Football season is now in full swing, and that means drinking more, scouring the waiver wire to improve your fantasy team, and placing the occasional wager. While most of us who bet on football are just part-timers looking for a little entertainment, there are professionals who make their actual living wagering on the ol’ pigskin. For us part-time hacks, it certainly couldn’t hurt to listen to some of the strategies the pros employ. We compiled some tips that will help you more effectively navigate the often-cruel world of football wagering. Here they are.
Manage Your Wad
Football bettors more than anyone need to make a budget and stick to it. If you plan to bet games throughout the football season, decide upfront the total amount you want to allocate. Once you decide on your total allotment for the season, the next step is to determine your maximum bet for each game. The pros say you should never wager more than five percent of your total bankroll on any single bet. So if you allocate $1,000 for this season, then $50 would be your maximum bet on any one game. This is much easier said than done, but the pros all emphasize bankroll discipline as the key to coming out a winner. As the old cliche goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Information and Instinct Are Compatible
Thanks to the Internet, there is a deluge of information you can tap into to make informed bets. Learning about player injuries, individual matchups and past trends are all at your fingertips. While information is absolutely vital, that doesn’t mean you should discount your instinct. Ideally, a pick will grow out of the info you gather and what your gut tells you. If the two are in conflict, save yourself the heartache and don’t bet on that particular game.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
In addition to deciding your maximum betting amount, you also need to establish a maximum number of games you can play each week. While this number can be a little more fluid than your bet amount, playing a maximum of five games per week is usually a pretty good rule of thumb. Betting too many games is usually a sign of someone who is not doing the necessary research and analysis.
A Chase Never Ends Well
Staying within your maximum bet amount is especially difficult when you’re in the middle of a losing streak. The temptation is to try to win your money back with a single bet. While using this strategy might work on occasion, over time it will backfire. If you lose three games in a row at $50 each and decide to chase with a $150 single bet, you’ve just exceeded your maximum bet by 200 percent, and chances are the bankroll you set aside for the season won’t make it to the first bye week. Always remember: the most successful gamblers are the most disciplined gamblers.
Betting on Your Favorite Team Is a Madman’s Game
The team you know best is usually the team you love most. While your fandom has made you extremely informed about your team, it also makes it extremely difficult to be objective about them. If you find yourself constantly betting on your favorite team to win, you should probably stop. Betting against your favorite team can also have its downsides. Maybe they’re a heavy underdog and you bet against them, but when they’re poised to pull off a monumental upset you’re left in a state of conflict because while you love your team, you hate losing money. If you’re calculating enough to be objective about your team and at peace with the emotional consequences of betting against them, then gamble away. However, if you’re like most fans, betting against them feels like an act of betrayal. In most cases it’s best to take them off the board and focus on other teams that you can be unbiased toward.
Get the Whole Picture
There are certain circumstances that football bettors seem to gravitate toward, like betting on home underdogs or going against a team that had a hard fought and emotional win the week before. While it’s good to key off certain factors, you still need to do your research and get a comprehensive view of the game. Making a bet solely on one piece of information is potentially denying yourself knowledge about important developments, like a star player being hurt or nasty weather conditions.
Don’t Take Losing Personally
When you lose a bet, it doesn’t mean there were evil forces conspiring against you and God doesn’t love you (but maybe it does). Losing happens, and the best thing to do is learn from it and try to evaluate where your analysis might have gone wrong. Some losses will definitely sting more than others, but if you don’t go over your maximum bet amount, they’ll all affect your bankroll the same way.
Drunk Betting Is Bad Betting
We’re not saying that you can’t drink while you watch the games, but we do recommend making your decisions and placing your wagers before the drinking begins. More often than not, drunk and impulsive betting is followed by a bad hangover and a diminished bankroll.
Point spreads can vary slightly from sportsbook to sportsbook. While a half point may not seem like a lot, it easily can be the difference between winning and losing. If you’re going to make a play, why not help your cause by choosing the sportsbook with the most favorable number? The pros adamantly preach shopping for the best point spreads, because placing bets at the most favorable number over an entire season will have a cumulative affect that will work in your favor.
Don’t Rain on Your Own Hot Streak
When the wins are piling up, it’s more important than ever to stick to your bankroll strategy. It’s common for amateurs to take the money they won during a hot streak and let it ride on a single game. If they lose, their hot streak is all for naught. If they win, they’re likely to keep pushing their luck until they do lose. Holding to a maximum bet amount will prevent any of this from happening. Good luck!