Sports betting is one of the fastest growing segments of gambling. It’s estimated that millions of fans wager tens of billions of dollars each year on the games they watch. This boom has brought a sharp increase in inquiries to the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, which received 270,000 calls, texts and chats from gamblers seeking help last year. Many of these calls came from people in states that legalized sports betting this year, such as New Jersey, West Virginia and Mississippi.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s not easy to make money betting on sports. After accounting for the vig (or juice), even the most successful “experts” only get about 60% of their bets right. But there are a few strategies that can help improve your chances of making a profit.
First, focus on the sports you’re most familiar with. This doesn’t necessarily mean the biggest markets – you can find value in smaller-market events and props. Understanding the intricacies of certain lower-level competitions can give you a leg up on the bigger bettors, who may have overlooked some aspects of the game that could change the outcome.
Next, do your research. This can be in the form of studying the weather forecasts, staying current with injury reports and considering the past performance of players and teams against each other. A strong handicapper will weigh all of these factors when forming their opinion on the likely outcome of a game. The more knowledge you have, the more accurate your bets will be.
Finally, keep in mind that the odds on any market are always changing. A good handicapper will be able to spot inefficiencies in the odds, just as a stock trader would. The best bets are those that win more than they lose, and if you can find value in the odds on your favorite team, you’re well on your way to a steady income from betting on sports.
One final tip: Be sure to set aside a specific bank account for your betting activities. It’s also a good idea to open a spreadsheet that allows you to track your net wins and losses. This will allow you to see exactly what your return on investment is and to make adjustments as necessary. It’s a lot easier to keep betting on sports you love and with which you have a good relationship than trying to make life-changing sums of money on unknown competitions. And don’t forget to have fun! After all, it’s supposed to be a form of entertainment.