What is the key to successful sports betting?

What is the key to successful sports betting?

Successful sports bettors are a very rare breed. Statistically, it is very uncommon to find an individual that is profitable over the long haul on sports betting. Unfortunately, luck and basic sports knowledge will only get you so far. These successful bettors tend to possess some common traits that aid them in being better at sports betting than the rest of the pack.

Below, we’ll go into detail on some of the common traits of successful sports bettors. After reviewing this list, you might decide to work on some of these areas in an attempt to be more like them. By fine-tuning some of these skills yourself, you might be able to become a more successful sports bettor.

Common Traits of Successful Sports Bettors

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common traits of successful sports bettors. While not a complete list by any means, this list encompasses the vast majority of important traits held by these bettors. It’s important to note that a successful bettor doesn’t necessarily need to have all of these traits, but they will possess most of them. With that said, let’s get into it!

Knowledge of Sports

This common trait of sports bettors should be pretty obvious, but we wanted to make sure that we stated it regardless. In order to be successful, sports bettors need to have a solid knowledge of sports. Without this trait, it is honestly near impossible to become good at sports betting.

Having a good knowledge of sports allows successful sports bettors to understand better things that might impact their wagers. Using their knowledge of sports, these successful bettors have a good understanding of the many different things that can impact the outcome of sporting events. This allows them the chance to make better-educated wagers than someone that is not as knowledgeable about sports.

Strong Math Skills

Betting on sports involves a ton of numbers. From historical performance data to bookmaker odds, there are lots of numbers to look at and analyze. If you’re not good at math, it can be tough to understand what all of these numbers mean to you and your sports betting wagers.

Successful sports bettors tend to have very strong math skills. Using this skill set, they are able to quickly understand what the data they have access to means. Often, these types of bettors will then crunch some serious numbers to help them determine what wagers they want to place. At the end of the day, these bettors use their strong math skills to quickly analyze and interpret data for the sake of making quick and educated betting decisions.

Excellent Money Management

Something else that successful sports bettors do well is manage their money. Without excellent money management skills, it’s hard to make a long and successful run in sports betting. If you end up betting too much of your bankroll on single games, it could be detrimental to your bankroll balance. This is a common mistake that recreational bettors make.

A successful sports bettor will have established strict money management guidelines for themselves, and they will stick to these no matter what. These money management lines will determine how much of their total bankroll will be placed on each wager. Instead of swinging for the fence on each bet, the goal of a successful sports bettor will be to make money over the long haul.

Evaluation of All Game Factors

A recreational sports bettor will often just look at a handful of factors, such as which team is favored, when making their betting decision. Even though there is much more information that could be evaluated, your average sports bettor tends to stop right there. However, successful sports bettors make an evaluation of all game factors, not just the basics.

When it comes to successful sports bettors, they are peeling back as many layers of the onion as possible. While basic stats are great, these bettors go much deeper in an attempt to evaluate all game factors.


Successful bettors will consider the health of all players, not just the quarterback and wide receivers. As well, they’ll often consider things such as team grudges and teams coming off of big losses and how that might impact the game.

For you to be more of a successful sports bettor, you’ll want to do your best to evaluate everything you possibly can. It can take a bit to train yourself to think outside of the box, but this is how you can work to get a leg up like the professionals do. By thinking differently and looking at all aspects of the game, you’re more likely to catch something that many others will miss.

Emotional Control

One of the biggest things that separates professional gamblers from recreational gamblers is that professionals can control their emotions. Unfortunately, this is not something that too many recreational bettors understand. Like some other things on our traits of successful sports bettors, emotional control is something that is easier said than done.

Often, recreational sports bettors let their emotions get the best of them. If a recreational sports bettor grew up in a diehard Green Bay Packers family, he’d probably have a hard time not betting on the Packers, regardless of what the odds or data says. However, a successful sports bettor that also grew up in a diehard Green Bay Packers family will know when to toss his love for the Packers aside to make a smart betting decision.

Emotional control is a tough habit to master. However, it will be impossible to become a successful sports bettor if you can’t set your emotions aside. Emotions all too often get in the way of making sound betting decisions based solely on data. If you’d like to become more of a successful bettor, you’ll have to learn emotional control so that you begin to make decisions based on data as opposed to your emotions.

Line Shopping

Another common trait of successful sports bettors is that they shop their lines. Unlike recreational sports bettors that typically rely on just one sportsbook, these bettors will usually shop their lines across multiple sportsbooks. By shopping around, the successful bettors can make sure that they are getting the best bang for their buck.

In many cases, lines tend to be pretty close from one sportsbook to the next. However, this is not always the case.

If a successful sports bettor is able to find a sportsbook offering a wager at 0.5 points better than the market average, they’ll be coming out ahead if they win the bet.

What’s nice about line shopping is that it allows you to get the maximum value from your winning wager.

If you’re not currently line shopping, you should definitely consider it. At a minimum, we’d suggest that you sign up with at least two different sportsbooks. When you’re ready to make a wager, be sure to shop the lines between the two sportsbooks. Your goal should be to find the one offering you the best pricing. While it might not seem like much on an individual bet basis, line shopping can add some serious growth to your bottom line as you become better at sports betting. By not line shopping, you’ll end up leaving money on the table, and that’s no fun!

