Sports Betting Strategies

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Whether you are a seasoned sports bettor or just getting started, there are sports betting strategies that could help improve your chances of winning more consistently.

This guide will take you through a variety of sports betting strategies, both basic and advanced, as well as go through some of the most common sports betting strategy questions.

What is a sports betting strategy?

A sports betting strategy is the process of using an organized methodology or system in an attempt to produce a profit when betting on sports. Countless strategies exist, a number that goes beyond the scope of this guide.

The goal of this guide is to provide some of the most common strategies that have been used to help bettors successfully gain an edge.

Why use a sports betting strategy?

Although no one who bets more than a few times will ever win 100% of their bets, using a tried and true strategy can help you become a more sound and effective bettor.

By using a sports betting strategy, your bets can have more structure and logic in terms of how you place your bets. Without that structure, it is difficult to evaluate what you are doing right or wrong in your betting process.

It should be noted that you don’t have to be so rigid as to stick to one betting strategy. In fact, it is recommended to mix up your strategies depending on the nature of your bets.

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Basic sports betting strategies

Before diving into more advanced strategies that sharp bettors flock towards, here are some more basic strategies that beginning bettors should incorporate into their repertoire.

Bankroll management

It is highly recommended to stick to a budget when betting, and this is referred to as your “bankroll”. The amount of money in one’s bankroll is dependent on the person, but it should not exceed an amount that one can afford to lose.

One common mistake bettors make is to increase the size of bets following a loss. This is a mistake that should be avoided and could be avoided by using bankroll management. If you set aside a certain amount to bet on MLB, for example, be sure that you are not exceeding that amount, whether you are winning or losing.

Shop for the best lines

We are living in an age where there is no shortage of sportsbooks available. Each sportsbook has different oddsmakers who set different lines, so you can gain an advantage by shopping around. In sports betting, any slight difference in odds can make a big difference, so it is worth being patient and not just betting in the first place you look.

If your go-to sportsbook is DraftKings, that’s great. Just be sure to compare their odds on a specific event to FanDuel, BetMGM, etc.

Searching for the best lines isn’t the only shopping you should do. It is also worth looking for the best promotions available to you, be it a lucrative welcome bonus or offers for existing users if you already have an account with a particular sportsbook.

Minimize parlay bets

Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but overloading on parlays is a good way to ensure you will lose money. Parlays are exhilarating when you win, but it is a strategy that generally has a low probability of success.

For those unfamiliar, a parlay is when two or more bets are stringed together, with an enhanced payout if it wins. However, if any bets in the parlay lose, the entire parlay is considered a loss.

For example, say you think the Eagles, 49ers and Chiefs will win their respective games in a particular NFL week. If you parlay them together, you will get odds with a nice payout, with the amount depending on the odds of each individual leg. But remember: If one team loses, the entire parlay is ruled a loss.

As enticing as parlays are, they are not a wise way to use one’s bankroll.

Research available data

There is a substantial amount of data in this age of information. Before placing bets, make sure you do your homework. Scour box scores, trends and analytics and stay up to date on available information such as injuries, weather and other news before finalizing your wagers.

While the amount of data available can be overwhelming, it is worth doing at least some research so as not to bet blindly. You can find relevant statistics and information on social media sites like Twitter, TV programming, or thousands of podcasts that are easily accessible to the public. There are also premium options available such as SportsLine, which has a plethora of cutting-edge information you can use if you decide to place bets.

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Advanced sports betting strategies

Once you have the basics of sports betting down pat, you can use one of these popular advanced betting strategies. This is not an exhaustive list but should help you start to think more deeply about sports betting strategies.

Hedging bets

Hedging is a strategy in which one places a wager that is in contrast with another bet they made in order to minimize loss or deliver a relatively small profit. Profits are not maximized in a hedging strategy, though the chances of a net loss are squashed or at least reduced.

There are many scenarios in which one might hedge, including when one wants to guarantee profit after placing a futures bet, hedging on a parlay or by live-betting to hedge against losing a pre-match bet, among other instances.

Let’s illustrate hedging with a simple example. Let’s say you placed a $5 bet on the Denver Nuggets to cover the spread as an underdog against the Los Angeles Lakers. If you are watching the game and see the Lakers are likely to cover the initial spread, you can place a moneyline bet on the Lakers. If the Nuggets do end up covering the spread, you win your initial bet.

Obviously, live odds take game situations into account but this kind of hedge ensures that you at least won’t lose the full amount of your initial wager.

Fading the public

Also known as a contrarian strategy, fading the public is essentially self-explanatory. If the majority of the public is betting on one side of a match, you may want to lean into the other side.

A reason this strategy is sound is because many factors go into setting odds, not just what oddsmakers feel is a fair line. To stay balanced, if one side of a bet is becoming too popular oddsmakers may adjust the line to minimize their potential losses. This means that lines can become inflated.

