10 Golden Rules of Sports Betting

Sports betting might be a hobby to many folks, but it’s still real money that you wager, win or lose. If you’re like us, it’s not a lot of fun to watch your money leave your account and go riding off into the sunset.

Though sports betting is not yet legal in Massachusetts, here is a handy guide with rules for online sports betting in the event that the activity eventually becomes legal in the state. These rules aren’t negotiable. They aren’t bendable. They definitely aren’t breakable.

1. Have a strategy (and stick to it!)

Betting blind is a lot like taking a handful of money, walking out to the street and throwing it up in the air as a large truck drives by. You’ll watch it just flutter away in the draft, sucked down the road and away from you forever.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it? I mean, if it does, then you and I should have a chat and you can come and throw your money in the air by my house. But, if you’re like me and you don’t want to just make it rain George Washingtons, then you’re going to want a strategy.

Different bettors will have different strategies, and it’s OK to experiment. You should build a betting strategy that works for you. Solid sports betting strategies include:

However you develop your strategy, make sure it works for you and that you’re happy with it. If you’re not, then you’re not going to stick to it. And while you’re at it, don’t buy your sports betting picks from someone who “guarantees winners.” They’re called scamdicappers for a reason.

2. Bankroll management (be disciplined!)

Money, money, money. Sure, it’s a catchphrase of a cartoon crab who runs a burger joint at the bottom of the ocean, but it is also a key aspect of many activities, betting included. If you have money, it behooves you to keep it. If you want money, then you need to find ways to get it. But what is most important is that you don’t just throw it away on absolutely nothing.

When it comes to bankroll management, the key is being disciplined. You need to set a number that you’re comfortable with wagering and not go over that. Some people do daily amounts, and others have weekly or monthly budgets.

What is most important is to not go over your budget. That means even if you come across a “sure thing” when you’re wagering but you’ve already used all of your budget, you just have to take a deep breath and deal with it. If you ignore this and drop more money, you’re just one step closer to not having any to wager at all.

3. Don’t chase losses

Chasing losses is when you become so desperate to win your money back that you start wagering more and more. It’s often a quick way to financial ruin. Sure, technically this could have gone in the bankroll management section, but we think it is so stinkin’ important that we wanted to pull it out and give it a section of its own.

Sports betting should be a hobby, not a reason to quit your job and try to make that salary up on parlays. Chasing losses is a sign that you may be in need of some gambling help. You’re growing desperate. You’re starting to feel as though you just can’t afford to lose another bet — that you already lost more money than you could afford to.

That’s a horrible feeling, of course, and we don’t want anyone to end up in that position. However, if you find yourself there, you need to cease betting (delete your apps and block the site if you have to) and consider seeking assistance. The number for the National Council on Problem Gambling hotline is 800-522-4700, or you can text someone at that same number. More comfortable chatting online? You can visit ncpgambling.org/chat to receive assistance.

4. Understand what you are betting on

If you’re wagering on sports, you really need to make sure that you’re knowledgeable about the sports on which you’re betting. If you don’t know anything about that sport, you’re basically just guessing, and that can be a quick way to lose all of your money.

Instead, focus your betting on sports that you watch, enjoy, and have at least a basic understanding of. We’re not expecting you to be an NFL expert just to bet on the New England Patriots, but it’s important to know how a team scores, what those scores are worth and the basic rules governing the outcome of games.

5. Don’t wager while intoxicated

This is just common sense, really, but it’s important to say anyway. If you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, adding gambling to the situation is a recipe for disaster.

Imagine waking up in the morning and opening your wallet to find only emptiness. Where’s all your cash? What happened? You dial up a friend and find out that after a few shots the night before, you decided to celebrate the fact that you’re still alive by buying a round for the entire bar — and then another and another. That would probably leave a sinking feeling in your gut, though you may have made a few friends because of it.

What doesn’t land you any friends but still empties your account is betting on sports while intoxicated. You have fewer inhibitions, which means you’re more likely to make stupid decisions. Don’t let those decisions end up costing you, especially when your sportsbook is connected directly to your bank account.

6. Understand the rules of betting

You know those pesky terms and conditions you simply click “accept” for so that you can move past the screen and on to other things? Well, when it comes to sportsbooks, those terms contain the rules for betting there.

Each sportsbook has its own set of rules, though many are the same or similar across multiple books. Still, it is important to be aware of what constitutes action or no action on a wager, and the fact that tickets are played exactly as they are written. Nothing is so frustrating as thinking you have a bet won, only to find that it’s no action.

Of course, you’re betting on sports, so there will be plenty of other frustrations and heartbreaks to go around (just ask Cincinnati Bengals or Detroit Lions fans).

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7. Check the weather

This doesn’t apply to all sports, but take football betting, for example. A rainy, snowy or windy day can wreak havoc on an offense if it isn’t well-rounded enough to make adjustments to the weather. Knowing what the forecast holds is just a small piece of information that helps add to the big picture of wagering, but it can loom large for the sports that play through any weather.

8. Regulated sportsbooks only

Offshore sportsbooks have that name because they set up shop in a country that is off the shores of the United States, outside of US jurisdiction and away from any enforcement. That’s why we cannot stress enough the importance of only using legal and regulated sportsbooks.

These have to be licensed in the state of Massachusetts if that ever becomes a possibility or in a state where sports betting is legal. Such regulated books fall under the jurisdiction of that state and can face repercussions for shady business practices.

Keep your money and yourself safe and secure by only using legal, regulated and well-respected sportsbooks. If you’re not sure which ones best fit your needs, you can use our site to read through reviews to gather information before making your decision.

9. Limit parlays

We don’t want to burst your bubble, but parlays are not your friend. The odds are so darn attractive, and we can see why people are tempted, but the reason those numbers are tantalizing is that you are unlikely to win.

When it comes to parlay betting, the more legs you add, the more potential money you’re going to make. Sometimes, those odds can be staggering. Sportsbooks, however, are in the business of making money, and the fastest way to make that money is to get people to wager but not have to pay out the same in winnings. Parlays help them do that.

Our advice? For the most part, just avoid parlays or severely limit them. And especially, huge, multi-leg parlays. Your money is too valuable to be playing a guessing game with. Make smart bets, and those are rarely going to be the ones with the most sensational odds to capture your attention.

10. Shop for lines

Speaking of online sports odds, it makes sense to find the best ones for any bets you want to place. Why limit yourself to just a single sportsbook’s odds? Signing up for an account at an online sportsbook (legal and regulated, of course — see our rule about it above) is free and easy. These companies design the process to be smooth and simple so you’re not turned off from it being too much of a hassle.

So why not have a few accounts to be able to do some line shopping? If you can get +145 odds instead of +110, wouldn’t you? We would, that’s for sure. Don’t limit yourself, or your potential profit, by not doing what is absolutely best for your bankroll, your betting strategy and yourself.

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