Not everyone can be an ace when it comes to betting on sports. There’s a reason those that are able to make a good living doing it are few and far between. While you may not ever be a good enough sports bettor to do it as your primary source of income, there is still something to be said about making a little money on the side as a hobby. If nothing else, betting on sports is fun. Especially when you actually profit.

While some may take a YOLO kind of approach to betting on sports during a weekend getaway in Las Vegas, that’s not necessarily a recipe for success in the long run. Consistently making money wagering on sports requires a more disciplined, methodical approach. Frankly, discipline is probably the most important factor when it comes to enjoying sustained success. 

There is no perfect method. There’s a reason so few actually make money betting on sports regularly. If there were one simple rule of thumb, everyone would do it. That said, there are steps you can take to improve your game. TheSportsGeek has some great tips to get you started if you’re new to sports betting. If you want to refine your methods, however, here are a few things to consider. 

Set Some Ground Rules

The worst thing you can do betting on sports is chase your losses. If your first bet goes awry, there is an understandable inclination to try and double down in order to cancel out your losses. This goes back to discipline, of course. Understanding your limits and approaching your sports bets with a plan is a must if you actually want to enjoy a bit of success. Chasing your losses is a very easy way to see your bankroll dwindle rapidly.

So, before placing a bet, you have to be sure that you are okay with potentially losing the amount you’re wagering. You also want to plan out how much you plan on wagering on each game. The amount you wager obviously varies depending on the size of your bankroll. The larger the bankroll, the more you can theoretically afford to risk.

If you plan on betting over a long period of time, you’re going to need a bankroll of decent size. It sounds simple, but you also never want to invest more than you can afford to lose. The last thing you want is for your betting habit to start interfering with your real-life expenses. 

Shop for Lines

While most sportsbooks will have similar odds, they are not all necessarily going to be the same. For example, one sportsbook may have the Los Angeles Lakers as -140 favorites to beat the Houston Rockets, while another sportsbook may have the Lakers as -120 favorites. If your plan is to bet on the Lakers, you obviously want to find the most favorable line possible. In this example, you’d want to bet at the site that lists the Lakers as -120 favorites, because those odds are more profitable if the bet wins. 

Being able to shop from site to site means you’re going to have to have multiple active accounts across multiple betting sites, but that’s no big deal. Signing up for a betting site is free, so if you find a site with a more favorable line on a game you have interest in betting on, you can quickly and easily deposit in order to fund said bet. 

Betting on a team at -140 is going to offer a smaller payout than betting on the same team with those more favorable -120 odds. So, finding the site that has the better odds is an obvious and easy way for you to quickly inflate your bankroll. 

Research

Lots of sports bettors just use good old-fashioned gut instinct. While that may work once or twice, simply following your gut isn’t an actual strategy for success when it comes to sports betting. Because it has become such a massive industry, there is no shortage of information available to the public these days. There are sites all over the internet dedicated to helping bettors make money, so taking the time to read articles from industry experts can help you hone your game.

There is no shame in seeking help. If you read an article that helps you become more well-informed about why to place a certain bet, there is no penalty. It’s not like your bet payout will take a hit because you took the advice of someone else. Reading articles and strategy guides can help you gain knowledge and hone your skills. You should have no problem finding a site that covers the sport or types of bets in which you have interest, whether it’s football, horse racing, soccer or anything else. 

Keep an Eye on Sharp Money

Betting against the public is a decent rule of thumb when it comes to sports betting. Public money is highly influential in the industry, and going against the grain is a strategy that can pay off in big ways. Betting lines are influenced by bettors. If enough bettors place a bet on the Lakers, for example, the odds will start to shift so that betting on the Lakers becomes less profitable. 

This just adds to the value of doing the opposite of what the masses are doing. This can lead to some very profitable odds on the less popular teams. If you take the contrarian stance, the potential upside is massive if luck is on your side. Something to remember is that the most-popular teams in the United States generally draw most of the public money. Teams like the Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and Golden State Warriors are popular betting options for casual bettors. Those teams tend to draw public action no matter what. 

Trying to identify value based on public perception is a good way to get an edge on the rest of the field. 

Conclusion

As mentioned, there is no tried-and-true method to follow with sports betting. However, you can take some steps with an eye on giving yourself a leg up. Managing your bankroll, avoiding loss-chasing, doing some research and taking contrarian stances are just a few of the ways you can potentially improve your performance when it comes to betting on sports.