Sports betting is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country right now as more and more states continue to legalize mobile sports gambling. It’s fun, quite easy to do from your phone or computer, and gives bettors a chance to make some solid side income.
Here at OddsJam, our goal is to make you as profitable a sports bettor as possible. We have a whole collection of betting tools as well as educational articles and videos for you to learn how to use math to become one of the sharpest gamblers in the industry.
This article is going to be filled with tips, tricks, links, and explanations for becoming mathematically profitable when sports betting. If you follow all of these tips, sports betting can become a great source of income while having a ton of fun.
How to Be a Profitable Sports Bettor
Trust the Math
The most important thing to remember while using OddsJam is that you have to trust the math. There will be bad days when you lose 70% or more of your bets. It can be easy to get down in the dumps when this happens and think the product isn’t working, but it always corrects itself.
When using the OddsJam recommended filters on the positive expected value page, we guarantee that over a large sample size, you will be profitable. That does not mean you will be profitable every single day.
We created those default filters with all of the bets we would bet ourselves from OddsJam. It is called “OddsJam Pro Filters” or “Recommended Filters.” There will be fewer Positive EV bets available, but they are all highly profitable. It’s the sharpest bets from OddsJam. My advice would be to keep the filters on and bet as often as you can.
Turning these filters on will essentially guarantee profitability over a large sample size of bets. These are the most profitable bets from OddsJam based on real-time data from the entire sports betting market (e.g. all odds) and historical weightings of sportsbook “sharpness” based on backtesting (for player props vs. mainlines, etc.).
For example, above is a chart of a user’s profit using OddsJam. Each bar here represents a week. As you can see, there are sometimes down weeks, and occasionally a few in a row. However, let’s see what happens when we flip the chart from weekly view to monthly view.
Through 12 months of this user’s positive expected value betting, 10 of them have been profitable. Yes, two haven’t, but the cold streaks like in June here are erased by an overwhelming majority of winning months.
Do What’s Best for You
Before we go any further, sports betting is not for everyone. It can be a roller coaster, both financially and emotionally. Time must be invested. If you’re wanting to become a successful sports better, you must dedicate many hours to educating yourself on all of the necessary terms, strategies, and other methods of the industry.
If you’re willing to invest the time and energy into becoming a successful sports bettor, positive expected value betting is the mathematical way to be profitable over time. However, mathematical betting is not for everyone.
Some of you might have more fun just picking sides based on your own opinion. There’s nothing wrong with that inherently, but the oddsmakers have years of experience, all the best computer algorithms, and every other resource available to them. You are probably not going to successfully outsmart them in the long run, at least not right off the bat.
If you’re going the route of making your own picks, I highly recommend starting with a small unit size. What is a unit? We’ll cover that right below this section.
Another option for sports betting and making risk-free guaranteed money is by arbitrage betting. This means that you take both sides of the same wager on sportsbooks that have very different prices on those lines. Here is an example:
As you can see, Superbook is offering James Harden over 8.5 rebounds at +104 odds, while DraftKings is offering under 8.5 rebounds at +105 odds. By taking both the over and the under, one bet is guaranteed to win, and one is guaranteed to lose. By using the arbitrage tool on OddsJam, we can plug in a $100 stake that we want to use on Superbook.
The calculator spits out a $99.51 stake on DraftKings and shows that by staking those amounts on each, we are guaranteed to make $4.49 of profit.
In order to arbitrage bet successfully you must have a significant bankroll spread out among several sportsbooks (more on that later) and be able to move fast. Arbitrage opportunities occur when a sportsbook is off in its price, and it typically doesn’t stay there forever.
Another way people sports bet is by paying other handicappers for their picks. The same reason people pay plumbers to fix their sinks is why people pay for other people’s picks. Time and expertise. Perhaps you don’t have any time to do your own research and just want picks fed to you. Or, maybe you know you’re not the greatest bettor in the world and want to rely on others. In this case, paying for picks would make sense.
