No matter how well-versed we think we may be, mistakes are going to happen to even the best of us. This fact is true in all walks of life, including sports betting. When you make a mistake with wagering, it can sting badly while leaving a dent in your bankroll.
Losses come with the territory of sports betting. There’s no way to be right all the time, and anyone who claims to be isn’t being truthful. A loss can be painful, but it’s important to differentiate it from a mistake.
A mistake could be as simple as misreading a number or failing to catch a key player’s absence. The learning experience from those mistakes is to be more careful and diligent while researching.
There’s another category of mistakes that bettors of all skill levels can make. These are ones that can set you back significantly, but the good news is that they’re completely avoidable. We’ve assembled a list of the most common mistakes to watch.
Top common sports betting mistakes
Try to avoid the following costly betting mistakes and pitfalls when betting on sports.
1. Not taking advantage of sign-up offers
This mistake is a big one that has to be mentioned right off the top. It’s a competitive world out there for sportsbook apps. To stand apart from the crowd, many of them are offering outstanding sign-up bonuses for new players.
If you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re doing it wrong. When looking for a place to bet on sports, one of the first thoughts that enter your mind should be this: What’s in it for me? The answer will vary by operator, but the good news is that there’s a whole lot of goodies out there.
You’ll find free bets, deposit bonuses and risk-free wagering opportunities. Sign-up offers are a fantastic way to beef up your bankroll right from the start. Failing to take advantage free bets and bonuses is a mistake that you can avoid.
2. Betting with your heart
It can be a cruel world out there, and the same holds true for betting on sports. Quite simply, there is simply no room for emotion when it comes to wagering. Rooting interests are perfectly fine, but you need to keep them separate from betting interests.
If you can’t handle betting against your favorite teams or players and think they’re always going to come out on top, then you’re in for a rude awakening. On the bright side, there are plenty of other opportunities to explore every day.
As such, you should lean toward betting on contests in which you don’t have a rooting interest — or learn how to differentiate the two. The choice is yours, but the bottom line is that your heart should never be a guide when it comes to placing bets.
3. Thinking you’re a sports betting savant
OK, so you know a whole bunch about sports and are the resident expert in your circle of friends. This sports betting thing is going to be a snap, right? Wrong. General sports knowledge is not an indicator of success with sports betting, nor a prerequisite.
It can certainly help if you have a solid base of knowledge to build from, but don’t mistake that for a guarantee that success will follow as soon as you begin placing wagers. There is a learning curve for betting on sports.
If you want to last long-term with sports betting, it’s helpful to approach it as if you’re a blank slate. Immerse yourself and learn all that you can to build up your skills. When you enter betting while completely overestimating your skillset, there’s a good chance you won’t be lasting.
4. Wagering way over your comfort level
For sports betting, you should have a clear bankroll. Your budget can be money that you leave on-site, as well as side funds that you are comfortable using to replenish as needed. These funds should be completely separate from the money you need for other purposes.
The above is something you need to remember. You’re going to lose bets along the way; the amount you lose should not be causing you pain, angst or financial hardship.
For a quick test, if you find yourself on edge due to the amount you have at stake or wind up upset for days on end after losing, there’s a chance that you’re betting too much. If that happens to you, dial it back immediately.
5. Taking on more volume than you can handle
If you bet every game on the slate, you’ll be right more often than not and come out ahead, no? Taking a volume approach can make you feel like you’re covering lots of bases and making the best possible calls while doing so, but the opposite is often true.
There are lots of factors that go into picking winners. Few of us are fortunate enough to have an unlimited amount of time to do nothing but research and analyze. As such, it’s difficult to dig into each matchup on the board.
As opposed to doing that, look at taking a focused approach with a handful of games that you have the time to go through from top to bottom. You’ll eventually find that you’re much more confident with your calls and can deal with the outcomes much easier.
6. Spreading your wings too much before learning to fly
Getting started with sports betting can be exciting. There are lots of games to get action on and plenty of choices to consider for each contest on the docket. As a result, it can be tempting to dive in and try out a bunch of things.
While it can be fine to put out an occasional feeler, you should resist the urge to spread out too much before you’re ready. Instead, focus on a sport or two that you love. Do the same thing with bet types and choose one or two that you can learn and master.
