Most people get started with sports betting the completely wrong way. They believe it’s about predicting winners, but in reality it’s all about finding value. Here is a guide on how to get started with sports betting so you know what to do and what not to do.
Sports betting is a tricky thing. It can seem like an easy way to make more money, but long-term winning requires unique insights and following some important principles. It’s also necessary to bet with the right bookmakers – the ones that don’t limit winners, and the ones that offer high odds with a low margin.
At the same time, sports betting is very risky. When you screw up, you pay the price financially. And while losing can certainly bring learning, we still believe it’s best to get off on the right foot, and we’ll try to help you do so. Read this article, and you’ll know the basic principles as a new bettor getting into the world of sports betting.
Learn the basic principles first
Value betting means that you only bet when there is value. The odds that you see from the bookmaker has to be higher than they actually should be. For example, if you are getting odds 2.00, you should only bet the outcome if you estimate a chance higher than 50%. If you see odds 1.50, you should only bet it if you believe that the chance exceeds 67%, and so on.
Because the bookmakers always make their odds based on estimated probabilities. The only way to beat them in the long run is to be better at the same game. If you’re capable of estimating probabilities more precisely than the bookies, you can become a winning sports bettor. If the bookies are better at it than you, then you’re going to lose.
Value betting also means that you will sometimes bet on outcomes that are unlikely and that you might not believe is the most obvious scenario. Let’s say there is a match between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. You believe the Cowboys will win, so that’s the obvious thing to bet, right? Not necessarily, as it depends on the odds. If you believe the Cowboys have a 75% chance of winning, and the Giants have a 25%, but you get odds 4.50 for betting the Giants, then that’s a clear value bet that you should grab. Even if you don’t believe they will win.
Of course, that was just an example, but it explains the theory well.
The second principle is money management. You should set aside a bankroll that you only use for betting – an amount that you can afford losing. Also, an amount that you won’t cash out from every day or every week, as you’ll need to let it grow.
Only bet a small percentage of your bankroll on each bet. Our suggestion is to bet 2% of your bankroll on each bet you make. So if your bankroll is 500 dollars (or euros), you’ll bet between 10 dollars/euros per bet. You can go aggressive if you have a very small bankroll and bet 5%. Or you can be conservative and bet 1% or even 0.5% if you have a huge bankroll and if you’re not in a hurry.
You need to readjust this percentage every week or so, as that will give compound growth.
Use your insights or follow experts
If you want to be successful with the value betting principle, you must have solid insights. You must know more about the particular sport, league or event than the bookmaker does. Otherwise, how can you estimate the probabilities better?
So before you even consider getting started with betting, you have to make sure that you have an edge. You should only place wagers on stuff that you actually know something about. If you’re really into basketball, great – put your focus on that. If you know nothing about baseball, simply don’t bet on it.
The exception is if you are following an expert. There are many betting experts out there, and sometimes they are sharing their picks. If you find an expert that knows a lot – and knows how to turn a profit – then absolutely follow him.
Reading the opinions of others can also help you. You might get to see new angles and pick up informations you didn’t already know. Generally, it’s a great idea to follow experts (or tipsters as we also call them), if you know that they are successful.
For example, here at BoldSharps, we share free picks for Formula 1 and for the NFL. You are free to follow them if you’d like – you just need to sign up to our newsletter (do it in the orange box, upper right part of the site).
Find the best places to bet
Aside from applying value betting and money management, while making sure your knowledge or sources are on point, you also need to find the best places to bet.
The odds mean everything. Literally everything. So you should always strive to find the highest odds available on the market.
The best place to bet is with a betting brokerage. We recommend SportMarket – read our review here. They give you access to all the best bookmakers and exchanges from the same account.
If that’s not an option, then use the best bookmakers. At the moment, we rank Pinnacle Sports and SBOBET as the best one. Check our list of the 10 best bookmakers here.
Some of you readers might be living in a place where these bookmakers are not available, due to laws or licensing. If so, you’ll need to find a bookmaker that accepts anonymous betting. We recommend finding a Bitcoin bookmaker, and there are two that are particularly good: Cloudbet (our favorite) and Nitrogen Sports (another good option, especially for American sports).
Keep statistics and study your results
It’s important that you keep statistics. Write down every single bet you make. Add details such as the odds, your stake, whether you won or not, and keep track of the evolution of your bankroll.
We have created a spreadsheet that you can use to keep your statistics. Download it for free right here. We recommend filling out a new spreadsheet every month, since it gives a better overview.
Keeping statistics gives you the chance to study your decisions and study your results. Take some time and look into your choices. See what you did right and what you did wrong. You’ll need to eliminate your biggest mistakes early on (although there will always be some, even for professionals) and you need to remember the things you are doing right so you can replicate the positives in the future.
Always keep on learning
Never stop learning if you want to be a serious sports bettor. Every time you can learn about a new concept, then do it. Dig into it and test out some new principles, use the knowledge you are getting.
You’re welcome to browse around on our site, where you will find a lot of interesting betting articles that might help you become a better sharp. Otherwise, read books about betting, follow other blogs, and try to learn more about the sports themselves. To be successful at sports betting, it’s important to know a lot about sports – don’t forget that!
And that’s it for now – best of luck with your bets, and remember to bet responsibly. If you have any questions, we are prepared to answer them!