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The Art of Winning
by Website Staff

If you visit sports betting message boards you probably have read more then one sympathy seeking post about the losing streak from hell and how it's time for the poster to take a break from gambling. Usually there is some mention of an endless string of bad beats often due to one team or player. Of course every handicapper whether they are a professional or purely recreational sports bettor will eventually have to deal with a little bad luck. How each person deals with the ups and downs will ultimately determine how successful they will be as a sports bettor and in life.

It is important to realize that as a sports handicapper your main goal is to make a profitable investment every time you place a wager. Looking at handicapping from this perspective it is easy to see that sports bettors are not much different then someone who trades stocks to improve their financial situation. With this frame of mind it is much easier to visualize what you need to do to reach your goals and the obstacles that you will encounter.

Inherently most people never plan for failure only anticipating success. Probably because we are taught during our youth that anybody can succeed if they work hard. When we fail we are told not to give up and try again. While I agree with this I think more of us would be successful sooner if we also planned for failure or had a backup plan before attempting our initial endeavor.

I can confidently state that most handicappers will succeed if they use a little forethought and map their path before they start wagering on sports. The first decision that a winning handicapper makes is what sport will be used as their investment vehicle. Choosing a sport you enjoy watching or participating in will at least ensure that you will approach handicapping in an enthusiastic manner. In addition you are probably aware of the statistics and situational factors that determine the outcomes of games for this sport.

As a winning handicapper you will always be looking for an edge. It has become more difficult to find value betting the major sports leagues due to the increasing number of internet sports bettors. To counter this fad you should be prepared to wager on opening lines that have not had all the value bet out of them. Specializing in less popular sports leagues will most likely lead to more profitable betting. The WNBA and the Arena Football League are good examples. If you want to take this idea to the extreme try handicapping curling tournaments or Major League Lacrosse.

After narrowing your search to a particular sport the next step is to acquire as many resources as possible to study the sport you will be betting. Thanks to the internet there is an abundant source of material to use. This may include sports betting forums, fantasy sports leagues and sports news sites that maintain scores, odds and statistics archives for nearly every sport. Additional information can be acquired from books, periodicals, sports handicapping services and fellow gamblers.

The winning handicapper does not take any theory at face value but scrutinizes every idea to verify that they will produce a significant advantage on future wagers. This may lead to a concept being modified or totally discarded but a system is always thoroughly tested before real money is wagered. Back testing systems is an essential part of the process. Any system or trend must be tested against years other then the time period they were discovered. If you find a trend that did very well during a consecutive five year period than it must be tested against following years to prove it is valid. Ideally testing or practice betting should be done on live games. If the trend still holds water you may decide to use it if you are confident that the sample size warrants faith in it. For handicappers the sample size is usually measured in games played. It may be necessary to review a statistical reference to determine if the sample size is sufficient.

After fine tuning and testing your handicapping system against a database it is time to move to the next stage, deciding where, when and how much to wager. The winning handicapper makes a list of sportsbook attributes that they consider important for wagering on each sport. Finding a sportsbooks that offers odds at a reduced price is always a benefit. Sportsbooks that have a large square or recreational customer base are always a good choice. Due to the public's tendency to wager on favorites, the winning bettor can find better odds on underdogs at these sportsbooks.

A sportsbook that offers overnight wagering will allow the winning handicapper to take advantage of weak lines that have not been heavily bet. Internet sportsbooks that are slow to adjust their lines on steam plays or heavily bet games afford the handicapper time to place a wager without losing value.

A common sports betting rule of thumb is to wager 2.0% or less of your bankroll on every bet. This is known as flat betting and is recommended for novice bettors. The winning handicapper calculates their bet amount for every wager based on their edge. To breakeven a bettor must win approximately 52.5% of their wagers at -110. A bet with a 55% expectation of winning gives the bettor a 2.5% edge.

Assume a bettor normally wins 55.0% of the time and has chosen 2.0% of their bankroll as their standard bet size or unit. If they have a $5000 bankroll they will wager $100 on most bets. If they calculate a bet to have a 57.5% expectation of winning their edge has doubled over their standard wager. They have now doubled their advantage with a 5.0% edge and a $200 bet is acceptable. Most bettors tend to overestimate their edge probably because they have not adequately back tested the system or trend they are using. If you are not completely confident in your ability to correctly calculate your edge you are better off flat betting.

Even the most well thought out plan is often thrown aside by gamblers who are not prepared to deal with winning and losing streaks. Overconfidence during a winning streak often leads to betting more than is appropriate. Losing streaks may convince a bettor to give up and disregard months of planning and work.

You must learn to endure losing streaks that test every sports bettor's character and discipline. Having faith in a system that took a year to develop is not that easy in the midst of consecutive losing days. This is when it is important to remind yourself that betting on sports is a long term proposal and fluctuations come with territory. Before you place a bet convince yourself that the hard work you completed months before the start of the season will compensate you for a few bad beats. If you did your homework than you should be able to persuade yourself that you indeed have a winning formula and your current losing streak is a normal variance.

There are a number of stress reducing actions you can take to maintain a winning state of mind such as exercising, not watching games you bet and avoiding alcohol.

Remember betting on sports is a grind and sometimes it is necessary to take a break. It's not easy spending hours at a time in front of your computer gathering statistics and handicapping dozens of games night after night. Even if it is just for a few days take some time to recuperate.

At the other end of the spectrum are winning streaks. There is no better feeling than consistently winning. Don't let your self get to high and keep an even keel. Now is not the time to over estimate your edge and start betting like a madman. Winning will give you extra energy and motivation. Take advantage of this good fortune, continue to educate yourself and improve your handicapping techniques. Now might be a good time to diversify your sports betting portfolio and start the process of handicapping another sport. Remind yourself that this unbroken series of wins will not last forever and although losing may not be right around the corner it will be easy to deal with a little adversity if you are prepared for it.

Viewing a log of your past bets will usually show a series of days when you sometimes won a little and other times lost a little. There will be winning and losing streaks some more severe than others. If you stick with your game plan typically you will find that you have won more than you lost at the end of the year.

1. Before you make your next bet make a check list of fundamental tasks winning handicappers use.

2. Choose a sport that you enjoy handicapping and will give you a financial advantage.

3. Exhaust every effort to find the best handicapping method for that sport.

4. Properly test and evaluate your handicapping system without bias.

5. Properly size your bet based on your edge.

6. Use multiple sportsbooks so you always get the best price.

7. Anticipate line movement and bet when the odds are favorable.

8. Plan for losing streaks and stay the course.

9. Use winning as motivation to continue your handicapping education.

Nobody can account for every possible situation that will arise during their sports betting career. Experience goes a long way in avoiding the hazards that trap novice gamblers. Give yourself a head start by preparing yourself psychologically. Use suitable planning and competent execution as a foundation to insure your success. Maintain the right frame of mind and take responsibility for the financial outcome of your bets. Ultimately picking winners determines if you are a successful sports bettor but accomplished handicappers start with a winning state of mind.

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