No one likes to make mistakes. You should especially not like making mistakes when they cost you money. If you’re a basketball bettor of any skill level, mistakes can be costly not just to your ego but to your bottom line profits as well.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common and damaging basketball betting mistakes that we see day in and day out from bettors. If you can rid yourself of all of these mistakes, you’ll put yourself in a much stronger position to be a long-term winner betting on basketball.
For some reason, people like to look at professional athletes and professional basketball players as superheroes. Yes, they are incredible athletes who are capable of incredible feats of physicality, but they are still human. They still get tired, are susceptible to fatigue, and have to take care of their bodies just like the rest of us. Just because you’re an incredible athlete does not mean that you suddenly get a free pass from life.
Why is this important to you as a sports bettor? Too often, we see bettors neglecting to take a look at the effects of a tough schedule, lots of cross-country travel, or multiple games in a few nights. While you should never automatically bet against a team that you think is going to be fatigued from one of the aforementioned factors, it is a great place to start looking for value spots or teams that can cover the spread.
If we wanted to, we could probably put together a highlight reel from every losing basketball team that would make you think that team is on fire. The problem is that sometimes the sports news media does exactly this. They’re not trying to confuse you, but they just want to show you the highlights of the game, and sometimes those highlights also come from the losing squad.
You cannot be drawing conclusions to use to make picks from highlight reels. Not only is it going to get you in trouble with the team that lost, but it can also get you in trouble with the team that won. Highlights are just that. They are highlights. They do not give you the entire picture of how the game went and the conclusions that you can draw from that.
If you’re going to draw conclusions from game footage, watch the entire game. Yes, that takes longer, but it protects you from getting the wrong idea about the game and the game flow. Basketball betting lines are notoriously tight which means you need to be prepared to look deep for small edges. Most of that is going to be found not through stats but through things that you pick up on from watching the games and studying each team. Don’t let cherry picked plays get you in trouble.
One of the great things about betting on basketball is there are a lot of games to choose from seemingly every night of the week during the basketball season. Certain times of the year like March Madness in college basketball, there are an insane amount of games for you to bet on. While it’s awesome to have so many opportunities to make winning bets, you need to be careful that you are not getting carried away with how many games you are betting.
No, this is not a tip about bankroll management. We are not telling you to limit the number of basketball games you bet to protect you from having too much action or too much money on the line. The reason we are telling you this is because if you’re betting every game or most of the games being played, you are probably not searching for value in your picks.
A bet is said to have value if the potential payout you are promised for a correct pick is higher than it should be. Basically, online sportsbooks pay you out based on the likelihood of a bet winning. The more likely the bet is to win, the less you will get paid. If the bet is less likely to win, you get paid a premium for winning. The sportsbook tries their best to pay you out exactly what you should get based on the likelihood of the bet winning.
But, they don’t always get it right or the betting public bets and moves the line one way or the other. When this happens, one side of the bet is getting paid better than it should. Basically, you’ll be getting paid as if the bet is less likely than it really is to win. This is value.
If you’d like to learn more about the concept of value, check out our Understanding Value guide where we break everything down for you. It’s an advanced read, but it’s crucial if you want to remain a long-term winner betting on basketball.
The sports news media is unfortunately not your friend when it comes to finding value and cashing tickets betting on basketball. There are areas where they are helpful, and then there are areas where they can do you more harm than good. When it comes to reporting news and facts, they are great. They do a great job of getting the story on injuries, trades, announcements, etc. out to you fast. You should certainly utilize their reach for this type of stuff.
But, where they can get you in trouble is when they start going into entertainment mode. Announcers are not tasked with helping you find great value bets and getting you to win money betting on basketball. Their goal is to entertain their viewers, readers, or listeners and get them to keep watching. This means that they may need to tweak their personal views on a game as well as pay more attention to the emotional stories instead of the straight facts.
Additionally, you have to realize that all of their picks on who is going to win are independent of payout odds or spreads. They’re just picking winners and not letting you know whether the bet itself has any value. This is obviously a terrible approach to sports betting, but a great approach to entertaining.
