7 Steps To Winning At Sports Betting 18,106 views

7 Steps to Winning at Sports Betting

By RenoChazz

1. Patience and Discipline

Before getting into things like money management and the ability to pick winners, you must decide if this is something you really want to put a lot of time into. If you're getting entertainment value out of it, going through the ups and downs, and all the time spent behind a computer studying new information, trying to get it right, might get in the way of the entertainment value you once had. For example, three times a year I like to stay at the casino and play black jack. I have no intentions of learning systems, or counting cards. I'm there because I get to be social, meet new people, and have free cocktails delivered in large quantities, by hot waitresses in skimpy outfits. Of course part of the rush is knowing there's a chance I might get it all for free, but the thought of staying sober, zoning everyone out, to make a profit, would completely destroy the enjoyment I get out of it. If being entertained isn't your main concern when it comes to sports betting, then you're ready for step two.

2. Money Management

Money management is probably one of the most important things to learn first. Some will say money management is useless if you can't pick winners and not the most important thing. I do agree with that, but before you can learn to win correctly, you must learn to lose correctly. Minimizing losses is imperative while learning, or trying new systems. There's no shame in betting ten or even five dollars a game while on your journey figuring out how to pick winners. I do think it is important to have something on it though. Being able to get the best number, and pretending to get the best number can be two different things. So what's good money management? For beginners I suggest betting 1% flat bets while using a small bank roll. Learning to pick winners could take years, and its best to lose the least possible, all the while saving a separate amount of cash for the big bank roll you will need once you can pick winners. Once you get to the promise land and have a large sample size to look at, you can decide whether going full-Kelly, or using variation unit sizes that best fit your abilities to maximize profits. One misstep is over valuing your bet size with variations. Make sure your sample size is big enough to justify your variations.

3. Picking Winners

While some people have the natural ability to look at the board and pick winners, most of us will need to take a mathematical approach of some kind. Some will use trends and stats, I suggest that before coming up with a good mathematical approach you must first come up with a way to make your own power rankings. Be creative, try to think of things when doing your power rankings that most might not be considering. For instance basing your power rankings, on pitching in baseball may not be the way to go.

A: Filters

Once you find a power ranking system that gets you close or a little over breaking even its time to use some filters. Again be creative, try to find connections between your winners and losers, and back track it. Maybe you noticed that plays that are juiced above -150 are costing you, or maybe its super huge dogs, what ever it is, get rid of those plays. Look at the public, know who they're on, maybe there's a correlation with your losers or winners that can be used as a filter. Dissect your large sample with a fine microscope, leave no stone unturned.

B: Regression to the mean

Another thing to consider when trying to find a system or filter that works. Not saying that some teams are due to win or lose, but like the stock market buying low and selling high are important things to consider. Bad teams may have value, while good teams will be juiced to a flaw.

4. Education

A: Read

Educate yourself! Read anything you can get your eyes on, pertaining to sports betting. While 99% of it will be junk, there's always that 1%, that diamond in the rough, that will change the way you do things for the better, and make you money.

B: Associate with winners

When I was in the Marine Corps, my commanding officer told me something I will never forget.

"No matter what situation you're in, no matter how bad, someone else has been there before, there really are no unique situations anymore. Even if most failed under the same circumstances, you'll always find someone that has succeeded against all odds. Find out how he did it and emulate him."

While this was pertaining to the battle field it can also be applied to anything in life. There are plenty of great sports bettors on this site, many of them have already been through it. They know how to win. Guys like Mike McClain, Takeo, Horsburg, CashMagician, The Contrarian, Custom ect.. Pick their brains. They've made all the mistakes they've done the trial and error. Sure they may not give up their most sacred secrets, but they may point you in the right direction. Remember a little bit of flattery goes a long way.

Never stop learning. The moment you stop learning, things become tedious and boring. Who wants a boring job?

5. Line movement

Just how important is understanding line movement? Very important! For example take two winning betters that have the exact same picks. One has ten outs for line shopping but zero understanding of line movement, the other has one out but has line movement mastered. The guy who has line movement mastered will get the best line that the one book offers, the guy with ten outs, but strikes at the wrong times, will more times than not get a worse line than the guy with one out.

Line movement can be a tricky thing to understand, and really takes a lot of dedication to fully get it. Different things can cause line movement. Injuries, syndicates, sharp money, public money, and Big money. Finding the right time to strike on a play can make you ton more money! An easy beginners way to do this is to find a sharp book, and follow their movements. Have your plays ready. As soon as this book moves against you it's time to strike. If this sharp book never moves against your play, it may be a good idea to pass on your play. (Hint this could make a great filter)

6. Have multiple outs

While understanding line movement is more important, it's still important to have multiple outs. Once you've found the perfect time to strike, having multiple outs and getting the best line available at that time will make you even more money. Getting -120 instead of -125 is so important. Imagine you have 500 winning plays betting a dime in a year. Missing out on that 5 extra points just cost you $16,500. Would you throw that kind of money away?

