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The 5 reasons why sports punters lose

Sports betting is incredibly difficult 

Sports betting is incredibly challenging and to take on the bookies and win money is a very difficult proposition. Everyone’s had the tough beat story and most of us have chased a loss with another loss, or worse, a total wipeout. When it comes to betting on sports you just can’t get lucky all the time and win, it just doesn’t work that way. You have to have a plan, and work that plan to squeeze out every last win and to win every possible dollar you can.

In our experience it’s the combination of a good strategy and discipline that you need. In this article we’ll uncover some of the reasons why sports punters lose and how you can build an effective strategy to turn that around, build consistency and start winning.

The odds aren’t in your favor

Let’s take a look at some of the best professional punters statistics of all time. If you look at tipsters who tip “Against the Spread”, say at $1.90 or (-111) outcomes, which is generally the most common market for lines, spreads and over / under totals, you’ll find some very interesting statistics. To put this into perspective, to be considered really really good (on the highest levels) a good tipster can tip in against the spread outcomes at +70%, if you can do this that makes you one of the best, and you’re very very good at working outcomes.

Let’s have a closer look at what that actually means:

In 10 outcomes at 1 unit per outcome (with a $100 / unit value).

Example “Against the Spread” –

10 outcomes with 7 wins at $1.90 (-111) is $1000 out | $1330 in | a $330 profit or 33%.

That’s if you can pick at 70% against the spread, think you can? Then ask yourself can you do that week in and week out, every week, every month?

If you drop down to 60% it’s still a fair win, $114 profit or just 11.4% winning profit margin. Then at 50%, well, you won’t be winning any competitions or any money either, a $50 loss!

That makes being in the plus 70% winning rate very rare company to be in, and to be considered in the league of best sports punters that can actually win you’ll need to be between 60% and 70% tipping against the spread, and that’s before you evaluate the unit outcomes to go along with the tip to hopefully maximise your returns.

The next example of statistics on “Head to Head” betting is even tougher to turn a profit. The very best we have seen in sports tipping head to head where you have a selection of outcomes is around 85% wins. The average of high level tipsters that tip in and win in tipping competitions is likely going to be somewhere around 80%, for this example we’ll use an 80% winning record tipping head to head.

Considering most head to head outcomes are well less than even money (even money is a return of the same amount of money that you placed at $2.00 or a (+100) outcome. Let’s have a look at the average weekend where 10 head to head outcomes average just $1.50 (-200). That’s a mix of 3 strong favorites $1.20 (-500), 4 favorites $1.50 (-200) and 3 take your picks at $1.90 (-111). That average comes in at $1.53 but for this example we’ll round it and use $1.50 (-200).

Example “Head to Head” –
10 outcomes with 8 wins at $1.50 (-200) is $1000 out | $1200 in | $200 in profit or 20%.

That’s if you can pick at 80% head to head, think you can?

If you drop to 70% it’s borderline on the edge of disaster, just a $50 win or just 0.5% profit. Then 60% is, well ouch, you’re in the red again! Ever had that weekend tipping where you went 4 wins 12 losses after 6 consecutive weeks of 14 and 2? You see your record go from 84-12 (87.5%) to 88-24 (78.5%) and it’s a tough road back from there to finish the season at plus 80%. That’s what makes head to head betting very very difficult.

NB – We realise that if you want to be really good at Sports Punting you don’t have to have a selection in every single game of the week, you can pick and choose your outcomes, and that’s what the smart money does, picks the very best possible outcome matched with the best value. While selecting specific outcomes does result in a slightly higher winning percentage, at least it should, it’s not as much as you would think, as the underdog weekends still play havoc on the statistics, the weekend the bookies get the lot so to speak.

What these statistics tell you is that it is extremely difficult to make money in sports betting. 

What the betting agencies want?

It’s no coincidence that every betting agency is marketing Multi Bets, Same Game Multi’s, Parlays or some form of Mega Multi where you combine outcomes together in a single bet to increase the return (not the value) but the potential amount you can win. That’s exactly where they want you, having you trying to up the odds to get a bigger return and punters everywhere fall for it week in and week out. Take all those odds we shared above (which aren’t good even if you are very good) and then start combining them together in a multi and watch your money go up in flames really fast.

