In this article I'm going to share my view on the several factors that may affect your success in sports betting.
I hope to get the message across and expect you to comment in case you don't agree with something.
I also wish to express my gratitude to Paulo Rebelo (who I haven't yet had the pleasure to meet in person), as well as to the moderators and users for the help they have always provided.
In a more personal level, I wish to thank my wife and child for putting up with my long absences since I have devoted myself to this. But I'm sure they see this as a family investment!
Factors that may influence success in sports betting and trading:
Method / Discipline:
Sure enough, there will always be unexpected situations and of great stress (for example: we have a bet which is in the red at the moment). It's not easy to keep calm in such situations and think rationally. This can only be achieved through accumulated experience over dozens or hundreds of matches.
To act on impulse or to freeze will surely have negative expected value. Therefore, it's important to have discipline.
Concentration / ability to react:
Live events are more demanding, since the markets are more dynamic. Therefore, the ability to pay attention to several factors and details during the match is fundamental (E.g.: quickly back a team that has a corner kick in favour, before the odds drop too much, since many traders will do the same and there won't be many Lays available).
Obviously this is more important in trading, since punters keep their bets throughout the match.
Mastery of hardware and software skills:
Since bets are placed through computers, tablets or cell phones, it's important to have a good understanding of the equipment used, as well as the software.
For example, it's important to know how to install software (like bots), how to create, access and manage accounts, or how to find the information you need on the internet.
Mastery of the English language:
It's ever more important to succeed in this global market, since English has become a sort of lingua franca.
Internet sites, Software, technical terms, manuals, techniques... almost anything is available in English.
Obviously in some markets that may not be the case, so knowledge of other languages may also be very useful. So mastery of Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc., may be of good value. The Portuguese are particularly fortunate in this respect, since mastery of several languages, particularly English, is common.
Passion for the sport (it makes it easier to understand the sport and keep up to date):
To enjoy the sport we bet on is fundamental to stay in touch with recent news with less effort. If we like the sport we're more likely to keep up to date on anything related to it.
Are there any injured players? What did the coach have to say before the match? What is the current form moment of both teams? What effect will this substitution have?
All of these questions and many more are easier to answer when you like the sport...
Having the right equipment (particularly in moments of crisis):
Since the equipment we use is fundamental for our work, things get complicated when something brakes down and losses may be substantial.
Obviously it's not easy to have two of everything... but we should always have a plan B when something brakes down!
What to do in case of a power failure? (Having a UPS or a laptop may solve the problem)
What if you lose your internet connection? (having a mobile internet service may do the trick)
What if the computer brakes down? (having another computer or a smartphone may be useful)
Personally, I believe a good smartphone with an internet connection may solve almost all of these problems. I didn't have one until recently I tested one and was readily convinced. It's the easiest and cheapest way to solve all of these problems.
This is the single most important thing to master in sports betting.
But what is bank management after all?
In a nut shell, it consists of defining how we invest our money (bank).
There isn't a perfect strategy that fits all. The best way to invest our money depends on our risk profile. Those who are risk prone will prefer risking a higher percentage of the bank, while other may feel more comfortable risking a smaller percentage. There is no right or wrong, as Paulo Rebelo says: “It DEPENDSE!”
Which is the maximum amount you should bet? In my opinion it's important to set a limit and always respect it. Again, there is no consensus on this, it depends on our individual traits. Personally I'm conservative and don't like to risk more than 5% of my bank on a single bet, but in time I'm willing to progressively risk a higher percentage of my bank.
I know some are comfortable betting 10% or 15% of their bank, but that sounds too risky to me!
There are some people who simply don't have the intellectual maturity to succeed in sports betting. I'm not saying they'll never have this intellectual maturity, they may learn from their mistakes and develop it, but the way some people enter this world is clearly catastrophic.
Obviously, we don't all have the same skills. No matter how much I try, I'll never be like Cristiano Ronaldo. It doesn't depend on working hard or studying. It's an innate condition (you either have it or you don't). You must have an innate capacity for this and develop it through hard work, if you don't, it doesn't matter how much you try. You'll never make it!
It's not enough to read a few things, try this and that and get the Holy Grail.
Success... failure... mistakes... frustration... regrets... sadness... joy... inflated ego... low ego. Managing all of these emotions isn't easy!
To have intellectual maturity is, in my view, paramount to have consistent gains. In fact, I'd say it's the most important factor amongst all of those I've mentioned.
Study the market (learn how the odds behave):
As I've said before, it's important to study. But what should you study?
Study how the market behaves after certain events and how you should react.
Learn as much as you can about the sport events you bet on (in as much detail as possible). Sometimes, the smallest things may have a great impact. Those who have access to the most information will have an advantage over the rest and are more likely to get +EV.
For example: Paulo Rebelo, knowing team X scores many goals in set pieces, places a Lay bet on the current score (1.04 odd, I believe). The free kick results on a corner and then... goal! He won 25 times (yes, 25!) his stake. Now that is a value bet!
To have an advantage on access to pertinent information is a key success factor.
Among the blinds the one-eyed man is king.
