Maintaining solid sports betting strategies can go a long way toward potentially earning profits, but more importantly, reducing losses, making your money last longer and betting responsibly. Simple strategies and more advanced ones help bettors maintain discipline and their bankrolls. In this article, we’ll explore different strategies that can help punters build a more rounded approach to wagering.

A sports betting strategy is an established plan that extends past merely rooting for the team you love and betting based on a gut feeling. It is a methodical strategy that involves researching sporting contests, assessing matchups and maintaining a strict bankroll to place smart wagers that maximize your odds of succeeding over time. Understanding the odds and comparing them from various bookmakers, as well as concentrating on value instead of simply picking favorites, will help you establish a solid and responsible sports betting strategy.

Using a sports betting strategy offers protection against the house's inherent edge, the 10% vig. By thoroughly analyzing matchups and detecting flaws in the odds, such as mismatches between teams or players, you can take advantage of scenarios where the genuine probability of an event occurring differs from what the oddsmakers estimate. It enables you to identify value bets in which the potential payoff exceeds the vig.

Discipline and self-control, which we’ll mention throughout this guide due to their importance, and bankroll management will be essential components of your plan. No betting strategy can guarantee victory, but it allows you to make informed judgments and perhaps overcome the house edge, which is already a disadvantage.

The attributes discussed in this section are basic but can definitely build the starting foundation for a sports betting strategy. Following and understanding these fundamentals are vital.

Bankroll Management

Responsible and strict bankroll management is critical in sports betting since it prevents someone from losing their entire budget on a single bet or over a short period of time.

Your bankroll should be a very small portion of your assets and shouldn’t affect your daily life. Sports betting is for fun and should not impact your mental health.

Betting 1-5% of your bankroll per wager is highly recommended, with 1% being the norm. Determining a unit size is up to you, but many responsible and professional cappers consider 1 unit as 1% of their bankroll.

  • List Icon

    1-2 percent: Conservative

  • List Icon

    3 percent: Medium

  • List Icon

    4-5 percent: Aggressive

The most responsible choice is to place 1-2 percent of your bankroll on each bet. This method encourages you to focus on savoring the games instead of recklessly risking a huge chunk of your cash and increasing stress levels.

Understanding Odds

Betting odds are numbers that represent an oddsmaker's view (how likely an event is to occur) on a particular match, contest, or prop. They also indicate the amount bettors must risk to win a specific quantity.

The three popular types of odds are American, fractional and decimal. American odds (also known as moneyline odds) are the most commonly found on U.S. sportsbooks. Some sportsbooks offer the option to display all three types.

  • List Icon

    American: +100

  • List Icon

    Fractional: 1/1

  • List Icon

    Decimal: 2.00

Knowing how the odds work is critical for betting and making informed selections. It would be careless to stake blindly without understanding them. Learning the ins and outs will assist you in locating value bets along with setting reasonable goals, mixing odds with favorites and longshots, skipping out on poor wagers and conducting proper research.

Identify the Best Betting Lines

It is highly advised that you compare odds from various bookmakers. This is widely known as odds shopping. Many betting websites offer odds shopping tools that provide the odds for each game or prop on one page, allowing you to discover which bookmaker has the best line.

Odds shopping is essential when building strategies for sports betting since every cent matters. Even the slightest differences in odds across betting sites can significantly impact long-term results. By comparing odds, you may ensure you're receiving the highest value for yourself, increasing your potential payout and decreasing the size of your loss if the bet doesn't prevail. This routine is especially important for professional, standard and beginner punters who wish to make better bets.

screenshot of draftkings odds shopping example 2 desktop
(Source: DraftKings)
screenshot of fanduel odds shopping example 1 desktop
(Source: FanDuel)

Use Data

Using data and researching lines is a must. If you were to bet on an NBA player prop, such as Jaylen Brown, over 7.5 rebounds (-136), checking his recent game logs is just the start of your research. You’ll see how he did over his last five games, but it’s more important to see how many rebounding opportunities he’s averaging, how many rebounds and rebound opportunities he’s averaging versus the team he’s playing, how many rebounds the opponent gives up to his position and who will be guarding him.

Those are a few examples of in-depth data that needs to be used. There are tons of resources online, including top expert picks from professional cappers who research and bet for a living.

Comparing their expert advice and reading their picks is a great way not only to tail their bets but analyzing their writeups can teach you things on your betting journey and show you how they conduct their research.

There are both subscription-based and free analyses all over the internet. Analytical models and projection sites should also be used to see how players are projected to perform. Many of them share the expected value and edge (detailed percentages if they’re positive or negative) so you have an insight into whether it’s worth betting on the specific line.

