How to Avoid Being a Sucker
They say, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and if you look around the world at the billion-dollar gambling industry – it’s hard to argue with that statement.
Casinos are the most apparent entity to take “advantage” of the unsuspecting gambler, with their sprawling floors full of table games and slot machines and the entourage of hotels and restaurants to boot.
And, who hasn’t seen the movie Rounders? Although it’s fiction, there’s plenty of suckers sitting down in poker rooms every night and losing to the more experienced card sharks.
The same thing is true when it comes to sports betting. While some bettors are savvy enough to beat the books, the vast majority of bettors lose when they step up to the betting window or, in our case, deposit into an online sportsbook.
Beating the sportsbooks at their own game can be done, but to do so, many bettors need to get rid of their preconceived notions or already active bad habits when it comes to betting on sports. Basically, they need to avoid being a sucker.
Betting on Sports You Don’t Understand
There’s a lot of math involved in sports betting, but unless you understand the sport and how to apply your edges properly – it has little meaning. Chasing steam is a proven winning strategy in sports betting and works well in major markets, but it is much less useful when betting smaller-market sports.
In fact, even some of the largest online sportsbooks in the world have little knowledge of some of the sports they offer for betting. There’s an advantage for those that know these smaller markets, but those that beat them will almost certainly be quickly limited by bookmakers once they begin to show they have an advantage.
Even chasing line moves on the primary markets can be dangerous if you have little understanding of the sport you’re betting. Blindly following moves isn’t always a sound strategy, especially if you can’t accurately quantify your edge in a particular sport or market.
In terms of just basic handicapping, independent from following market moves, not understanding the sport you’re betting is insanity.
Of course, knowledge about a sport won’t do enough to make you a winner if you’re wagering with bad lines or betting –EV markets. Unless you’re following someone with a decent (and verifiable) record or have the knowledge yourself – stay away from betting sports you’re otherwise clueless about.
Betting Based on Emotion
Sports betting isn’t an exact science, but you need to use a variety of tools to try and predict the outcome of a sporting event. There’s no room for personal biases, ties to your favorite teams, or emotions when it comes to beating the books.
In fact, if you could transform yourself into an emotionless robot when you bet on sports, that might be the ideal scenario.
Betting on your hometown or favorite teams (or against their rivals), not taking a team that you lost money on several bets previously with, and all kinds of other angles are all things that losing sports bettors do on a daily basis.
Betting Too Often
Another issue that bettors run into is the thinking that they should be wagering on every game, market, or proposition. There’s a big reason the sportsbooks have state-of-the-art equipment and a staff of experienced odds makers. It’s to make sure their markets are efficient.
Over the past half-decade or so, the sports media, including ESPN and other networks, have finally begun to realize the value of using betting lines to predict the outcomes of sporting events. They now mention odds in their analysis and cite betting lines in previews of games.
This is something that savvy sports bettors have known for years. Who knew that the people that make a living predicting the outcome of sporting events would be accurate? The point I’m trying to make is that, the odds makers are smart. They’re smarter than you, your neighbor, and the guy in the bar who sits around all day drinking and watching sports. In fact, they’re smarter than just about everyone who bets on sports, since the vast majority of sports gamblers are losers.
Betting every game on the slate is simply madness. Pick your spots. You’re not going to catch the odds makers with their proverbial pants down consistently. Line shop and make your wagers count.
Of course, there are going to be days when you bet more games than others, but for the most part, the days will be exceedingly rare that you look at the odds that day and begin to salivate.
There’s no shame in taking a day off either. It’s good to pay attention each day to the results of the markets you normally bet, but if you’re betting every day, it becomes a grind. There’s no shame in feeling burnt out and taking a break.
Betting Too Much Money
Wagering too much money has been something that has been sinking talented bettors for years. It’s also something that the sports betting masses do with regularity.
Bankroll management is vital to becoming a successful handicapper.
There’s usually two times that bettors will foolishly increase their standard bet size or wager more units than they should.
- When they’re on a winning streak and think that it won’t end
- When they’re on a losing streak and chasing losses
It’s one thing to increase your bankroll as you’re profits increase, but to wager more on games simply because you’ve won your previous bets is illogical. Obviously, there’s no correlation between winning an earlier wager and winning your next few bets.
Betting more when winning isn’t advisable, but it’s a much better transgression than chasing your losses during a losing streak. Even the best handicappers have losing streaks. They don’t bet bigger on their following wagers to make up those losses. Chasing your losses is an excellent way to go broke. Even if you’re betting markets that you find to be inefficient and placing +EV bets. If you’re not managing your bankroll correctly and chasing your losses, there’s a good chance you will go bust.
As a sports bettor, your bankroll is your lifeblood. It’s your tool of the trade. Would a carpenter go to work without a hammer and nails? No, it would make it impossible to do his job. The same goes for sports betting without money.
If you’re going through a losing streak, there’s no need to press to make back your losses immediately. Think of sports betting as one giant long run. There’s nothing worse than being out of action due to poor bankroll management if you’re a profitable sports bettor.
Examples of Sucker Bets
There are some markets that never or almost never offer any value for sports bettors. These markets are not the ones that professional-level, or profitable sports bettors will be wagering on. Some of them seem simple enough, but others require a little more explanation.
Almost every sportsbook offers wagers on coin tosses for NFL games. Of course, a coin toss is a 50/50 chance of it hitting heads or tails, but the sportsbooks aren’t offering even-money on a bet like this. They need to get their commissions.
In fact, many times, they don’t even charge the standard -110 vigorish. At many bookmakers, the juice on a coin toss is -115! There’s absolutely no way this bet is profitable, under any circumstance, let alone at higher than average juice.
If you’re betting markets like this, you’re an action junkie and a sucker.
Parlays and teasers have value in certain situations, but, for the most part, these are big moneymakers for sportsbooks. Some sportsbooks will have spots where they are vulnerable past two and three team parlays and teasers, but teasers past two or three teams are largely –EV bets.
Even the true odds of winning two- and three-team parlays and teasers don’t beat the payouts offered by sportsbooks, but as the number of teams gets higher, the odds get worse and worse for bettors. For example, the true odds of hitting a 7-team parlay are 127/1, but most sportsbooks offer a 75/1 payout. An 8-team parlay’s true odds are 255/1, but online sportsbooks offer 125/1. You get the idea.
Unless you’re clearing a freeplay bonus or don’t care about making money, betting parlays larger than two or three teams is almost always a poor decision for your bankroll. Less experienced bettors will see the gargantuan payouts and be attracted to these types of wagers, but you should steer clear.