Betting Discipline: Fun Bets and the Inevitable Losing Runs

This article was the first in a series on Finding an Edge in Sports Betting. It covered the tools you need to be a successful gambler. While this is the most important aspect of beating the bookies or other betting exchange players, it’s not the only requirement. Many who are able to find the elusive edge in betting don’t make long-term profits. This is probably because they lack discipline.

Betting discipline is your ability to manage losing runs and only place bets when you feel that you have an edge. Many otherwise successful gamblers find themselves in trouble because of fun bets or interest bets. Any bet that you place on a bet that isn’t in your usual range of ‘value bets’ is a fun bet. You could place a wager on Monday night football, even though it’s not your favorite sport, or you might place a bet Sbobet Online at Wolverhampton while waiting for your main bet at Newmarket. These types of bets can drain your profits from your main bets. These are the ones that you feel you have an advantage over the market.

You would have an advantage if your local casino offered a special deal where they toss a coin every hour and offer everyone 11/10 on heads. This offer will pay off long-term. If you back heads every time, you’ll win money. Let’s assume that this offer was limited at $100 per person. You would expect a $5 profit on each bet (50% of 100*2.1) – $100). If you go to the casino every hour, you can expect to make an average of $30 per day if you visit the casino before the hour. You have an advantage and you are exploiting it to make a profit. You can play blackjack if you make a permanent residence at the casino during the day. If the casino has a 2% edge per hand, and you play 60 hands per hour, you’d have an expected loss $12 per hour. While you wait to place your hourly “value bet”, you are also placing smaller bets which more than offset the profit from the coin toss wager.

Although the above example is unlikely to be true because casinos don’t offer these incentives, many punters still follow a similar path every day. While they might visit their local bookies or watch the racing live on TV, the general policy is to support a horse in all races. As in the casino example, most punters aren’t disciplined enough to wait for bets that they believe they have an advantage with. It’s fine to place a wager in any race, but only if you are able to find one that you consider value. Your lack of discipline will result in you losing all the hard work that went into making the value selections.

If I value a horse’s true odds as 2.26, and decide to lay it at 2.0 on Betfair unless my true odds change due to new information, I will not lay any higher than that. Many people might believe that the horse’s 2.02 is close enough. If you are going to break the maximum lay price or minimum return price, there is no need for it. If 2.02 seems close enough, 2.04 will be close to 2.02 while 2.06 will be close to 2.04. What is the right line? You’re placing the horse before you know it, at your true odds price. If your true odds are correct, you’ll lose. You could accurately predict what the event would be, but you’d lose your money long-term if you couldn’t resist having the bet, even though it was not the right price. You can bet just for fun, which is fine. However, if you want long-term success you must have the discipline and temperament to reject ‘fun bets and bets that aren’t within your price range. No matter if your price criteria are met or you bet just for fun, the goal is to get the best price. This means opening as many accounts and taking advantage of free bets from bookies.

Some punters place bets only where they feel they have an advantage. While they may be successful in the long-term, a losing streak can sometimes be enough to stop them from making a living at the game. You might think that this is obvious. While losing runs can reduce profits, it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from making more money overall. It all depends on how you handle them. Even if you make money long-term, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be short-term losses. I know this because I have been through many of them. Your success is dependent on how you respond to setbacks. It was not the right choice of words when I said “react to them”, but it is better to avoid reacting at all costs. You should not let a losing streak be the reason that you have to alter your methods or chase your losses. This could lead to career changes. Often, the losing run falls within an expected sequence of events. If you have a 50% strike rate, did you know that a 40-bet series will yield 14 winners or less than 5%? This means that if you place 800 bets on the same bets, and you get 400 winners, there will be only one 40-bet series with 14 winners. This series of bets could be taken in isolation and you could lose money backing at 11/10. To avoid overreacting to short-term results, certain statistical tests can be used.

To determine if your results are due to bad luck, or if some variable has changed that could have contributed to your failures, it is important to analyze your results. If you don’t see any reason for the downturn, and the results fall within the normal range of what would be expected during a unlucky period, then don’t change anything. Your luck will turn around. In future articles, I’ll discuss the different types of analysis that you can perform.

Next time you look at the TV and consider placing a wager on the 1/1 Fav “just for interest”, think about this. If your life depended upon picking a winner, which choice would you make? If you chose heads, then it is impossible to justify backing the horse. And, for what it’s worth, your life expectancy may be a bit longer.