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Top 4 Sports Betting Strategies


While every sports bettor plays to win, there’s no denying that betting favors the sportsbook. However, there’s a way to increase your likelihood of winning by using various betting strategies and systems. Every strategy works best if aligned with a deserving market, like total points/goals, accumulator bets, underdog, favorite to win, etc.

Here, we discuss some of the top sports betting strategies that’ll help you beat the sportsbook and win big:

Don’t use these sports betting strategies

Before we discuss the top sports betting strategies you should use, let’s look at some strategies you should steer clear of. Some betting systems proclaim to have a secret recipe for foolproof winning. However, if they were really that good, everyone would be rich, while sportsbooks and casinos would be filing for bankruptcy. Let’s go through some popular betting systems that aren’t as awesome as they claim to be:

The Cancellation System (or the Labouchere System)

Also known as the split Martingale system, this system requires you to come up with a base betting unit. You should then write down a common Labouchere sequence such as 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1. To choose the amount you’ll bet, take the first and last numbers from the sequence. In this case, you’ll bet 1+1 or 2 units.

If you fail to win a bet, add the number of units you bet to the end of the sequence. Cross out the first and last numbers in the sequence if you win. Continue until every number in the sequence is crossed out.

The d’Alembert System (or the Negative Progression System)

It’s similar to the Martingale system. Here, you incrementally raise your bets by equal units after every loss and go back down to the base betting unit after every win.

In this system, you don’t double your bet after a loss but increase it by a single unit. While in the Martingale system, you need your last bet to win, the d’Alembert system requires your overall winning percentage to outnumber your losses.

The Martingale System

In this system, the punter just doubles the bet amount after a lost bet to recoup their money as well as a decent profit. There’s one obvious issue with this: any bad losing streak will need a considerable amount of money just to get back to even.

There aren’t a lot of sports books that would take the best sizes necessary to overcome a betting system like this. Another issue is that this system depends on an actual even-money bet which isn’t common as sportsbooks charge around 5% to 10% commission on every bet.

Unfortunately, none of these systems guarantee a win (this is totally in contrast to what they claim). The truth is, nobody has an endless bankroll to keep doubling their bet size; the sportsbook has a limit on the bet amounts to prevent you from constantly doubling even if your bankroll doesn’t have any limit, and most sportsbooks don’t offer true even-money bets.

The best sports betting strategies aren’t about so-called ‘guaranteed winning’ systems but about solid research and analysis.

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Top 4 sports betting strategies that work

Now, let’s look at some specific sports betting strategies that have proven to work when applied properly:

  1. The Zig Zag Theory

This strategy applies to betting on NBA and NHL playoff series. This is because those leagues use a playoff format of 2, 2, 1, 1, 1 when it comes to away and home games.

The higher-seeded team plays at home for the initial two games, and if needed, 5th and 7th too.

This theory works on two main principles. First, home teams have a clear edge. Second, when a home team is coming off a loss, they generally play a lot better and, statistically, have a better chance of winning. This theory works well when a team comes off a loss and is at home.

a senior businessman talking on a smartphone on the streetHere’s an example of when to use this theory:

  • Historical percentages in the NHL are different and even; when the home team wins the first game, the lower seed wins the 2ndgame on the road around 33.33% of the time. In such moments, with the public favoring the home team to replicate the success of their first game, you’ll find incredible value in the road squad. If the value is higher than 33%, you’re looking at a brilliant betting opportunity.
  • Since elimination games also offer opportunities to leverage a team’s desperation that’s up against the wall, they’re also crucial. If the margin of victory by the leading team is small, people may still overvalue them by accentuating the series lead instead of rationally analyzing how the games actually played out.
  • During the NBA playoffs, after losing the first game, the home team has historically won the 2ndgame 75% of the time.
  • According to the theory, if the road team fails to win the initial two games, you can expect them to win the 3rdgame, especially in the NBA. No team in this sport has ever come back from a deficit of 0-3, and therefore, winning the 3rd game is necessary to stay in the gameee.

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  1. Betting against the public

Also known as ‘fading the public,’ this strategy simply means betting opposite to the majority of the betting public. This is also known as ‘betting against the public underdog’ because most of the public refrains from betting on the underdog.

