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Sports Betting Tips For Beginners

The legalization of sports betting in Tennessee is bringing in many sports fans who are using sportsbooks for the first time. Even if you’ve placed an occasional sports bet with a friend or on vacation in Las Vegas, the prospect of depositing money and betting on games in an online sportsbook may seem overwhelming to a sports fan who’s just getting started. This guide will cover some basic sports betting tips for beginners that should help you feel a lot more comfortable placing bets on the sports that you love.

Have realistic expectations

Most sports fans have seen movies or television shows that glorify sports betting, showing big winners wearing suits and staying in the penthouse at the finest hotels. Others have heard stories of people turning $100 into thousands of dollars with a big sports parlay, or sports fans turning a few bucks into million-dollar prizes on daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.

The real world of sports gambling is a lot less glamorous than what you’ve seen and heard about. Professional sports bettors grind out a profit slowly over the long term, winning 55-60% of their against-the-spread bets, which is enough to cover the vigorish that the sportsbook charges. No one wins all the time. Most sports bettors win about 45-55% of the against-the-spread wagers that they place, and bettors who shoot for the moon with big-money parlays win far less often.

With good bankroll discipline and handicapping skills, you could turn your sports betting hobby into a profitable one. But don’t expect to get rich quick or to win all the time, regardless of how knowledgeable you are about sports. Go in expecting to have fun and to have some up-and-down weeks.

Learn how to read sports betting odds

If you aren’t familiar with how to read sports betting odds, make sure to learn before you get started. The most common odds format in Tennessee is American odds, which are listed like this: Winnipeg Jets (+120) vs. Nashville Predators (-140).

Odds with a “-” in front of them indicate how much you will have to wager to win $100. So in this instance, Nashville is going off at -140, which means you’d have to bet $140 to win $100. If the Predators win, you’d get your original $140 back and $100 profit. This payout ratio works out the same no matter how much you bet, so a $14 bet on the Predators would pay $10.

Odds with a “+” in front of them tell you how much you will win if you wager $100. A $100 wager on the Winnipeg Jets at +120 will pay out $120.

Tennessee online sportsbooks will calculate for you how much you need to wager to win a certain amount or how much you will win with a specific wager amount automatically. But it’s still good to know what these numbers mean so that you can make better decisions on what you want to bet on.

Create a sports betting plan and bankroll strategy before you start

Winning and losing streaks are quite common in sports betting, as good or bad luck send you on some major swings. The winning streaks are super fun regardless of how much you are betting on each game, but the losing streaks can get quite expensive if you are risking too much of your bankroll on games. A $500 deposit could be gone with one rough day  of college football betting if you go 1-6 across seven $100 wagers.

For this reason, it is important to determine in advance how much money you want to commit to sports betting — your bankroll — and how you want to manage that bankroll. You should always select an amount that you can afford to lose. This way you won’t put your finances at risk with a run of bad luck.

Let’s say you settle on $100 a week. You could bet $5 a game to stretch your sports betting budget out all week long, or you could go for broke and bet $20-$25 per game. There is no right or wrong way to go as long as you gamble responsibly with money you can afford to lose and stick to your plan. Having a plan in mind before you get started will help you keep things in perspective.

Keep track of your wagers

You can view past wagers on your sportsbook, so this tip isn’t necessary for all beginners. But there are advantages to keeping your own sports betting notes in a notepad or spreadsheet.

Recording and analyzing the bets that you make can help you to find patterns in your sports betting habits. Maybe you will find that you are more profitable in games that you pick underdogs in than those in which you pick favorites. Or you might notice that when you lose two or three games in a row, you tend to bet emotionally and wager too much money on night games. This type of self-analysis can help you to keep track of your finances, hone in on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses.

Stick to sports that you know

Opening up the front page of a Tennessee sportsbook can leave a sports fan feeling like a kid in a candy store. There are so many different sports to bet on and so many different ways to bet on them. From live events to upcoming events in Tennessee and around the globe, it is tempting to start handicapping and betting on everything.

This is a bad idea for sports bettors of all skill levels, and it’s an especially bad idea for beginners. Handicapping well and picking winners is challenging enough when you are focusing on teams and conferences and sports that you know. Going outside of your comfort zone makes the process even more challenging and often leads to cutting corners in handicapping.

There isn’t anything wrong with occasionally betting on a sport you are unfamiliar with, especially if it’s a big event that you plan on watching with friends. But save betting on sports outside of your comfort zone for entertainment purposes and focus the majority of your energy handicapping and betting on the sports that you know best.

