The odds are set and the big game is about to begin. It is time to decide what bets to make (and even more importantly) what bets to stay away from.
Trying to predict who will win is one of the most exciting and satisfying aspects of sports betting. I mean who doesn’t enjoy basking in the glory of being right. “I told you so-and-so was going to go off tonight!”
But, being right is only half the battle. There are other very important factors that go into becoming a successful sports investor.
You may have heard that money management is very important when it comes to sports betting, but I am here to tell you that sports betting “emotion” management is just as important, if not more so.
In this post, I’d like to go over how managing your emotions go into the overall equation of a winning strategy and to identify certain pitfalls to avoid saving you from the bitter taste of defeat.
Myths about Sports Betting Predictions
My wife derives great pleasure in telling me how she knew “such-and-such” team was going to win. Of course, her predictions always come after the fact and she has the worst revisionist history of anyone I know, but I must admit her 20/20 hindsight is batting a thousand.
Naturally, she relishes her “I told you so” moments more when I lose. It’s gotten to the point where I now record her predictions ahead of time on my phone so she can’t conveniently switch her picks after the fact. Alas, I digress. . .
The point here is, unless you can find a bookie who will accept bets after the game ends, you will never be 100% correct. In fact, you won’t be 90% correct or 80% or even 70% of the time over the long run.
While it is possible to go on winning streaks and to get hot for a short period of time or even a season, in the end the hot and cold streaks even out.
A good, solid handicapper who makes picks through an entire season is 55% to at most when he is having a really good season 60% correct over time when betting on standard point spread games at odds of -110.
Naturally, not all of the bets you make will be at -110, so that is why a working knowledge of how to calculate expected value, implied probability and how to best manage your bankroll will increase your chances of success. (If you would like to learn more about money management, click here)
But this post is not about that.
The point to take away is this: the more realistic your expectations, the more realistic your chances are of coming out ahead.
How to go from Hero to Zero
There is an infamous phenomenon in the sports betting world known as “chasing”. It is the siren song that calls from the depths to the “soon-to-be divorced from his money” sports betting square. This enticing song whispers in your ear to wager more after a loss to recoup your money in one fell swoop.
Inevitably . . . you lose again. You curse your luck and lick your wounds and again the voice chimes in “certainly your luck can not be this bad. You are due! Just bet one more time. All it takes is once!”
Then, you proceed to lose again . . . And again. . . And again, for as many times as you indulge the fantasy.
And when you lose, you will lose in the most idiotic, unlucky, depressing, “WTF! I can’t believe that just happened.” fashion imaginable.
You will lose in ways you never thought possible which will make you question the integrity of sports and the universe itself.
If you somehow make it this far with any money left, chances are you are past the point of no return – you are about to enter another dimension . . . TILT!
Tilt is where you say “Screw it! I’m going all in on this next game! I don’t care if I win or lose.” The bookies say thank you very much and, inevitably, they cash in your final losing ticket.
In a blink of an eye, you can erase your entire account. Trust me it doesn’t take long!
The bottom line is: Don’t let this happen to you! Don’t let this be your fate!
I’m going to level with you and say that almost all seasoned sports bettors have chased at some point. Whether they admit it is another story.
As you can probably tell from my vivid description, I have experienced this phenomenon more times than I care to admit in my time.
If there is one idea that I hope I can get through to you it is this: Don’t let pride be your downfall!
As Marsellus Wallace says in Pulp Fiction, “F*** pride. Pride only hurts.”
Swallow your pride, wear the loss, get some sleep and live to fight another day.
Lock of the Century
Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute! What if I just wait until a game I am absolutely certain comes along and I just wager a large amount on that one game! I will only bet big on the bets I know are sure to win!”
If you ever listen to sports radio on the weekend, you’ll often hear touts (salesmen who sell their sports picks) come on the air saying they have their “guaranteed play of the year.” (Yet, somehow they seem to have a new “play of the year” the very next week!)
They swear up and down that their pick will win and that they have “inside information” that no one else is privy to.
Here is another piece of free advice there is no such thing as a guaranteed winner. No matter how good it sounds!
Sadly, these touts often prey on the desperate and uninformed looking to get themselves out of the hole with a “surefire winner.”
The fact of the matter is no game is ever a lock. No game is a surefire winner.
At the time of this writing, there were multiple games today that had “guarantee” for the favorite written all over it and, yet, the improbable happened: A star player had a bad game. A bad team had a moment of inspiration. An injury, an ejection or a red card turned a favorite into a dumpster fire.
The betting gods love to punish people who make themselves vulnerable. It’s Murphy’s law at its finest.
If you bet big, you open yourself up to one injury, one off night, one wrong bounce of the ball to determine your fate.
Whenever I tell people that I like to sports wager, I tell them that it’s not the same as gambling. That’s because you are using knowledge to predict an outcome and are not relying on sheer luck to win.
By betting big, you turn sports wagering into a gamble. It no longer becomes a game of skill, but a game of luck.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Despite these warnings and awareness of these pitfalls (since I am a betting man) I would put money on the fact that, if you become serious about sports betting, at some point you will experience these phenomenon firsthand if you haven’t already.
Sports wagering tests your emotions, resolve and discipline. With the advent of internet wagering, it is literally effortless to type in a dollar amount and press enter on your computer or smartphone. It is much too easy!
All I can say is proceed with caution and don’t get too down on yourself when you make mistakes. As with anything, the more you learn and gain experience, the better bettor you will become.
Finally, to end on a serious note, if you ever find yourself unable to stop yourself from gambling or your losses get way out of hand. Please seek help. You are not alone.