7. Beating the closing line

What is beating the closing line? Click on your profile, view a pick. Look at the odds you got, then click on it and look at the closing line. Is the number you got a bigger payout? Did you miss out on a better number? If you're missing out more often than not, you have work to do. Even if you're raking it in, if you're not beating the closing number, you're leaving money on the table and may want to consider a new striking method.

Lets recap.

1. Patience and Discipline

2. Money Management

3. Picking Winners

4. Education

5. Line Movement

6. Having Multiple Outs

Odds are, if you're doing all these things correctly you're also doing number 7, beating the closing line.

Beating the closing line = Winning

Good Luck everyone, and get some winners,


Edited 2/11/14 at 5:19PM by Patrick - Removed "for" reference.

Outstanding Reno, one of the best articles I've ever read on this site.
Thanks Mike, means a lot coming from you.
For my first post on, I have to say that this is the BEST article I have ever read, in regards to sports betting.
This post is no longer available.

Awesome article!! Thanks, all the best.

Picking winners is over rated, without discipline and proper money management you can pick 80% and still be a loser.
Great article! The layout is in a way that lets members know what they should be studying. It would help even more if you would give advice on where to research on each topic. Such as products or books you've found that may have helped you. As you mentioned 99% of the info out there is junk but 1% of it you may find those gold nuggets.
Well written, to turn a profit in the long run it is paramount that you beat the closing number. The closing number is generally the correct number, meaning that it splits the result in half. Beating the closing number ensures that you are on the "sharp side," and that you will win at a high enough percentage to make a living doing it.
This article just perfectly summarizes how every of us should work to beat the bookies :)! Thx for it Reno!

Since the article was for everyone but concentrated on those who want to begin to handicap their own games, the advice on betting 1% was great.

One only needs a winning proficiency of 105/205 = 51.22% to break even at 5Dimes who'll take -105 action up to a wager size of $250. Internet bets can be as small as $0.50

At the -105 offered by 5Dimes a 1% Kelly Bet would equate to a winning proficiency of 51.51%.

Great way for the beginner to see just how tough it is to beat the 11/10 and the 21/20 as well as to go through a sustained losing streak. Betting small as the article's author recommended figuratively allows the novice handicapper to "get their sea legs" and realize this is no piece of cake.

The other advice of the article's author that I like is to start your handicapping with "power ratings" and then look for filters. Prepackaged Power Ratings like Dunkel & DCI don't do the trick alone... nor do the Power Ratings of newsletters like the Gold Sheet, Pointwise, Mike Lee or Power Sweep/Power Plays.

They do not even beat the -105 line by following them but you can gauge MOVEMENT in the Power Ratings to look at how a team is "improving" or "deteriorating" ATS and then go to the local online newspapers to ascertain why.

Just a terrific article; I committed the contents to a Microsoft Word Document

I want to read it again myself a couple of times.... thanks for the effort & expense of energy, RenoChazz.


I totally agree with beating the closing number. That is how the offshore books who do limit player action will determine whether to put restrictions on you or not.

Never mind what your win/loss record is... if at 30 minutes before the line closes, an offshore book sees that you are consistently beating the closing line by 1 point or 1' points, you're going to end up having restrictions placed on your action.

Great point to bring to mind... it requires the novice handicapper to "perform an autopsy" on all wagering events to see where he got the best of the line movement or did not. Not a bad idea to "perform an autopsy" for any number of reasons...but as both you & the article's author pointed out, it is "critical" in temrs of beating the closing number/line.

Beating the closing number is key. Something I've started documenting is time stamping all my plays, with the date and time the best line was available at Pinnacle for that play. Not sure yet how I will use this information, thought maybe of getting an average, or seeing how it relates to different sports, with dogs and totals. Finding the average day and time of the week to place bets in the NFL as it relates to your style, may come in handy. Even if they're all over the place, finding that average time couldn't hurt.

The late handicapper, Mike Lee said the public never met a "favorite" that it didn't like.

It doesn't work all the time or even most of the time in the pro games but it does work some of the time... bet favorites early in the day and bet dogs close to the line closing.

As you yourself pointed out in that article, an enormous sum can be saved by just looking for that extra $0.05 or the 1/2 point.

I try to look at a consensus closing line to help me evaluate what I was actually thinking at the time that I made my wager and then keep track of things from there.


Great stuff here, Reno.

Another aspect worth mentioning is trying to refrain from chasing losses or trying to "steamroll" gains, but I guess both might be included in the "patience & discipline" arena.

