15 Most Common Sports Betting Mistakes

If you’re a new sports bettor, hopefully you’ve learned quite a bit about the sports betting industry as it continues to legalize in more and more states across the US. You’ve likely read plenty of tips that will make you more likely to be a successful gambler in the long run. You may have also come across lists of things not to do. The first order of business is to understand that it’s not that easy.

Think of it this way. You’re now an adult and you’ve been watching sports of all kinds for years, maybe since you were a small child watching all your favorite teams and players. You had a good feel for when they’d win and when they’d lose, so betting on them should be easy, right?

You won’t be the first or the last person to overestimate your ability to beat the sportsbooks. Here are 15 of the most common mistakes sports bettors make, whether they’re new to sports gambling or have plenty of experience.

1. Thinking like a fan

You may root for your favorite teams whenever they set foot on the field, court or whatever sport it is that you’re betting on. However, that does not mean you should be betting on them every game. When analyzing a favorite team, it’s important to remove yourself from a fan’s perspective. A good way to do this is to picture all the exact circumstances your team is going through and visualize all those things happening to your team’s rival. If your perspective changes, you are betting with bias, which is not a trait of a long-term successful bettor. Strive to make wagers on what’s most likely to happen instead of what you would like to happen.

2. Playing too many parlays

If you think betting on single games is hard enough, being a consistent winner with parlays is even tougher. A parlay refers to grouping two or more bets together, and it’s an all-or-nothing style of wager. Even if you’re putting 10 teams into a parlay, if you get just one of them wrong, the entire bet is a loss. Parlays are attractive due to their high payouts if you predict them correctly, but they do not lend themselves to sustained long-term success.

3. Not taking enough chances on underdogs

It may sound simple, but picking the teams that receive a head start can be the more profitable way to go. In point spread betting, the underdogs receive a certain number of points to work with, which is the sportsbooks’ way of evening the playing field for a lesser opponent. It’s important to avoid taking only favorites. It feels like the right thing to do because it seems obvious that it makes more sense to bet on the better team. Because of this, the public will often take the favorites, creating more value for you on the underdog.

4. Betting the over on high-scoring teams

Similar to the previous tip, don’t be afraid to take unders. Betting on the under for a game you are watching isn’t always the most exciting because you’re essentially cheering for a lack of points. Because of that, many sports bettors decide to take the over, leaving value on the under.

5. Chasing your losses

This is one of the most important rules of sports betting to keep your experience from turning into a problem. Chasing your losses refers to an emotional wager that is following a loss, sometimes off a last-second disappointing defeat. When you lose a bet and immediately place another wager to make up for the loss, that is chasing your loss. It is an emotional and unhealthy way to go about placing a wager that could dig yourself into an even deeper hole. You’re going to lose bets, including some in heart-breaking fashion. It happens to anyone who puts in plenty of time in this space, but it’s important to take a deep breath and make wise betting decisions.

6. Betting while drunk/impaired

Just like with everything in life, make sure you are making your wagers with a clear mind. Especially when it involves money, make sure you’re doing everything you can to not put yourself in position to make a bet when you are impaired in some way. You could wake up with a loss worse than you otherwise would’ve placed, and that’s a bad position to be in.

7. Not tracking line movement

It can be difficult to get a sense of where the odds will move, but just know that odds and betting lines may fluctuate as you get closer and closer to game time. Your No. 1 goal should be to get the best value possible no matter what wager you are making. Following where the line movement is going from the oddsmakers’ initial release to where it ends up when the game officially gets started is crucial to finding the best value for your wager.

8. Not claiming enough free bets/bonuses

This is pretty simple. Sportsbooks will offer plenty of bonuses to their users, and you should be taking them. Check your account often to see what might be available. Read the rules and regulations of each bonus, but make sure you’re taking advantage of free wagers when they’re given to you because, for many of them, you’ll have nothing to lose.

9. Trying to get too analytical

While it’s good to keep your team bias out of your thinking and instead rely on statistics, sometimes those can lead you astray, as well. With the sports betting industry continuing to explode, there is a ton of information out there at our disposal, and it’s up to the sports bettor to find out which details are the most important. One thing to keep in mind is factoring in motivation between the two teams, which likely won’t show up in any stat sheet.

10. Betting on too many sports

Many fans follow a variety of sports, and that’s the case for sports bettors as well. They will typically bet on whatever is next in the sports calendar. That’s OK, but it’s important to bet only on what you know. If you have no interest in Major League Baseball and haven’t paid attention to the sport in years, it might make sense to stay away from betting on baseball. Finding your niche as a sports bettor and sticking with it can be beneficial in the long run.

11. Trusting “pro” handicappers

It’s important to be skeptical when following a particular person’s gambling picks. Plenty of self-styled sports betting experts are out there who will charge you for their picks. If what they claim as their overall record seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you can follow people or pay for other services that aren’t going to lie to you. There also are good people in this industry trying to help, so it’s important to weed out the bad ones.

12. Having unrealistic expectations

If you believe you’re going to walk right in to the sports betting industry and dominate the sportsbook, you likely are mistaken. It’s incredibly difficult just to break even for the best of the best, so it’s going to take a while for you to demonstrate long-term success. As with everything in life, it’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself, especially when you’re just starting something new.

13. Trying to do it for a living

Very few sports bettors will be able to make a living betting on sports unless it’s in some form of a sports media role. Simply relying on sports betting as your sole source of income can be dangerous, especially if you’re just a beginner. It is an incredibly difficult way to make a living, and that’s why most simply do it as a hobby.

14. Not shopping for the best line

Many sports bettors will open accounts at multiple VA sportsbooks to guarantee themselves the best value. Not all sportsbooks will have the exact same numbers, and even just a half point could be the difference between a winning or losing bet. When you decide which game you want to bet on, compare the lines and odds from each sportsbook you’re a part of, and choose the best one for you. Just like other types of shopping, you want to identify the best deals.

15. Blindly following betting strategies

Sports bettors like to develop betting systems or courses of action they think will lead to an edge over the sportsbook. No system is flawless, and no matter what system you’re going to try, make sure you do your regular research before placing that bet. There is nuance and different circumstances that go into every game that a system may not account for.

Final takeaway

Just like in every aspect of life, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Luckily, so many costly sports betting mistakes have been made among bettors over the years that we can point some of them out for you. Try to make sure you don’t fall into the traps listed here. Additionally, you may find others that you recognize as betting mistakes and can continue to add to the list.