The top 5 reasons why sports punters lose

  1. They are to easily convinced to bet on Multis (Paylays)
  2. They have to have a bet on their favorite team
  3. They have to many bets
  4. They increase the bet amount when they have lost the first bet
  5. They can’t evaluate the outcome critically enough to define the correct unit value

There are many other reasons, some of these include not tracking performances and being able to spot high value outcomes, placing bets too early and not allowing for weather that comes in over the weekend which totally changes the nature of a match, not following the injury reports where key players may be ruled out, which can significantly affect a teams performance and many more (which we’ll cover in a future article). 

Probably the most significant reason punters lose against the bookmaker in our opinion is Number 5: Evaluating the outcome critically enough to define the correct unit value. 

This is a high level skill that enables the best tipsters to up the unit value accordingly when an outcome is right. That’s where you see some tipsters call a bet a “10 dime special” or as others put it “Our Lock of the Year”. They increase the unit value of an outcome to take the average winning statistics (of say around 60% wins against the spread) and if you were following along at that rate you’re only winning at approx 11.4% profit, but then be able to boost that profit up by evaluating outcomes and assigning higher unit values to specific better valued outcomes, which returns more profits. This means the very best can run at a 50%-60% record tipping against the spread but return much higher unit profits. While our statistics show we tip in single outcomes at over 70%, our overall win loss percentage, which includes all outcomes we select in, is just north of 50%, yet we return profits of more than 50% year to date. It’s all about evaluating the unit values of outcomes.

The main issue for the average punter is they don’t have a unit system to begin with, and when they do up the unit value for a specific outcome, it often goes down, meaning they are burning even more profits.

How the weekend punter thinks

Sports betting is very challenging and that’s why most weekend punters lose it all, that’s what usually happens, they lose everything they allocated to bet with and sometimes more. What we see from punters is that during the week the lines and totals drop early and even sometimes while the weekend games are still on but there are limited markets. That’s when most punters start building their first multi for the weekend and it’s almost always a 4-6 leg head to head multi in the range of $10 or more. Now of course they’re great when you hit them, but how often do you hit them?

If you took the favorite in all 6 legs at $1.50 the multi would likely be $11.39 (+1039 or thereabouts), and most people will spend more than 50% of their weekly stake on this single outcome alone leaving them a chance to have a few more bets on the weekend to likely cover their losses so far. As example if you’re a $100 a week punter you’re placing $50 down on a $11.00 shot to win $500. Sounds about right?

The next big mistake and why punters lose is they’ll also be having a look at their favorite team or teams during the various sports seasons and placing another few bucks on those. For some reason punters have to be on their team every week, that’s a really tough way to go about winning money. 

Now if and when both of those outcomes go down and they often do, they’re left with maybe Sunday’s late games to try and find a way to get out, or maybe get some of it back. The problem here is that now the punter has to look at the spreads because there might not be anywhere enough return in a head to head contest, or enough outcomes to find a profit, and they’re not working on spreads and don’t evaluate them very well, they just go on who they think generally might cover the spread, as they also like to be on the winner with the start. 

That’s where the issue is and the chase begins, now you have to take a line into a total as a double for say $3.60 (+260) and most due to the way they generally bet now have to evaluate those two outcomes (which they already didn’t have those outcomes within their first selections and now they are relying on them to win to get in front or claw back some of the losses), and then let alone putting them together in another parlay (multi). What’s worse is they might have to dig into their savings to get the money back they’ve already lost, and what usually happens is that one goes down as well and it’s a weekend wipeout!

The other issue we see often is punters having to many bets, punters sometimes like to be on every game they’ll be watching, so Thursday night they’ll have a bet on the game, then Saturday and few more bets, Sunday more bets, then the get out stakes Monday Night Football (or other sport) and in the end, to many bets, to many loses, all with not a very selective approach to finding the very best outcomes and best winning opportunities. Having too many bets which can really make it hard to win money. Being selective and patient can really make a big difference to the money you put in your pocket. 

Tips to break the losing streak and start winning

The bottom line is you have to be comfortable with winning a little a lot of the time, over winning a lot a little of the time. You have to be able to change your perspective, put some runs on the board week by week and importantly stay patient. How many times have you said to yourself if I just had that one bet on the weekend I would have won? Well can you do that this weekend? 

In our business we aim to hit a 289% profit position each week, that’s a very high bar we know, and a bar which is very hard to achieve, but we do have a plan to achieve that and if we execute our plan with the many factors that go into reaching this target, then we’ll win big!

How many times have we done that? Just once in the last two years! We’ve been plus 200% more than 10 times, and over 150% many more times. However, even while the bar is high, our current profit return per month is more than 50% (which again we know is high and yes it’s very very high, but that’s what we do, we know how maximise wins).

