Sports betting is all about making the best possible picks and decisions you possibly can. I can see you all rolling your eyes now at this “revolutionary” knowledge I just bestowed upon you. Of course, sports betting is all about making the best picks possible. Here’s the thing. If that knowledge is so widely known by everyone, why do people allow so many outside influences to negatively affect their ability to make these picks?
We live in a fast-paced world full of information, resources, and opinions. While a lot of this is great to have and enhances our abilities to make better sports betting picks, it can also create problems by clouding our vision and judgment. It can make “cutting through the mud” and seeing things clearer more challenging. What I’d like to talk about today are four things that I think a lot of sports bettors allow to invade their minds and cloud their betting judgment.
Looking at Lines First
In my opinion, one of the worst things that you can do when sports betting is looking at the lines and spreads before you make your prediction on a game. Here’s the problem. When you look at the line or the spread, you’re already going to be swayed one way or the other. You’ll see the line from a prominent sportsbook and assume that they know what they’re talking about. Whether you admit it or not, you’ll already be forming a prediction of the game based on what the book said in their lines.
This forced me to abandon a lot of what I thought and get away from making bolder predictions. I seemed to get worried when I felt way different than the sportsbook did, and that would scare me into not straying far from the line or spread that I saw. As you can imagine, this wasn’t great for my bottom line. You need to feel empowered to trust your reads and research, and you can’t do that if you’re letting the lines influence your predictions prematurely.
The best way to combat this is to make your game predictions before you take a look at the lines and spreads.
Figure out how you think the game will go and then figure out what lines and spreads you would bet and which ones you would not. Then, you can go ahead and pull up the sportsbook sites and see if there are any value bets you’re interested in.
This also prevents you from scraping the bottom of the barrel if there aren’t any good bets. If you make all of your predictions first and determine what lines you would and would not like, you may end up having days when you don’t make any bets. This is okay and is actually great because there are some days where there is not a lot of value out there. If you look at the lines first, your mind might start to settle.
Past Winners and Losers
You should be looking at teams that are doing well against the spread and teams that are struggling. This is, of course, important information when making your sports betting picks. If a team is constantly struggling to meet their expectations and the line isn’t reflecting that, then you may want to stay away from them. On the flip side, if a team is constantly outperforming and the lines aren’t reflecting that, you may have found a gold mine.
This is not what I’m talking about here, though. What I am talking about is favoring teams that have made you money in the past and blacklisting teams that have cost you money in the past.
It can be very tempting to want to ride the teams that have helped the wallet and stay far away or even bet against the teams that have cost you money.
You need to make sure that you’re approaching each game without any sort of resentment or special treatment for a team. Each bet is independent, and if you start to unfairly treat a team in your selections, your bottom line is going to pay. I can think of a specific example where a college basketball team burned me twice by missing free throws down the stretch to cover. I was so mad at them that I started picking teams against them. Of course, it did not work out well for me.
The worst part was that I didn’t initially admit that was the reason I was betting against them. I tried to convince myself that I was betting against them for “strategic” reasons, but in reality, I was betting against them because I felt like it spat them somehow. The only person that got punished in the long run was me and my profits.
While you should be paying attention to the merits of a team’s ability to cover the spread, you need to make sure that you approach each game as a new bet at least from an emotional standpoint. Holding grudges or playing favorites and letting that affect your bets is a bad recipe.
You could consider this a continuation of the previous section, but I wanted to expand on it further. If you’re letting any emotions creep into your decisions making when it comes to sports betting, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are two types of emotions that I want to look at – emotions about a certain team and emotions from your outside world.
First, let’s talk about emotions about a certain team. You have to make sure that you’re betting what you think is going to happen and not what you want to happen. This is the number one reason that I refuse to bet on any of my favorite teams. I know that no matter how unbiased and disciplined I try to be, I will always be fighting with what I want to happen. It also makes the games really uncomfortable to watch when I would bet against my team. To make it easy, I have ruled against betting on my favorite teams.
Probably. However, I make sure to protect myself from making a stupid and emotional mistake because of what I want to happen instead of what I think will happen.
Additionally, you need to make sure that you don’t let anyone else get you riled up about a particular team. I’ll touch on this more when I talk about the media, but it goes for your friends too. Don’t let them get you incorrectly fired up or angry and let it cloud your judgment. I’ve had some friends with a passionate hatred for other teams or a die-hard love who when you talk to them about a game can convince you that anything is going to happen. It’s great that they have such passion, but it’s terrible when you let that entice you to make bets you normally wouldn’t make.
The second form of emotional control I want to talk about is not letting outside emotional factors affect your betting. I’m referring to things in your everyday life that might cause you to become irrational or less focused than you should be. For example, if you just went through a nasty breakup, you probably should be nowhere near a sports book. Fight with a friend? Death of a loved one? Awful day at work? These are all times when you really shouldn’t be anywhere near a sportsbook.
When people are upset, they have a tendency to try and do things to make themselves feel better. For a lot of people, that could be winning a sports bet. You might be enticed to make more bets than usual or bigger bets than usual, just to try and get that euphoric feel good that comes with a winning session.
What’s funny is that this is also true when great things happen in your life. It’s not as prevalent, but I have seen it happen with friends before. Something will go great in their life, and they will feel invincible. This can sometimes lead them to make wilder bets and take more risks because they feel like they can’t lose. This is equally as dangerous as betting when you’re sad or having a bad day.
The bottom line is that you need to keep emotions out of your betting whether they are positive or negative. Your bets should all be made with sound logic and have nothing to do with what you want to happen and everything to do with what you think will actually happen.
Trusting the Media
When it comes to sports betting, the media is not your friend. Their sole goal in life is to entertain their viewers which has little or nothing to do with helping you win your sports bets. They are notorious for overplaying storylines and sensationalizing everything to try and make a game seem more exciting. This is, of course, great for people who are looking for entertainment value. However, if you let this sensationalizing get into your head when you’re making your bets, you’re going to make mistakes.
Honestly, if you’re going to be sports betting with any degree of seriousness, you should look into making your predictions and picks before you watch or read any publications or shows. That way, you know that you didn’t let their attempts to entertain negatively affect your predictions. Be careful if you do watch after you make your picks, though. If you haven’t put the bets in you may end up being tempted to incorrectly make an adjustment to your bets.
Putting It All Together
None of this is rocket science, but these small changes could have a dramatic impact on your success or failure as a sports bettor. Here’s a quick recap of what I recommend you do to make sure your judgment is not getting clouded when making your bets.
- 1. Look at the lines AFTER you’ve made your game predictions.
- 2. Don’t hold grudges or play favorites when betting.
- 3. Don’t let your emotions take over.
- 4. Don’t trust the media and what they’re pushing.