Many articles have been written over the years about being a professional gambler. In this article, however, I will touch on some of my views on what it takes to make a living betting on sports.
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How could I give you advice if you don't know a little about me? I'm 33 years young but in terms of a gambling age I feel like 60. Gamblers are like dogs in that they age several years during a calendar year once they start applying their trade. My road in gambling started long ago as I am the son of a former bookmaker and a very successful blackjack player that still to this day is banned from many casinos because of his winning ways. I choose not to bet in casinos and after a short stint going to the track around 18 and 19 years old I quit betting horse for two reasons: 1.) at 18 you think you know everything but in reality you know nothing and 2.) I noticed nobody had nice shoes at the track, so that was it for me.
At 21 I was in the Caribbean working in a sports book and this is where I started the learning curve that for me took about six year's to start to really understand what I was doing. I have read numerous articles and books and heard many different opinions along the way -- some make sense some don't, but hopefully you can't take something from this article to help you get better.
Discipline is one of the keys to being successful at this, and probably the main thing I tell people who ask how to become a professional sports bettor. Discipline can range anywhere from staying within in your limits, to not letting your emotions take over after a tough day. Winning at betting on sports is a "mindset" and to be a successful gambler you need to be good in other areas besides just picking winners and discipline is key. You need to be able to handle winning just as much as you need to manage when you go on a losing streak. Remember, when you have a tough day no matter if you were way off or you lost a game that you should have won, let it go and don't chase your losses. This is easier said then done but you need to "maximize your wins and minimize you losses". Remember, our National Anthem plays multiple times every day in ballparks and arenas across the country - there's always' tomorrow.
Money management is another strong suit of a successful gambler -- some guys go with the logic that a play is a play meaning every bet is worth the same. For me this is a grind but I do think some games stand out more then others and the value just shines. I think there are certain situations where you need to step out and play a little more. However, staying inside the limits that your bankroll allows is crucial. I highly suggest that you separate you living money from your betting bankroll. If you have a good week or month take a higher percentage and add it too your bankroll and then pay yourself. Don't forget that in between watching, rooting and handicapping games that this is a business.
One mistake I made when I was younger was I never took a break, it was always go, go, go. And while taking a break doesn't need to mean a week or month, it could just mean doing something else for an hour or two. I put a tremendous amount of time into thinking about what millionaires or future millionaires are going to do while playing a kid's game and to be successful at this you need to put time into it, but there comes a point where doing too much will burn you out and that leads to bad decisions. No matter if things are going good or bad, take a step back and retool your thought process. Remember, there is a lot that you can't control. The things you can control are hard work, discipline, money management and getting the best of the number. Don't be afraid to make adjustments to how you handicap over the course of a season -- the season is long and many teams go through situations over the course of time that change a team's overall mental state. Every year is a new year and you have to keep re-educating yourself on the leagues -- don't ever kid yourself and think you know it all.
Like any other business, sports betting is part of a market and one good asset that a gambler can posses is understanding the movement of the market. The line will move for many reasons - it could be sharp money, it could be the public or it could be an overreaction to a noted injury or weather situation. This is where I feel you need to know and understand how to make a solid number. If the number you wanted moves before you get down your wager there comes a point where your play loses value and you must stay disciplined and simply pass. Remember, that value is in the number, not just the team. Understand when it's time to bet early in the market and when it is better to bet late in the market. This comes with time and by watching the line movement and developing a good understanding of where a number should be you can make the market work for you.
Understand the oddsmaker's weaknesses and while they have many edges he does have to hang a number on every game while we can pick and choose our investments. On a weekend in the fall we have multiple sports going on with baseball, college football, NFL and in October and November NBA and NHL. The oddsmaker is going to focus on the NFL with that being their biggest handle and with 70-plus college football games plus other sports going on Saturday they will be more likely to make some mistakes. The key their is knowing where the market is weak and how to handicap and capitalize on their mistakes. This is easier said then done.
While people handicap and look at games with different styles, I would suggest you do what works for you. I don't handicap every sport the same -- the only aspect I have that is the same for each sport is that I make my own number and use as a guide against the line the oddsmaker hangs. I re-educate myself on these teams every day by reading newspapers across the country. I don't follow trends or have a system. The problem I have with a trend or a system is it takes the emotion out of sports and sports is all emotion. Understand that no matter how much you think you know about the players you still don't know if that pitcher or quarterback is having problems at home or in his daily life to take their focus away from their jobs. These are still people, not robots -- none of us are at our best every single day it is just the real talent that shows at a high percentage of the time. This is a market, always' get the best value for your dollar. There is a learning curve to this and it can be expensive. Some people get it and some never will. While everybody has their different views on how to handicap games, the best advice I could give you is to learn how to be a good oddsmaker and pair that with some of the things mentioned above and this will make you a good gambler. Betting on sports for a living could become like walking through a minefield if you don't have a clue, it takes so much to win and so little to lose. However, if you work hard and show some discipline with some good money management and if you can keep your emotions in check, you will make it through the minefield and pay the bills.
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