Many cappers tweet out their picks on X. Turning notifications on for your favorites allows you to see their picks before the lines shift.

Stay Away from Parlay Bets

Consistently wagering on parlays is widely regarded as a bad betting strategy because it combines numerous individual bets into a single larger bet, requiring every pick to be successful for the parlay to be paid off. While parlays have the appeal of huge winnings because of their higher odds, the danger increases with every leg you add to the slip.

The likelihood of winning reduces considerably when additional bets are made, making it far more difficult to complete a successful parlay. Furthermore, bookmakers often charge a bigger margin for parlays, which means the odds offered are far less favorable than for individual bets. This inherent disadvantage, along with the increased difficulty of winning, renders parlays an unreliable and frequently unsuccessful betting strategy in the long term.

We’re not saying to stay away from them altogether, just to limit and bet them responsibly.

Be an Expert Regarding a Team/League

A thorough understanding of a specific sports league makes you a far more knowledgeable bettor. This lets you look beyond just the point spread or money line and explore variables that may sway the game in an unexpected fashion. Injuries, recent performance streaks (team or player), player matchups, and coaching matchups can all affect the outcome. Mastering the complexities of the league allows you to uncover potential betting possibilities that the bookmaker may have missed, providing you an advantage over the standard bettor.

The following advanced sports betting strategies are excellent to know. Mixing them can help you become a balanced handicapper.

Hedging Bets

Hedging bets can help you guarantee at least a small profit in certain scenarios, especially regarding a futures bet. If done properly, it minimizes risk and secures gains.

For example, if you bet on an NFL team during the preseason at high odds to win the Super Bowl and they reach it. As the season goes on and they start winning, their odds will massively decrease. You might’ve taken them at 28-1 to win it all, but after Week 14, they might be down to 5-1 and, in the big game itself, -150. In this case, you’d place a bet on their opposition to lock in a guaranteed profit. Obviously, if you let it ride, you might end up with a huge payout, but some bettors prefer to hedge a certain amount, which many use as a strategy. Hedging calculators are excellent tools to use in this scenario.

Suppose you take a favorite due to their winning record and recent impressive play. Yet, there is always a chance of an upset. Putting a modest hedge bet on the underdog might reduce your risk of losing if anything unforeseen transpires. You may not win much on the wager, but the hedge keeps you from losing your full bet.

Not every circumstance offers strong hedging possibilities. The lines may not align for a lucrative hedge, or the contest may not lend itself to hedging (such as certain single-game wagers).

Ultimately, hedging can be a sensible method for preserving a profit while minimizing risk. Yet, it is critical to utilize it sparingly and comprehend the possible trade-offs before hedging.

Creating Personalized Betting Lines

Making your “own” betting lines is a more complex sports betting strategy than simply using the odds supplied by the operator. It entails delving deeply into statistics, data, and past patterns and results to develop your own judgment of the likelihood of an occurrence. You can uncover possible mismatches by comparing your lines to the odds the bookmaker offers.

If your analysis reveals that a team is likelier to win than the odds indicate, you've found a value bet with a greater potential reward. This allows you to exploit discrepancies in the odds and acquire an advantage against the house. Remember that generating personalized odds requires strong expertise and cannot ensure success, but it can be a valuable tool for astute sports gamblers.

Personalized betting lines are also considered “alternate lines”. We’ll dive into this technique later in the NFL betting strategy section.

Fade the Public

Betting against the public can be an effective approach if done right. It takes advantage of market flaws and popular biases. It demands extensive research, a thorough understanding of wagering markets, and a knack for recognizing when mass opinion has produced value on the opposing side.

This fading strategy is predicated on the idea that most of the public frequently makes illogical, emotional and impractical choices when picking a favorite, resulting in inflated favorites and discounted underdogs.

Because betting websites modify lines to balance sportsbooks, punting versus the public can occasionally result in higher odds and possible value. This implies you may be able to receive an improved rate on an underdog or niche ticket that wouldn't have been possible.

Like every technique mentioned in this article, it is risky and should be utilized as a small part of a more comprehensive, informed betting strategy.


The technique of “Dutching” entails wagering on various outcomes in a contest to ensure a profit no matter what happens. Dutching involves determining the cost for each bet so that the overall payoff covers the potential loss of each wager, guaranteeing that a single winning bet offsets the losses of the rest.

For example, if you're putting down money at a horse race and want to Dutch, you might wager on multiple horses instead of merely one, dividing your entire wager between them based on their lines.

