Sports Betting Strategies

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Effective sports betting strategies can make the difference between a bettor who wins big and one that’s constantly coming out on the losing end. The good news is that even beginners can develop a strategy that works in a hurry. It’s just a matter of a little trial and error, some practice, and consistency to make this happen.

Now that betting on sports has emerged from the dark ages of neighborhood books to the opportunities presented by online gambling sites, many more people are trying it out. Maybe some of them get away with beginner’s luck. But luck tends to even out over time, which is when a sound sports betting strategy can come into play.

The first thing you need to understand is that no single strategy fits every bettor. That’s because no two bettors are exactly alike. Some of the areas where people differ:

  • Tolerance for risk
  • Betting budget
  • Desired payback
  • Frequency of betting

Each of these factors can and should have a direct effect on the way you’re planning to strategize. You should have specific strategies in line for the different sports on which you’re planning to bet. It can seem like a very involved process.

But what you’ll find is that developing effective betting tactics is just a matter of time, patience, and diligence. Just like anything else, if you work at it, you’ll become a more effective sports bettor. We’re just here to give you a head start.

On this page, we’ll dive into the basics of online sports betting to give you a foundation. From there, we’ll talk about some of the strategies that we believe are the best. We believe that an effective sports betting strategy can not only enhance your chances of winning, but it will also improve your overall experience with wagering on sports.

Betting Strategy Basics

You might not realize it, but there are certain pieces of foundational advice that you can use in your sports betting strategies no matter what sport you’re going to bet. It’s best to get these ideas under control before worrying about what strategies will work for different sports. Once you understand all this, you’ll be able to move forward with more advanced and sport-specific tactics.

Bet With Purpose

The goal of sports betting is to generate a profit. If you’re simply wagering on games to make them more interesting, then I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up for failure. Always have a clear purpose in mind when you place a wager, and be sure to treat the oddsmakers with the respect they deserve.

If you don’t know the players and teams, it’s hard to enjoy consistent success. No matter what sport you bet on, you should watch as many of the games as possible and analyze the statistics. The more you know, the better your odds of success.

Determine What Kind of Bettor You Want to Be

Too many people skip this step. Those who do often find that they’re not getting the results that they want out of their bets. And that can be the case even when they win a few bets here and there.

Some questions that you should ask yourself?

  • Are you planning on betting regularly or just on certain occasions now and then?
  • Are you willing to make bets where your profit potential is small but where you have a better chance of winning?
  • Do you want to win a lot of money without betting a lot, even if that means a bigger overall risk of loss?
  • Can you afford to bet a lot of money in the hopes that it will bring a big return?

Once you can figure out the answers to these questions, you’ll find it more obvious the types of bets you should be making. You’ll be looking at not only who to bet on, but also the odds that accompany them. When you win, you’ll be meeting your expectations for payback, and when you lose, while disappointing, it won’t be the end of the world.

Come Up with a Budget

Developing sports betting strategies and making online bets should be a fun experience. It should remain that way even when you lose a few bets (although we’ll admit it’s always more fun to win.) By developing and sticking to a budget, you can ensure that you won’t take too much of a financial hit even when slumps occur.

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The first thing you have to decide is how you want to break it down, but we suggest that you choose a definitive period of time, such as weekly or monthly. Then decide how much you can lose in that span without it causing you financial hardship.

From there, it’s just a matter of some simple math. For example:

  • Weekly budget for betting: $250
  • Number of bets you want to make that week: 5
  • The amount you can put on each bet: $50

One other thing you should consider when it comes to a betting budget: Banking some of your winnings now and again. Even with the best sports betting strategies in place, it can be hard to beat the odds. (If it were easy, everybody would win and sports betting sites would go out of business!)

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Because that’s the case, you should think about withdrawing a little from your account when you get above your baseline. That will allow you to realize your winnings instead of having them go right back in for more bets. If your lick turns, you could easily lose all you’ve won and put you back at square one.

Understand the Odds

If you’re betting on sports online for the first time, you might find it hard to understand what you’re seeing on the page. There can be a lot of numbers and symbols which make it all seem like hieroglyphics. Without knowing what you’re doing, it can be easy to make a bet that you never would have if you understood the odds.

Most top sports betting websites give you the odds through a system known as the moneyline. The moneyline tells you how much money you can expect to win based on how much you bet. Here are the two key factors you have to remember when dealing with the moneyline:

  • A plus sign in front of the moneyline is letting you know that a bet of $100 will return you that amount in profit
  • A minus sign in front of the moneyline is letting you know that a bet of that amount will return you $100 in profit

For example, a bet on a typical NFL football game to win might look something like this:

  • Chicago: -175
  • Green Bay: +150

In this case, a $175 wager on Chicago will return you $100 profit if they win. A $100 wager will return you $150 of profit if Green Bay wins and you bet that side. Chicago is considered the favorite to win by the oddsmakers, which is why they pay less than Green Bay does.

