Sports Betting Tips

Written by: Joe Falchetti , Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker
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No matter your favorite game or level of expertise, following some expert sports betting tips equates to having more fun and winning more money. Our advice will help you build a reliable system that you can use at online sportsbooks when wagering on any event.

This guide offers 12 sports betting tips and strategies that everyone should employ. Some are obvious, but many get overlooked. Use these suggestions to the fullest, and you will bring your wagering game to the next level.


Fully Understand Sports Betting Before You Wager

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Sports betting isn’t relatively as easy as just picking the winning team. Our number one tip is that you should take some time to educate yourself on how everything works before you start placing wagers. Doing some research will only save you money in the long run.

Start by getting a solid grasp of how the odds and results work for each type of bet. Money lines, over/under, parlays, futures, and side bets each have nuances in how you wager and win. When you know what to look for, you’ll be able to identify desirable lines quickly.

Learn how sportsbooks make their money. When you know how the bookie gets paid, you understand why the lines shift over time. If you see a line that looks too good to be true, check on the specifics of the game. Betting sites know what they are doing, and most of the time, there is a significant factor affecting the adjusted odds.

Lastly, keep a glossary of sports betting terms handy because you’ll likely run into words you don’t know.


Start With Small Bets

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Once you do your research and know the basics, you have your book smarts, so it’s time to apply what you’ve learned. You’re ready to place some sports wagers but want to go about it conservatively at first.

Don’t jump in with huge stakes right off the bat. You’re going to make mistakes (even the pros do), so placing smaller bets lets you iron out the kinks in your system. You’ll want to see how the vig fees work and what a win and loss look like without putting hundreds on the line.

You should use low-limit options to test different wagering strategies when you’re just getting started. Many online sportsbooks let you bet as little as $1 at a time. That is perfect for learning the software interface, and the best part is, if you make a mistake, you won’t break the bank.

Small wagers also help with crucial bankroll management, which we cover in another section below.

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Focus Your Bets On One Sport

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Mega fans can easily get overwhelmed with hundreds of games across several sports. Instead of trying to bet on football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, and everything college, focus your energy on the one sport you know best.

To take this tip a bit further, you can hone in on a smaller area of that sport. Many bettors pick a single conference or team to wager on throughout the season. This strategy makes it easier to follow stats, make more accurate predictions, and pick winners more often.

Starting Players Affect Games

You should always know starting lineups, injured players, and who is on the bench. It’s information like this that helps you make game-winning decisions. The status of critical positions and certain people has a different effect on each sport.

  • Basketball: Pay attention to all-star players. One team might usually dominate, but let’s say Stephon Curry or LeBron James are withdrawn late due to injury or rest. You need to be aware of these changes to alter your betting strategy.
  • Baseball: The starting pitcher has a big effect on a game. You may want to bet on underdog teams with solid starting pitchers and avoid favorites with their worse pitcher starting.
  • Football: While the quarterback is king, the defensive line of each team can make all the difference when betting on the game. Many people even say it’s the defensive team who wins Super Bowls. Review the lineup by taking note of their average defensive touchdowns, touchbacks, sacks, and picks.
  • Ice Hockey: Like basketball, ice hockey can be all about all-star players and synergy. A few great players working together can carry their team to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Removing one piece of the equation due to injury can negatively impact the team’s entire season. Finally, pay close attention to the goalie, as their performance is often vital when placing bets.
  • Soccer: Goalkeepers are also a big deal in soccer. The other players rotate on and off the field, but the goalie calls the shots and stops goals for the entire game.

Wager On The Money Line

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Betting the money line is a popular sports betting strategy that proves handy for beginners time and time again. You don’t need to know anything about total points with these wagers. To cash in, all you have to do is pick the team to win the game.

Several factors, like playing field, hot streaks, starting lineups, weather, and match-up, can affect who is favored to win. A little research before the game can tip you off to value plays when the underdog might just have an edge.

Avoid wagering a large amount on massive favorites when the money line is huge. You could end up losing a lot and ruining your bankroll if a major upset happens.

How to Read Money Line Odds

Let’s say the Broncos (+150) are playing the 49ers (-160). The team with the plus sign is the underdog, and conversely, the team with the minus sign is the favorite. If you put $100 on the Broncos, and they win, you get your original $100 back plus a $150 payout. However, because of the line, if you bet on the 49ers, you would have to wager $160 to win $100.