  • Here, oddsmakers don’t set lines and sports oddsbased just on what they think the result of the game will be. Bookmakers also want to attract approximately equal attention to both sides of a bet to safeguard themselves from a potentially huge loss.
  • Typically, most of the public bets on the favorite (or the team that the media hypes up the most). Since almost everyone places their bet on the favorite, the bookmaker has to move the line in the underdog’s favor to make them more appealing, so more punters place their bets on them.
  • Being able to detect instances when the people are pushing a line offers clever punters an advantage because the line is moving relative to the money coming in instead of the game’s likely final score. Thus, by betting in the opposite direction, you can reap the benefit of additional pennies on the dollar with the moneyline or additional points in your favor on the point spread.
  • Paying close attention to line movements is key when it comes to fading the public. When you see a line move in the underdog’s favor, it’s an indication that most of the public is betting on the favorite. You may also find a lot of online resources that can tell you the distribution of action on specific bets without charging anything.

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  1. Betting the middle

Commonly referred to as middling, this is a technique in which a bettor attempts to make an initial point spread bet only to find out that the line has changed after some time. Sometimes, you’ll find middling chances during line shopping, where you’ll come across a substantially different point spread for the same game.

By using the line change, you can place an opposite bet to your initial wager, which means winning both of them could be possible. If this confuses you, don’t worry. Let us explain this to you through a simple example:

  • Suppose you make a point spread on an NFL team that’s listed with a -7 point spread in the middle of the week.
  • After placing your bet, you see the point spread move to -10 on the game day. This may occur due to a number of reasons. For example, a lot of attention is placed on the underdog by the punters.
  • If you want to bet in the middle, in this case, you’re free to place a bet on the +10 underdog.
  • If the favorite wins by 8 or 9 points, you’ll end up winning both of your bets. Ideally, the wager must hit the middle of the two bets.
  • You also have protection because the eventual winning margin fails to fall in the middle of your bets; one bet will lose while the other will win.
  • However, there’s a downside: you’ll have to bear a small loss when this happens because sportsbooks charge a vig (or commission).

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  1. Hedging your bets

In sports betting, there are opportunities where a punter can place a bet that’s opposite to his original bet. While it may seem weird to bet against your original wager, it can guarantee you a profit if it’s done right.

  • Hedges typically apply to big parlays when you have won numerous bets but still have at least one bet left to play or to future bets where the sports oddson your bet change significantly in your favor.
  • In the above examples, you can bet against your original bet and lock in a profit, irrespective of the final outcome.
  • Hedging allows you to sacrifice a bigger potential payout in exchange for a guaranteed profit and reduced risk. By making your hedge bet smaller or larger, you can fiddle with how much risk and reward you want to take.

Let’s closely look at how hedge betting works by looking at a famous example from the MLB 2011 season.

A fan who belonged to St. Louis made a bet of $250 at a Las Vegas sportsbook. He placed a bet on the Cardinals to win the World Series. At that time, with 15 games yet to play, the Cardinals were 5 games out of a spot in playoffs — they had to play out of their skins just to get to the playoffs.

The bet paid 1000:1 for a potential profit of $250,000. Fortunately for this lucky bettor, the Cardinals didn’t just qualify for the playoffs. However, they ended up winning the NLCS (National League Championship Series) and a trip to play against the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

Now, the bettor was looking at a potentially huge payday. However, he wouldn’t get anything if the Cardinals didn’t beat the Texas Rangers. This is the ideal opportunity to hedge. By betting against his original bet, he can secure a profit. Let’s look at how:

In this example, let’s suppose that a bet on the Texas Rangers to emerge victorious in the World Series would pay 1:1. If the punter were able to get $125,000 and bet it on the Texas Rangers, he would secure himself a profit of $125,000 irrespective of who wins. Now, two scenarios can happen:

  • If the Cardinals lose, he’ll win $125,000 from his wager on the Texas Rangers
  • If the Cardinals win, he’ll win $250,000 on his first ticket, excluding the $125,000 he used to bet on the Texas Rangers

Hedging also works when you have made a multiple-bet parlay and won most of your bets. With parlays, all it takes is a single loss to lose the whole parlay. If there’s a single game to go, consider hedging by betting against your original parlay bet to get some profit.

