Sports bettors spend a lot of time thinking about losing streaks – how to avoid them, how to end them as soon as you can when they happen, and how to make sure they don’t destroy your bankroll. Just as important, though, is how to handle winning streaks. Most bettors don’t spend much time thinking about winning streaks – other than hoping that they hit them. If they aren’t handled properly, though, winning streaks can be just as destructive to the long term success of a bettor than a losing streak can be. The actual winning isn’t a problem, obviously – that’s great for the bankroll. The problem is how people act when they start winning if they aren’t disciplined. Here are three things to keep in mind if you’re a sports handicapper who is fortunate enough to find yourself with a winning streak:
Don’t get cocky – You aren’t nearly as smart of a bettor as you think you are. It can be easy when you win a few games in a row to think that you are a genius with a special insight into a game. Not the case. If you bet enough games and you are reasonably competent then sooner or later you are going to going to enjoy a long winning streak – just like you are going to inevitably hit a long losing streak. When you do win it’s important to act like you expected to win. If you watch poker on TV you have probably noticed that the seasoned pros rarely react no matter what happens, while the amateurs act like a lunatic when something good or bad happens. Those pros don’t get too excited because they know that they are going to win some and lose some but they know that over the long run they will win more than they lose and come out ahead. They also know that what happened on the last five hands has no real impact on what happens in the next five. In short, they have a long term view of the game and their place in it. That’s exactly the attitude that successful sports bettors have as well.
Don’t change your approach – Some bettors will use their success as an impetus to do more than they are already doing. Because they have had success betting what they are betting – football point spreads, for example – they will assume that their expertise and luck can also extend to moneylines or totals, or even other sports. While it’s obviously possible to be successful in more than one kind of bet over the long term, the time to widen your range and start to take other betting approaches is not when you are on a winning streak. If you are enjoying success it’s because you are dialed into what you are doing, and you are executing your sports handicapping pretty well. It makes far more sense to keep doing what is successful at the moment than to try to expand and extend yourself at that moment. Your success is happening because you are doing what you do well – not because you have some psychic sense of how games are going to turn out.
Increase your bets logically – As your betting bankroll expands it makes sense according to most money management philosophies to increase the amount that you are betting on each game. While I can’t argue with that, there is a problem if you are letting your success determine your bet size. When bettors are winning and the money is pouring in people can feel invincible, and they can be tempted to let it ride or make crazy bets because they are sure they can’t lose. They look just at what the win will do to their bottom line, not what the loss will do. The other night a buddy and I played blackjack at the local casino for a few hours. We were mostly just there to have a few drinks and hang out, so we were playing conservative, intelligent blackjack and watching out chip stack slowly grow. Time and time again we would see people sit down at the table and start to play. If they won early on then they would start to increase their bets and make reckless decisions. When they sat down they would bet $5 or $10 per hand. Once they started winning a bit they would bet $20 or $50 or even $100 per hand. Soon enough they would lose, and they would be broke. They’d get up from the table and some other sucker would take their spot and do much the same. The casinos obviously love that stuff – it’s what makes them work. It doesn’t work so well for the people playing, though. Casinos don’t need your charity, and neither do sportsbooks. Instead of being like one of those fools when you start to win, just stick to what you have been doing all along. Good money management systems, like good handicapping practrices, don’t just help you survive downturns – they help you keep the profits you make as well.