If winning a sports bet was easy, then everybody would be doing it. It is a great feeling to “love” a situation because of an insight you have on a particular game -- and then get validated by being right with the bonus of being rewarded by doubling your money. Unfortunately, easy wins are not the norm for those engaged in the long haul. When a gambler or handicapper goes on the hunt for wins on the daily sports card, the games available combined with the betting options available can seem overwhelming. Should I take the money-line instead of the point spread? What about parlaying those two plays together? Maybe teasing those two plays together would be better?
I have found that answering some fundamental questions helps guide my betting decisions on a day-to-day basis. A most basic query for sports gamblers is this: Why are you betting on sports? This sentiment may sound like Jerry Maguire after eating a bad piece of cold pizza in the middle of the night. Yet finding an honest answer to this question can be quite helpful in guiding what game you bet on, what types of bets you make, and how much money you invest.
I think there are three reasons to bet on sports. These reasons can overlap — but identifying what is most important for your motivation to make a bet can be quite helpful. The first two reasons below are good ones. I would be very cautious if you are motivated primarily by the third reason.
(1) Bet on sports to have fun. This is a great reason. Hopefully, this means that any potential losses are manageable financially and not soul-crushing emotionally. Recreational betting to increase the enjoyment of watching a game on television or following the ESPN sports ticket can really get the dopamine firing away.
(2) Bet on sports to make money. This is another great reason. However, accruing profits often means eschewing the fun-factor. It may require avoiding action on Monday Night Football. It also likely means that you should avoid the teasers, parlays, and other novelty bets that (generally) are offering less betting value than a simple straight against-the-spread bet.
(3) Bet on sports to prove you are right. This is the dangerous motivation. For starters, making a prediction and then being right about does not require a financial investment. Scream away about it on Twitter or at the bar (then again, please don't do either of those because no one cares). The problem with the bettor looking to prove themselves right is that they will never find the validation they are searching for from a winning ticket. That bettor will likely continue to chase bets in the futile search to prove themselves to the world (or to themselves). The bets contain an emotional component. If you are going to bet with emotion, you should only do it for fun. A gambler betting on emotion is a gambler poised to lose.
In future articles, I will get specific in how my “Mission Statement” regarding “why to bet on sports” guides me to make certain bets and avoid other types of bets.
Best of luck for us — Frank.