Find your market/method (your cup of tea):
There are hundreds and hundreds of methods and alternatives. However, none will guarantee you success.
Note: by method I mean some sort of rule you follow when betting on a given market.
From my experience, to specialize on 1 or 2 markets will increase your chances of getting +EV.
Why is it? Because you'll have a more profound knowledge of the market and will evolve more quickly, increasing your chances to succeed.
The problem is that it isn't easy to find your cup of tea. To do so takes time and patience, which is another reason why it's fundamental to have intellectual maturity.
Be wise (don't act on impulse):
I see this as emotional intelligence. But what is it after all?
It's the ability to act and react coldly in a market, to make wise decisions in moments of stress, to control our emotions so they don't turn on us.
For example: we Back the Under 4.5 with 10% of our bank but there is goal, and then another, so the "red" gets higher and higher. These situations tend to happen when we don't have emotional control, because we don't think rationally and close position with a smaller loss... Instead we place more bets to try to recover the loss, without even analysing the match to be sure we're not making it worse. It has happened to me 2 or 3 times, but I think I've learned my lesson. My bank surely appreciates it!
In moments of stress you must learn how to stop and take a loss. If you do so it'll be easier to read the market and get back on the horse!
Justify all the bets you place:
This is a great advice by Paulo Rebelo that I'm sure many don't follow. Believe, justifying your bets will help control those negative EV impulse bets.
Let me share my personal experience. Since I've started justifying my bets I reduced exposure (I no longer place bets and forget about them). By doing so I have reduced my greens, but I've reduced my reds even more. Sometimes I still get the urge to place punting bets when I'm not present to follow the matches. This weekend I had a few bets placed (above the odds available at the moment) and I was ready to leave my house. But then I thought it through and concluded I was going against my own rules and cancelled the bets. I wasn't ready to risk my money based on a hunch if I didn't have the opportunity to follow the matches live.
Analyse your greens, but most of all your reds:
This will help you understand what you've done right and, most importantly, what you've done wrong. It will help you reflect on your bets and correct your mistakes, evolving through experience.
I have a notebook in which I write everything down...
Control your ambition/greed:
This is another key point. Greed will have a negative effect on the rational analysis you should make all the time.
Not assuming a small red, which then turns into a bigger one, or not closing a green, which may turn into a red, are atitudes usually motivated by greed.
I'm sure we've all had big reds because we didn't close our position when it was a small one and that we didn't close small greens that turned into reds.
But when should we close our position? Lol... It DEPENDS!
It depends on what?
So many things! It depends on our risk profile, on our analysis of the event, on the stake...
Be ready to close position with a red and moments later the match changing in favour of the position you've just closed. But remember that the opposite is also true! That is, you may close your position with a green and moments later the match changing against the position you closed, which means you avoided a big loss.
Know when to close position with a small green:
Suppose you enter the match odds market with a X odd Back bet.
Team X scores a goal and you get a green of 60% of your stake if you close position.
What should you do? Close position with a smaller green or hold on to the bet and risk losing it all?
This is one of the advices that has been harder to follow! I've lost many bets because I didn't follow this advice!
My view (and the view of experienced people, like Paulo Rebelo) is that you should close position after a goal. Whatever happens you'll have earned your money.
After closing position, analyse the match and the markets to find more value bets. If there aren't any, don't bet. Knowing when to do nothing is also of good value. As Paulo Rebelo says, the money you don't lose is as important as the money you win!
Accept reds and avoid chasing (it may be disastrous):
Sometimes, it's better to close position with a red than to lose the whole stake. Obviously, closing position or not will depend on your analysis of the market and of the match, as well as the stake and the limit you've set on the red you're willing to accept.
Opening and closing positions without a rational analysis may be disastrous. Frequent opening and closing positions should only be done by experienced traders, when done by beginners it will surely lead to losses.
Quoting VEDA (in a moment of inspiration):
"Regarding risk profiles when dealing with reds, it's important to understand that there is no such thing as zero reds in trading. No matter how much emotional control you believe you have, reds always affect your emotions and rational analysis ability. This means that, ideally, reds should have no impact on your emotions. It's not impossible to achieve this, but it's very hard. So before you master the markets, you should learn how to deal with your emotions."
Constantly analyse the market (how is it behaving at the moment and how is it going to evolve...):
In my modest opinion, this is a hard skill to master. It takes hard work, patience and experience.
Setting a Stake value:
When placing a bet, the value of your stake should never be higher than the amount you can afford to lose!
Don't risk a high percentage of your bank in a single bet. No matter how likely you are to win, there is always a chance you may lose.
It's not about being optimistic or pessimistic, it's about being balanced.
Allow yourself time to achieve all of this:
Needless to say, as everything in life, success doesn't happen overnight, it takes hard work.
Don't expect to get immediate results, without a profound knowledge of all of the factors I've mentioned. That just isn't possible!
All of the successful traders I know agree that it takes months or years of hard work to succeed... keep it in mind!
There is no absolute truth in sports betting. But there are clearly wrong tracks that are sure to lead to ruin. On the contrary, there are others that will favour +EV!