With all skills, time and patience is needed to master them and sports betting is no different. You must embrace the struggles as lessons and you will be better off them in the future.
There are no shortcuts to learning any skill, it takes great discipline and perseverance to reach a high level and that's why most people do not manage to do so.
Although there are no shortcuts in terms of cutting down your workload, you may cut down the potential mistakes by learning off individuals who have already been through the process you are currently going through and are where you want to be.
The purpose of this article is to showcase advice given by pro-punters who have significant experience and therefore are in a position to share their advice.
So here are 10 pro-punters sharing their lessons learnt from their sports betting journey so far.
“I totally get why aspiring bettors care about big wins, but they need to get over it.
All good bettors ignore individual results; that's the only way to make this a career. If you're crying about a backdoor cover, you're forgetting about that last-minute Hail Mary you didn't deserve.
The good and bad breaks even out over thousands of bets, but you making poor value bets will never even out.
Get the best price on every bet, use the Kelly Criterion to price your bankroll and you might be able to make a living. Or at least make this a cheap hobby.
Care about your “best win” and you're doomed.”
In betting isn't a way to get rich quick. It's all about finding value and making the most of good opportunities in the markets.
Bookmakers make their money by having a margin on each game.
This gives them an edge over players as they price their odds lower than what they believe to be the underlying probability.
So in order to be profitable in the long term one needs to find an edge in your favor that is larger than the bookmaker´s edge (their margin).
There are different strategies for doing so, but I would always measure my performance by measuring whether or not I´m able to beat the bookmaker´s vig free closing line (odds at the time the game starts).
If one is not able to do so, one will not be profitable in the long term. If one only tracks the profits and losses from each game it is easy to mistake luck for skill, so one needs to have an objective yardstick to benchmark performance against.
Stake sizing is another important aspect of a successful strategy, and here I´m an advocate of using a proportional staking strategy based on the Kelly Criterion.
But if you don´t have an edge in the first place, no stake sizing system in the world is going to turn you into a profitable player.
“There are 3 lessons that saved me both money and time:
#1: Be humble, never overconfident. The market is usually right and you have a limited bankroll.
#2: It's not a race, it's a marathon. The goal is to always grow your pot. Avoid big highs and lows, learn about the Kelly Criterion and focus on the long term.
#3: Boring but essential: Know the terms and conditions. Take advantage of many offers and bonuses but always read the small print.
I remember losing a lot of money because the tennis player retired during the first set. That's because the bet was considered lost at the bookmaker website but Void at the betting exchange.
Others include only one free bet per day, horse rule 4 rules, etc. That will save you money and time.
If you don't have time to read the t&c's have a look at online services that can do this for you. I use OddsMonkey or Profit Accumulator (comparison) for that.”
The biggest win I ever had was just over £16,000 in one day.
I was using various tools to monitor the odds across different bookmakers, looking to find ‘sure bet' combinations.
But I had already previously worked out that in many combinations – such as Dutches – specific Bookmakers consistently had the most ‘inaccurate' odds.
This is where the value lied.
Therefore I was able to discard bets within the same bet combination, taking on risk – but for a much greater long-term ROI.
On this particular day just about everything went in my favour, and resulted in a huge profit. It doesn't always work like that… but enjoy the positive variance when it does!
You can't help but learn lessons from sports betting. It's not only great entertainment and a hopeful money-maker, but a test of character, too.
You feel europhic when you win. It's a boost not only to your bankroll but your ego knowing you outsmarted the house especially when you really had the right handicap.
It's a test of character, though, when an outcome doesn't go your way. This really is the case when you experience a dreaded losing streak.
You must maintain your discipline not to try to get your money all back by chasing.
I'm a professional handicapper. I taught a football handicapping class a few years back at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
One guiding principal I stressed was money management. It's as imporant as handicapping.
I've produced runs where I've gone say 8-2 and 11-3. Yet, sometimes I'll receive negative feedback from a customer claiming he's down units despite a hot streak.
That should never happen when you have far more winners than losers. Put simply, bet more when winning and less when losing.
Enjoy the experience and give credit where credit is due. If you lost your wager because the other team played better than expected than credit them rather than gripe about your loss.