For example, let’s say the total in an MLB game is set at 8 runs at Caesars Sportsbook. If much of the public is betting the over, Caesars may move the total to 9 runs. This creates a semi-advantage to those who now want to take the under because the line is now inflated. Nothing tangible has changed from the initial projection of 8 runs, but because the sportsbooks want to cover themselves, the bettor has a potential advantage if they decide to take the under in this instance.

This strategy is even more effective when it is combined with data of how much is bet on each side. The markets where the public (percentage of total bets) and sharp (percentage of money bet) action differs provides potential opportunity. At SportsLine, where the public action is going is available to all users, but sharp action is available exclusively to subscribers.

Creating your own betting lines

Once you are a more advanced bettor and more familiar with how oddsmakers set their odds, a strategy that many bettors use is setting their own odds. There are several variations for how this is done, but the main concept is that before looking at odds from the sportsbooks for a game or set of games, pretend you are the oddsmaker and set what you think the lines should be.

Imagine that the Buffalo Bills are hosting the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 of the NFL season. Prior to looking at the odds on any NFL betting site, write down what you think the line should look like. If you say it should be Bills -6.5, and after going to FanDuel Sportsbook you see a line of Bills -9, this means you see value in backing the Dolphins, who are getting more points than you believe they should be getting.

The more experience you gather, the sharper the lines you create will be.


Because lines often change, especially throughout an NFL week, it is possible to take advantage of this line movement and set yourself up for potential to win both sides of a bet. This is where “middling” comes in.

Let’s say the Eagles are set to play the 49ers next week. When the lines first come out, you take the Eagles to cover the 2.5-point spread as favorites. If there is enough action on the Eagles, the line will likely move, perhaps to 3.5. If you then bet the 49ers +3.5, you have a chance (albeit small) to win both sides of the bet if the Eagles win by exactly 3.

Whether a middle is worth pursuing comes down to the likelihood of the final result landing in the middle of both bets compared to the “juice” you are losing by betting both sides of the bet.

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Betting strategy by sport

The best betting strategy will vary from sport to sport. In this section, we will briefly review the top betting strategies for a few of the major sports.


The NFL is the most bet-on sport in the United States, so it stands to reason that there are a plethora of strategies used to win NFL bets. For example, NFL bettors want to pay attention to who has home-field advantage, weather forecasts and individual matchups, among many other factors.

One key variable that NFL bettors might pay attention to is trends. Some teams are better against the spread on the road, while certain teams excel after a bye. While context is always important and it could be useful to formulate your own opinions and observations, the data is objective and should always be involved in your strategy when betting on the NFL, although it should always be taken with a grain of salt considering the small sample size. Still, some data is better than none.


One common MLB betting strategy is to avoid betting on big moneyline favorites. The reason why this strategy is a good one is because, in baseball, underdogs win a decent percentage of the time. The MLB season is a long one and, on any given day, a bad team can beat a great one.

While there are other more advanced methods one can use to bet on baseball, this strategy is one that many have had success with when betting on MLB.


The best strategy for modern NBA bettors is to monitor NBA player news daily. With so many players sitting out games due to injury and rest, it is critical to stay current on injury reports and breaking news. Oddsmakers factor absences into updated lines, so if you know that Nikola Jokic is sitting out a game and that the Nuggets significantly have underperformed without him, you may find that the lines don’t adjust enough.

Another factor that strongly affects NBA outcomes is recent schedules. The NBA season is a grind and the less rest teams have, the worse they typically play. Whether it comes in the form of reduced minutes for star players or tired legs on the court, backing the team with more energy can make a difference.

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Sports betting strategy questions

What is the most profitable betting strategy?

If you are looking for a long-term strategy to make money betting, hedging is one of the better strategies. While it’s not the best way to maximize profit, hedging when done the right way is a great strategy to increase probability of ensuring a profit and minimizing losses.

See above for some more information about a hedging betting strategy.

What steps should a beginner take when learning to bet on sports?

The first step new sports bettors should take is to become familiar with how sports betting works. Reading our betting guides is a great start. You certainly should become familiar with relevant sports betting terms, such as spread, total, moneyline, etc.

Next, as discussed earlier, bettors should set aside a bankroll and budget only what they can afford to lose.

Finally, select and plan out a betting strategy, such as one of the many presented in this guide.

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Is there a way to make sure you don’t lose money betting on sports?

By nature, betting on sports comes with the chance of losing money. However, there are a bunch of strategies that can help minimize losses and enhance your probability of winning. Learning these strategies and implementing them can take time, so patience is required.

How much money can I make betting on sports?

The amount of money depends on a multitude of factors, including how much money you put in, your level of knowledge and skill, as well as luck. It is important to know that even the best sports bettors lose plenty of bets, but they pay attention to their long-term betting strategy.

What betting strategies do professional sports bettors use?

Professional bettors use a variety of strategies, including some of the ones listed in this guide. Using variety is key because different situations call for different strategies, including consideration of which sport you are betting on.

Is parlay betting profitable long-term?

While parlay betting can come with a considerable payout if it hits, it is rarely a profitable long-term strategy. In fact, sportsbooks make more money from parlays than from single-game bets.