The Biggest Challenges of Sports Betting

Sports betting is one of the few forms of gambling where your destiny is in your own hands. In the long run, luck only plays a very small part. It鈥檚 YOUR decisions that will ultimately determine whether or not you make money. This means there鈥檚 absolutely no reason why you can鈥檛 become a successful and profitable bettor.

You鈥檙e going to have to work hard though. Making money is NOT easy. In fact, only a few sports bettors manage to make profits on a regular and consistent basis. If you鈥檙e willing to put in the necessary effort, then there鈥檚 no reason you won鈥檛 be able to join them. With that being said, however, there are some big challenges that you鈥檙e going to have to overcome.

We鈥檙e not telling you this to discourage you. We just don鈥檛 see the point of painting a false picture. If you鈥檙e going to stand any chance at all of making money, it鈥檚 important that you understand just how difficult it鈥檚 going to be.

That鈥檚 why we鈥檝e written this article. We explain some of the biggest challenges you鈥檙e going to face, so that you鈥檙e fully prepared for the task ahead. To makes things a little easier, we also offer some expert advice for overcoming these challenges.

Developing the Right Mindset

Imagine you鈥檙e about to bet on a tennis match. It鈥檚 the second round of the US Open, and Novak Djokovic is playing Steve Johnson. Djokovic is currently ranked 2nd in the world, while Johnson is ranked 30th. Djokovic has made the final round of the US Open seven times. Johnson has never made it past the third round. Which player are you going to bet on?

The obvious answer here is Djokovic. He鈥檚 the better player, and far more likely to win. But now imagine that the odds on Djokovic are so low that a $100 wager would win just $1. And the odds on Johnson are so high that a $100 wager would win $10,000.

Would you STILL want to bet on Djokovic?

It鈥檚 not so obvious now, is it? Sure, Djokovic is very likely to win this match. Is it worth risking $100 to win $1 though? Johnson might not have a BIG chance to win here, but he does have a chance. At odds of 100 to 1, it鈥檚 got to be tempting to back him.

Now, no bookmaker would actually offer these odds on a tennis match. We鈥檝e used this extreme example simply to make a VERY important point.

Betting on the most likely outcome is not always the right thing to do.

Sports bettors tend to bet mostly on what they think is going to happen. They want to win as many of their wagers as they can, and they figure that betting on likely outcomes is the best way to do this. They鈥檙e right too, as backing the most likely outcome all the time should result in winning lots of wagers.

The problem for these bettors is that their mindset is all wrong. This might surprise you, but they shouldn鈥檛 be focusing on trying to win as many wagers as possible. Why not? Well, that鈥檚 not actually the best way to make money. Winning wagers is obviously a good thing, as that鈥檚 where the profits come from, but simply winning a lot of them doesn鈥檛 guarantee an overall profit.

A bettor could win 80% of their wagers and still have an overall loss. On the other hand, they could win just 40% of their wagers and still make an overall profit. It all depends on the odds. When a bettor is focused on winning a lot of wagers, and betting on likely outcomes, they鈥檙e going to be betting at low odds. This leads to low payouts that can easily be wiped out when they lose.

Does this mean you should never bet at low odds? No. Nor does it mean you should bet at high odds every opportunity you get. It just means that focusing on winning lots of wagers isn鈥檛 the right approach. Wise up; think carefully about the odds on offer before a placing wager.

We cannot stress this enough: only bet when the odds are in your favor!

To determine whether or not the odds are in your favor, you need to understand the concept of value. In the context of sports betting, value basically describes the relationship between the chances of a wager winning and the odds. When a wager is more likely to win than the odds suggest, it has positive value. This means the odds are effectively in your favor, and that it鈥檚 a good wager to place.

We cover this subject in more detail in our article on finding value in the betting odds. Please take the time to read it. Understanding value is crucial for anyone striving to be a successful sports bettor. It may seem a little complicated at first, but this will become easier once you get the hang of it.

The challenge lies in applying the concept. Betting for value often requires you to bet AGAINST what you think will actually happen, and many people find this difficult. Consider the tennis match we gave as an example earlier. In that situation, your natural instinct will almost certainly be to bet on Djokovic. You鈥檒l probably find it hard to bet on Johnson given his small chance of winning, even though the odds of 100/1 offer clear value.

There鈥檚 no quick and easy solution to this. It鈥檚 all about developing the right mindset, and that will take time. It鈥檚 important to keep telling yourself that value is the ONLY thing that matters when making betting selections. Forget about trying to win as many wagers as possible, and try to ignore what your instinct tells you. Focus on the end goal of making money, and always remember that betting for value is the best way to get there.