There’s a lot to learn with sports betting, so taking this approach will allow you to focus your efforts in a much more efficient fashion. Down the road, you’ll have plenty of time to explore new territory once you have mastered the basics and become more comfortable.
7. Paralysis by analysis
As mentioned, there are lots to consider when determining what to wager. However, that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours and hours going over every stat imaginable. That’s a waste of time, and it can have a negative impact on your decision-making.
It can be easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of research. Instead of doing that, focus on what moves the needle in terms of outcomes. For additional clarity, ask yourself this: What’s more important — a fancy talking point or bottom-line results?
The latter wins that argument, hands down. There are many fancy stats out there that look impressive, but reality says that the actual correlation to results is minimal. Stick to what matters and leave the talking points for others to endlessly analyze while getting nowhere.
8. Trying to reinvent the wheel
While there are lots to digest with sports betting decisions, the good news is that you have resources to tap. There are outstanding websites that pull together the key data points you’d love to have.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be in one place, but you can get together a handful of resources to check regularly. For example, one site may do a great job on key stats, while another does well with various gambling metrics.
As opposed to combing the internet all day long, take the time to find the spots that gather the information you want to see. There’s zero need to waste time attempting to gather it all by yourself. The work is there, so lean on that labor and focus your efforts elsewhere.
9. Following the herd
When it seems like everyone is going along the same way, it can be tough to go against the grain. This is true in many areas of life, as well as with sports betting. If everyone is making the same call on an outcome, a fear of missing out may creep in.
To dismiss that thought quickly, ask yourself this: Which side is right more often — public betting money or sportsbook oddsmakers? The latter is the correct answer. This edict doesn’t mean you always have to fade the public, but it does mean you don’t want to follow the pack.
The best advice is to get to the point where you can make your decisions with confidence and deal with the results no matter what. There will be times that you land on the same side as the general public, but that doesn’t mean you should change course when you’re not.
10. Letting the noise influence your thinking
The explosive growth of legal sports betting has led to even more chatter about odds, lines and the outcome of events. There are opinions all over the place, from the web to the tube to the airwaves and social media.
Unfortunately, those who yell the loudest or share the proverbial hot-take talking points tend to capture a great deal of attention. As a general rule, those who desperately crave attention, clicks and likes don’t have anything earth-shattering to share.
In short, it’s a lot of noise that you should avoid. When you come across it, don’t let it cloud your judgment. Leaning on the sources you trust is perfectly fine, but following the recommendations of whoever’s loudest is rarely a good idea.
11. Listening to ‘scam-dicappers’
Along with the rise in general coverage of sports betting comes the proliferation of folks looking to sell their knowledge to the masses. While some out there do a legitimately good job and provide full transparency, many fall into the category of “scam-dicappers.”
A scam-dicapper is an individual or service that preys on new or unsuccessful bettors. It promises instant and repeated success if you follow what it says — for a fee, of course. A large part of the sales pitch is ridiculous and unfounded claims.
For example, some claim to offer “guaranteed winners” while having extraordinary winning percentages. If they were that good, they wouldn’t have to try so hard to attract new fish. Keep that in mind and screen carefully before parting with dollars for advice.
12. Taking way too many shots with parlays
Placing a parlay bet with a small dollar amount on a big slate of games can be exciting. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of winning a lot from a small investment? The entertainment aspect of parlays is high, as is the potential return, so bettors keep coming back.
However, parlays are really tough to hit. For confirmation, consider that the biggest source of hold at sportsbooks comes from unsuccessful parlay wagers. Sure, books will pay out a lot when the moonshots hit, but they also know they’re keeping the majority of parlays that come in.
If you want to place a parlay or two for fun, go for it. Just be sure to keep your expectations in check while also making sure you don’t drain your bankroll in a quest for glory. You can build up much more consistency with single wagers, so keep your focus there.
13. Getting swept away with live betting
Live betting has been one of the fascinating developments in the industry in recent years. The growth of this style of wagering has been rapid. Also known as in game betting, it allows you to wager along in real-time as games and events play out.
There are always plenty of opportunities to consider, so the doors are open for the potential for additional profits. As a result, it can be easy to get swept away in the excitement while hunting for a big score.
Don’t let that happen to you. As with any other bet, placing it doesn’t mean you’re going to win. Things move fast with live betting, so a steady stream of losers can impact your bankroll. As always, take a targeted approach and focus on the outcomes you are most confident in.