Strong Discipline

When it comes to successful sports bettors, another common trait that they have is a strong discipline. Using this strong discipline, these bettors are able to stick to a plan and remain focused on the overall long-term goal. Unfortunately, this is not a trait that the majority of recreational bettors have.

Strong discipline is key in the grand scheme of things if you want to become successful at sports betting. Successful sports bettors will utilize strong discipline in areas such as staking plans, bankroll management, and the overall wager plan of attack. Emotions can play into making poor discipline decisions, which is why these bettors tend to have emotional control and a strong discipline. Without them, it’s too easy to get off track.

Ability to Understand Value

A successful sports bettor will have a good ability to understand value. When it comes to recreational bettors, they don’t usually analyze the value of a bet. For them, they’ll just pick a winner and call it a day. Successful bettors, however, will look at a bet’s overall value to determine if it is worth the risk.

What successful sports bettors look for are wagers that have a high value. An ideal wager will have a big potential payout with a relatively small risk. The goal of these bettors is to not risk a huge amount of cash for a relatively small overall return.

By understanding value, successful sports bettors work to get more bang for their buck. Unlike recreational bettors that don’t look for value, successful bettors will come out ahead in the long run by searching for this extra value. If you’d like to learn more about value, check out our article about probabilities and value.

Strong Analytical Capabilities

Something else that successful sports bettors typically possess is strong analytical capabilities. When it comes to sports betting, there is a ton of data that needs to be analyzed. To be successful, you need to be able to review and interpret historical data, bookmaker odds, and much more. Without these skills, it is tough to become successful over the long haul.

Often, successful sports bettors will have created their own systems to help them analyze all of the data that is important to them. In some cases, they use programs like Microsoft Excel or other proprietary software that they have created. The goal of these bettors is to review and analyze as much data as possible to make the best informed decision they can.

Unfortunately, analyzing data is not something that comes naturally to many people. Unless you’re a financial analyst or banker, then the odds are that you’ve not had any formal training in data analysis. What’s nice is that you can learn to be better at data analysis if you’re willing to take the time to study. If data analysis is not currently a strong suit, you can find lots of good tips and research on the internet to help you begin to sharpen your analytical capabilities.

Ability to Take a Long-Term View

Patience is a key trait of successful sports bettors. Many sports bettors quickly become unmotivated after having a few bad losses in a row. What differentiates successful bettors is that they are able to step back and take a long-term view.

Successful sports bettors know that they won’t win every bet. However, sports bettors set a goal for themselves that they want to win more often than not. Even in runs of losses, successful bettors understand that there are highs and lows in what they do.

Overall, a successful sports bettor on average will win somewhere between 50% and 60% of their wagers.

It’s important to note that this means that they are still losing plenty. To keep their head in the game, these bettors will learn from losses and realize that losing sometimes is still part of the process.

It is important for you to be able to take a long-term view if you’d like to become a better sports bettor. Along the way, there will be setbacks. However, you need to not get discouraged by these setbacks, and continue to hone your skills. If you give up too quickly and easily, you might be missing out on something much larger. The sooner that you can train yourself to take a long-term view when it comes to sports betting, the sooner you’ll be more in line with successful sports bettors.

Strong Organizational Skills

Another key trait of successful sports bettors tends to be strong organizational skills. As we’ve discussed previously, there is a ton of data when it comes to sports betting. These bettors will be able to properly organize and sort this information so that they can make sense of it. It doesn’t matter how much data you have access to if you’re not able to sort it and make educated guesses about it.

Strong organizational skills also come in handy with tracking the bets that you have placed. Tracking your bets is an important part of bankroll management. If you’re not able to keep this organized, you might quickly find your bankroll in trouble. A successful bettor will keep meticulous records of bets placed, along with tracking any associated wins and losses.

If organizational skills are not a strong suit of yours, you can definitely work to improve them. We’d suggest that you start by tracking your bets. You can use something as easy as pen and paper, but we’d recommend using something computer-based, such as Microsoft Excel. Your ultimate goal should be to record a history of your sports betting wagers. Using this organized data, you can then refer to it to review your historical trends to see what worked for you and what didn’t. As an added bonus, you’ll have a better view of the health of your sports betting bankroll.

Flexible, Adaptable, Resilient

To be successful, sports bettors need to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient. A successful sports bettor will know that things change over time, and that in turn means that their plans and strategies must also change. Being flexible and adaptable is key. Those unwilling to change their ways are less likely to be successful over time.

Resilience is another key trait of successful sports bettors. Sometimes you’ll feel like the king of the world, and other times you’ll feel like an elephant has just trampled you. A successful bettor will remain resilient even in the down times, knowing that you have to take the good with the bad.

If your goal is to become a more successful sports bettor, you should work to be all three of these things. It’s much easier said than done, but you should work to become more flexible, adaptable, and resilient over time. By adopting these qualities, you’ll better align yourself with some of the traits of successful sports bettors.