Is Emotion Your Worst Enemy In Sports Betting? | Tips From A Pro Sports Bettor

Picture this: It’s the last minute of the game and the scores are level. You’ve put a bet on the home team to win. The ball falls perfectly outside the box to their star striker. He shapes up to shoot. What happens next?

He thumps the ball sweetly on his left foot and it smashes into the top corner? How do you feel?

Or he fluffs the shot completely and it ends up hitting an old granny in the crowd. The referee has seen enough and blows the whistle for full time. How do you feel?

I’m guessing you might be jumping up and down for joy in the first situation but feeling pretty annoyed in the second.

The key thing is what you do next. The emotional bettor might stake all their winnings from the first bet on a new bet. If they’d lost the first bet, they might not bet at all the next time they spot a great value opportunity. They’ll probably get even more annoyed if that next bet wins when they didn’t back it. This is why managing your emotions is key if you want to be successful in your long term betting.

Good Bets Can Lose And Bad Bets Can Win

One mistake that amateur punters make is focusing from bet to bet. Sometimes, good bets can lose and bad bets can win. Take a look at these two examples. Now, the first bet here has won, but the odds actually drifted and it ended up being a negative EV bet. If I was to make this same bet again and again, I would lose money long term.

bad winning bet

Take a look at this second bet. Here, there is a great edge. This time it lost, but I shouldn’t get too annoyed about that. If I kept patient and made this same bet (assuming it had an edge like this). I would be profitable long term.

good losing bet

So you can see from the two examples how deceptive a winning bet can actually be. As the saying goes, ‘even a broken clock is right twice a day.’

Look At The Bigger Picture

looking at the bigger picture

You might have done all the research and most times your bet would have won, but it just didn’t happen that day.

Or you might win a bet but that bet might have been poor value and you just got lucky today. That’s all part of the game. The pro punter might be a little disappointed if their bet loses, but they would be confident in their selection process and would still approach their next bet in the exact same way.

If you have an edge on the markets, you should find every opportunity to exercise it. The Trademate software is a great example of this as the more turnover you rollover, the more profitable you will be.

Take a look at our article that shows the more bets you place with an edge, the more profit, you will make. Pros look at the bigger picture and don’t focus on the one event, as our co-founder and professional sports bettor, Jonas Gjelstad explains:

“Winning is always fun, but when you have 10-15 bets going on at the same time it’s hard to get too excited if you win 5 but lose 10. Single results don't really affect me much.”

The Pro Versus The Amateur

Let’s take another example. It’s payday, so the amateur and pro place 10 bets that weekend. None of the bets win. The amateur and the pro go back home and have dinner that evening with their partners.

The amateur is in a foul mood, picking at his food and bemoaning his bad luck today. His partner listens to his story of the day, trying to be sympathetic.

If only the referee wasn’t such an idiot. If only that striker wasn’t blind and needed glasses to score. If only that shot was 2 inches to the left, it would have gone in. After dinner, he might even go back on his phone and see what other games are on to try and make his losses back.

The pro devours his food, not even thinking about the day’s bets. He is talking about everything other than his bets. If his partner asks, he shrugs his shoulders and admits it wasn’t the best day. He’ll switch his phone off, because he has already chosen his picks for the day earlier.

He’ll go to sleep and in the morning, he’ll analyse the trades he made with a clear and calm head so that he can learn from them and see if there was something he missed or if it was just bad variance. Most likely, he knows that his edge will come through over thousands of bets he will place this year. One bad weekend is just a small fraction of his sample size and nothing to be too concerned about at this moment.

Why do the pro and the amateur react so differently?

Here is Jonas’ take on this.

“I think it's fine to be in the moment. Of course, nobody likes losing and it's ok to be slightly bothered by it, but if it comes to a point that it affects your social behaviour or mood, then I don't really think you are prepared for the swings and are betting too big.”

So a key part of this is also how much you are staking. If you are fearful and nervous of your bet losing in the dying minutes, then you are definitely staking more than you are comfortable with. You should probably scale back your bet to a figure that you wouldn’t get too upset losing.

For some people, that might be $1. For others, that might be $100. It all varies on the person but it’s important to set your limits to a comfortable level. Otherwise, you might end up trying to chase your losses and end up in an even worse position than you began. After all, betting should still be fun and not something that causes undue stress.

Top Tips For Managing Your Mindset

We all have different personalities. Some people are more naturally calm, collected and risk averse. Some people are big risk takers and have a rollercoaster of emotions. Even so, there are ways of managing the potential stresses and frustrations in sports betting and making your journey much more relaxed and enjoyable. Here are some of Jonas’ tips on how to do that:

- Have a long-term plan.

- Avoid betting impulsively, especially if you have had a bad day, an argument or are feeling tired or stressed from work or family issues. There will always be another bet on another day and sport will not disappear.

- If you want to test out strategies, go for a low stake to try out new strategies and experiment and learn, it's a great thing.

- Find a sport that you enjoy watching and studying that is not too hard to solve, for instance I really enjoy MMA and try to work on my MMA in-play game to challenge myself, but also remember your bread and butter and keep in the volume and turnover where you know you have an edge.

- Swings will happen and you should run some variance simulations to know you are mentally prepared for what's to come and people should do this after a bad week of betting and lower their stakes.

- If you don't have any other income and rely on this money to stay afloat, you should cash out a minimum of 3 months spending ahead of time.

- Channel your frustration into something constructive. Think about why you are doing what you are doing and what your end goal is. There aren't many shortcuts you can take in any business, so set some goals for what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve them. Share and discuss these thoughts with others and embrace the grind.

If you’re interested in the life of a professional sports bettor, check out our video series on Trademate Sports co-founder, Jonas Gjelstad

Written by Neel Shah
Neel has a Postgraduate Psychology degree and has previously worked as a Psychology teacher. He is now a full time Sports Trader and content writer for Trademate Sports.

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