Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid

Often the first step in making money in sports wagering is to minimize your mistakes. These are among the biggest mistakes I see bettors making in sports books.

Do not purchase selections

Do not subscribe to tip sheets or subscription services that exist to provide you with winners. Anyone with the ability to pick enough winners to show a profit will not be selling their selections. A good sports handicapper can make a lot of money on betting, and the money won comes from people making losing bets. Over time, the lion’s share of the money a sports bettor wins will come from losing players. It makes no sense to sell your expert selections to those providing you with your cash flow. You can either make money betting your selections or selling selections to players who think you are a winner, but you cannot do both.

Shopping around for the best price

People place too much emphasis on this. If you have made your line, and you see a good bet, then make the bet. You can spend time trying to find the best price on a game, but if you spend too much time, it can be counter productive. After shopping around, you may discover that the first line you saw was the best; however, you then discover that the first line has changed to become less favorable when you go back to make the bet. It is better to focus on making a line, comparing it to the line at your favorite sports book and make the bet. You will find that there are a couple of games that are possible bets if the line moves a bit from the opening line. In this case, you can shop for a better price or simply keep an eye on the betting line at your favorite sports book. Over the long haul, the differences in betting lines from one casino to another will even out, and it will not be a factor in determining whether you are a winning or losing player.

Betting early to take advantage of mistakes

There are those who try to bet when the line is first published thinking they can find mistakes in the line, but in order for this to happen, you will need to be a better handicapper than the experts who set the line are. Few people, if any, can do this. Always keep in mind that your competition is the betting public and not the sports books. I prefer to bet the day before the game or at least the same day. If you do this, just make sure you don’t get shut out before the start of the game.

For long-term profits, do not bet the gimmicks

The type of bet that gives a sports book its highest return are the parlay cards, teaser bets and proposition bets. These types of wagers vary greatly in the casino vigorish, but all of them are much greater than simple point spread and money line bets and should be avoided. Future bets can be fun, but they usually have a high take as well. However, they take several weeks to win or lose, but can have high entertainment value. As long as you don’t plan on making a lot of money consistently, they can be a lot fun to bet. Many sports fans come to Las Vegas and enjoy betting on a future sports outcome, such as who will win the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup or the World Series. There is nothing like having a winning ticket on the team you thought would win a championship on a bet you made months before the game was played.

Be careful using power ratings

These are numbers that are computed using any number of factors and are dependent upon the handicapping of a tout. These numbers can be purchased, and several of them are very popular. Naturally, the more popular the numbers are, the less likely they are going to be useful. If you are going to make your own betting line based upon power ratings, you will need to come up with your own rating system. Earlier in my sports handicapping days, I experimented using various power ratings, but over time I simply discarded them. I try not to sum up a football team’s performance with a single number. Instead, and depending upon the particular sport, I prefer to look at the points, goals or runs they scored and gave up to another team, or I look at how they performed relative to their odds in the recent games.

At the beginning of the season, there are touts who will publicize or offer to sell power ratings prior to the first game of the season. This goes against everything I believe handicapping a football game to be. The only games you can go by when assigning power ratings is the previous season’s games and practice games for this year. But I believe last year’s games were too long ago, and pre-season games are, in fact, practice games. How anybody does in practice does not necessarily translate into real game performance.

If you choose to use power ratings, you need to keep in mind their limitations. The longer you go back in time to calculate a power rating, the less accurate they will be. Of course, this opinion is coming from a handicapper that stresses recent form over all other factors in sports.

Good Luck!

Ken Osterman