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The 8 Deadly Mistakes Sports Bettors Make

Updated: May 11, 2022

Sports betting is a mix of skill and chance. You have no control over 'chance', but the 'skill' piece is on you to continuously improve upon!

One of the ways you can do that is by recognizing and avoiding some of the most common mistakes sports bettors fall into.

We've compiled a list of the eight most frequent errors in sports betting.

1. Not keeping or managing a bankroll 🏦

To improve as a sports bettor, you must exercise self-control and actively manage your money (known as bankroll).

Bankroll management is the process of managing your betting bankroll (the money you have set aside for sports betting) in a way that minimizes risk and maximizes profits.

Keep in mind that this is merely 'spare' money, not the money you need to pay your rent or your utility expenses. To guarantee that you don't dig yourself into a hole, determine the size of your bankroll.

You can do this by deciding on an amount of money you're willing to set aside for betting on a monthly basis. It should be an amount that you'd be comfortable losing.

Start with a small bankroll at first, like $100. Then gradually increase it as you become more accustomed to sports betting!

Another fundamental part of managing your bankroll is being able to answer the question "how much should I bet?" This can be done in one of four ways.

These include Flat/Unit betting, Percentage betting, Confidence betting, and Kelly Criterion. I talk about these in a separate article discussing strategies here.

The same is true for all four of these methods - your bet size should almost always be between 1%-3% of your bankroll, and never over 5%.

Bankroll management at its core consists of knowing how to stay disciplined, deciding on a starting bankroll, and staying consistent with your betting strategy.

Bankroll management at its core consists of knowing how to stay disciplined, deciding on a starting bankroll, and staying consistent with your betting strategy.

2. Betting with emotions rather than logic 🤪

Falling victim to letting your emotions run wild when betting.

Many bets are placed on a favorite team without considering the odds or any other aspects of the game. It might work a few times, but if you keep doing it, you'll end up losing your money.

No matter how great you think your favorite team or player is, you must maintain an impartial viewpoint.

Betting is based on facts, statistics, probability, and largely on luck. Betting choices should not be made based on emotions.

This certainly doesn't mean you need to avoid betting on your favorites, although some bettors do this to stay clear of this trap entirely!

3. Trying to dig yourself out of a losing streak 🥶

It's important to remember that betting is a risk. And, like any other type of gambling, there is always the potential to lose money.

This is especially true when it comes to trying to get out of a losing streak. The fact is, the longer you stay in a losing streak, the more likely you are to end up losing even more money. This is because it becomes tempting to chase your losses in an attempt to recoup your losses and end up going positive.

However, this is often a recipe for disaster, as it can quickly lead to even bigger losses.

So, if you find yourself on a losing streak, it is important to take a step back and reassess your betting strategy. It may be tempting to try and win back what you have lost, but it is important to remember that betting is a risk.

4. Betting higher amounts or on random things on a hot streak 🔥

Any seasoned sports gambler will tell you that betting on a hot streak can feel amazing but can lead to a lot of issues.

The reason for this is simple: streaks never last. Sooner or later, every team loses and every player has an off day.

When you're riding a hot streak, it's easy to get carried away and bet more than you can afford to lose or bet on things you've never researched before.

However, the moment your luck turns, you'll be left with empty pockets and a lot of regrets.

That's why it's always best to exercise caution when betting on sports. It may be tempting to go all-in on a sure thing but remember: the only sure thing in gambling is that the house always wins in the end.

5. Drinking and betting 🍺

Betting on sports while drunk is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First, alcohol impairs your judgment and makes it more challenging to make sound decisions.

Second, if you do happen to win while betting drunk, you're more likely to make poor decisions with your winnings and end up losing it all.

Finally, betting while drunk increases your chances of getting into arguments with other bettors or casino staff, which can lead to fights or other problems.

So if you're looking to take sports betting more seriously, be sure to stay sober and avoid sports betting while drunk.

6. Not taking advantage of line shopping 🛒

When it comes to sports betting, one of the most overlooked mistakes is not taking advantage of line difference by line shopping.

Line shopping means comparing lines at different sportsbooks in order to find the best possible odds. This is important because even a small difference in odds can have a big impact on your winnings.

For example, let's say you're betting on a basketball game and you find two different lines: one at -125 and one at -115. If you bet on the book with the line at -125 with $100, you'll profit $80.

But if you had instead bet on the other book with your $100 with the line at -115, you would have profited $86.96.

That simple difference found by shopping lines would have given you an 8.7% increase in profit! Do this over the course of a season and this will REALLY add up.

That simple difference found by shopping lines would have given you an 8.7% increase in profit! Do this over the course of a season and this will REALLY add up.

It can be really annoying having to jump between sportsbooks to find the best line, but not line shopping is just lazy sports betting.

The Vault sports betting app allows you to do this seamlessly with an easy-to-use odds table where you can compare odds from nine different sportsbooks!

6. Betting with no research or prior knowledge 🧠

You see this mistake most prevalent for March Madness, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or any high-profile matchup.

There will be a lot of media coverage to draw in casual and new bettors who have no idea of the sport, the players, how to read odds, or know about bankroll management.

As a result, they typically lose the bet because they get swept up in the frenzy. For sportsbooks, it's a terrific method to generate money!

A wise bettor is one who understands the stakes of the wager they are placing. There is no need to be an expert in order to have a chance of defeating the sportsbooks, but you should have some knowledge of the sport and how it operates.

7. Always taking the over ☝️

It's a common joke among sports bettors to always take the over. After all, a high-scoring game is always more exciting that a low-scoring one!

However, there are a number of reasons why taking the over might not be the best strategy. For one, sportsbooks are experts when setting lines, meaning that the chances of finding an over whose line is significantly off are relatively slim. Additionally, books know that there will usually be a bit more action on bets on the over, and will adjust the line accordingly in their favor.

Here are a few stats taken from Today's Top Totals on previous seasons and how often the over or under is hit.

  • In the NFL, from 2006 to 2018, the over/under hitting was just about 50/50, with the over hitting ONLY 2 additional times

  • In 6600 NBA games, it was found that the under actually hit 0.21% more than the over

  • The ratio between over hitting, under hitting, and a push in the MLB was: Over 2315 – Under 2373 – Push 241

8. Not following your CLV 📊

Closing Line Value (CLV) is a topic that's generally discussed by only top-level sports bettors. This is mainly because it's a difficult number to calculate, however, it provides a clear picture on how you are doing as a bettor

Pro bettors like Spanky in his podcast Be Betters Bettors preach CLV and its importance.

In short, the closing line value is the difference between the line you placed your bet at, and the closing line, measured in a percentage.

In short, the closing line value is the difference between the line you placed your bet at, and the closing line, measured in a percentage.

For example, the Cincinnati Bengals could be +4.5 on Monday, but a key player injury, inclement weather, sharp money, or any other factor could change that line to a +2 closing line by the time the game starts the next Sunday.

If you had favored Cincinnati to beat the spread and you bet early on at +4.5, and the closing line was +2, you would have a positive closing line value.

Why? Because betting that the underdog (Cincinnati) will lose by less than 4.5 points is a much more likely occurrence than them having to only lose by less than 2 points.

I go into much more detail about CLV and provide more examples of how to calculate it in this article!

Avoid the common mistakes

At the end of the day, sports betting is a mix of skill and chance. And although you can't do anything about chance, you can improve as a bettor by bettering your skills.

This all starts with the fundamentals and avoiding these common mistakes bettors fall into!

Are you looking to become a more profitable bettor?

The Vault app is used by hundreds of bettors nationwide to help them manage their bankroll, shop lines, and know exactly where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Download it now!


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