Common Sports Betting Mistakes
No matter where you fall on the sports betting spectrum, you’re going to make mistakes. Some are avoidable; others serve as learning experiences. Many leave you scratching your head.
A mistake at an inopportune time in a game can be the difference between a win and a loss. It works the same way with sports betting. Mistakes happen to everyone, but knowing what to watch out for, and how to learn from them when they occur, is the key to avoiding making too many.
We’ve got some advice to mitigate the damage and minimize your sports betting losses stemming from common mistakes. We’ll cover all ends of the spectrum from beginner to advanced sports bettors plus common sports betting mistakes particular to the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
Top nine sports betting mistakes across all sports
Mistakes are inevitable for those new to sports betting. Some of the most common, such as betting while drinking or putting everything you have on one bet, can be easily avoided with just a little bit of common sense.
Educating yourself on what to look out for more specifically can help to cut down on your early sports betting losses. Here are three big pitfalls to watch out for.
Beginner betting mistakes
1. Betting too much: This applies to both betting amounts and the number of games you’re betting on. On the former, betting amounts with which you are uncomfortable right off the bat can lead to a very rude awakening. For the latter, spreading yourself too thin impedes your ability to focus.
2. Having unrealistic performance expectations: It’s not uncommon to enter the world of sports betting with delusions of grandeur. When you’re full of hope and optimism, that 10-team parlay you slapped together can look like the ticket to the big leagues. Then reality sets in. Sports betting can be a grind, and it takes time to develop skills, so keep that in mind.
3. Confusing your betting and rooting interests: This can rear its head at any experience level, but it’s very common for those new to the game. In sports betting, there are two outcomes you can consider:
- What you’d like to happen
- What’s most likely to happen
Leave your heart out of the equation and build a strong case for all of the bets you plan to make.
Intermediate sports betting mistakes
As your experience level grows, so too will your confidence. However, remember that you aren’t out of the woods yet. Sports betting is like one big learning experience, and situations that you hadn’t even thought of can pop up at any time. Watch out for these three red flags as you continue your journey.
4. Poor money management: Failure to manage your bankroll properly is not conducive to long-term success with sports betting. You should have a clear budget in mind for what you plan to bet over a timeframe, as well as the amount you plan to devote to each unit. If you’re all over the map and undisciplined, don’t be surprised if you’re hitting the deposit button a lot.
5. Not shopping for the best lines: While there’s nothing wrong with having a favorite sportsbook or two, that doesn’t mean those operators will have the best lines on each game. Be sure to view the market as a whole and shop for the best prices. In today’s environment, comparing the odds at a number of online sportsbooks and sportsbook apps is a piece of cake.
6. Following the crowd: While it can be reassuring when your general thoughts on a game align with the betting public or the consensus opinions of pundits, don’t just follow that blindly as if you are automatically on the right track. Dig deeper and form your own opinion. If the herd was right all the time, sportsbooks would lose lots of money. They don’t.
Expert sports betting mistakes
You’ve made it, or so you think. When you get to the point that you’re cashing more tickets and posting profits consistently, you’ll feel an incredible amount of satisfaction. However, it’s imperative to avoid having your confidence jacked up so much that you feel infallible. Keep an eye out for these landmines when success starts to emerge.
7. Failure to adapt: We will all hit a wall at various times. It could be a short stretch or a long-term downswing, and it stinks regardless of how long it lasts. It’s important to use it as an opportunity to assess your strategy. Is there something that you’re missing that can be tweaked? Stubbornness in the face of a clear problem is rarely the right call.
8. Not paying attention to smart money: Once you achieve a certain level of success, you’ll rightfully have confidence in your findings. However, you should still take the time to see what the sharp bettors have to say. If they’re on the opposite side from you, then it’s a really good idea to give everything a once-over to see if you missed anything.
9. Continually chasing losses: Bettors at all points on the spectrum can fall into this trap, even the so-called experts. If you’re frequently doubling-down because you think you’re “due,” it’s time to take a closer look. Instead of doing that, take the losses and rough patches in stride, stick to your plan, and be open to adapting when you need to.