Dutching calculators are commonly used to make these calculations easier and faster. Dutching may prove useful in markets consisting of fluctuating lines and when a chance for profit presents itself in multiple scenarios.

The primary benefit of Dutching is the control of risks, which decreases the possibility of squandering an entire bet. Still, it has drawbacks, like the possibility of low profit margins and the hassle of handling several slips.

Plus, certain bookies may limit how much you can bet on specific outcomes, which causes the strategy to take a hit. Even with the drawbacks, Dutching might be an effective strategy for experienced players seeking steady, yet miniscule profits.

Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion is a method that measures the percentage of your existing bankroll that should be staked on a specific wager in order to maximize long-term growth. It balances risk and reward by considering the probability of winning, the odds of the bet and the likelihood of losing.

We’ll use a scenario in the following picture of BetMGM’s Eastern Conference Finals game 3 matchup between the Celtics and Pacers. If you believe the Celtics have a 55% chance of covering the spread, this is how the Kelly Criterion would calculate what percentage of your bankroll you should bet. We’ll say you have a bankroll of $1,000.

BetMGM Celtics Kelly Criterion screenshot desktop
(Source: BetMGM)

The Kelly Criterion formula is: f= bp-q/b To explain it, we’ll show it typed out: (Decimal Odds – 1) x Decimal Winning Percentage – (1 – Winning Percentage)) / (Decimal Odds – 1) x Kelly Multiplier

  • List Icon

    f is the percentage of your bankroll you need to bet on the Celtics.

  • List Icon

    b are the odds received (odds – 1). In this case: -110. We then convert it to decimal format, which is 1.909. We subtract 1 from 1.909, which leaves .909. So: 1.909 – 1 = 0.909

  • List Icon

    p equals the probability of the Celtics covering. In this example, 55%, which converted to a decimal is 0.55.

  • List Icon

    q is the probability of Boston NOT covering. In this example, it’s 45% which is 0.45.


  • List Icon

    f = (0.909×0.55)−0.45/0.909

  • List Icon

    f = 0.49995−0.45/0.909

  • List Icon

    f = 0.04995/0.909

  • List Icon

    f ≈ 0.0549, which is equivalent to 5.49% of the bankroll.

According to the Kelly Criterion formula, you would bet 5.49% (5.5%) of your bankroll on the Celtics to cover the 6.5-point spread because you believe they have a 55% edge. If your bankroll were $1,000, the wager would be $55.

Kelly Criterion Calculator

There are tons of Kelly Criterion Calculators available across the web for free, so you don’t have to calculate everything. It’s important to remember that sometimes the calculator will recommend betting a massive portion, such as 25% of your bankroll for underdogs with odds of around +150, for example. This is an extremely risky play and isn’t recommended. Using the calculator for bets closer to even money allows it to put out smaller percentages.

Risks of the Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion is susceptible to being improperly utilized in sports betting if bettors aren't good at estimating win or loss probabilities (already very difficult), resulting in incorrect bet sizes. A punter overestimating their edge is a prevalent mistake that may rapidly destroy a bankroll. In addition, the high variance present in wagering can result in huge immediate losses that the Kelly Criterion fails to account for, either psychologically or fiscally.

Overlooking transaction expenses and wagering limits enforced by sportsbooks can further skew ideal stake sizes. Another factor is the calculation assumes that all gains will be reinvested, which obviously may not be the case for all handicappers. The last factor we'll mention is that failing to employ more conservative techniques could expose gamblers to high levels of risk.

In this section, we’ll provide both generic and in-depth strategy tips for different sports leagues. Each bettor must formulate different sports betting strategies they deem successful. There isn’t an exact strategy that guarantees success.

NBA Betting Strategy

If you’re wanting to bet on the NBA, become a basketball guru. The deeper you learn about the NBA landscape, the more you'll benefit. This consists of organization weaknesses and strengths, the rules of basketball, matchups between players, coaching styles, and recent patterns in performance.

Researching and understanding data is also imperative. The tips mentioned in this article's “Use Data” section are prime examples of what data to study before staking an NBA player prop.

Other key details to be aware of are if a team is playing back-to-back nights because a coach might take the load off his star players and rest them. This provides opportunities for other players to fill the stats sheet (great for player props) or for opposing teams to upset. It also can affect the scoring total.

MLB Betting Strategy

One key aspect of MLB betting is to focus on the starting pitchers. They greatly impact the outcome, so researching their recent form, prior performances versus other ball clubs and how fresh they are is critical. Another technique is to compare team success against different types of pitchers (righties vs. lefties) to discover value in matchups.

