Betting Experts Answer: How to overcome emotions in sports betting? | Part 1

Welcome to the 11th question in our series: “Betting Experts Answer The Industries Biggest Questions.”

Becoming a successful sports bettor is not just about finding a winner or being able to read the market to find value, emotions play a massive part too! So, we asked 11 experts the question:

Q11: Do you think emotions play a part in people's sports betting results? If so, how should they overcome this?

Check out Part 2 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of sports betting analyst - Joseph Buchdahl, pro sports bettor - Spanky, Steve from Daily 25, the host of the Business of Betting Podcast & Nenko from the Church of Betting.


Managing your emotions through the rollercoaster ride of sports betting is arguably one of the most important elements to iron out. I would never recommend punters take a wholly dispassionate approach to wagering – after all, some of us are in it for the thrills – but taking a cold and calculated view to bet selection is a major advantage.

There are a few fundamentals that shouldn’t require repeating, for example: don’t go chasing, don’t bet when angry or upset, and don’t try to punt when under the influence. Equally, it can pay to take a step back after a particularly satisfying result or large pay-out – after all, level-headed and rational will always win the race over emotionally-charged.

We’re all individuals and it’s difficult to share a one-size-fits-all theory to suit the majority. I still detest losing and I’m desperate to know the what, why and where it all went wrong, especially after spending hours cultivating a plan of attack - I doubt I’ll ever escape those feelings of frustration, irritation and exasperation. I’m still a sore loser.

However, with experience I’ve learnt to take that step back. Personally, I try to analyse each bet I place in the cold light of day, often the morning after, with the overriding question: would I place the same wager again under the circumstances? If the answer is ‘yes’ more often than not, there’s little more we can do than shrug our shoulders and move on.

Earlier in 2020, I endured my longest and hardest lean streak for a decade. It was a brutal experience but one all punters will endure at some point in time. My advice? Trust your process, analyse your output, understand what or where things fell down, learn from your mistakes, revise your attack and appreciate that occasionally variance just has your number.

Follow @MarkOHaire on Twitter here.


They are the largest factor in both an individual bettor's success and to the success of bookmakers in general.

To overcome this requires you to control your emotions rather than let them control you. How to do this will vary from person to person but I am a big believer in personal rules, rituals and workflows. By systemising your behaviour and following a pre-programmed set of behavioural rules you can delegate the managing of your emotions to processes rather than internalising them. Humans love routine so it is doable. You must however at least initially be ruthlessly strict with yourself to make the behaviour ingrained. If your dog shits on the carpet you don't just shrug and hope it doesn't do it the next time. Train yourself, rub your nose in that shit so you don't ever want to do it again. Getting rid of emotions is near impossible so what is left is strict personal discipline and a plan to follow.

Check out Matthew’s podcast ‘Inside Betting’ here.


The ability to remove emotion from betting decisions helps separate the truly professional bettor from the amateur. A professional bettor approaches gambling differently to the recreational, or even semi-professional, punter. If you think of each betting market as having an equilibrium, the professional will see only balance and imbalance. Understanding the true price of a selection within a market is critical to long-term success.

Gambling falls under the guise of a leisure activity and is heavily marketed as such. The marketeers aim is to entice recreational players, in order to do that the sales pitch targets the emotions of the prospective punter. It takes experience and determination to take emotion out of betting decisions, remember many only become involved with betting as a side-line to their love of a sport. Arguably, some level of emotion, or at least interest, needs to be present in order to engage the punter to diligently understand and research any bets they may make.

There is a reason that margin application is often biased towards reducing the value of events actually happening (over 2.5 goals, for example). Recreational punters invariably prefer to bet on action occurring and this is an example of emotion clouding the decision-making process.

Trying to overcome emotive-led punting can be a difficult process but I always suggest that any serious bet (and it is ok to have “fun” bets but these must be considered and accounted for differently) must cross the value threshold. If you have the ability- and if you are serious about your betting, you should try to calculate your own true prices then you should only be placing wagers at bets that cross that threshold, even if by winning they condemn your club to a loss.

Follow @JeevesOdds on Twitter.


Dealing with the emotional highs and lows experienced when betting is often the biggest challenge that punters face as the performance of these bets feeds into our ego and mood, which if not dealt with correctly can be ruinous.

