Sports Betting To Win – The Keys To A Winning Mindset
Steve Ward offers an insight into the long-term strategies of how to become a successful bettor…
“Most people in sports betting are looking at things in the wrong way”
Peter Webb, www.betangel.com
With a standard issue human brain – the one that most of us have – you are almost destined to struggle in achieving success in sports betting. The human brain has developed based on a primary functionality of survival, and not on making money betting on sports. Most of the behaviours required to achieve success in sports betting actually require you to go against your automatic human instincts and urges. To be successful at sports betting you need to think differently, to adopt new beliefs and often to be counter intuitive.
“To be successful at sports betting you need to think differently”
Mindset – The Foundation Of Success
Your mindset is simply a way of thinking that determines your behaviour, your outlook and your mental attitude. For any given set of betting events – wins, losses, setbacks, and mistakes – the differentiating factor in how different people respond to them and accordingly the results that they get will be in their mindsets. Your mindset is the middleman between the events that happen to you and your reactions to those events – it is the processor that determines how what goes in, comes out. Your mindset can help you to be successful in your sports betting or it can be the barrier to your success.
Developing a mindset that supports winning sports betting is ultimately the key to achieving and sustaining consistent profits. Every behaviour, thought, action and feeling is coming from within, so although the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes is essential, so along with this is the development of a winning mindset..Your mindset is the foundation on which all of your betting behaviours are built up on and is the catalyst for your betting decisions.
Key Components Of A Winning Betting Mindset
Here are some fundamental aspects of a winning betting mindset. It can be helpful to see these ways of thinking as being part of a mental framework that helps to steer your decisions and behaviours in the right direction, towards disciplined betting.
• Take personal responsibility for your betting performance and results
Think back to a time when you had a losing bet or had a bad betting day. Who or what was the cause of the result you got? The bookie? The exchange? The horse? The team? The computer you were using? The room you were in? The weather? Your pet?
One of the most important factors in achieving and sustaining success in betting is understanding and accepting that you are responsible for your results. The results that you get in your betting are created by you. It is easy to find some other cause for your poor performance; to create stories that shift the focus away from yourself and onto external factors – to blame and complain – but in doing this you take yourself out of the learning and development loop. Ask yourself ‘How did I create that?’
• Adopting a mastery approach and focus on learning
A mastery approach is focussed on you striving to become as good as you can be through a process of continual learning and development.
When you adopt a mastery approach betting is a series of learning opportunities (or as I like to call them L-Earning opportunities), of chances to improve, to develop new skills, abilities, knowledge and understanding. Feedback from each bet and each day is seen as being important to development, and what some people might perceive as failure those with a mastery approach see as feedback and opportunity to learn, develop and improve performance. You are driven by a desire to improve and become the best you possibly can and this intrinsic – internal – motivation is a key factor in persistence, resilience and consequently longevity.
“Expect to make mistakes. They are a part of the learning process.”
Peter Webb, www.betangel.com
• Embrace risk
Sports betting is a risk taking activity, it is how you are rewarded, and if you want to be successful then embracing risk is critical.
“As punters we must embrace risk and not be afraid. As a participant in the sports markets we are risk takers. We have to take risks in order to achieve reward – this is our reason for betting. So we should welcome risk, just as we will welcome the rewards that come with it.”
Matt Finnigan, www.mattfinnigan.com
• Get comfortable with uncertainty
“I layed Roger Federer against Alejandro Falla in a match during Wimbledon 2010 when I watched him go two sets down as I had read that Federer had NEVER come back from two sets down at Wimbledon I was more than happy that my money was won and ignored the rest of the match to do ‘other’ important things. The rest, as they say, is history.”(Federer came back to win the game 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-0)
Peter Dreyfus, Sports Trader
Sporting events offer plenty of opportunity for uncertainty and uncertainty is not easy to deal with – most humans prefer certainty, we fear the unknown. It would be great from one perspective if in life we knew what was going to happen all the time but from another perspective it may actually take out some of the challenge, joy and rewards.
To embrace uncertainty means to accept that there is uncertainty. To understand that you will never know for sure what is going to happen next and in fact that you do not need to in order to be successful and profitable. Many people are addressing uncertainty and randomness in their betting by moving towards sports trading approaches, backing and laying, trading in and out, taking profits at pre-chosen prices and not just waiting for the final outcome.
• Accept the reality that losses are a part of betting
Something that is absolutely key to success in sports betting is accepting the realities of what sports betting is and what the possible outcomes are and one of those is that you will have losses. Once you have accepted that losses are a part of betting it frees your mind, reduces the tension, and helps to manage your emotions. You cannot be at your best while you are always tense from trying to resist losing, and interestingly sometimes the more you try and avoid something the more you are drawn towards it – have you ever had one of those awkward moments when you have caught the eye of a stranger walking towards you and ended up doing a side-to-side dance with each other?
• Focus on managing risk not picking winners
“From my time at Sporting Index it became clear that the best sports traders are focussed on managing risk first and foremost and not obsessively trying to pick winners. A key question I asked myself in my own betting was ‘how can I make my money last longer?’”
Compton Hellyer, founder Sporting Index
A common misconception amongst people who are new to sports betting and also shared by those who are less successful at it is that the primary focus is on picking winners. A key focus of those who have enjoyed long term success in betting is that their focus has been on managing their risk, and controlling losses.