Most common NFL betting mistakes
Betting on the NFL is the most popular game in town at sportsbooks. The extra time for handicapping in between games only enhances the appeal. However, additional time spent studying doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t happen. Here are three big ones to keep your eyes on.
Failing to account for injuries
Injuries are inevitable in the NFL, and failure to account for them properly can be disastrous. Next man up applies at many positions, but injuries to key cogs can disrupt the game plan. Among those that deserve a good amount of weight are injuries at QB, offensive line or to a defensive leader.
Ignoring NFL line moves
Lines do not stay still in the NFL from the time they are released until you’re ready to place your bets. You need to pay attention to what’s going on and adjust your focus as needed. A half-point here or there may not seem like much, but it can absolutely impact your overall results.
There is a ton of coverage on the NFL, and you won’t be lacking for opinions on how things will shake out. While it’s perfectly fine to respect the takes of the sources you trust, be careful not to allow your own thoughts to be swayed too much.
Spread betting mistakes
The point spread is one of the most popular offerings at online sportsbooks, but it’s a tough nut to crack consistently. When you add in the mistakes that are going to pop up, the challenge becomes even greater. Here’s a trio that you can work on avoiding.
Over- or under-valuing home field
This is one of the areas that make spread betting challenging. Exactly how much weight should you give to the home field, and have the oddsmakers built that into the number? Answers and opinions will vary, so the best advice is to study up and make sure you factor it into your thinking.
Just winging it
Your best guess just isn’t going to cut it when betting on the spread. There’s work involved when it comes to beating the spread consistently. If you’re pressed for time, then consider leaning on a source you trust, either one of the paid or free variety. Don’t just try to ballpark numbers and assume everything will work out fine.
Not comparing lines at other books
Not all spreads are created equal. While many operators will be right in range upon release, betting action can impact the odds and spreads being offered at each outlet. As part of your weekly research, take the time to shop around for the best prices. The few minutes you spend doing so can be well worth it.
Most common Super Bowl betting mistakes
The Super Bowl is the largest betting event of the calendar year. Even non-sports fans get involved. As you can imagine, many mistakes are made when betting on the Super Bowl. Here are three you can place on the “to be avoided” list.
Betting too many props
Sportsbooks go all out for the Super Bowl and release hundreds of prop bets for bettors to consider. Attempting to get a handle on or handicap all of them can be a fool’s errand. Instead of that, scan through the offerings and make note of what jumps out to you. Do it a second time, and you should walk away with a shortlist.
Betting out of your league
Since it’s the last football game of the year, the Super Bowl can get you to go overboard and bet much more than you’re comfortable with. Don’t be that guy or gal. Stay in your lane and look for spots that you feel most comfortable with. There will be plenty of time to increase stakes down the road, so be patient.
Failing to trust your instincts
Virtually everyone has a Super Bowl pick to consider, and a strong consensus one way or the other can influence decision-making. Don’t let this happen to you. If you’ve followed a process that has worked for you all season long, there’s no need to shift gears just so that you fall in line with the crowd.
Most common NBA betting mistakes
Pro basketball betting brings plenty of action to the window, and there are hundreds of angles to consider throughout the season. There will naturally be some pain along the way, but here are three mistakes to keep on your radar in a bid to reduce it.
Not watching the sharp money
Tracking public betting numbers can be a helpful exercise to spot the general consensus on a game, but you should be giving even more weight to what the sharp bettors have to say. There are sites that track the betting volume in comparison to the number of tickets, and you can also keep your eyes peeled for sudden line moves.
Missing out on late scratches
Few things are more frustrating than getting set to watch a game you had been looking forward to and having an unannounced scratch pop up. It happens in the NBA here and there, so be sure to stay on top of injury news throughout the day. If you can’t make heads or tails of what might happen, pass on the game.
Failing to account for travel and rest
Recent form is something you should be looking at while breaking down the games as it is, but take it a step further and consider what the schedule has been like of late. Is one side playing a lot of games this week? Has the other had some time off? Small pieces of intel such as this can quickly change your perspective.
Most common MLB betting mistakes
A normal MLB season is a lengthy one, and betting baseball daily can be a grind at times. As such, taking a day off here and there can be a good idea to recharge the batteries. Failure to do so could lead you to making some of the following mistakes.