Some simple suggestions on how to counteract making emotional decisions is to simply not watch events live where you have a bet on the outcome. If for example you use a tipster service like Trademate Sports to highlight value in a bet, what possible need is there to watch the game take place upon which you have a financial interest? You don't need to watch it for analysis purposes and it's easy to be drawn into the emotion of the game and a very strong feeling of frustration when your bets lose. It is this frustration, especially if compounded over several losing bets in sequence that can lead to poor decision making.

Far better to simply log the profit or loss from the bet onto your spreadsheet and then instead of focusing on a short term sequence of results, to see the broader picture of performance over the fullness of time. As a final bit of advice, I also advocate having an 'accountability' partner - someone you can talk to about your betting and the decisions you are making on strategies, tipsters and staking. Choose someone you trust who won't be shy about asking the hard questions and challenging you about your approach. You can also use them to talk to when struggling or needing another pair of eyes to look at your situation dispassionately and without emotion.

Follow @SBCinfo on Twitter & check out the Smart Betting Club website here.


Poker Joe's book

There are two ways emotions can come into play: on whom to bet, and how much to bet.

If you're line grinding, emotions will probably never come into play in deciding on whom to bet, because you're just reacting to market changes, and that's mere calculation. You might get emotional about your bet-sizing, but more likely, if you're at all experienced as a grinder, you've long settled on calculating that, too.

If you're modeling, you're black-boxing your "who to bet on" decision, and most likely doing the same with your "how much to bet" decision. That's an advantage of modeling; you're (theoretically) just betting according to what the model spits out. If you're handicapping (that is, betting according to quantified judgements), you are more subject to emotional influence in your decision on whom to bet. The way to avoid that is to remember to not overreact to team performances; not adjusting team ratings until a few days after they've played helps with that. If they cost you, or won you a lot of money one day, don't change your appraisal of them that night.

As to how much to bet, if you're going to survive as a bettor, even if your team appraisals are instinct-based, keep your bet-sizing math-based. Rate teams without anticipation of their next games; rate the game-day impacts just as neutrally, and only after making your own line do you check the odds, so that the various judgments you're making are kept in separate buckets. I'll repeat that last point because it's so important: make your line on the game before you see the market's.

Follow @TruePokerJoe on Twitter & check out his book ‘Sharper: A Guide to Modern Sports Betting’.


It definitely does and is probably one of the top reasons why many people struggle to make money long term from sports betting. Especially in live betting markets where people's emotions are running high and the adrenaline is flowing. It is often why bookmakers advertise really poor value live bets at half time. As they know recreational punters will place the bet without any research or much thought process.

In terms of how to overcome it. Educate yourself! There is a lot of really good information online about understanding your own risk profile and understanding variance. Without seeming like a shill, Pete Ling and the guys from the Smart Betting Club have a lot of excellent material on betting psychology. If you want to understand variance better, take a look at Joseph Buchdahl's articles on Pinnacle's blog which also has a number of other excellent articles.

You guys at Trademate also put excellent written articles and videos related to understanding the psychology of betting. People often get emotional with betting because they don't understand how something happened. "How can I lose 8 even money bets in a row that's impossible!!!"

But building a better understanding of sports betting and how professional sports bettors operate. Helps you understand the concepts of long term value and variance. It doesn't mean you will become a numb emotionless sports betting robot. Those losing runs will still be annoying, but they won't cause you to blow your bankroll on the next game out of frustration.

Follow @SmSportstrader on Twitter & check out the Smart Sports Trader blog here.

Check out Part 2 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of sports betting analyst - Joseph Buchdahl, pro sports bettor - Spanky, Steve from Daily 25, the host of the Business of Betting Podcast & Nenko from the Church of Betting.

Love getting the opinions from experts in the betting industry? Then subscribe to the Trademate Sports Podcast, where we interview the most important people in the sports betting industry.

Here are the other questions we have got our industry experts to answer so far:

  • Q1: Top 3 tips for betting beginners? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q2: How do you define “finding value” in betting markets? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q3: How do you determine whether your betting results are based on luck or skill? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q4: Kelly criterion or flat staking: Which stake sizing strategy do you consider to be the best and why? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q5: What is the best method to use to make money from sports betting? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q6: How difficult is it to beat the sports betting markets? How efficient are the odds? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q7: How to manage risk when betting? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q8: Is there a best sport to bet on? If so, what is it? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q9: Assuming you have an edge, at what point can you start accurately evaluating your results and say that variance has played out? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q10: What is the one thing you would like to see change in the gambling industry? Part 1 & Part 2.

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