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Important beginner concepts

Focusing on the basics is extremely important for a beginner. You can’t make complex bets until you familiarize yourself with good fundamentals. Here are some simple and quick strategies to hardwire into your brain’s sports betting circuits.

Take advantage of winning streaks

The performance of a player or team in sports can be very streaky. Sometimes, players are as cold as ice, while other times, they’re in the zone and never miss a shot. You can consider these hot and cold streaks in your wagers, and if you can spot them faster than the sportsbooks, they present a colossal opportunity.

Make sure you’re assessing every factor precisely and that the sports odds are providing the right value. If a player beats a series of lower-quality opponents, jumping on the bandwagon when their next game is against a top opponent wouldn’t make sense.

a young woman drinking tea and using a smartphoneMonitor the factors that can sustain a streak. Plus, if you’re looking to take them on a spread (instead of the moneyline), see how they’ve recently been doing against the spread.

Shop around for the best sports odds and lines

While this is an obvious strategy, it’s also something that many people aren’t able to do because it takes a lot of effort. Here’s an example: if a store charges you more for a certain product than the one two blocks away, you’ll most likely choose the cheaper option. However, finding the best deals isn’t possible without shopping around.

This applies to sports bets as well. If you shop around for the best sports odds and lines, finding better value on your bets wouldn’t be an issue.

In addition, by creating different accounts at various sportsbooks, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of various promotional offers upon first deposit and sign-up. You’ll also come across the best sports betting mobile apps.

Don’t ignore bankroll management

This idea pays off in all activities where you’re making investment decisions. Simply put, it’s not just about the teams you bet on but the frequency and amounts of your bets as well.

So, what is good bankroll management? Well, it’s about safeguarding yourself from the inevitable losing streaks that come with all types of gambling from time to time. So, create a betting bankroll that has no connection with your day-to-day money.

If, for example, your bankroll for sports betting is more than $200, your single bet size, on average, should be 2% of your bankroll. For bankrolls below $200, the bet size should be a maximum of $5. Making more bets with a lesser proportion of your bankroll riding on every bet is always better.

While these numbers may sound too small, if you’re looking to grow your bankroll over time and don’t want to go broke, there’s no better way to do it.

Assess the records of teams against the spread

ATS (against the spread) is a common stat that you’ll come across a lot.

Knowing how teams perform in the win/loss column and against the point spread created by sportsbooks and casinos is very valuable. When it comes to gambling, point spread can be thought of as a secondary competition for teams.

While every team is looking to get straight-up wins, for gambling purposes, it’s vital to understand how they performed in comparison to the expectations of the oddsmakers (not just their competitors). This is popularly known as the ATS stat of a team.

If, on average, a team is beating the spread, placing your bet would make a lot of sense.

Focus on a single team

While this idea is straightforward, it’s more powerful than you may think. Being an expert on a single team is far more valuable than having a rudimentary knowledge of several teams. The more you understand a particular team, the better you’ll be able to understand good value when you assess the newest sports odds.

Since you’ll be the expert on your team, you’ll be aware of any important news regarding it. If, for example, you’re able to come across something before bookmakers modify lines, you can gain a lot of value. This especially applies to non-marquee, smaller leagues.

If a single team is too limiting, restrict yourself to betting on just a single league, at least.

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Quick tips for sports betting

Here, our experts put together some easiest, quickest tips. If you want to start betting instantly, ensure you put these tricks into action:

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Bet on the underdog

Do you see a popular team overhyped? Congrats, you’ve found an edge. Bet the underdog for a bigger payout and better value.

Avoid parlays and longshots

Making a few longshot bets is okay when you get a bigger bankroll. However, they’ll be quite risky if you’re a beginner.

Diversify your action

Spreading your money out over more bets to help reduce variance and overcome bad luck is always better.

Don’t bet without a set betting bankroll

Maintaining a separate bankroll for betting is one of the essential things you should do.

Learn basic sports odds

Whether you’re betting live or online, you must learn the basics. Check out Betting Sites Ranking to get up to speed.

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