I love betting on the Olympics. It’s exciting, and it can be very profitable. If you aren’t prepared, though, it can be very easy to make costly mistakes that will erode your bankroll and really take away the fun of the event. Here are five big Olympic betting mistakes bettors need to avoid:
Blinded by national pride – It is great fun to cheer for your national heroes at the Olympics, and to watch as your country climbs up the medal table. However, the worst possible thing you can do is to let that national pride guide your betting decisions. It’s just like in any other sport – you can’t bet on your favorite football team, worry about where your favorite basketball player is playing, or bet on your favorite pitcher every time he hits the mound if you wish to enjoy long term profitability. You can happily bet on your national representative if they offer real value, but only if you have done your homework and are sure that they offer the type of value that you are looking for. This is one of those situations in which it is important for bettors to be able to separate their betting side from their fan side. Only one of those sides leads to profit. Of course, if your only reason for betting is to have more of an interest in an event and to have a rooting interest when you watch a sport you wouldn’t normally pay much attention to, then you can bet on your national heroes as long as you are realistic about your goals before you start.
Trusting media storylines – Media coverage is intense during the Olympics. On television in particular the networks always spend more time talking about storylines than they actually do showing events. there are a number of reasons for this. A lot of Olympic events don’t take much time. There is a lot of lead in time between events, a lot of events are generally unfamiliar to viewers and therefore aren’t that interesting in large doses, and the time zone differences for some games mean that networks aren’t dealing with live events in prime time so they can re-package things to make the best stories. It all means that the networks will focus on the stories that are the most interesting or compelling. Those stories may also be the most significant for sports bettors, but it is far from certain that that will be the case. If you rely on the mainstream media for your insights then you aren’t going to make sound handicapping decisions in the long term.
Betting sports you know nothing about – There are a wide range of sports on display during the Olympics, and most of them have odds of some sorts available for them. If you had never seen a football game in your life you surely wouldn’t realistically expect to make winning bets from the start unless you had done a whole lot of preparation before doing so. In the Olympics, though, it is far from uncommon to see bettors bet wildly on sports that they know little about, that they don’t understand the betting complexities of, or that they have done very little to prepare for. If you are just randomly betting on unfamiliar sports because the bets sound good then you are just throwing your money away. Again, that’s okay if you only want to have a rooting interest, but if you are serious about potential profit as a sports bettor over the long term then it just doesn’t make sense.
Relying on old reputations – One of the biggest problems for handicappers is that many of the biggest name athletes at Olympics time fade into obscurity after the games end and get little attention until the next time the Olympics roll around and they are again stars. Because we spend little effort paying attention to what they are doing between Olympics we base a lot of their reputations – and therefore our expectations for them – on what they did last time out. Four years is a long time and a whole lot can change. They could have aged and slowed down, or other athletes could have caught up to them. It is crucial that you are sure that you are betting based on what athletes are capable of now, not what they used to be capable of doing.
Assuming sports are the same as you are familiar with – There are some Olympic sports that we are more familiar with than others because we bet on them all the time. Basketball and soccer in the summer games, and hockey in the winter, for example. Even though the sports are the same the Olympic format can impact how they are played significantly – from style of play to caliber of players, from format of the tournament and urgency of each game to rule changes specific to Olympic play. On top of that, most teams are forced to develop chemistry in a short time, while in their regular leagues players have months and often years to get familiar with each other. As a sports bettor wanting to make a profit, you can’t assume that you will be a superstar at betting Olympic basketball because you make a killing in the NBA unless you first understand how Olympic basketball is different and make the adjustments those differences require.