24 Common Sports Betting Mistakes

Just getting started in sports betting? Below we cover some of the common sports betting mistakes that are often part of the learning process.

Top 3 beginner sports betting mistakes

When you’re just starting out sports betting, here are some things you’ll want to try to avoid.

  1. Thinking like a fan: This is tough and may take time as you get used to the world of sports betting, but you need to transition from a sports fan to a sports bettor. This includes looking at more in-depth statistics that tell the bigger picture and identifying small edges that could give you an advantage over fellow bettors.
  2. Chasing losses: Discipline is a major part of sports betting, and you should not make a bet simply because your most recent bet lost. If you lost a bet on a Sunday afternoon NFL game, and double up on the Sunday night game to make up for it, that’s where you could go on a downhill spiral and dig your hole deeper and deeper.
  3. Expecting immediate success: A very high percentage of sports bettors will not turn a profit, and the best of the best may only be slightly over 50% success. The entire industry is designed for the sportsbooks to win in the end, and they usually do.

Top 3 intermediate sports betting mistakes

For bettors with a little more experience, there is still plenty to learn.

  1. Betting too much on one game: This is another area where discipline comes into play. Many bettors may have a certain dollar amount they will not go over for any game or even a percentage of their bankroll, generally somewhere between 1% and 5% of the bankroll.
  2. Not shopping around: To put yourself in line for the best possible return on your bet, check the odds at multiple sportsbooks. These numbers may differ slightly from one another, and if that’s the case, you can go with the one that is offering the highest payout.
  3. Betting parlays: Many pro bettors steer clear of parlays because such bets do not lend themselves to long-term success. It is hard enough to crack a 50% win rate on individual bets, and doing that consistently with multiple outcomes is exponentially difficult. There’s a reason sportsbooks love to promote parlays.

Spread betting mistakes

The point spread is one of the most popular ways to bet, and as sports betting has become more mainstream, more fans have come to understand it better. However, here are a few of the biggest sports betting mistakes to watch out for when spread betting:

  • Not shopping at other sportsbooks: Not only is line shopping valuable for the highest possible payout, but this can also become extremely valuable with the point spread. If you see an NFL team listed as a 4.5-point underdog on one site but a four-point dog on another, you should place the bet at the sportsbook offering 4.5 points.
  • Picking too many favorites: This will not be true of every season in every sport, but sportsbooks know that bettors like to bet on the better team, and because of that, they may adjust the lines, making the underdog a stronger value play.
  • Trusting shady handicappers: Stay away from touts who claim to win point spread bets at a ridiculous percentage. For example, if somebody says they can pick spreads correctly 70% of the time, there is a high likelihood that the person is lying.

Common NFL betting mistakes

The NFL is king in just about everything sports-related in the United States, and there are plenty of areas where a bettor could come up short. Try to avoid these football betting mistakes:

  • Not focusing on line movement: NFL spreads come out about a week in advance, and with that much time, the numbers could change significantly throughout the week. If you think you know where the line will go, you can strategize whether you’d like to make the bet right away or wait on the chance the line moves to a better number.
  • Failing to use more in-depth stats: During an NFL broadcast, you may hear how many total yards of offense a team gained, but that does not tell the full story. A better way to evaluate how a team performed offensively and defensively is yards per play. A team that reached 400 yards of offense on 50 plays had a more efficient day than a team that reached 400 yards of offense on 65 plays.
  • Ignoring injuries: The sport of football is violent, and the injury report can include plenty of names from week to week. A single injured player is not going to move the line significantly quite like a quarterback, but you could find value by looking at problems with the less-talked-about positions — if a team is dealing with multiple injuries on the offensive line, for instance.

Common Super Bowl betting mistakes

A lot of action comes with betting on the Super Bowl on the biggest TV night of the year. The Super Bowl attracts many new and experienced bettors, but don’t make these mistakes:

  • Not staying within your budget: The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sports betting days of the year, but just because it is a big game, your bankroll doesn’t know that. A win or a loss counts the same as if you made the bet in Week 1 of the regular season, so don’t go overboard for big games.
  • Not looking for numbers: Key numbers are important in football with how the scoring system works. Many football games will end with a team winning by three or seven points, so taking the favorite at -2.5 is much more valuable than -3, and getting the underdog at +7.5 is far more important than +7.
  • Siding with the public: With so many bettors getting in on the action on Super Bowl Sunday, sportsbooks could move numbers significantly to avoid the liability of losing a large amount if the bets do not go their way. Plenty of websites will show betting percentages, and this could be a good time to fade the public and bet the opposite of where the majority of bettors are placing their money.

Common NBA betting mistakes

With the length of an NBA season, there are many betting options from October through June, with plenty of areas for mistakes. Try to avoid the following common basketball betting mistakes:

  • Not looking for advantageous betting spots: The NBA regular season can be quite the grind, but it is important to look for where you can take advantage of the schedule. For example, if a team is playing its third road game in four nights and is taking on a team that had the previous day off, that might be the time to bet on the home team.
  • Failing to look at the metrics: Similar to the NFL example above, points per possession is a more important stat than points per game. When looking at over/unders, possessions per game is another key stat that could be the difference in a winning bet as teams may play at a different pace with different styles of offense.
  • Not checking which players are available: During the regular season, it is not uncommon for a team to rest a few of its starters some days. It’s a bummer for fans who attend the game, but it’s even a bigger bummer for bettors who didn’t know in advance.

Common MLB betting mistakes

With every team playing a 162-game schedule each year, you can place a lot of MLB bets throughout the season. That means you can also potentially make some errors along the way. Don’t make these baseball betting mistakes:

  • Not looking at the pitching matchup: This is as simple as it gets because a team might have a far better record than its opponent, but the pitching matchup could favor the other team. Also, look at the pitchers’ recent outings instead of just the overall season stats. If you particularly like looking at starting pitching matchups, First 5 Innings bets may be for you.
  • Discounting weather reports: The weather, specifically the wind, can have a large role in how a game plays out at some stadiums. If you do the research and see the wind is blowing strongly toward the fences, that could be significant, especially when making run total wagers.
  • Betting on every game: Just because your favorite team plays just about every night of the week does not mean you have to bet on all those games. For baseball, and any sport for that matter, it is a far better long-term strategy to pick your spots, especially if you are just betting for fun. World Series futures odds and MLB MVP odds might be good options to consider instead of daily game betting.

Common prop betting mistakes

The prop betting market continues to grow as sportsbooks are increasingly creative in the different bets they offer.

  • Too many Super Bowl props: It has gotten to the point where you can wager on just about everything during the Super Bowl, and you will not have any shortage of Super Bowl prop betting options. Just like with any bet, pick your spots.
  • Betting on luck-based props: If you are seriously looking to win, it is best to bet on outcomes that have some sort of skill. You likely don’t have that when wagering on the result of a coin toss.
  • Avoiding your homework: A beat reporter for a team might release some information that indicates a player will be more involved than usual in an upcoming game. That is a scenario where you could find an edge over sportsbooks.