However, the handicapper industry is full of dishonesty. When inquiring about joining a picks service, be sure to ask for proof that the person is a successful sports better. This doesn’t mean an Instagram post of a nice new car they claim to have bought with their winnings. It means documented proof of their record, and more importantly, record in terms of units. Of course, there will be down weeks and months for any sports bettor but you want your handicapper to have a proven track record.
What is a Unit?
One of the most common terms in the world of sports betting is “unit.” One unit is the standard base amount an individual risks on an average bet.
A lot of handicappers and general bettors like to discuss their success or failure using the unit structure because it is standard and doesn’t factor in bankroll or amount risked. For example, imagine you are risking $10 per bet. That means your average unit is $10.
Now let’s say you end the week up $70 … that would mean you are up seven units. Meanwhile, your friend has a lot more disposable income and has a $500 unit size and ends the week up $250. Your friend made $180 more than you, but he only ended the week up half a unit? Whose betting performance was more impressive? Yours, by 6.5 units. This is why paying attention to units as opposed to dollars or even win/loss records is so crucial.
For those of you wondering what your unit size should be, keep in mind that sports betting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. There are going to be highs and lows along the way, so I strongly recommend choosing a unit size that allows your bankroll to endure a serious cold streak, because they will happen from time to time.
Most smart bettors set their unit sizes at 1% of their bankroll. This means that if you have a $5,000 bankroll that you can afford to lose (your bankroll should never be an amount that would cause financial hardship in your life should it disappear), your unit at 1% would be $50.
Use All Sportsbooks Available
Arguably the most important factor that will determine if you’re a successful sports bettor or not is whether you take advantage of all the sportsbooks available to you. Almost every sportsbook has some sort of bonus for signing up. Some match your deposit, some offer free bets, and others offer risk-free bets. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, I highly recommend checking out the following articles.
To learn more about deposit bonuses, read our article here.
To learn more about risk-free bets, read our article here.
The full explanation of those terms is in the articles above, but a deposit bonus is when a sportsbook loads your account with more money than the exact amount deposited, usually in the form of free bets or site credit.
A risk-free bet is a promotion where sportsbooks will refund (in either site credit or free bets) your bet if it loses.
Taking advantage of these promotions at all legal books in your area can provide a nice boost to your bankroll right away. Many of these sportsbooks have VIP or loyalty programs as well, which reward users. More on that later in this article.
However, the biggest benefit of having multiple sportsbooks is the ability to line shop, which leads us right to our next point of discussion.
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Line shopping is the most crucial procedure that sports bettors should do for every single bet they place. Line shopping is the act of looking at the lines across all of the sportsbooks available in order to see the best odds on a certain market.
For example, let’s take a look at the point spread of some legal sportsbooks for the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams game on Thursday Night Football this season.
If you want to bet on the Rams +6.5, why on earth would you take it at any book other than WynnBET? If you bet $100 on the Rams at Caesars and won, you would walk away with about $191, or $91 in profit. However, if you place that same $100 bet at WynnBET, you would walk away with $205, or $105 in profit. That’s a $14 difference just by line shopping!
Meanwhile, if you want to take the Raiders, it makes no sense to take them at any book other than Caesars. If you took the Raiders -6.5 at WynnBET, you would have to risk $125 to win $100. Meanwhile at Caesars, you would only have to risk $110. That’s another $15 saved (if the bet loses) just by line shopping.
Only Risk What You Can Afford to Lose
This is the most important thing to keep in mind in sports betting. No matter how many people tell you a bet is a “lock,” there are absolutely no locks in sports betting. You could always lose, and have to put yourself in the scenario that you do.
During this NFL season, the Vikings just set the NFL record for the biggest comeback during a game. I read that a bettor bet $50,000 on the Colts during the game at -5000 odds. They lost.
Now, that bettor is probably doing alright financially if they can afford to be throwing $50,000 on a live bet, but I just hope they considered the possibility (and reality) that the bet could lose.
