You’ve studied the game for years, have read up on the different types of wagers, and you’re finally ready to start sports betting.
Or are you?
Sports handicapping takes more knowledge than most people expect. With every game, you need to take a different approach to reading situations and placing bets. Once you’ve got the basics down, there are still a few other factors to consider. We’ve put together this handy guide on sports handicapping so that you can get your toes wet in the world of online betting:
Manage Your Bankroll
While it isn’t talked about as often as beating the odds or covering the point spread, managing your bankroll is one of the most important parts of sports betting. You can bet for fun or to make an income—either way, it’s essential that you only put down what you’re comfortable with potentially losing.
Whenever you place a bet, you need to factor in the juice (in other words, the cut that the sports books take). The rate varies on different sites, but usually, you’ll pay 10% extra for the bookie’s cut.
With any given bet, pay attention to the units you use (the percent of your bankroll that you wager). You don’t want to lose all your money because of one bad bet! Most bettors aim to use between 1-3% of their bankroll on any event. If you’re really confident that your team can win, you can place a higher percentage, but you have to be comfortable with the idea of possibly losing that money.
Are you just starting out in the world of sports betting? Take things slowly! Rather than throwing down $100 on your first bet, start smaller—you’ll have no problem parting with $10. It can act as a “trial” bet that allows you to get a feel for the experience before you make a hefty investment. It’s important to ask yourself why you want to start betting: is it solely for entertainment, or are you looking to turn a profit? The answer will determine what you feel comfortable putting down on a game.
Don’t Drink and Bet
It can be hard to separate your emotions from every single bet that you place. When your hard-earned money is on the line, it’s tough to make sure you don’t bet more than you’d originally planned just to make up for a loss.
The same can be said if you’re placing a bet on one of your favorite teams. Even though you want them to win, is it worth risking that much money if the odds are against you? Learning to separate your emotions from your wagers is a learned skill. For example, how would you respond if you lost two bets in an evening, both of which were worth 2% of your bankroll? Would you decide to double down and place an even bigger bet on the next game to recoup your losses?
Or would you go back to the drawing board and try to find where you went wrong?
An experienced sports handicapper would do the latter. There’s a fine line between an educated bet and reckless gambling. It’s a hard balance to strike that can take years of practice. When you’re about to make a wager, ask yourself this: is your confidence from your emotional state, or is it from the data analysis you did beforehand?
Check Different Sports Books
In most cases, you wouldn’t buy a car from the first dealership that you visited or purchase a home after the first open house. With these types of purchases, you tend to shop around before putting your money down. Take the same approach to sports betting!
In the betting industry, not all bookkeepers set the same lines. No rule says that all oddsmakers must agree. One online betting site might have different point spreads or moneylines than another. If you’ve got a bet in mind, shop around for the best numbers.
For example, let’s say that one site set the moneyline at -300 for Team A. That means you would need to bet $300 just to make $100. If another website has the lines at -250 for Team A, you’ll save $50 by going with them. With point spreads, one point or even a half point can make a substantial difference.
Choosing a Sport
If you’re ready to place your first bet, start by asking yourself this question: which sport do I know best?
It may not be your favorite sport, but the game you have the most knowledge of will be the wisest option. Just because you watch the Super Bowl every year doesn’t mean you know a lot about the regular season! But if you’ve been watching hockey since you were a kid, that might be a good place to start. There’s always more that you can learn, so it’s worth delving into research before you start throwing down bets. The more knowledge that you bring to the table, the better. If you use what you know to inform your bets, you’ll be better off for it.
Take A Night Off
With the convenience of online sports books, it can be tempting to place a bet whenever there’s a game.
For all bettors, it’s worth it to give yourself a break. Sports are meant to be enjoyed—remove stress from the equation once in a while and just watch how things play out when there’s no money on the line. Bettors who wager because they feel like they have to (since it’s a big game or they’re in the habit of it) risk losing money because they fail to account for one situation or another. It’s worthwhile to bet less frequently, but really do your research before you place a wager.
Practice Sports Handicapping
The goal of any sports book is to profit. They do this by making lines that will draw equal action on both sides.
But given the sheer volume of sports games, you can’t expect them to get every line perfect. That’s where sports handicapping comes in. You learn to find bets with the best value by considering all the circumstances that surround a game. A few examples include:
- Injuries: Rotations can change every week due to different injuries. One team that may normally win a game might lag behind when a key player sits out.
- Match history: How have these two teams fared against each other in past games? You can also look at the performance of an individual team. Do they tend to win or lose in situations similar to this one?
- Home/away games: When games are played at one team’s home arena, they have what’s called a home-field advantage. Most teams have a better record with home games.
With every game, you need to consider all the situations at play. It’s a unique skill that takes years of practice to hone.
Here’s the kicker: you can skip the time-consuming research and just refer to the picks from a professional. Try a sports handicapping service and start seeing better returns on your bets. Take advantage of the picks that a professional sports bettor recommends.
Looking for a sports handicapping service to take your betting to the next level? Kyle Covers is just what you need. Our team provides premium picks, bankroll advice, and a win rate that makes other sports handicappers envious. If it’s your dream to make money while you watch the big game, then a sports handicapping service is right for you.
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