Great post! as a fairly new handicapper it is very helpful!
The article is great for someone who wants to get into sports betting, but doesn't know exactly what to look for. Like many have stated above, the article tells you what approach to take as a new handicapper, but does not explicitly give away all the secrets which can only be learned through experience.

In my opinion however, one key piece of advice has been forgotten. VOLUME! To me volume is everything. Why? Because any person could blindly pick -110 plays and have a reasonable chance of being close to .500. If you fancy yourself a "sharp" handicapper, betting a large volume maximizes your opportunity to cash in on your expertise in a particular sport if you feel you have an advantage (knowledge, system, etc.) over the house. Each day that I have been handicapping here at, my entire bankroll will be in play each day even though the bet size is limited (wisely) to a max of 5% of the initial $10,000 bankroll, and throughout the day I continue placing more wagers as I hit my winners.

In my effort to "beat the closing number", I spend an hour or two every evening looking at every page in the Fantasy Sportsbook for the next days events. This is how I attempt to get the best of the OPENING number before it moves and/or is manipulated by public, sharp, and BIG money wagers. Consider soccer, for example. Living in America, I do not have much access to pertinent information about International Club teams, but I have found marginal success handicapping these leagues. How do I attempt to do this? One of my favorite wagers to make on club soccer is the draw. You may look at this as a sucker bet, but I am not making only a single play on one draw. Rather, if I pick 3 draws at +200, and only 1 out of the 3 games ends in a draw, I am breaking even. This is just an example why I believe that volume, coupled with bankroll management, is the single most valuable tip that I have picked up over the past 10 years.


@beNBAsmith: I have to disagree. There are plenty of successful handicappers that thrive on quality over quantity. Two of the best I know of are Mike McClain and Takeo. Both choose quality games over quantity of games. To me, this is the most important quality that a handicapper can have. The ability to choose 1 quality game to wager 5 units on is worth more to me than choosing 10 games, wagering half a unit each, and hoping to hit half or better.

There are a few flaws I find in your response:

  1. You stated that you risk your entire bankroll each day with "wisely-sized" wagers of 5%. IMO, this is an oxymoron. Yes, it's smart to limit your wagers, although I think 5% is a bit high as a standard unit, but the flaw here is the part you state that you risk your entire bankroll each day. All it will take is one horrible day where you go 2-18 and be left with less than 10% of your initial bankroll. What then?
  2. You also state that ANY person can BLINDLY pick -110 games and be reasonably close to 50%. If you are basing that on the notion of flipping a coin a million times and getting close to half heads and half tails (the law of averages), you are mistaken. Picking games is not the same as flipping a coin. Each game has factors and aspects unique to that game. If you blindly pick games, you may very well go 1-19 or 2-18 on any given day. It would be the equivalent of flipping several coins of all different shapes, sizes, and weight. The unique aspects of each coin would be enough to skew the results to lean towards one side.
  3. Going back to your statement on volume. Another issue with risking your entire bankroll or the majority of your bankroll in one day is that it lacks risk management. A great article related to this point was written by Horsburgh here:

Your earliest picks recorded currently was from 4/12, just a few days ago. If you truly believe in your volume picking, by all means, continue and we'll see if you can keep it up in the long run. But think about this, what will you do when that one day comes where everything goes horribly wrong and you hit 2-18 on your first 20 picks?

It's not a matter of if it happens, the only question is when will it happen.


I appreciate the response Jonathan. I may have misspoke when I referenced the 5%, because I have not made any 4 or 5 unit picks yet. I was simply stating that 5% (5 units) is the maximum size wager allowed here, which is tremendous for teaching bankroll management.

To date, I have made 383 wagers, roughly 60-70 each day. Of those 383, only 9 have been 3 units, 38 have been 2 units, and the rest have been 1 unit. When I referenced the 50/50 "blind picking" I was only trying to convey my opinion that most -110 lines are posted so that the books are as near as possible to break-even. To me, this means that it is conceivable to pick every single favorite (or underdog) in every available line and have a REASONABLE, key word here, chance at being close to .500.

I also agree with you that quality of picks is more important than quantity. However, being new to the site and never having tracked my picks over a long period of time, I am attempting to grade myself and get a better understanding of which types of wagers I should make more of and which I should not. For this reason I have been limiting myself to making mostly 1 unit wagers until I gain more confidence by seeing success in specific areas.


60-70 wagers each day is still a lot, regardless of how many units you place on each. Hope you gain favorable results though.

I think the point I wanted to make (and probably strayed from) was that there are two types of handicappers: (1) the quality over quantity capper and (2) the quantity (wal-mart approach) capper. So it's unfair to state that volume is everything to a capper because that's simply an opinion, not a fact.


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