Shop Around for Better Lines at Different Sportsbooks

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Seasoned sports bettors may say this is the most valuable tip of them all. If you only have one set of lines, you have to take the odds you get. By creating several accounts, you can compare lines from sportsbook to sportsbook to find more wagering options in your favor.

You’ll be surprised how much the odds and lines vary between each establishment. They are all trying to balance them the best they can, but the volume of bets for each team or spread will not be an exact match on every site.

Before you place a money line wager on the underdog at +120, search around with other sportsbooks to see if you can find one for +125 or greater. The game is the same no matter where you bet on it, but you’ll get more winnings when you wager on the bigger odds.

Pick Your Spots & Only Bet Valuable Plays

People who make the most money with sports picks choose their bets wisely. You may only want to bet on one game in a weekend if there isn’t great value in other lines. Drive these decisions with insights you’ve gained through research and market comparison on a sport to sport basis.

  • Basketball: There are so many matches between NBA and NCAA that some games occasionally get lost in the crowd. That means one sportsbook could have great odds and payouts on a particular game if people focus on other teams.
  • Baseball: Don’t get caught up in local team hype or the favorites of major public groups. Teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees often have odds that don’t quite add up. Through the long season, some underdogs are bound to win. Look for valuable money/run line odds that get set more loosely.
  • Football: Line shopping is popular among bettors during the NFL season. You can often find books with a more favorable vig that gives winners an extra 5-10%. Even a tiny amount starts to add up over time.
  • Ice Hockey: The games are less popular than other sports, and the bookmakers miss the mark once in a while. A little bit of shopping around and comparing sports betting sites may get your money on better odds.
  • Soccer: Use the fact that soccer is less prevalent in the USA to your advantage. Online sportsbooks usually don’t want to miss an opportunity to accept wagers on a game, but that doesn’t mean they have the best understanding of the odds. Exploit weak odds as you shop around.
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Don’t Just Bet On Your Favorite Teams

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Another great sports betting tip if you want to win consistently is that you’ll need to bet more with your head and less with your heart. We’re not saying you shouldn’t root for your favorite team; it’s just not a wagering model that comes out on top all the time.

You should treat sports betting more like a business investment and look at all factors unbiasedly. When the public sentiment shifts odds away from your personal favorite, that may be the perfect opportunity to bet against your team.

For example, if a Browns fan bets on their team making the super bowl every year, they will have lost all their money as the Browns have never made it to the championship game. We encourage everyone to support their team, just maybe not by putting money on them every time.

Winning and Losing Streaks

Streaks are vitally important in many sports. They can give a team or player the psychological advantage to overcome powerful opponents. Pair that with other factors plus better odds, and the underdog can start to look pretty good sometimes.

The same is true if the team you support is the typical favorite. Don’t just blindly bet on them to win every game when they lead the pack. Check out their opponent and weigh everything. Even the 1995 Chicago Bulls lost a game once in a while.


Bet On Games While You’re Sober

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Although this is pretty obvious, you should always make your bets when you’re sober. Many losing decisions are made with terrible logic while under the influence of alcohol.

By all means, indulge before, during, and after the game if that’s your thing. Just make sure when you select and place bets, you aren’t under the influence of anything that will affect your state of mind. This tip ensures you don’t make any questionable or flippant bets.

Don’t Make Angry Wagers Either

Emotional betting is similar to being inebriated. Your judgment can get clouded when you’re not thinking straight, causing you to make more mistakes. Take a deep breath, walk away, and come back when you’re calm and collected.


Manage Your Sports Betting Bankroll

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Make sure you’re always disciplined and set a bankroll for your sports bets. You don’t want to ruin your account financially. That will only prevent you from coming back with successive wins and can cause conflict outside of betting.

A widely accepted sports betting strategy is never to make a single wager that consists of more than 3% of your total bankroll. Some bettors use 1%, and others are willing to go up to 5% or greater. Your percentage depends somewhat on your abilities and tolerance for the downside.

The goal of these self-imposed bet limits is to manage your bankroll and prevent your account from dropping to zero. If you stick to your limits, you should be in good shape to weather the swings and losing streaks that are bound to happen occasionally.

