. Patience

Sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to churn a profit. There is a reason over 90% of people who bet on sports lose and lose big to boot. It’s because they are not patient. Sometimes a person goes 3-2 in a day and makes a profit and then starts to think, "Well I really should have gone 4-1 if player X had done this or that." They then try to win that back even though they have turned a profit. They go for the glory all in one day or weekend thinking that it is only a matter of time before the tide turns their way. Similarly, those who have lost become desperate and somehow reason to themselves that they are due to win the next game. Well let me tell you something that you should never forge: there is no law of averages in sports betting. The only way to win is to grind out the bookmaker by using discipline like money management skills and line shopping. Be prepared to be in this for the long haul. Treat this like you are investing stocks. Stocks take time; generating a profit just does not happen over night. Sports betting should be the same. And be happy with a small profit. Let’s say you bet everyday over the course of a year and you win an average of $20 everyday. Doesn’t seen like much, but think about it: 365 x $20= $7,300. Not bad! Enough for a down payment on a car, a vacation for the family, jewelry for your wife or girlfriend, a round of drinks for the guys, some nice new clothes for your wardrobe, maybe a new laptop, etc… You get the point. A little bit each day can be a lot over the course of a year. But it all requires patience.

9. "Accept" losing and "expecting" winning

To break even in sports betting you’ll need to hit 52.38% of your games and with offshore, reduced juice books increasing in popularity that number could be as low as 51.22%. Remember, the best sports gamblers in the world, the guys who do this for a living, will only hit around 57- 59% of their games. This means that losing is part of the sports gambling experience. And if you bet on a regular basis, it means you are going to lose hundreds if not thousands of games a year. Some losses are going to be close; others will have you asking yourself how you ever placed money on this team. You should know that losing is as much a part of winning in sports gambling. The trick is to accept the losing part, but also realize that to win you’ll only need to win slightly more than you lose. If you can hit 55-57% of your games you will make a small fortune. Anything higher than that is exceptional but should not be expected as it takes the most talented and disciplined gambler to hit at that level.

10. Avoid traps that plague amateur bettors

Chasing losses, betting heavily on favorites, low probability bets, doubling your wager size till you win, falling for tout claims, getting emotional over the games, poor money management skills, etc…all contribute to a losing experience and probable financial hardships. Every gambler has gone through it. The successful players are able to identify their weaknesses and remedy these problems and ultimately this will lead them to become good sports gamblers. Remember, if you do not want to be considered an amateur then you should not gamble like one. This seems easy enough but sometimes these are the hardest things to do.

Good luck!

Sid J. Basheipoa

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