The obvious exception to this are shows, podcasts, articles, or programs that are directed towards sports bettors. Shows where they actually talk about the spread and odds intently are exempt. Even then, though, you need to make sure that the person you’re getting your advice from is a proven winner. Anyone can have a show, write an article, or have a podcast. You need to make sure that they know what they’re talking about before you put a lot of weight behind their opinion or prediction.
The best advice to avoid this pitfall is this. Before you watch any news media of any kind, come up with your own predictions and the bets you want to make. Then you can see what the sports betting experts have to say and see if it shines any light on things that you hadn’t considered just yet. Make sure, though, that you don’t let them sway you from your pick just because you view them as an expert.
Once all of that is done, and your bets are placed, then you can click into fan mode and enjoy all the entertainment-driven sports shows and programs. This will protect you from getting caught up in the drama that has nothing to do with who is going to win an upcoming game.
Statistics are an important and extremely helpful tool when making your basketball bets. But, they can be a huge pitfall if you don’t use them properly. This comes down to three different things that you have to check.
First, you need to make sure the stats that you’re using are accurate. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen sports publications pump out stats that were just blatantly wrong. You know what the penalty is for a sports show putting out incorrect facts? Absolutely nothing. While they certainly don’t try to give you incorrect stats, there is no penalty for doing so which means they really don’t have to worry about having too many checks and balances in place.
When you’re going to use stats in your picks, make sure you take some time to double check the quality of the source you are using. You don’t have to check every single number you’re going to use, but you should at least spot check a few numbers every now and then to make sure you’re not getting fed garbage.
Second, you need to make sure that the stats you are using are not outdated. The stats might be correct, but if they haven’t been updated in a season or two, they’re just as bad as stats that are wrong. Usually, stat sites will tell you when their stats are from and when they were last updated. Keep a very close eye on this even with sources that you use regularly. If they’d suddenly had some sort of a delay in where they pull their data from, you need to be aware of that.
Imagine looking at a stat for “the last three games” that is actually from three games months or weeks ago. It’s not going to be very helpful to you and is actually going to do you some harm. You’ll be making your predictions based on information that is heavily outdated and no longer relevant for the purpose you are using it for.
Lastly, you need to make sure the stats that you choose to use are actually effective in helping you predict future results. There’s an alarming trend in basketball betting thanks to technology where people are using stats that are nothing more than crazy coincidences. The number of steals a team has per game? Very useful. The fact the team hasn’t lost on a Thursday when playing on the west coast in 10 games? Interesting, but completely worthless when it comes to making basketball bets.
Make sure that you are using real stats and trends that will have a direct effect on the outcome of the upcoming game you are looking to bet. The coincidences masking themselves as stats are great for bar conversations or just to know as a fan, but they can cloud your judgment and force you to make a pretty awful pick.
The last mistake we want to talk about today is not checking lineups before you make your bets. Most people are well aware when a high-profile player is injured or not playing for one reason or the other. But, a lot of people don’t take the time to check lineups and see if any of the supporting players are injured or sitting out a game.
We’ve also seen a trend recently of NBA coaches sitting superstars to try and give them rest in games that they don’t think they need them. Because this is not an injury or a suspension, its not as prominent on the news and something that you’d have to see for yourself by checking the game lineups.
If you see a line that seems way too good to be true, make sure you double and triple check the lineups because it’s usually because of a player or players not planning on playing. You can find good value when betting on basketball, but very rarely will you find lines that are truly too good to be true. There is usually some sort of culprit at work that you need to be aware of.
Well, we’ve now spent the last while telling you exactly what you shouldn’t be doing when betting on NBA basketball. But, what SHOULD you be doing? Well, we didn’t want to just leave you with a list of no-no’s and call it a day. We’ve put together a comprehensive basketball betting strategy guide that will break down exactly what you should be doing when making your basketball bets. It’s a great next step from here if you haven’t checked it out yet and aren’t quite ready to jump in the action.