Paying attention to bullpen strength is also imperative to look for, as late-game performance can frequently affect the final score. Weather variables, such as the speed and direction of the wind, can also impact who wins. Analyzing the underdogs in certain circumstances, like if they boast a quality starting pitcher or have home-field advantage, can provide an edge compared to the books' odds.

NFL Betting Strategy

The NFL is the most popular sport to bet on in America. It offers a plethora of betting markets from moneylines, spreads and totals to player props such as yardage totals and anytime touchdown scorers.

One key feature that should be taken advantage of is the alternate lines sportsbooks offer. Bettors can “buy half a point or a point.” For example, in a rivalry game that’s historically low scoring between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, if the Ravens are 2.5-point favorites at -110, and you think the Steelers will lose by a field goal, then buying a point is worth it.

Buying a point moves the Pittsburgh spread from +2.5 to +3.5. If you buy half a point to +3, and it loses by a field goal, your bet is a push. You’re going to pay either -120 or -130 in most cases, but many NFL games do come down to the wire. If you took the +3.5 and the Steelers went on to lose 20-17 (by a field goal), you’d cash your bet.

The same scenario goes for teams favorited at -6.5 or underdogs at +6.5. For example, if you think the favorite will win by a touchdown, then bet on the 6.5-point favorite. Should you believe the underdog won’t lose by more than a touchdown, buy a point and move their line to +7.5.

Player props are also an excellent market to take advantage of. If you like betting on wide receiver yards, then research how the receiver does against certain defenses, how the opposing cornerback plays vs. top receivers. Make sure to also analyze the game script. If the yardage total is extremely high for WR Deebo Samuel of the 49ers against a massive underdog, San Francisco win in a rout and run more. This would lean towards taking Samuel’s under.

Alternate yards parlays are also common. Two running backs might have eclipsed 50 yards rushing in 9/10 contests. They might both average around 90 yards per game, so parlaying them at -245 and -255 (combined odds: -104) to achieve near-even money might be worth it.

NHL Betting Strategy

A solid betting strategy for the NHL betting focuses on franchise form and matchups. Evaluate the latest developments, such as winning streaks and home and away records.

Away teams have historically performed well in the NHL, winning around 41% of games. This offers value for away underdogs especially when the public is siding with the home favorite.

Goaltending is crucial in hockey. Thus, always keep track of the goalie stats, as an outstanding goaltender could have a huge impact on the contest's outcome. Assess teams' performance in different scenarios, such as power plays and their penalty kill effectiveness. It's also useful to track injuries, particularly to star players, and how teams play when faced with back-to-back games on the schedule.

There are many markets for player props, such as the number of shots on goal for certain players or the anytime goalscorer. Find the averages, recent game logs, how often a player shoots against one team, and how often they score against a certain opponent. You should also research how other teams allow specific positions to perform in these categories.

Golf Betting Strategy

When betting on golf, it’s tempting for many punters to try and sprinkle bets on long shots to win since some odds can reach as high numbers such as 300-1.

Taking a golfer to win outright is extremely challenging, especially with about 150 golfers in the field at a normal PGA Tour event.

If you’re going to build an outright betting card, it’s important to mix in favorites, longshots and players in the middle of the pack (odds-wise). You want to even out your bets evenly so you don’t overexpose yourself. A golf card usually consists of six golfers. It can have slightly more or less but needs the unit sizing needs to match up.

The worst thing you can do is bet on too many players in the field, without taking the insurance we mention below, and a golfer who isn’t on your card wins.

The safest markets to bet on are H2H matchups, where two golfers face off on the book, and the one with the lower score at the end of the tournament wins.

Finishing positions are also a safer option than outrights. This includes picking a golfer to finish in either the top 40, 30, 20, 10, or 5 at conclusion of the event. You can also do this with golfers you have bet outright as insurance.

Topics to research for betting players include their history on the course they're playing, how they perform on similar courses, how they putt on the type of grass the greens have and how the golfer does in different conditions. Some courses suit bombers off the tee, while others suit players who are excellent ball strikers.

The picture below featuring Bet365’s live odds of the Charles Schwab Challenge shows live finishing positions. If you thought Brian Harman, who has played well historically at Colonial Country Club, had a good chance of finishing inside the top 10 (he was in a tie for second and one shot behind the solo leader Charley Hoffman at the time of the picture), then he might be worth a bet at -120.

screenshot of bet365 Golf bet tips desktop
(Source: bet365 odds correct as at May 24, 2024 04:43)

These three methods are not proven to work and involve increasing bet sizes. All three can cause enormous losses, be extremely stressful and result in errors of judgment.

