Five Common Traits that all Successful Bettors Share28th February 2019 / Julian
You might think that an innate understanding of football is enough to become a successful bettor, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
You might have a comprehensive level of insight into how the beautiful game works and the unique scenarios and situations that unfold in any given 90 minutes, but if you don’t know how to bet for long-term gain then unfortunately you will simply join the ranks of punters who have everything crossed come a Saturday afternoon and who, more often than not, are left to rue ‘bad luck’ or ‘reckless defending’ or ‘wastefulness in front of goal’.
Having a few key skills at your disposal that ultimately have nothing to do with football will ensure that, week by week, month by month, you are giving yourself the best possible opportunity to generate a second income from your betting.
Skill #1: An Appreciation of Mathematics
Now, we’re not talking Dr Stephen Hawking or Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind levels of mathematical knowledge here, but merely an appreciation of value: where it is present and where it is not.
Calculating value requires two things: a learned experience of where the odds displayed are correct or otherwise, and a mathematical approach to confirming that that’s the case.
Any casual observer of football will tell you that Manchester City are likely to beat West Bromwich Albion at home, but do the odds reflect the relative likelihood of this happening. Think of it this way: if Man City played WBA on ten occasions, how many times would you expect them to win? Six? Seven? Eight? In performing this calculation we can secure a percentage figure and a relevant fraction. So, if we think Man City would win eight times out of ten, then their betting fraction would be 2/10 – or more likely 1/5, in bookmakers’ parlance.
And that’s kind of the key thing here: many bettors will say that a 1/5 odds-on favourite cannot be ‘value’. Well, we have just proven that if Man City are quoted at, say, 1/4 for their encounter with West Brom, then they are good value.
On the flip side, if we say that the Baggies would beat City away from home in two out of every ten matches, then their respective odds with the bookies would be 10/2, or 5/1. Any price longer than this has a certain value to it, but assuming that an outsider is good value just because of their fanciful odds – and thus the potential size of your return – is just plain wrong. They are that price for a reason, after all!
Skill #2: Manage your Money Like a Boss
You can have the best betting success rate in the world, but if you aren’t managing your money efficiently then your career as a punter with ambitions of making a secondary income will be cut cruelly short.
Some punters stake more when they are on a hot streak, some when they are losing. Here’s the problem with that: there is no such thing as a streak of any kind. It is a statistical certainty that you will connect wins or losses together at some point in your betting before regressing to the mean. As such, no particular emphasis should be placed on a perceived good or bad run; it is natural if you bet long enough that you will experience both.
The second mistake that bettors make is in staking different amounts based on the perceived ‘value’ of the bet, e.g. they will wager £10 on Man City to beat West Brom and £1 on Bournemouth to beat Chelsea.
Now, it is easy to see the logic behind that, but we must remember a key point: the bookmakers have already performed the ‘value’ task on your behalf, so don’t be tempted to make their lives easier by doing what they want. Remember, these odds have a margin built in to protect them – very rarely do the bookies get it wrong!
So what is the solution? Well, you have two options: wager level stakes for EACH and EVERY bet you place (regardless of the price taken), or bet a certain percentage of your bankroll EACH and EVERY time.
For the first option, you can place a specific amount and thus budget for your activities each month, e.g. if you wager £1 each time then you will need x amount to satisfy your betting each week/month. This ensures that you will never lose excessive amounts, because you have already set your budget. It will also mean that any winnings accrued are not wasted in being added to mega stakes bets when you’re feeling a bit frivolous.
The second option ensures that your bankroll has a specified lifespan, assuming your bets are unsuccessful on a consistent basis. So if you had a £1000 bankroll and wagered 5% of it every time, you could place 50 consecutive bets and STILL have money in your bank – assuming all of those 50 lose.
Skill #3: It’s Good to be Lucky, but it’s Better to be Lucky and Good
Luck plays a part in winning football matches on occasion, and as such it plays a part in successful betting too. The bad refereeing decisions, the players falling over at the wrong time, the injuries and the weather conditions all play a part, and as punters who were on the Liverpool vs Sunderland match in 2009, when Darren Bent’s wayward shot hit a beach ball that had blown onto the pitch and ricocheted into the net, will testify, luck is hugely important.
There’s that old saying – ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’, and that sums up sports betting to a tee. Doing your research is the most essential component to success. You need to be like The Rainman: you need to know injury and suspension news, current form, the league table, head-to-head stats, the profile of each referee and many other facts before you can attain the level of insight required to become a successful long term bettor.
And this is helpful for the most popular leagues around the world, but imagine the advantage you would attain if you knew this information for the more obscure divisions in world football? You would instantly have a headstart on the bookmakers’ traders, and can then tap into Skill #1 as outlined above: identifying where value does and doesn’t exist.
Skill #4: The Ice Man (or Woman) Cometh
Emotional responses; they tend to get us in trouble in all walks of life, don’t they?
They are a particular enemy to the football bettor, as well. There are a number of situations where emotions can get the better of us – where we experience a ‘bad beat’, e.g. a late goal ruining our wager, and the usual upshot is that we then go and place a succession of bets (usually at inflated stakes) in response to assuage the frustration we feel.
This is bad. Always.
Chasing losses, overconfidence, hypersensitivity, illogical perception, inherent bias….these are all emotion-based creations that can shape our betting careers. And you will need to find your own solution in how to deal with them.
But the very best bettors are methodical in their approach. They pick out the matches and the selections they want to back in advance, place their bets and then walk away. If the week ends in profit then great, if not then back to the drawing board. But deciding upon the teams you want to back early and without emotion is the best way of going about your business.
Skill #5: Measure, Analyse, Improve
How can you expect to improve as a bettor if you aren’t recording and then analysing your results? Would a business just ‘fumble in the dark’ for profits, without taking stock of what they do well and areas of improvement?
No, of course they wouldn’t, and neither should you. Keep a spreadsheet of your performance and be analytical in your approach: do you have a knack for backing favourites that get the job done? Can you spot a draw a mile away? Perhaps you have a penchant for backing winning outsiders?
This is where you will find your edge.
The tip is based on the personal opinion of the author. No success is guaranteed. Please gamble responsibly. 18+
* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!
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