A new year prompts many punters to resolve to bet in a more professional manner, and try and make themselves profitable (or more profitable). So what steps can be taken to improve performance, win more and create an operation more like that of a betting professional?

In order to bet like a professional, there are some key habits that punters can adopt. There are also likely to be one or two habits that need to be dropped. Here we explore a few of the things that separate professional bettors, those who are profitable over the long term, from the bulk of the betting public – those that make a loss.

Keep records – The Professional approach to betting

professional betting winners 3All professional gamblers, or professional bettors, share at least one thing in common. They record all their betting activity. How much or how little to record is down to the individual, but analysis of past results is the best way to hone strengths and identify weaknesses. This leads to a more refined and targeted approach and hopefully, better performance. Worthwhile analysis is only possible with good, robust data, not the bare minimum.

The single biggest reason for record keeping however, is to judge performance. As stakes are returned in any winnings, it is far too easy for punters to fool themselves into thinking they are ahead. Those judging their profitability without adequate records are almost certainly over estimating results.

Records are also useful during the bad spells that every bettor goes through. Looking back at past good spells and past profitable periods can reassure punters that their methods are effective (assuming they are!) and help weather the storm. Previous runs of losses can also help, as proof that they have been overcome before.

In truth, the list of reasons for keeping detailed records is extremely long, and it is probably the first – and easiest – step of taking a more professional approach to betting.

Betfair offer the ability to download all bets over a given period to a spreadsheet. An extremely helpful feature.

Be selective

Successful profitable punters will only bet when the situation is right for them – when they feel they have an edge over the layers. Betting is the layer’s opinion versus the backer’s. If they share the same view, it would be a ‘no bet’ for the astute bettor. Not so for the less astute…

Having a bet “for an interest” is not a profitable mantra. Only bet when there is value to be had, not for the sake of it. Those who want to mix a bit of fun, with a more focussed approach could always record these bets separately (or not at all) and change stake accordingly – but in truth, those who cannot say “no” to a bet when there is no advantage for them, probably lack the discipline to bet successfully over the term. Making an effort to be more selective is another big stride towards profitability.

professional betting winners 2Take the Best Odds

Taking the best price about a selection should go without saying, but there are always a group of punters who have a particular firm they use and are quite happy to stick with them. While the loyalty is admirable, it makes turning a profit from betting almost impossible. A single firm is likely to have a margin somewhere between 5% and 10% on football matches (or more). Pinnacle run tighter margins but even they are not best price on every occasion – bettors have to shop around. Use our odds comparison pages and take the best price.

The four firms who are best price most often on football are:
Pinnacle
BetVictor
Betfair
Bet365

An account with each is a good starting point.

How professional gamblers cope with the losers

Realistic aims will make long term success more likely. Professionals are always looking at the long term, expected value – the ultimate ‘edge’ that will only be seen after a high number of bets. Most analyse performance on an annual basis. Getting 5/4 (2.25) on a coin toss is a huge result – but that bet will still lose 50% of the time. Make that bet 100 times however, winning 50 and losing 50, and the return on investment is very attractive indeed, and that is the point for professionals.

To extend the coin toss analogy further, it helps illustrate the need to accept losses as part of the game. The bet described above is a good one. It is good before the bet – and remains a solid bet afterwards. It may lose, but getting 5/4 on an outcome that will occur 50% of the time represents solid betting value. No punter should beat themselves up if it goes down. The bet will lose half of the time, it does not make it a bad bet. The trouble arrives because in a coin toss, the probability of a particular outcome is known. In a football match, a punter may think ‘Team A’ has a 50% chance of winning, and take 5/4 quite happily. But when it loses, the bet is questioned and doubts creep in. When betting is viewed over the long haul, it is easier to keep faith with those predictions made prior to kick off, and move on to the next selection without the same soul searching.

professional betting winners 1That long term view is what will protect aspiring punters from the highs and lows of individual bets. A deep betting tank, with maybe fifty times the average stake, will be able to absorb a couple of bad runs, meaning the operation can keep going. Any less leaves punters at risk of running out of funds, and just as in the world of small business, under funded operations will go to the wall. Sensible stakes, with a well funded betting tank, give punters the best opportunity to focus purely on finding value, not whether there are enough funds in the pot to keep going. Setup to play the long game. Good luck.