How to Handle Losing Streaks in Sports Betting

How to Handle Losing Streaks in Sports Betting article feature image

Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill US

If you're here, you probably love sports betting. The sweats, swing of emotions with every play, joyous winnings and the heartbreaking losses simply cannot be matched.

It’s what got me into the industry six years ago, and I truly don’t know what I would do without it.

It’s not all puppies and rainbows, though. You will lose, often. If we always won, then I wouldn’t even be writing this article. I would be on my private island, the owner of the Detroit Lions and spending god knows how much money on an endless supply of scotch.

Anyone who has been doing this for a while knows that college basketball in particular is a variance-heavy sport that will make you go through the highest peaks and lowest valleys.

That begs the question — what happens when the betting roller coaster takes a hard dip? One that seems like it will never end?

Don’t panic, keep on reading and learn from myself, who knows losing streaks all too well.

Here's how to get past them in the best shape possible.

1. Never Chase Your Bets

I can't stress this enough. It’s the first point for a reason. Chasing your bets is far and away the worst idea you can have on a jam-packed day worth of betting.

Like all habits, you should look at gambling over long time horizons. There's no sense trying to get it all back at once. Days and weeks are arbitrary time constraints.

Keep your betting units consistent, and don't try to make it all back in one bet.

Down $500 by the 11 p.m. slate? You might try to bet the debt and break even. Sometimes it will win, but slightly more often, it will lose. And when you lose, it's the quickest way to go on tilt.

Instead, take the loss on the chin and understand that one day does not make or break you. This limits potential heavier losses and gives you a clearer head while you scan the markets for value for the next day.

2. Stay Calm; Don't Get Too High or Too Low

The biggest dagger to a losing streak is the swing of emotions. Losing is bad enough, but the emotional damage it can cause can put you in a far worse position and mood. Physiologically, bettors take losses twice as hard as they enjoy wins.

Just remind yourself that these things are cyclical. You're never as good as your best day, and you're never as bad as your worst day.

3. Scale Back Your Volume

If you’re like me, you love all sports — maybe not so much baseball, but Sean Zerillo is turning me around to it.

When you have dozens of games to bet on everyday across all sports, you might feel like firing in more to either make up for your losses, or because you're tilting.

But think about it — if you know you're an average bettor who hits 50% of their NBA bets, the more volume you put in, the more you're going to lose.

Place 20 NBA bets over three days at $55 a piece, and you'll lose $50. Make 40 bets — props, totals, sides, second half totals — and you'll lose $100 on average, and that's assuming everything is -110.

For me, I align with college football and basketball, and dabble with the NFL and NBA, as well. When I start going through losses — depending on the time of the year — I stop betting NHL and MLB and get back to focusing more on what has been working for me, as well as tailing the pros.

4. Avoid Exotic Bets

I know the low probability, high payout type bets may seem intriguing, but there's a reason why states and sportsbooks make the most off of parlays each month. It’s -EV and will only dig you deeper into a hole in the long run.

A good rule of thumb is never get too deep into anything a sportsbook is heavily promoting.

Sure, you may only put $5 per parlay in hopes of winning back what you’re down, but what happens when you don’t hit a parlay for a week? Month? Now, you’re down even more than what you started, and your parlays grow more outrageous by each passing day.

It’s a very dangerous path to go down. Parlays should strictly be used for fun with no risk toward your bankroll at all.

5. Seek Help

If you feel like you can't control your gambling when you're in the midst of a losing streak, call 1-800-Gambler and talk to an expert who can help you through it.

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