Accurately Assessing Probability

Sports are unpredictable. It鈥檚 a big part of why they鈥檙e so entertaining. Would we really enjoy watching them so much if we knew what was going to happen all the time? Of course not. Some of the most memorable moments in sport history have been those upsets that we just didn鈥檛 see coming.

Entertainment means very little when betting to make money though. The unpredictable nature of sports is great for the fans, but it鈥檚 not so great from a betting perspective. The unexpected happens so often that you can鈥檛 afford to simply make assumptions about the outcome of sports events. Instead, you must try to determine just how likely each possible outcome is.

This means putting A LOT of thought in to every single wager.

We explained earlier how important it is to identify value in the betting markets. This requires assessing the probability of possible outcomes, which can be very time consuming. You must consider ALL possible outcomes, however unlikely they may seem.

Assessing probability in sports is a major challenge. Many factors affect the outcome of sports events, so it鈥檚 very difficult to put an exact figure on how likely each possible outcome is. Nevertheless, you鈥檙e going to have to try. Making these assessments is the only way to identify value effectively, and accuracy is extremely important.

Let鈥檚 go back to the tennis example we used as an example earlier. While Johnson is not a bad player, Djokovic is clearly more talented. He鈥檚 ranked higher in the world, and he鈥檚 won many more tournaments. So it鈥檚 very easy for us to say that Djokovic is the most likely winner of this match.

That鈥檚 not all we need to know though. We must assess his actual chances of winning. Does he have a 60% chance of winning? Or a 70% chance of winning? Or are his chances even better than that? That鈥檚 what you need to determine when trying to identify any possible value. But how?

Unfortunately, there鈥檚 no 鈥減erfect鈥?method for assessing probability. It鈥檚 a matter of personal judgement really, and more of an art than a science. The key is to make sure that your judgements are always based on proper analysis and solid reasoning. Take as much relevant information into consideration as possible.

If we were betting on this tennis match, for example, then we鈥檇 consider all of the following.

  • Overall quality of the two players
  • Results from previous matchups
  • Current form of both players
  • Each player鈥檚 record on a hardcourt surface
  • Each player鈥檚 record in major tournaments
  • Current fitness levels of each player

This obviously goes beyond simply assuming that Djokovic is likely to win because he鈥檚 the better player. We鈥檙e probably still going to reach the conclusion that he鈥檚 likely to win, but analyzing all this information gives us a much better chance of accurately assessing his actual chances. Although our assessment will ultimately be subjective, it will at least be based on tangible and relevant information. We鈥檙e not just guessing here.

We鈥檇 love to provide a step by step guide to accurately assessing probability in sports, but the reality is that this isn鈥檛 teachable. It鈥檚 a skill that only comes with experience. You just need to be patient, and try to develop methods that work for you.

We do have three useful tips to offer though.

  • Spend plenty of time on research and analysis
  • Maintain a narrow focus
  • Keep detailed betting records

Information is power when it comes to sports betting. That鈥檚 a fact. The more of it you have, the better you鈥檒l be able to assess probabilities. So you MUST be prepared to devote lots of time to research. Don鈥檛 rush this; it鈥檚 going to take more than just a few minutes of your time. Before betting on any event, you should gather as much relevant information as you possibly can. Then, take time to analyze that information as best you can.

Simply spending a lot of time on research and analysis will not guarantee your success. It鈥檚 the QUALITY of the research and analysis that really matters. We suggest reading the following article for some excellent advice on this aspect of sports betting.

Now that you see how time consuming research and analysis can be, it鈥檚 easy to see why we recommend maintaining a narrow focus. It鈥檚 just not realistic to think you can commit the necessary time if you鈥檙e betting on a ton of different sports. Focusing on just one or two sports will almost certainly yield better results, so that鈥檚 the way to go. You can always try widening your focus once you鈥檙e making regular profits.

Keeping detailed betting records is a must for all serious sports bettors. Make sure you detail every wager placed, including notes on WHY you placed it. Then, periodically set aside some time to review these records, and study what went right and what went wrong. This will help you find ways to improve your judgement.

Check out the following article for more information on this subject.

Controlling Your Emotions

Successful sports betting requires clear and rational thinking. Decisions need to be made based on logic and reasoning, which means you鈥檙e going to have to put your feelings aside. Sound easy? Don鈥檛 be so sure. We can pretty much guarantee that at some point your emotions will take over.

You鈥檙e going to experience highs and lows when betting on sports. Those highs and lows WILL cause an emotional response, and your emotions may start to cloud your judgement and prevent rational thinking.

