Developing a Betting Strategy

The definition of strategy is to develop the specific steps necessary to reach a defined set of goals. Further, strategic planning can also be described as a combination of art and science to reach those objectives. 

In sports betting the goals are two-fold: to have fun and to make a profit in doing so. The combination of art and science also applies to sports betting. It is not all numbers, but understanding the odds/payout factors is very important. In a sense, sports betting can be viewed as a creative process, supported by sound number analysis.

Sports betting does require an ability to apply some intuitive sense about the outcome of a sports contest but also demands objective numbers to support the expected results. One should have an unbiased, creative sense, but not lose track of the underlying facts.

Set Goals

The key first step in making a sports betting plan is to define your goals. If you are betting for fun, then the goal is simple; make your bet and enjoy the game. However, if your goals are more for-profit, the goal should cover a defined period of time. That period of time could be any series of events such as the NFL season, the NCAA Basketball tournament, or the World Series.

Take a Business Approach

The profit goals should define a positive cash outcome over a period of time, recognizing that there will be losses. The bettor’s edge on the odds/payout prospects is fairly narrow, and a solid planning approach is essential. A business approach recognizes the betting opportunities and slight edge you may have on a specific range of sports bets, along with the inherent risks.

Gain an understanding of the types of bets available and start out with wagers on single-game events. Parlay payouts may appear very attractive, but you need to cover every event on the bet. Single-game wagers provide the best odds/payout value and will minimize risk to your bankroll.

It is also important to have a budget and maintain control of your bankroll. Bankroll management is a key aspect of long-range planning for a series of sporting events. You need to selective with your bets and preserve cash flow for the right opportunity.  A fixed bet around 1-2% of your budget for the season is the correct bet amount when getting started.

Preparation is Essential

Betting for profit requires a business approach and that means planning and preparation. Planning starts in the preseason, or well in advance of a major event. There is no “one size fits all” approach to betting on any sports category. The long-term statistical results and current performance factors that can impact betting outcomes can vary by the type of sport.

At the planning stage, reviewing past information is important in developing the right evaluation numbers for the coming season. Prior to the season, examine the off-season trades, coaching changes, contract holdouts and other factors that can impact past performance data. This is a “subject matter” preparation that is important to monitor as you approach the betting season.

Complete your preparation on a very focused list of teams, then test your selection methodology on last season’s results. Play a few weeks on paper before jumping in on live-action.

Before placing a bet, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the numbers make sense?
  • Can I make an objective case based on analysis or is the bet based on a “gut” feeling?

Have you overlooked the value in certain situations, or had tendencies to over-select favorites? Have you noticed any other consistent patterns that are not identifying odds/payout value? Are you getting the right data for analysis?

Baseball and the NBA are stats-heavy with a high volume of games and in-season data. The weekly NFL line is a bit more like single event preparation. There are fewer games and recent performance is critical. If you are betting for profit, you need to get all the reliable information possible and do your homework.

If you are looking to make a profit over the entire season or an event series, such as a tournament or a major single event like the NFL Super Bowl, you need as much preparation as possible to increase your profit potential.

You may have a good sense of opportunities in the betting lines, but you should always have the past performance information that will help you spot trends to back up your betting insights.

Betting Tip:

Find two or three good on-line stats feeds for the sports leagues you intend to wager. Statistic feeds provide source data for trend analysis on home/away performance, scoring and defensive metrics, as examples.

These are just a few examples of the information types of that can help you develop an edge. The internet offers a variety of sports data sources and team performance statistics. The art is knowing which set applies to the range of sporting events you need to evaluate.

Review Your Performance

Your personal wagering performance versus the sports betting lines is an important past performance category. You should always track your actual betting performance.

This tracking process allows you to measure how well you did last season against the spread or the moneyline. Were there positive trends you can build upon this season? Were there obvious negative trends?

For example, were there more point spread losses on home favorites, losses on under bets, or too many losing parlays? The concept is to look at your past performance for specific areas of improvement as you approach the coming season.

If you are new to sports betting, you need to create a past performance. In other words, apply your planned selection methods on last year’s actual spread results. Make a series of wagers on paper to see how well your bet selection methods would have performed. Spend the necessary prep time to work through the numbers and practice your bet selection process.

Regardless of your betting experience, plan on a good deal of “pre-season” preparation effort, well before the actual season gets started. Fully prepare yourself before you start placing real money on the various spread lines, money-lines, or live betting action.

Advanced Strategy

An advanced strategy is simply an extension of the basic betting principles. A carefully focused approach to identifying value in the odds/payout opportunities. There is no single advanced technique that magically generates winning bets - only a disciplined approach that consistently delivers a very slight edge over time.

The key aspect of an advanced strategy is to have a focused methodology tailored for each sport and carefully manage your wagering bankroll.

Disciplined Approach

An advanced strategy requires experience with the basics. Bettors must have the ability to develop a comparative analysis technique to detect “weak” lines. The sportsbook must remain competitive, offering lines on just about every single professional and college game. It will provide lines that minimize their risk by balancing the action. The betting public tends to lean towards popular teams, which can move the betting line to where there is real value in the underdog. 

Advanced strategy demands objectivity in trusting the comparative analysis and customized power rankings - not what the betting public may consider a “sure thing”. As a bettor, you do not have to bet on every game. Selectivity is what helps develop your edge.

You need a season-long, disciplined approach that also includes a plan to steer your money to the best odds value. Minimize risk by making several single-game bets while avoiding parlays, except in very specific situations.

Money Management

A key element in an advanced approach is the ability to effectively manage one’s bankroll. This is discussed in more detail below, but financial management is another aspect of wagering that requires discipline and patience. 

There are times to vary bet size, given the right opportunity, but there must be wagering capital available when opportunities come along. Treat your bankroll as business capital.

Multiple Sports

An advanced strategy requires focused discipline while maintaining an objective and selective process. There are betting opportunities in every professional and college sports event. Many would argue the real opportunities are in the college games - college basketball in particular. While it is a good idea to diversify types of sports, the same disciplined approach must be applied. 

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