By Jeff Fogle
It’s a question that has challenged recreational bettors since the earliest days of sports wagering. Should they focus on just one or two picks per session? Or should they bet a lot of action to spread out the impact of luck?
You’ve probably experienced this yourself. You bet one game. It lost — but the next three or four you almost bet all won. Drives you crazy because you can’t stop thinking about all the money you didn’t win.
Or from the other end, you bet five games, and your favorite won a blowout while most or all of the others lost. Why didn’t you just stick with your best play? It felt like a sure thing. But you don’t have any money to show for it because you leaked away your bankroll on ill-advised leans.
Is there a right strategy for gamblers? Sharps will tell you that you should bet whenever you have an edge. If you can demonstrate that you have an edge in a lot of games, you should bet a lot of games. If not, be picky.
The problem for squares is that they greatly overestimate their edge (if they have one). They assume their strongest opinions are virtual locks (they’re not). They assume their light opinions will be winners in closer games (they’re not). Too many even think they can properly pick coin flips just by playing trends or hunches (they can’t).
Frankly, squares shouldn’t bet! They don’t understand teams or players as deeply as they should, and they lack market sense about how to find the best numbers at the best times. Sportsbooks thrive because the vast majority of their clientele are people who shouldn’t be betting.
One particular trap recreational bettors should avoid is the tendency to assume early success is a sign of things to come. While it’s important to learn from experience, the sample size for a relevant learning curve is a lot larger than many realize.
If being action-minded worked for you when you started, you were probably a bit (or a lot) lucky. That approach is going to grind you down — or devastate you on one horrific night. Gambling lore is full of stories about bettors who suffered the misfortune of sweeping the board the first day they bet. Instant overconfidence was the worst thing that could have happened.
If being picky worked for you initially, you’re likely to start overbetting your bankroll, misbelieving something with a 55-60% win chance is up around 70-80%.
VSiN’s best advice for new bettors is to be humble, be patient, fully research the skill sets of key players and teams, learn the math behind the market so you’re not betting against bad odds, then focus on enjoying the process rather than chasing the thrill of victory.
When you can find and bet real edges, the thrill of victory will find you.