Avoid Progressive Betting Models

Many betting systems look good on paper, but they often require a lot of money and can put you in a deep hole during a losing streak. While some bettors like to test wagering strategies, avoiding things like the Martingale system or Fibonacci Model is standard. This tip will ensure that you keep a healthy bankroll.

You’re going to have the most successful betting on sports when you treat it like an investment strategy instead of just gambling. Study the data, look at the odds, and weigh the risk versus the reward. In the long run, if you’re winning more bets than you’re losing, it will all pay off.

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Avoid Long Shots & Parlays

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Parlay bets generally aren’t a great idea. They can be fun once in a while, and sure the massive jackpot payoffs are attractive, but you’ll lose far more often than you win.

Long shot bets, like parlays, multiply your odds and payouts by combining several events into a single wager. Let’s say you bet on the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays all to win. Yes, you’re stacking the potential prize, but the vig and risk go up exponentially as well.

Most pros would say you shouldn’t worry about parlays unless you wager on each leg, and even then, the individual bets might be your best option. Just like most “get rich quick” schemes, you’re better off when you steer clear.


Bet Favorites Early & Underdogs Late

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This one is a time-sensitive sports betting tip that many bettors overlook. With this strategy, you’re using public sentiment and how books react to your advantage.

The lines shift as you get closer to the game, and the bookies try to balance both sides of the line. When more people have stakes on the favorites, the underdog’s odds grow to attract people to put money on them.

You’ll get more value if you bet on the game favorite before the odds get tight and wait to wager on the underdog until closer to game time.


Home Field Advantage is Real

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A team’s home-field advantage is more significant than you might assume. When a team isn’t familiar with the field, they can be slightly off all day. The size of a ballpark, the weather, fans, and even the turf type can impact a game’s outcome.

A prominent team sports betting strategy is to hunt for underdogs playing at home and find the best odds for that game. These “home dogs” often have great value and payoffs compared to other lines during the day.

When betting on single-player sports like golf, use this tip to focus on the course and conditions. The grass length, wind speed, and pin placement on the green can really mix up some pro golfers’ skills.

Sports Teams Travel

Travel is tough on anyone, and many professional athletes have to travel often. A trip from the east coast to the west coast can mess with everyone’s internal clock and sleep schedule, making for less than a well-rested team.

Make sure you always look into travel and even stretches of multiple back-to-back trips. You can find underdogs with excellent value who often get a chance at a win against a travel-weary opponent.


Don’t Chase Your Losses

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If you go on a downward swing with your sports betting, don’t try and chase your losses. It will usually just make things worse. Trust your system and make sure you’re using all available data and a solid sports betting strategy.

Everyone loves when every bet they place seems to win. Runs are a natural part of sports betting. Sometimes things happen out of your control, and things take a turn for the worst. Hopefully, you’ve planned for this day by honing your system and managing your bankroll.

The losing streak will eventually turn around if you do your research and make smart value plays. Just stick to your winning system and ride out the bad beats. You don’t want to bet while tilted, though, so take a break if you have a string of horrible luck.

Use These 12 Sports Betting Tips to Build a Winning System

When you’re a beginner, betting on sports might seem like a daunting task. There is a ton of jargon, and each site offers something different. Using the tips and strategies laid out on this page will help you pace yourself and wager on games more confidently.

Don’t skip over one of the tips if you feel like it doesn’t apply to you. These suggestions are sound advice from expert bettors. As you use them and improve your skills and experience, you’ll build a winning system that works for your style. Just remember to have fun along the way!

Top Sportsbook to Shop for Good Lines

Looking for online sportsbooks to test your bankroll management? Shop around the lines at the best sports betting sites on the internet. They have great features, live betting, and accept US players.

Additional Resources

For even more expert advice on specific sports, we suggest you check out Safest Betting Sites. Their football betting tips and NFL wagering guide are very thorough. Plus, you’ll find pages for NBA, MLB, MMA, NHL, Soccer, and more.

Joe Falchetti

Joe Falchetti Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker

Joe Falchetti, aka Smokey Joe, is a former professional poker player who has been a part of the online gambling and sports betting world for almost two decades. He's a full-time sports bettor and specialized writer featured in CBS Sports and and linked to by the New York Times.

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