There are never any sure things in betting. It’s still gambling, no matter how confident you are. So every bettor needs to ask themself before placing a bet “can I afford to lose this bet?”
If the answer is no, or that it would impact your life significantly in a negative way, do not place the bet. Remember, sports betting should only be done with money you can afford to lose. That’s the concept of a bankroll, as we talked about above. No betting loss or losing streak should impact your ability to pay rent, feed yourself or your family, or anything else in day-to-day life.
If you’re thinking about placing a bet where losing would create those hardships, please do not place the bet. Betting should be fun and hopefully a source of side income, not something you need to get you out of a financial hole.
Track Your Bets
Tracking your bets is crucial to understanding your performance as a sports bettor. If you’re not tracking your bets, it’s easy to just blindly deposit into sportsbooks and not have a good grasp on how you’re doing overall.
Tracking your bets can be discouraging if you’re a losing sports bettor, but it turns into a learning experience. What kinds of bets are you losing? Are you more successful in some sports than others? How does your performance on parlays compare to straight bets? What about betting on your own opinions compared to using the OddsJam positive expected value page?
All these comparisons make up your own personal betting statistics. Just as a pitcher in baseball will analyze their performance with certain pitches against certain hitters and learn where to attack in the future, you should learn from and improve based on your statistics.
Personally, I track my bets in three different ways.
The OddsJam bet tracker, which allows me to see all the bets I placed using the OddsJam tools and important stats like closing line value, ROI, and amount currently at stake. It also shows me charts that show my performance in various sports, days, weeks, months, and all time. I also love that the OddsJam bet tracker has a customizable date range filter that allows me to see how I did or have been doing in a very specific segment of time.
Pikkit, an app that automatically syncs to most legal sportsbooks and tracks the bets. Pikkit also has a social component that allows you to follow your friends or people you look up to in the betting industry, as well as post and discuss your bets.
I track all my account balances, future bets already placed, and all my deposits and withdrawals in a Google sheet. This way I can see the total amount of money I have across all my accounts and how it compares to my net deposits and withdrawals to see how I’m doing overall.
As I mentioned above when talking about the benefits of having several different sportsbook accounts, some of them offer VIP/Loyalty programs. For example, for every bet placed on DraftKings, you are awarded a certain amount of “crowns.” Crowns are a virtual form of currency that you can exchange for bonus funds in your account, or even merchandise or travel packages.
WynnBET has two systems of rewards. The first if credit that can be redeemed for free bets, and the second is credit that can be redeemed at Wynn Properties for food, drinks, hotel stays, and more.
Another book run by a property holder is Caesars, which offers a certain amount of reward credits per bet. These reward credits can be redeemed for site credit or to use on hotel rooms, shows, and more.
Caesars and Wynn also have different status levels depending on how much you bet in a year. Perks can include free stays, golf, discounts with partners, hotel suite upgrades, monthly free bets, and more.
These loyalty status programs can make you want to bet a lot to progress through them, which leads us to our next point.
Don’t be Impulsive!
Sports betting will have highs and lows. Streaks where it feels like you can’t lose, and others where it feels like you can’t win. Don’t let yourself get too high or too low and change your unit size dramatically.
If you become impulsive with winning or losing streaks, you can quickly get into trouble. If you win four bets in a row to go up four units and then raise your stake to two units per bet, a quick two losses in a row can send you back to square one.
Even more dangerously, if you lose four in a row and decide to up your unit size to try and win it all back, that becomes a classic example of “chasing your losses.” Chasing is the most dangerous thing in sports betting, as it allows you to spiral out of control with bet sizes and lose all sense of discipline.
Impulse control has as much to do with bet selection as it does with bet size. Remember, just because you are watching a game on TV does not mean you should bet it. Just because your favorite team is playing does not mean you should bet on the game. Be selective and find value. Don’t be impulsive and bet the entire board.
