Betting on professional sports can be fun and profitable, but it can also force you to pull out your hair in large clumps. Anyone who’s taken on the line has met with some ill fortune along the way, as a garbage time score reduces your profitable wager to nothing more than another loss.

If someone tells you they routinely win 65% of their bets, there’s a strong chance that they’re lying. Even the most skilled gamblers only win around 55% of the time, so temper your expectations.

Luckily, knowing a few tricks of the trade can make a major difference. Some of the items on this list are clever and others are common sense. In either case, they should allow you to succeed where less careful bettors routinely fail.

1. Managing Your Bankroll

Even if you’re a winning sports bettor, you risk going broke if you wager too much money on any single game.

You may find yourself wanting to bet your entire bankroll on a “sure thing,” but keep in mind that there’s no such thing when it comes to gambling. A series of meaningless goals in the waning minutes can turn a surefire winner into a loser, and it can leave you scrambling to pay your bills.

Suppose you have a bankroll of $10,000 set aside for sports betting. You think that the Cowboys have a 65% chance of beating the Redskins. That’s a good bet.

But if you bet $10,000, you have a 35% chance of losing half your bankroll.

Now you’re out of action until you can raise another bankroll.

Even if you find two games that you think are going to be winning picks 65% of the time, you wouldn’t want to risk your entire bankroll on those two games. You’d face a 12.25% chance of going broke. You’ll only win both bets 42.25% of the time.Aa

You shouldn’t risk more than 1% or 2% of your bankroll on each bet. This way, even if you have a losing streak, you don’t go broke and have to miss out on future action.

2. Don’t Use a Tout Service

You should never pay other people to make picks for you. Often, these tout services are nothing more than scams.

Here’s how one of the most common tout service scams works:

  1. You run an NFL sports pick service, and you have 100 customers.
  2. You tell 50 of them to take one side of a game, and you tell the other 50 to take the other side.
  3. Half the customers get a winning pick, which means a decent percentage will buy another pick.
  4. The half that got a losing pick? You offer to give them a free pick on Monday night’s game.
  5. You split them in half, telling 25 to take one side, and the other 25 to take the opposing team.
  6. You get 25 more winners, and they’re easy to sell another pick to.

3. Shopping for a Better Vig

The standard book requires you to wager $110 to win $100, but some online books require $120 to win $100.

If you’re tenacious about shopping around, you should be able to find a sportsbook that only requires $105 to win $100. While the difference might seem small to the novice bettor, the overall numbers have a major positive effect on your bankroll over the long term.

If you win 50% of the time and lose 50% of the time, here’s what happens to your bankroll at the various levels.

  1. $105 to win $100 – Suppose you make 100 bets, winning 50 and losing 50. You lose $5250 and win $5000, for a net loss of $250.
  2. $110 to win $100. – Same 100 bets, winning 50 and losing 50. You lose $5500 and win $5000, for a net loss of $500.
  3. $120 to win $100 – Same thing again, but you lose $6000 and win $5000. Your net loss is $1000.

Assume you’re a winning player and win 55% of the time. Here’s how the vig affects your profits:

  1. $105 to win $100. You lose 45 bets and win 55. That’s $5500 in winnings and $4725 in losses, for a net profit of $775.
  2. $110 to win $100. Same stats, but now you’ve won $5500 and lost $4950. Your net profit is only $550.
  3. $120 to win $100. Same stats, but now you’ve won $5500 and lost $5400. Your net profit is only $100.

That’s a huge difference in profit for someone who’s picking winners 55% of the time.

4. Don’t Bet on Too Many Televised Games

A lot of bettors want to wager on televised games so they can see their bets in action. Unfortunately, this number has increased significantly as more and more cable channels become active.

If a gambler isn’t careful, he could wind up committing to seven or eight games in one night. There’s no way he’s going to be able to watch them all, which defeats the purpose of making all the bets in the first place.

The other disadvantage is that televised games tend to have the sharpest lines. Books know these games are going to get the most action, so they make sure that their handicappers pay more attention to them.

5. Bet on Hockey

The games of the NFL and NBA are considered the toughest to bet on and consistently make a profit. What you might not know is that hockey is considered one of the easiest.

Here are a few reasons why some bettors prefer the NHL to other leagues:

  1. Lines are softer. This is due to the best handicappers concentrating on more popular sports such as football and basketball.
  2. Less people bet on the sport, so the market isn’t as tight.
  3. Streaks in hockey can be ridden for long periods of time.

Just remember that you don’t have to like the game to wager on it. All you need is a love of money.


You might think you’re adequately prepared to become a sports betting expert. In reality, however, you’ve probably still got a lot to learn about the art of wagering on athletic competitions.

While your goal is to make as much money as possible, keep in mind that others also have the same objective. This starts with the bookmakers, but it also extends to the tout services. The former is unavoidable, the latter is optional, and both should be approached with caution.

Before you lock in on a specific bookie, make sure that their vig and betting lines are competitive. If you find someone offering a better deal, don’t be afraid to jump ship.

While winning bets is the best way to accrue money, you can also come out ahead just by avoiding the pitfalls and traps designed to drain you of more cash than necessary. Remember that it’s a jungle out there and react accordingly.

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