Here’s a few strategies to get you into the winners circle:

  1. Be ok with a Single outcome at $1.50 (-200) and just bet that outcome.
  2. If the odds are just terribly wrong, or it’s looking very one sided up your stake.
  3. Try a Bashers vs Bums Strategy and don’t be afraid of a big line. 
  4. Follow teams that score lots of points and stick with them in reduced team totals.
  5. Combine shorter favoured outcomes into parlays (not just head to head). 
  6. Be able to take the underdog and tease the line or totals – push em out and win.
  7. Bet late in the week, consider the starting line ups, injury reports and the weather.
  8. Don’t bet on your favorite team, unless they’re the Basher!
  9. Learn how to create a unit betting system that creates consistency.
  10. Be patient and bet responsibly (set limits and stay in a lane).

Be OK with a SINGLE outcome at $1.50 (-200) and just bet that outcome 

Each week there are many opportunities in this odds on range, you just have to look through the markets and you can find plenty of opportunities. The first focus each week is to find the best outcome out of all the options. This may be a reduced line, or extended line, it may even be a head to head outcome and start listing them down in your possibly column. The point here is at 50% profit, if you’re successful in this lane, then you’ll be doing a lot better than most. The other point is that most people have too many bets and if you can find the best outcome and you can pick the winner at a high percentage regularly, then why not just stay in that lane!

If the ODDS are terribly WRONG, or it’s looking very one sided up your stake

The bookmakers don’t get every spread, line, total, player prop and a host of other markets they present in sports each week correct all the time. It does happen where a line in a match drops at the start of the week and it has so much value that the keen punters get on early and that line disappears by game time. Other times teams are just in such good form and playing a weaker opponent that the line is just too short, and in these cases we would suggest you assess the specific outcome and determine how many times out of 10 would you consider that result to occur. If your determination is between 1-4 then just have 1 unit, if the outcome is between 5-7 times, then go with 2 units, at 8-9 times then get going with 4 units or more and if you possibly find an evaluation that you call a lock of the year and its a true 10 out of 10 (which has to be rare of course), then we would suggest 5+ units. The idea of having an equal amount of units to your total weekly stake is a very risky proposition and you should be very good at determining the value in certain outcomes and weighting that value accordingly. Try to build a unit scale system first and trial it before you put it into play, so by recording your predicted unit outcomes you should start to see how good (or bad) you really are.

Try a BASHERS vs BUMS strategy and don’t be afraid of a BIG LINE

Bashers vs Bums is an old favorite in the sports betting world, it’s generally a top of the table vs bottom of the table clash, perhaps in some cases you might have classed 2 or maybe 3 teams as bashers and 2 or more teams as bums (a bum can’t score points, can’t stop points, and in most cases is the worst teams in the leagues and are even worse when in significant injuries hit their lineup). In these cases you’re going to find the lines and or say team totals to be very high. This is evident in college football especially when highly ranked teams that score a lot of points and also have a great defence, play very bad football teams. Spreads can be 30, 40 or even higher sometimes. One word of warning here, some teams will run up the totals till the very end of the game, others will not, the trick is you have to know which programs do and which don’t. The other equation here is many teams do sideline their best players later in the game, so ensure you review all the options including quarterly, halftime scores, totals and spreads to give you more options. Even go a step further to reviewing, reducing or selecting a reduced team total or alternate spread. While these will have a  reduced return it can ensure you have more chance of success.

Follow teams that score lots of points and stick with them in reduced team totals

This strategy follows on from the Bashers vs Bums theory. Teams that average very high points offer you a chance to back a reduced total and place the odds more in your favor. What we like about this option is that you are going with the option of backing a team that has been literally putting the points on the board. While we would generally say we still like teams with a winning record in this category don’t rule out 50/50 teams playing against lesser opponents, you can often find some gold there as well.

Combine shorter favoured outcomes into parlays (not just head to head)

While multi betting is as already explained extremely difficult, when evaluating weekly outcomes you may come across opportunities to combine 2 or 3 short priced favorites into a multi. When working on this strategy you have to be ok with just 2 or 3 outcomes, going for 4, 5, 6 or more just doesn’t stack up week in and week out. Just an FYI here 3 x $1.35 (-286) shots combined in a multi is $2.46 (+146). With this approach we feel like if you are evaluating outcomes effectively and able to find the winners in this space, then maximising the odds together should form part of your overall monthly strategy. You’re now pushing a single outcome to a return of 146% which if you can evaluate well, then you can profit from this strategy.