Stick to a Unit Structure or Similar Strategy
We’ve mentioned “units” a couple of times already in this article and how a unit is typically 1% of your bankroll. Regardless of unit size, make sure you stay consistent. Are you betting to win one unit, or are you risking one unit?
In other words, do you put $110 to win $100 on a standard bet or do you put $100 to win $90.91? For a +200 underdog, are you betting $100 to win $200 or $50 to win $100?
Ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference, but stay consistent with what you do. The consistency we preach does not mean that every bet has to be the same amount. If a play has a crazy amount of value, it’s okay to go up to two or three units. I don’t recommend doing so often, but it definitely isn’t always a bad thing.
Likewise, if you are less confident in a particular bet and are just looking for action or a longshot parlay, don’t feel like you have to use a full unit. Those scenarios are great to use half, quarter, or even one-tenth of a unit.
A unit structure prevents you from losing everything. Even if your unit is higher, like 2% of your bankroll, that means you’d have to lose 50 straight bets to lose everything. Unless you are betting heavy underdogs, that is nearly statistically impossible.
Once you go up or down 10-15 units from your starting bankroll, I’d recommend adjusting your unit size to fit the new bankroll. If you are up 15 units, that would mean raising your unit size. Down 15 would mean decreasing your unit size.
Use Common Sense
The use of common sense is often overlooked in sports betting, especially when it’s online or mobile sports betting where the money in your account can feel like just a number.
Whenever I place a bet, I try to think about what that amount of money could buy me if I lost it, and also how long I’d have to work to earn that money back. That helps keep me grounded and not throw my account balance around in ways I never would with cash.
The most important thing to remember when sports betting, especially online, is that the book is trying to beat you. This especially applies to cash-out offers.
Why would a sportsbook give you a cash-out offer if they don’t want you to take it? They wouldn’t. If you have a cash-out offer in the middle of a game or a parlay, that means the sportsbook likely would love for you to take that offer because it benefits them.
The same thing goes with those enticing parlays you see on the home page of sportsbooks. Some even say something like “8,657 people are in on this parlay already, join them here.”
First of all, unless your parlay legs are +EV, parlays are incredibly profitable for sportsbooks. The books are taking the vig, or juice, on every leg so that edge the books have just compounds.
Second, if the book is advertising a parlay to you on its homepage, that means it probably thinks it will lose and it can take your money.
Be smart, and use common sense.
Before you invest a lot of your money into sports betting, it’s important to first invest time into your betting education. Here at OddsJam, we have hundreds of articles and YouTube videos aimed to help you with just that.
Visit our betting education hub here and our YouTube channel here.
I personally understand how betting education can transform sports betting habits and best practices. Before I found OddsJam, I was a losing sports bettor. I even lost when I first started using OddsJam.
Once I gained experience with the tools and betting in general, I transformed into a profitable bettor. Read more about my personal experience with the product here.
Don’t just jump into betting and think the highest potential of profits will be seen immediately. Like any skill, you will improve over time the more you understand it and the more experience you gain.
Don’t be Biased
One of the most common instances where bettors can get into trouble is just blindly betting on their favorite teams or players. Unless a team has an uncommonly good record against the spread over the course of the season, you will lose money through the vig blindly betting on a team.
Be sure to look for value and take your potential biases into account before placing a bet.
Avoid Emotional Highs & Lows
It’s understandable that winning and losing money can bring on strong emotions, but you’ve got to remind yourself that it’s gambling. Winning at a rate of 55% against the spread is incredible, which means losses will still happen 45% of the time.
There will be extended periods of streaks as well. Sometimes it might feel like every bet you place will hit, and other times you’ll feel unable to pick a winner to save your life.
During these streaks, it’s important to not alter the process or amount that you bet. In reality, these streaks don’t have any implications on your next bet.
When you bet with high volume (meaning lots of bets per day/week), the individual wins and losses shouldn’t change your mood as much. I’ve had terrible days and unbelievably great days, but I don’t get emotionally impacted by them as much anymore because over time I trust the edge I have using OddsJam to show itself.
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