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If you want to read this bet with different amounts in mind, just divide both moneyline numbers by 100. You’ll see that the odds for Chicago are a dollar won for every $1.75 bet, while the odds for Green Bay are $1.50 won for every dollar bet. Using this division can give you an idea of what you’ll get in return for any size bet.

The moneyline can be used in conjunction with the “lines,” which refer to certain numbers for types of bets. For example, let’s look at the example game above from a different perspective, this time as a point spread wager:

  • Chicago -3 ½ (-110)
  • Green Bay +3 ½ (-110)

In this case, betting on either side will provide you with a moneyline of -110, which is close to an even-money return. But if you bet on Chicago, you have to “give” 3 ½ points of game score, while you’ll “get” 3 ½ points if you bet on Green Bay.

Again, this will all come pretty naturally to you once you make a few bets. But until that point, you should take care to learn how the odds found on online betting sites work. It will prevent you from any ill-advised bets and help you find value, which leads to our next point.

Bet for Value

This goes back to the idea of making bets that fulfill your expectations. Since the folks who are reading this are most likely to be beginning sports bettors, we’re guessing that your betting budget won’t be too outrageously high. For that reason, you should think of maximizing each bet that you make.

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Look through the odds for the best values that can be found. There might be bets which you might consider to have a relatively good chance of coming up winners. But if they don’t pay that much in return, it might not be worth the risk that you might be wrong because the potential winnings might not be impactful.

By contrast, if you can spot the bets that can make you a substantial amount when you win and have a legitimate chance of happening, you can give your bankroll a boost in a hurry. Hitting one or two high-value wagers occasionally can be just as effective as being consistently right about wagers that pay less. Take your time scouring the odds, know when to walk away from a bet when the value isn’t there, and be ready to strike when it is.

Avoid Tout Services

Tout services offer to provide you with winning picks for a price. Don’t fall into this trap, as their supposed success rates can often be exaggerated. If it was that easy to make money on sporting events, everyone would be doing it.

Don’t Go on Tilt

When a bettor goes on tilt, they angrily follow up a losing wager with an even larger bet. This is bound to lead to disaster, so avoid the temptation at all costs. When you lose a wager—even a stone-cold lock—just accept your misfortune and move on.

Shop for Lines

Don’t settle for the first set of odds you come across. Look at multiple sportsbooks and find betting lines that give you an advantage. This takes extra time and dedication, but it’s bound to save you money.

Keep a Clear Head

Plenty of people like to drink alcohol or smoke weed, but you should never mix these activities with sports gambling. This leads to errors in judgment, which in turn leads to lost money. It’s also advisable to get a full night’s rest before hitting the sportsbooks.

Best Sports Betting Strategies

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  • Perform statistical analysis: Many bettors believe that they can pick winners accurately without even seeing the teams or the players play. That’s because they focus on past statistics that can project future performance. While we think that a balanced approach is the best way to go, a healthy knowledge of statistics is an excellent element of the best betting tactics.
  • Follow the action: This is the flip side of the idea of statistical analysis. Instead of just reading about the action, you watch as much of it as you can and then render judgment based on what you’ve seen. It’s always a good idea to have a solid knowledge of any sport or league that you might want to wager, which is why viewing the action will come in handy in online betting strategies.
  • Look for streaks and slumps: Recency is a key factor in any sport, with the teams and players that tend to stay hot and those that are cold staying cold. As a result, you should always base some of your analysis on the most recent outings. If you overlook that in the big picture, it might cost you.
  • Check the weather (where it applies): Outdoor sports can be severely affected by adverse weather conditions. For example, a football game played in sloppy conditions might tend to be a low-scoring affair, while golf played in high winds might lead to abnormally high scores. If you follow the weather, you might end up with an advantage that other bettors don’t have.
  • Look for betting trends: This is a kind of statistical analysis that focuses primarily on betting information. For example, if you know that a basketball team has covered the point spread as an underdog on the road five times in a row, you might pick them to cover in that situation the next time it comes around. Now that online sports betting has become so popular, information like that is readily available.
  • Be aware of injuries: A team that is missing key performers is likely going to come up short of their usual level of play. Most oddsmakers to top gambling sites keep up to date with this information, which is why you have to do the same to give yourself a shot. Try to find the most up-to-date information before making your wager.


The best sports betting strategies give you the best chance of performing well with your wagers in the long run. Be consistent and don’t panic if you lose a few here and there. If your online betting strategies are sound, you’ll eventually come out on the winning end.


Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.