Be able to take the underdog and tease the line or totals – push em out and win

A few years back we started taking dogs (teams that were listed as the underdog) in games where we felt the dog was still a decent performing team. We still rarely look at a dog that is running at the very bottom of the table unless the lines (spreads) are just ridiculous, instead what we like about the dog is a team that will get in the fight, and really give the other side a run. By teasing the line or total points you can shift the odds into your favor. As an example this year in Game 2 of the NBA finals, the Nuggets gave a 9 point start to the Heat at $1.90 (-111). The alternative line for the Heat at +12 was $1.45 (-222). As it turned out the Heat trailed the Nuggets by 8 starting the 4th, so the teased option was still in front, and as it turned out the Heat actually won the game, so the teased option bolted in (something all punters like to see!)

Bet late in the week, consider the starting line ups, injury reports and the weather

There is a skill in evaluating early options, taking into considerations specific matchups between teams, what is the status of the injury reports, and what is the actual predicted weather forecast. We’ve seen game totals in January in the NFL drop from 45 to 33 in the space of 6 days! You can see some really interesting weather games in the North like in Buffalo. While from time to time, you will see odds that are in the favor of the outcome you like early on in the week. The issue is that things can happen mid week, players get hurt, lineups change, however most importantly the overall value in the outcome you are reviewing will likely not change a lot (unless there are significant injuries or weather changes). This means that the outcome you have reviewed early in the week that you liked, will probably still be the same an hour before game time. We feel it’s prudent to review all the factors and give yourself the best chance to take advantage of the money you are investing. Bet late, it’s the best way to stay in control.

Don’t bet on your favorite team, unless they’re the Basher!

Too many punters talk about their team as if they never lose a game, and even worse some bet on their team even when they’re the worst in the competition. You become one sided and while your heart wants the win, your head probably is right in saying we won’t win this today. We find Internationals to be even worse overall, that is unless your team is the Basher! For many years the New Zealand All Blacks who have been the epitome of a championship rugby nation, have dominated other countries. While today, the gap may have narrowed slightly, when they were the Basher if you were a Wallaby fan, how much money did you lose taking the Wallabies? You know it was all of it most of the time! Our tip is to sideline your favorite team (that is unless they are the Basher!) 

Learn how to create a unit betting system that creates consistency

In our first article we layed out how to create a unit betting system. You can view this article here > Sports Betting. In short a unit system is a way for you to take your weekly stake and divide that into smaller amounts to create a unit total that you are comfortable with. The point being that when you understand what your unit amount is you can learn to use that unit amount system to create consistency. Having a unit system will also help you when you evaluate outcomes that are of more value and you place a higher unit amount to that outcome. As explained earlier you need to be able to give each outcome a unit value. While we understand you won’t have enough time to evaluate all outcomes, if you find a lane, or lanes to which you can become good at, then you need to be able to maximise your returns when you determine an outcome should be greater than one unit. While it’s always great to win any outcome, it feels so much better when you drop 5 units on your weekly special and storm home to a huge win for you. Just remember it takes a lot of patience and skill to be able to evaluate unit outcomes like this, it’s just not all gut feel and emotion. Bet smart and bet responsibly, find the unit system that you’re comfortable with and build consistency in how you track and go about beating the bookies.

Be patient and bet responsibly (set limits and stay in a lane)

With all sports betting, if you’ve seen all the commercials lately and seen how many disclaimers they have, then you know it’s very difficult to win. So please Bet responsibly, set a limit you just wont go past, no matter what happens, and if you stay patient you just might come out in front. 

Go from losing to winning 

When it’s your hard earned money on the line, you should know that it’s the bookies driving the Bentley’s and Ferrari’s, and that’s because they know how the average punter bets. If you want to get more insights please subscribe to our newsletter where we offer more insights and tips to take on the bookies and win. You can subscribe here >

Punters fall into bad habits that they can’t break, and they lose for many reasons, it can be betting on their own team too often, having too many bets, falling into the bookies hook and having too many multi (parlay) bets, or upping bets in the wrong situations and outcomes. In our opinion you can win, yes you can, but you’ll need the right strategies and you’ll need to be very very patient and disciplined to ensure you come out ahead, but yes you can win. 

Good hunting out there, we wish you much success.