When winning consistently, for example, you might get carried away with the success. This can lead to overconfidence, complacency or even greed. You may stop putting the effort in, thinking you鈥檝e cracked it. Or start chasing bigger wins, only to end up losing more than you won in the first place.

When on a losing streak, you might get frustrated and just give up. Or experience self-doubt, and start second-guessing every decision you make. In a worst-case scenario, you might start increasing your stakes to try to recover previous losses. This never ends well, and is a HUGE mistake.

The bottom line is that emotions invariably lead to bad decisions.

Unfortunately, there鈥檚 very little you can do to actually prevent emotional responses. They just happen; it鈥檚 the way our brains are wired. What we can do is try to control these responses when they do happen.

This can be a real challenge. There isn鈥檛 a textbook solution that will work for everyone, but we do offer some useful advice in the following article.

In the meantime, here鈥檚 a couple of quick tips to bear in mind.

  • Learn to recognize when your emotions are starting to take over
  • Don鈥檛 bet when tired, sick or under the influence

Simply recognizing when your emotions are starting to take over makes it much easier to control them. If you鈥檙e aware of what鈥檚 happening, you can act accordingly. Some people may benefit from taking a few deep breaths, while others may need to take a break to get refocused. In time, it should become easier to put your feelings aside.

Our second tip is perhaps an obvious one. It鈥檚 good advice though. When you鈥檙e tired, sick or under the influence, you鈥檙e much more likely to be affected by emotions. You won鈥檛 have the same resilience to deal with them, so why put yourself in that position? If you鈥檙e not in the right shape physically or mentally, it鈥檚 best to just not bet at all.

Other Minor Challenges

Here鈥檚 a list of three additional challenges you鈥檒l face when trying to make money from betting on sports. None of these are especially hard to overcome, but you should still be aware of them.

  • Gaining the required knowledge
  • Picking the right betting site
  • Dealing with the grind

Let鈥檚 take a quick look at each of these challenges, and explain how to deal with them.

Gaining the required knowledge

A lot of sports bettors assume that that the only knowledge they need is their existing sports knowledge. They figure that if they know enough about a sport, they should be able to make money from betting on it. Unfortunately, they鈥檙e wrong.

An extensive sports knowledge helps, but it鈥檚 not enough. 聽An extensive knowledge of the actual betting side of things is required too. You need to learn all about the different types of wager, and how the bookmakers set their odds and lines. You need to learn why the odds and lines change, and what those changes mean. Then there鈥檚 all the strategy involved, and a whole lot more too.

The best way to gain all the required knowledge is to spend some time going through our comprehensive sports betting guide. It鈥檚 full of valuable information and advice that will help you become successful. It will take you a while to get through it all, but we promise it will be time well spent.

Picking the right betting sites

Betting online is THE best way to bet. No question at all. It offers many advantages over the more traditional methods, some of which can directly improve your chances of making money. There鈥檚 only one problem. To make the most of these advantages you need to use the right betting sites, and picking the right sites is harder than it seems.

This is because there are hundreds of sports betting sites to choose from, most of which offer a reasonable service. Who wants to settle for reasonable though?

We can help you to find the BEST sites, as we鈥檝e written a detailed article with advice on choosing where to bet. For an even easier solution, check out our recommended betting sites.

Dealing with the grind

Sports betting can be a lot of fun when done for recreation. It can be a real grind when betting specifically to make money though. Reading all the latest news, analyzing statistics and studying recent form quickly gets very boring. Heck, even watching sports gets tedious when doing it for 鈥渨ork鈥?purposes.

Once you stop enjoying sports betting, it鈥檚 all too easy to stop putting the effort in. So you need to learn to deal with the grind, and not let it affect you. This is easier said than done, but you鈥檝e got to try.

Taking regular breaks definitely helps. We suggest having at least one day per week where you set aside everything betting related and focus on other things instead. Try to not even think about betting.

It鈥檚 also beneficial to take extended breaks every now and then. A whole week off can work wonders, and allow you to come back refreshed and ready to go again. You鈥檒l feel better, and you鈥檒l probably be able to get more accomplished.

In Summary

Making money from sports betting is hard. Not impossible, but definitely not easy. You ARE going to face some challenges, and it WILL take time to overcome them. If you鈥檙e patient, and you follow our advice, then there鈥檚 no reason why you won鈥檛 be able to achieve your goals. Don鈥檛 expect it to happen overnight though.

And remember, sports betting doesn鈥檛 HAVE to be about making money. There are plenty of people who enjoy it even though they lose. So if you don鈥檛 want to deal with all these challenges, why not simply bet for the fun of it? Just make sure you stick to a budget.