14. Assuming you’re ‘due’ after a bad beat
Buzzer-beaters that impact a total, shanked extra points, blown leads in the bottom of the ninth inning and many more situations can lead to the dreaded bad beat. These are results that look as if they’re going in your favor before getting yanked away in a painful fashion.
Losses such as these can sting and stick with you for a while. The best course of action is to accept them for what they are — bad luck — and move on. No rule says you are somehow “due” for a win because something unfortunate happened.
That being the case, resist the urge to avenge that loss. Chasing losses and hoping to erase them isn’t going to happen. Think about it: there’s no direct correlation between two results, so why would one automatically go your way after another doesn’t?
15. Constantly doubling down to ‘get even’
No matter how well-defined of a handicapping strategy you may have, losses are going to happen. The same holds true for losing streaks. They’ll happen to the best of us at times, and it can be tough to break out of them.
Patience is a big virtue on this front. Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with scaling back when things aren’t going your way — or even taking a break from betting entirely. In fact, some time off can help to reveal areas in which your strategy may have gone astray.
An alternate approach is to continue doubling down in an attempt to come out ahead of a painful stretch. This is a bad idea. It can lead to even more pain as the losses pile up. Don’t be that guy or gal. Keep your unit size consistent or take a break and right the ship.
16. Going overboard on what you see as a ‘sure thing’
It’s good to get to the point at which you have complete confidence in your decisions. When you get there, you’ll be able to accept the results that don’t go your way and even learn from them. Confidence is great, but overconfidence can be a massive impediment.
When overconfidence rears its head, it’s tough to see the possibility that a result will go against you. That can even lead to wagering way too much on the outcome because you view it as a “can’t miss” situation.
Inevitably, cold reality brings things back into focus: There are no guarantees with sports betting. Period. Be confident in your calls, but be sure to stick to consistent wagering amounts. Those sure things have a way of going against you in an unceremonious fashion.
17. Treating sports betting like a lottery ticket
The lure of the big score is incredibly appealing. That’s true for all of us with sports betting, but tempering expectations is the wiser path to pursue. When you take that approach, you’ll be much more likely to make careful decisions while respecting the funds you have in play.
Suppose you’re constantly shooting for the stars while assuming that a massive payday is going to happen any second. In that case, it’s akin to purchasing a lottery ticket day after day in hopes of everything breaking just right. While the lottery can be fun, the chances of winning are incredibly slim.
Once again, we have to reiterate the difference between entertainment and working toward consistent returns. If you’d like to place a small parlay bet in hopes of a big score, no problem. However, if you’re relying on that for consistent returns, you’re doing it wrong.
18. Disrespecting your bankroll
If you had a stack of dollars sitting idly nearby, you wouldn’t suddenly start lighting each one of them on fire one by one. It obviously wouldn’t make any sense to do that, as being so reckless with money is flat out wrong.
That’s an extreme example, but there are folks out there from all walks of life who take a haphazard approach to managing funds, including many sports bettors. If you hope to make it over the long run, that’s not the way to go.
You should respect the funds you use for sports betting and treat them with care. By doing so, you’ll be more careful with the bets you place, as well as with how you arrive at your selections. That pair of actions can help lead you further down the path to success.
19. Banging your head against the wall as opposed to adapting
Resistance to change can be admirable in the right circumstances, but there are times when adapting makes all of the sense in the world. Such is the case when your approach to betting on sports isn’t working any longer.
The alternative is to keep insisting that you’re right in the face of a steady stream of losses. That’s the equivalent of banging your head against the wall while assuming that the result will suddenly stop being a headache.
If you’re unwilling to adapt as needed, then you’re setting yourself up for continued failure. When things aren’t going your way, take the time to assess your approach. If you come across a leak or something that needs fixing, make the repair and move on.
What to remember about sports betting mistakes
A simple mistake can happen to anyone with sports betting. Missing out on a key line move or failing to account for a significant deficiency with one of your selections are just two of many examples. Things happen. As long as we learn from them, all will be well.
On the other hand, there are major sports betting mistakes that bettors of all experience levels consistently make. These are much bigger than small hiccups. The mistakes in this camp can seriously impact your bankroll, not to mention your chances of lasting long term.
The most common ones are the ones we’ve listed above. We encourage you to digest them and commit them to memory. If you can avoid making these mistakes, your chances of having success with sports betting will become that much greater.