Don't go on tilt. Stay postive and keep working hard.
If you have a knack – the right feel – for picking winners you'll triumph in the long run. The key is protect your bankroll at all costs.
It's like being a general. Don't lose your army. Pick your battles. Remember the ultimate goal is winning the war – making money in the long run.
When I first started betting in college, I made all the rookie mistakes:
Terrible bankroll management, always taking favorites and home teams, betting with my gut instinct, too many plays, always betting parlays and teasers.
It wasn't until I started working at Sports Insights that I learned how to bet and started to make a profit.
The most important thing I learned was to eliminate all bias (cover up the names of the teams) and bet solely based on the data.
Instead of being with the public, I learned that it's much more profitable to bet against the public and go contrarian (take teams getting less than 50% of bets) and take dogs and visitors instead of home teams and favorites.
Instead of going against sharp money, I learned to always go with it (follow reverse line movement and steam moves).
I found out how important it is to sell on good news and buy on bad news, and not overreact to recent performance, good or bad.
I learned how to manage my bankroll properly (flat betting, one unit every play, limit your plays and only risk 3-5% of your bankroll per play).
I also learned the importance of shopping for the best line to get better numbers (opening up multiple accounts at several different sports-books).
I also learned how to have thick skin. Don't get too high or too low, stay even keeled. Lastly, I learned how to have realistic expectations when it comes to betting.
I used to think that you needed to win 75% of your bets in order to make money, but in reality you only need a 52% win rate to turn a profit.
Bottom line: Fade the public, follow sharp action, manage your bankroll properly and strive to win 55% of the time.
If you follow those rules, you'll succeed as a sports bettor
The number one lesson learned is that unemotional bankroll management is paramount.
Without control of your wagers, you can pick 95% winners and still end up in the poor house. Set a budget and pick your spots. I am profitable because of discipline and only betting straight wagers.
Bad beats are going to happen.
They're going to sting, too. And sometimes they're so bad you almost lose your stomach for the craft of handicapping. But you have to put them in the rearview mirror fast.
Also, when you get beaten by a wrong-side winner, don't let it impact your opinions on those teams involved. If you handicapped the game correctly, don't be hesitant to get involved with those teams again.
Hardest Lesson Learned:
A college football game has to go 55 minutes.
I learned this in 2002 when I was on Wisconsin as a four-point favorite at UNLV. The Badgers were ahead 27-7 with 7:41 remaining in the fourth quarter when the lights went out.
I had actually changed the channel and didn't even realize what had happened until checking my balance on my account the next day.
When a game doesn't go 55 minutes due to weather or whatever, the result becomes a push. That was a tough one to swallow.
Lessons: Go under the radar. Don't ever be so arrogant to think you know more than the crowd on the big events.
Premier League, NFL, Top tier racing etc. The most popular events = the most well known, there are no secrets and thus incredibly hard to find any long-term edge. The hard yards earn the rewards.
If you choose a lower tier event (League 2 or Swiss League football, French basketball, Class 5 racing etc.), you are competing against far fewer people, far less public information.
The time you invest in learning a key player is suspended, there's a virus in the club which puts a few players in doubt, etc. can find great value.
In my early days of sports betting, I had just started working for bookmaker Mark Read, an excellent teacher. In the pre-A-League days in Australia, I focused on the National Soccer League (NSL) as my learning ground. One leading side, Marconi, had two gun young midfielders who were heading off to a U21 tournament, yet other bookies paid scant attention to the league, missed it completely.
Their opponents, Newcastle, were available at 9/2, I had them 6/4. We all lumped on and safe to say, I was very popular around the office that week! Most sports markets these days are priced by data modelling. And data models crunch numbers – not the influence of key players, not a change in tactical approach etc.
Next lesson – we all aspire to do what the winners do, they are harder to find and often want to keep that secret. Instead, watch what the constantly losing punters do and avoid it: betting on every race, having a bet because it's on TV, chasing after several losers, complete ignorance of a staking plan, no understanding of probability, ‘any price a winner' etc..
Few of us are perfect, it is incredibly difficult not to have a fun bet here and there – but make those for small change, and your proper stakes go on the properly researched bets.