Only bet on lines that you see value in

Feeling the desire to bet on too many events can also apply to games within your area of expertise. If you are a die-hard Tennessee Volunteers fan who never misses an SEC game, you are going to have an opinion on every single game during the conference schedule. Many bettors make the common mistake of betting on too many games, or in some cases betting on every game on the card for a certain sport or conference.

It’s important for beginners to remember that there will always be other games to bet on. The reason you are paying a vigorish to the sportsbook is because the book is offering you lines on every game with the freedom to bet on only the ones that you choose to. This gives you an advantage that the sportsbook doesn’t have. While it has to offer lines on everything, you can be as selective as you want.

Take advantage of this by skipping lines that are too close to call. If you think the Alabama Crimson Tide are going to crush the Arkansas Razorbacks, but the line is set at Alabama -45 points, there isn’t really much value here if you think a final score of around 52-7 sounds accurate. On the other hand, if you think the Florida Gators are going to beat the LSU Tigers and Florida is a 4-point underdog, this would be a good game to bet on.

Don’t get too caught up in sports betting trends

Sports betting trends are fun and interesting. When you see that the Dallas Cowboys are 6-0 straight up and against the spread in their last six games against the New York Giants, it may feel pretty obvious to just bet on the Cowboys this week regardless of what the spread is.

But it’s important to remember that teams change year in and year out. A game that took place in 2018 has almost no bearing on a game taking place in 2020. The rosters, coaching staffs, injuries, weather conditions and other factors are likely all different than they were a few years ago. And past success doesn’t always predict future success. It’s possible that Dallas will be super confident and extend its streak to 7-0 SU and ATS, but it’s also possible that the Giants are sick of losing to the Cowboys and will bring their best effort on Sunday to break this streak.

Some trends are more valuable than others, as a certain pitcher’s record on four days’ rest is more helpful to know than his record against teams wearing green socks. You can certainly work trends into your handicapping process, but treat them as interesting tidbits instead of vital information.

Bet with a clear mind

One of the most common mistakes that sports betting beginners make is betting on games without a clear mind. This mistake isn’t limited to just beginners either, as even the most seasoned sports bettors occasionally get frustrated and make decisions based on emotions instead of logic.

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t bet on games when you are drunk or inebriated, as these scenarios will clearly leave your judgment impaired. But a less obvious state of impaired judgment comes from being emotional. Whether you are upset about a string of unlucky losses on the field or about something that is happening in your personal life, you may find yourself chasing your losses or trying to cheer up with a big bet that you wouldn’t normally make.

Try your best to avoid the sportsbook when you aren’t thinking clearly. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. If you do bet on a game you know you shouldn’t have bet on and lose, don’t compound the mistake by getting more frustrated and betting even bigger. Learn from your mistake and move on.

Line shop with multiple sportsbooks

One of the benefits of having an account on multiple sportsbooks in Tennessee is having the ability to shop for the best line on an event that you are interested in betting on. The extra step of scanning additional sportsbooks may seem tedious, but it could make a big difference in the long run.

For example, say that you want to bet on the Tennessee Titans as 6.5-point favorites this Sunday at home against the Denver Broncos. But before you place your bet, you check two more Tennessee online sportsbooks. One of the other books has Tennessee at the same price of -6.5, but the other actually has the Titans listed at -6. So you bet $110 to win $100 on Tennessee at -6 instead of at -6.5.

Game day rolls around and the Titans are up 13 with two minutes to go. Denver drives down the field and scores a late touchdown, kicking the extra point to cut Tennessee’s lead to six points. This unfortunate turn of events forces you to settle for a push on your Tennessee -6 ticket. But had you bet on the Titans at -6.5, this bad beat would have cost you $110.

The occasional half point or slightly better payout price won’t always have this big of an impact, but it’s worth the extra effort to get the best line you can.

Always make having fun the goal

You are going to win some games. You are going to lose some games. There will be thrills in victory and agony in defeat. This roller coaster of emotions is exhilarating to some and exhausting to others.

Never forget that the main goal of sports betting is to have fun. Losing isn’t fun, but if you are betting amounts that you can afford to lose, you don’t need to let losses linger and affect your overall mood. With perspective, you can even remember that it’s the pain we feel from the losses that makes the wins so much sweeter when they come.

If you ever find yourself getting too frustrated, losing too much money or not having fun, take a break. The sports world will always be waiting for you with plenty of betting options when you are ready to return and have a good time.