One Man’s Approach to Sports Betting

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The betting line and some of the nearly 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Whether you are a recreational sports bettor or a seasoned pro, everyone has a routine when it comes to placing a wager. Some are better than others, as the results speak for themselves, and below we take an honest approach to our sports betting picks.

Break Bad Habits

Before I was born my father took a day job selling programs at a local horse track before he would go to work at night. At the ripe old age of six, I began going to work with my dad on the weekends and would sneak down to the jockey’s room where they had a grill going that served cheeseburgers as early as eight o’clock in the morning! Cheeseburgers – for breakfast – when you’re a kid, well it doesn’t get any better than that.

If I was lucky enough to spot an owner that I knew through my father I would ask if I could accompany him to the paddock. I got to pet the horses and even feed them from time to time. It was always interesting to me that these majestic, powerful creatures could be controlled by slight, yet muscular, men whose fearlessness guided their obedient mounts around a giant oval while thousands of dollars were won and lost on their performance.

It was a great place to be a kid but eventually, I began reading the racing forms while my friends were riding their bikes. A few bucks on a daily double I’d split with my father made the early races more fun because I had an investment. Once I cashed my first ticket, a $2 show bet on Mort’s Sparkle, I was hooked. Little did I know that winner would cost me beaucoup dough in the long run until I woke up, got smart, and broke my bad habits.

I took you for this walk down memory lane to illustrate how I got interested in gambling at a very young age. My immaturity regarding betting stuck with me longer than I would care to admit. It took me far too long time to rid myself of betting recklessly, especially on sports. Below is a list of some of my bad habits which caused me to burn through my bankroll over and over again. Does any of this look familiar?

  • Manufacturing opinions on a game just to have action
  • As your bar tab grows, so too does the size and number of your bets
  • Never establishing a fixed bankroll for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, or whatever sport you choose for an entire season.
  • Buying your NFL picks, or any other picks for that matter, from a “professional” handicapper because you have neither the time nor the inclination to do the homework for yourself. Pro Tip: Neither do they.
  • Having only one out which often means taking the worst of it.
  • Chasing your losses

Add all of those together, and you have a recipe for financial disaster. Next up – how to fix it.

Take the Smart Approach

It took me a while but I finally figured out I was sick of going broke. I took a step back and began a brand-new approach that incorporated something I shunned like an evil spirit – discipline. Yes, if you really love the action then you have to be disciplined if you want to turn betting sports into a moneymaking proposition and not a financial annihilation.

Getting smart is simply a case of correcting the mistakes above. Now, this doesn’t guarantee you will necessarily make money, that is up to you and how astute you are in analyzing the matchups and grading the strengths and weaknesses of each team. However, what it will do is keep you coloring inside the lines and make your sports betting far less stressful and much more enjoyable.

  • There are at least a dozen games on any given night over the course of the year. Don’t bet one just because it’s on television or it happens to be your favorite team. It’s easy to manufacture an opinion on a game that you would ordinarily pass. Don’t do it.
  • You like a cold beer? How about a cocktail that’s crafted to perfection? Maybe wine is your jam but whatever gets you howling, make sure your bets are in for the evening before imbibing. Nothing like liquid courage the night before to give you a sports hangover the day after.
  • What’s your financial pain threshold? Think about how much you could theoretically lose over an NFL season (or any other season) and not lose sleep after it is all over. Whatever that figure is, that’s your bankroll. Each bet should be one percent of that bankroll and you don’t need to bet every night.
  • There is so much free information out there that it is lunacy to pay for Jumpin’ Joey’s 50,000 Platinum Play of the Century. Do your homework, read what other bettors are saying about a game, and try to get opinions contrary to yours instead of searching for an echo chamber to validate your thought process on a side or total.
  • Have multiple outs. Make sure you are doing business with reputable and proven online betting sites and establish accounts at two, three, or even four of them so that you can take advantage of the best possible lines.
  • Never chase your losses. There is always tomorrow and if you’re going bad on a given night, chances are things won’t get better.