In the first in a series of articles designed to help improve betting returns long term, we look at specialising – focussing attention in one particular area or market in order to maximise opportunities and reduce, or eliminate, losing betting patterns.


Focus Time and Effort

Unless gamblers are full time professionals, the time available to research, identify and strike bets is limited. Given this, it makes sense to focus efforts within particular areas – after all, bookmakers have dedicated specialists in each sporting arena and we are hunting for what we perceive as their mistakes.

If punters try and spot value across a range of sports, or range of markets, it makes it very difficult to stay ahead of the bookmaker. In order to have the best chance of success over the long term, specialising in specific markets offers the best opportunity to gain an edge, and maintain it, over a sustained period.

There are obvious pitfalls in trying to stay on top of betting markets across different sports. A lack of research or time in any discipline can result in key information being missed, and incorrect assumptions about value being made. The same principals apply within each sport as well. For example, many professionals who making a living from horse racing will focus on National Hunt, others on flat racing, and some may rule out certain races – handicaps for example – in order to better focus their effort. The size of field or value of the race can also be used in order to filter betting opportunities down to those which produce the best ‘expectation’ for the individual concerned. Part-time gamblers have even greater need to specialise, because of the reduced amount of time available to them.

Reduce Losses

Another major benefit of specialising, is the effect it can have in eliminating some losing trends. Using football as an example, a punter might be busy trying to find winners throughout the week. Some quick analysis of his results however, might show a solid consistent profit betting on the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, but flat performance when he dips into the Football League, and some heavy losses when he is tempted to get involved in Spain’s La Liga. By analysing his performance, our hypothetical punter can now avoid betting on Spanish matches, thus giving him more time to focus elsewhere, but more importantly, reducing his losses.

Some regular analysis of betting performance is a fantastic way of seeing where a bettor is most profitable, and equally, where there are ‘leaks’. It is however, never just a one off exercise, and those gamblers looking to stay in front of the bookmakers long term, need to assess their own performance on a regular basis. Some online bookmakers will allow you to download your betting records, Betfair for example, offer this facility, and this can be a good place to start if records have not been kept before.

Bet Types

While analysing performance, it is also worth looking at the types of bet that are struck. While match odds might be the favoured bet, it might be that a punter shows a better level of profit on Asian handicaps, or the Over/Under goals market for example. As mentioned previously, there may also be bets that show a clear losing trend which can be eliminated, reduced, or simply better researched.


Specialising in a particular sport, competition, or betting market can seriously improve betting performance. The subsequent concentration of time and effort into profitable areas is obviously of benefit, but equally, the reduction of losses on bets that have a negative expectation will have an even greater impact over time. Punters looking for success over the long term can take a big step forward by analysing what is working for them, and what is not.