The lure and attraction of betting to most people is making money and to achieve this outcome the obvious path would appear to be picking as many winning bets as possible. By learning to manage risk and control losses you create longevity and continual learning for yourself that keeps you in the game, keeps you improving and enables you to become more profitable over time.
• Bet for profits not excitement
“If people want to become successful at sports betting the first question they must ask themselves is why am I doing this? Is it for fun and entertainment, or is it to make profits?
Keith Sobey, Centaur Sports Funds
Are you betting for excitement and fun or to make money?
For people who are betting for excitement and fun the approach will be more casual, there is less inclination to prepare or to record and evaluate results, there is less structure and decisions are based on creating a ‘buzz’ and not a ‘profit’.
For people who are betting to make money betting is a business and there is a professional approach that is adopted as a result of that and decisions are made to maximise profits and minimise losses not to meet emotional needs of excitement, socialising or fun.
• Emphasise ‘betting well’ over winning
What is more important having a winning bet or knowing that your betting approach was disciplined and applied correctly?
For the punter it is all about the result and the buzz they get from that result when it goes their way. For the professional the process is key – doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons. The ‘buzz’ comes from the feeling of knowing that they did everything possible to get the best possible result. This is a mastery approach and unlike a punter a professional trader would not feel satisfied with a winning bet if their process was flawed. I call this approach to performance a focus on ‘flawless execution’.
“The key is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Focus on the flawless execution of your betting strategy”
• Take a long term view
“Get rich slowly”
If you are looking to make money from sports betting then you need to play for the long term and accept the short term risks. This is quite a challenge as humans are hard wired for short term reward and as a result short term thinking. This is even more evident now as we have developed into a microwave society where we want everything faster than before and we are used to fast food, fast internet connection etc. Our needs for instant gratification are great and betting allows opportunities for us to meet that need, though not always with the desired ending. You have to condition yourself to be able to bet according to your process, to flawlessly execute, and not to be reactive in the light of your recent, short term, performances, whether down or up. Humans have a tendency to make decisions based on what has just happened to them, and where you have made a mistake or lost money your natural instinct is to ‘make-up’ for it and your next decision is often a reflection of this, not of your objectively planned betting strategy. Keeping the long term view in mind is key.
• Enjoy small wins
“Some people only ever seem to want to hit the sexy six, and not take the singles.”
Compton Hellyer, Founder Sporting Index
When you first start betting a win no matter how small feels great. After a while you do not seem to get the same sense of satisfaction from those size stakes and wins and you feel the desire to take more risk and aim for bigger wins. As your wins get bigger and bigger you feel better and better. Each time you win with a bigger amount you get a release of dopamine the pleasure chemical in the brain and the feeling is very powerful. Smaller, and even equal sized wins no longer provide the same ‘buzz’.
Many successful sports betters achieve their results by having multiple small winners that outweigh their small losers. They are risk managers. They enjoy the process of winning and get their buzz from seeing their bank balance grow over time and not from one off short term quick fixes.
• Positive attitude to money
Money can have emotional and psychological effects on people and the decisions they make. How you think about money can affect how you bet and the outcomes you get.
“One of my biggest hurdles of making the transition from knowing how to trade to becoming a successful sports trader was learning how to respect money. The problem that I had with my trading bank was that it wasn’t real money, just numbers on a screen and in the early days this lead me to make all kinds of rash decisions.”
Matt Finnigan, www.mattfinnigan.com
• Believe you can be a winner
This final component of the betting mind is definitely in the ‘last but not least’ category. Whilst it may be number twelve here it is probably one of the most important factors of all.
Do you believe it is possible to win at sports betting?
Do you believe that you are able to win at sports betting?
Many people feel that there is only one winner in betting and that is the bookie. This is the common perception and amongst those who choose to continue to bet at the bookies without structure or discipline it is probably the case, however since the advent of sports spread betting and the betting exchanges in particular the betting landscape has changed dramatically, the balance of power has shifted, and with it so have the opportunities for profitability and success. The bookies key advantages of the overround and the ability to lay have both been removed by the betting exchanges and the availability and accessibility of information and data has significantly increased to give you an extra edge.
If You Want To Be A Winner You Need To Change Your Mind
Having interviewed key people from inside the industry it is clear that thinking in part like a bookie and not a punter is a key to success. Bookies know how punters think and the betting industry encourages and entices the behaviours that will leave most people parting with their hard earned cash. Being aware of and avoiding the traps and temptations presented to you including fun bets and online casinos and utilising all of the resources you can to give yourself a competitive advantage is the goal – to create the conditions and opportunities for success.
Success in sports betting is possible, and you may be able to achieve it yourself, but it will take time and effort, it will take a professional approach, it will take discipline.
It will require you to change your mind.
By Steve Ward
About The Author
Steve Ward works with people in the financial trading, sports betting and poker arenas helping them to achieve and sustain high performance and to maximise their profitability through coaching, training and consulting programs.
He is the author of ‘Sports Betting To Win’ and ‘High Performance Trading – 35 Practical Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Your Trading Psychology and Performance’ (published by Harriman House), helped to set up and establish the Centaur Sports Trading Academy, managed a team of over 40 professional financial traders in London and was a consultant to the BBC TV programme Million Dollar Traders.
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