  1. Martingale System

    The Martingale System is a sports betting strategy first developed in the 18th century that focuses on chasing losses. You place a tiny bet on any even-money wager (for example, a coin flip). Should you fail, you then double the stake amount on the next bet. The goal is to ultimately win a wager and recover all of your past losses and earn a modest profit.

    Nevertheless, the Martingale approach fails due to two major flaws. First, there is no assurance you will win before running out of funds. Losing streaks are easily possible, especially with a +100 wager (50% implied odds). Second, just because you bet on a team to win and ended up losing a few times doesn't mean you're “due” for a triumph.

    Depending on the stakes, sportsbooks impose betting limits on certain quantities, so it might not even be possible to continue rolling over bets. As stated, this is an awful strategy and is not recommended.

  2. The Negative Progression System

    The negative progression method is a sports betting technique in which you raise the wager size following each defeat. Some bettors find it appealing as it makes you believe you're due for the win and can regain all of the damage with a single bet. There are several variants of this strategy, such as the Martingale method, but they all have the same issues.

    The faults of the Negative Progression System are practically identical to those coinciding with the Martingale System.

  3. The Labouchere System

    The Labouchere system generates a number sequence and bets on the sum of the first and last figures. Should you win, you cross those numbers out. When you fall short, you add the wager amount at the end of the sequence. Although it looks to be structured, it is ineffective because it rapidly increases the size of wagers during losing runs, exposing players to significant losses.

    This approach does not change the underlying probabilities or negate the sportsbook's advantage (vig). Furthermore, increased stakes can cause fiscal and mental strain, resulting in errors in judgment. Ultimately, it is not a viable long-term betting strategy.

Using a mix of techniques and understanding how they work can help when making decisions at the sportsbook. Sports betting strategies for beginners and experts alike should be well-rounded. We aren’t advising the use of any specific one in this article. Do so at your own risk.

Should you decide to use any, they’re permissible at any legal U.S. sportsbook. Some of the most popular bookmakers include FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, Bet365 and Borgata.

Having a sports betting strategy is vital to making your money last longer and giving you a chance at success. Remember to try to find value by conducting in-depth research, focusing more on straight bets, using odds boosters for certain bets you find attractive, and taking early cashouts when necessary. Stay disciplined and stick to your bankroll.

Please bet responsibly. Never wager money you can’t afford, set limits for yourself and never chase losses.

There isn’t one effective specific sports betting strategy that is considered the best. Combining different strategies and gambling responsibly can help prevent you from quickly losing your bankroll.

The all-in betting strategy is an extremely risky method in which you wager your whole bankroll on a single bet. This is done consecutively (over and over) in the hopes of building a huge bankroll. Obviously, if you win 10 bets in a row, you'll have made a ton of money, but the probability is that you'll lose everything quickly. Low odds bets and specific markets like totals in soccer are the two focuses of it. This is clearly the farthest example from a proven sports betting strategy.

In-play betting is another name for live betting. It's a wager type where you can stake games already happening. It offers a fascinating element to watching a game by allowing you to react to what's happening and by betting on it in real-time. Sportsbooks often offer standard wagers as well as player props for this market.

Handicappers enjoy betting on scenarios such as a heavy favorite going down early. They’ll receive much better live odds since the favorite is losing rather than the juiced pregame line.

The 31-betting strategy is an approach specifically created for blackjack. It calculates your bet size using a series of numbers (usually 1-1-1-4-8-16). If you win, you double your next bet. Should you lose, then you move on to the next number in the order. The idea is to gradually increase your bankroll through tiny wins while potentially recovering losses fast with bigger wagers. Yet, it can be risky since a few losses can quickly empty your bankroll.

The 2 odds betting strategy concentrates on bets with odds of about 2.0, equating to around a 50% probability of succeeding. The goal is to pick wagers where the odds appear somewhat off, providing you an advantage over the operator. By focusing primarily on close-to-even-money wagers and winning frequently, you can steadily increase your bankroll as time passes. Still, it takes patience and a high winning percentage to triumph over the minor house edge that remains in these plays.

WRITTEN BY Lawrence Smelser View all posts by Lawrence Smelser

Whether it's dissecting the latest player stats or offering insightful commentary on emerging betting markets, Lawrence delivers sharp analysis with a dash of wit. His expertise and coverage extends across many sports leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, PGA Tour and international soccer, ensuring readers receive well-rounded insights from a global perspective.

Further reading © 2006-2024