Always betting the favorite or underdog
As baseball is a moneyline-driven sport, it’s not uncommon to see MLB bettors look for the sure thing with the favorites or seek out the big score on the underdog. The two approaches are fine, but be sure to mix it up and not force it. If you continually do the same thing over and over, you’ll get bit before too long.
Discounting starting pitcher value
This should be a huge focus for you as you handicap MLB games. Failing to account for the strengths and weaknesses of the pitchers who are going in the game can be a recipe for disaster. Additionally, be sure to go deeper than season-long stats by examining the results over the last three starts to account for current form. This is particularly important if you’re looking at the first five innings betting line.
Not accounting for lineup changes
Starting lineups for MLB games are generally released well in advance of the first pitch. As such, there’s just no excuse for not taking the time to see who’s going and who’s not. If it’s a game in which the lineup has yet to be released when you’re ready to bet, don’t be afraid to pass on the game and live to fight another day.
Most common horse betting mistakes
Betting on horse racing can be quite enjoyable and potentially profitable, but there are lots of pitfalls to watch out for. The so-called “sure things” can turn out to be anything but, and so on. Here are a few more to keep in mind the next time you play the ponies.
Placing too much weight on the morning line
The morning line odds are released well in advance of the races going off. While this makes for a great starting point, the odds can shift dramatically once betting opens up. As you get set to bet, be sure that you’re paying attention to the current numbers and not just relying on the odds from hours ago.
Overvaluing one statistic
While it would be great if there were one statistic that provided the magic answer for horse races, there simply isn’t. Just like other sports, some stats carry more weight than others, but they’re all just a piece of the same puzzle. Be sure to examine the complete picture before placing your bets.
Trying to bet on every race
A typical card can include up to 10 races or more. While you can certainly bet on all of them if you feel there’s an edge to be found, there’s also no need to do so. If there’s a race you can’t get a good read on, then simply pass and move on to the next one.
Most Recent Betting Guides
Is using a betting system a mistake?
If you have a specific handicapping strategy that you use consistently, then you’re using a betting system. There is also plenty to be found online and on social media, as well as tips on how you can create your own.
A basic handicapping system works through a series of questions on the game at hand. Once you’ve gathered all of the information, you make decisions on what to bet or pass on. This can help take emotion out of the equation and assist you in making more focused decisions.
There are also systems that hit on specific data points, such as a home divisional underdog in the NFL, or a rested NBA team over one that has played three games in four nights. Additionally, there are systems revolving around specific bankroll strategies.
Is using a betting system a mistake? The answer varies depending on the system. There’s no one magic system that’s always right, but a quality handicapping process can lead you on the path to being correct more often than you’re wrong.
The mistakes can creep in when you start searching for the holy grail. There are lots of folks who sell systems and picks that don’t amount to all that much, so use caution and take a buyer beware approach. If you can’t verify what you’re paying for, then that’s a clear sign to keep shopping.
Betting Mistakes FAQ
It certainly can be. You should always take the time to have at least a general understanding of what you are betting on. When that’s not the case, take the time to study up before putting your money at risk.
Not always. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer that says you should always be with or against the public betting money. There are times when the majority is on the money, and also plenty of times when it’s not. You should make your own decisions in all cases.
No, but certain sportsbooks have a “cash out” feature in which you can at least get a portion of your bet back in advance of settlement. In addition, you can look at hedging the mistake you have made while remaining inside your bankroll parameters.
This will vary on a case-by-case basis, so check your operator for exact terms and conditions. If it’s a big mistake that really moves the needle, then the operator generally has the right to cancel bets in advance of the contest getting underway.
If you have a legitimate claim on bet settlement that hasn’t been resolved correctly, the best course of action is to contact the operator via available support methods in an attempt to resolve. Leading operators offer options such as live chat and telephone.
If you plan on relying on the picks of others, then there should be a verifiable track record that you can review. No one will be right all of the time, so keep that in mind. There are trustworthy resources with good track records out there, but also plenty that you should avoid.
Yes. You shouldn’t just be betting in one direction and assuming that the law of averages or some other phenomenon will lead to automatic profits. Judge each game and event on its own merits. When you’re not sure on the direction to go, take a pass.