Sports betting has been a daily pastime for millions of people for decades, if not centuries in its more primitive form. This sheer amount of time has offered fertile ground for countless popular myths to not only take root, but also fully blossom in the average punter's mind. If you’re into sports betting or just an everyday football fan, you can't help but have heard a few of those at least a couple of times. So, without further ado, let's take a look at the ten most popular myths in sports betting.
No-one wins in the long term
This is the most prevalent myth of them all. You will find millions of punters who can confirm this and only a handful that have managed to do the exact opposite. Every culture has a saying about gambling and losing money. Obviously, this myth was not derived from a divine epiphany as the vast majority of bettors lose far more often than they win. If you think this is not the case, then simply check if the bookies earn or lose money year in, year out.
The truth: Let’s clear this out from the start. Betting has little to do with gambling. Obviously, you need Lady Luck on your side, but winning in sports betting is attributed to far many more aspects. There’s a huge difference between betting and slots, roulette or even blackjack: The odds are not derived by math, but by actual humans and we all know that it is human to err. It is up to us to exploit these mistakes through discipline and wit and make a profit from betting.
A typical myth, developed mainly by conspiracy theorists: There’s a global bookmaker directorate, that manipulates virtually every match in order to award the least possible winnings! Every major upset is irrefutable proof that “everything is fixed”, or else “how on earth would FC Barcelona lose a home tie against Getafe”? When you lose due to an upset it’s easy (and somewhat convenient) to believe that the match was fixed.
The truth: Bookies don’t fix matches because they don’t have to. They make huge profits through overround, meaning that all they care about is increasing the amount staked on each match. As a matter of fact, bookies are fierce enemies of fixed matches, as they can end up losing huge chunks of money to match fixers.
It's easier to win with a large bankroll
This myth is most prevalent following weekends when all the favorites have won their matches. The conclusion is all too well known: If you had bet €1.000 on Celtic to win at home at 1.20 odds, you would have earned €200 without breaking a sweat. Obviously, it is easier to win compared to backing an underdog priced at 5.00 (or building a parlay at the same odds) where a €50 stake would had given you the same profit (€200). It's simple math after all. So you fall into the well known pit of self loathing for only having a pittance to back your bets, whilst being certain that professional bettors squander their huge bankrolls on random favorites to reap their weekly rewards.
The truth: Making a profit with a large bankroll is as difficult as betting with a small one. If you’re a high roller, the risk is actually much bigger, given that one lost bet can have a serious impact on the money you need to cover your everyday needs. You should be very careful when staking high, as this can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health as well.
Bookies know better
This is a myth cultivated by the bookies themselves, as a sign of smugness. It becomes more apropos when an extremely popular bet found on high odds is not confirmed. You’re almost inclined to believe that bookies can foresee the future, or perhaps posses inside information that is inaccessible to average bettors. Another common belief is that they have hi-tech software that lets them analyze statistics and numbers every minute and offers them the right advice. It's almost as if the bookies are prepared for every outcome well before a match starts.
The truth: Bookies are humans, and like the rest of us, they too make mistakes and false estimations. On some occasions, they don’t pay attention to some critical details, that can actually help predict a match result more accurately. If you set your sights on a league (especially a less popular one), you’ll notice that this happens on almost every matchday. Although it may sound as a cliché, betting IS a clash of minds: It's the bookie against you. The bookmaker, of course, has experience, knowledge, software and sense of market, but he too can be exploited by a smart and dedicated bettor.
Following a good tipster is the surest way to win
It's best to trust the pros, isn't it? Whoever reaches a level, where he is actually being paid to share his predictions (whether it is a website or a tip-paying service) must surely be more successful than the average player. Instead of analyzing injuries, form and previous meetings for hours, it’s far simpler and better to subscribe to a professional tipping service. These guys are making a living out of this. They’re devoted and fully concentrated when it comes to betting and given that they are always under the watchful eye of their paying customers, they always think twice before predicting a match.
The truth: Professional tipsters are neither better nor smarter than you. Their only advantage, is that they can afford to spend more time picking matches, given that this is their day job. Apart from that, they’re everyday people, with their ups and downs & hits and misses. If you can spare enough time to research the right bets, you can easily become like them.
Popular bets seldom win
That’s an interesting myth and a direct counterpoise to the“ bookies know better” seen above. If you’re familiar with betting strategy articles, you might have bumped into the “heavy boat theory”. It can be described as: The more money a particular outcome receives, the smaller its confirmation chances become. This is another favorite of the conspiracy theorists as bookies are allegedly fixing a few selected matches in order to split the huge pot among themselves.
The truth: There are hundreds of overloaded matches taking place every week and in most of them the favorites emerge victorious. But this would contradict the whole theorem, would it not? We are suspicious by nature, so it's only logical that we focus on patterns that appear as if someone is playing us. Upsets happen week in-week out, regardless of how much money is staked on them.
You cannot win on high odds betting
Backing upsets is often considered as "fun betting". You place a tenner on an underdog to win against a British club in the Champions League or perhaps you bet on a newly promoted team to win the league. You’re not seriously expecting to beat the bookies by betting on odds close or higher than 5.00. Unless you have a bottomless bank account and can afford to lose 10-15 bets in a row, betting on high-odds is very risky.
The truth: Making a profit on high-odds is just as difficult as in low-odds betting. It all comes down to odds and winning frequency. If, for example you bet on 4.00 odds and have a 30% winning probability, you are making profit. On the other hand, if you win half your bets on 1.80 odds, you are losing money.
Online bookmakers will ban or limit you if you win
Bookies love losers and hate winners. If they find out someone is winning in the long term, they will start setting limits or even outright ban him. The limiting process is a sorry attempt to show that they are still playing fair. If the punter keeps on winning, they will ban him, usually with a pitiful excuse.
The truth: Understandably, bookies feel exactly like us when it comes to losing money. They can abide it happening for a short time, but if it becomes the norm, they will try to cut their losses. However, bookmakers CAN’T ban you because you’re simply winning in the long term. They will keep tabs on you, they might even perform a background check on other betting companies, but unless you are cheating or arbing, they can not close your account without your permission. Surely, there are a few rotten apples, however, it's up to you to choose a reliable betting site.
It’s easier to predict total goals instead of match results
This is a myth based purely on math: You have more theoretical chances of winning when you must choose between two possible outcomes instead of three. If you pick a team to win, your chances stand at 33,3%, whilst an Over/Under bet technically offers 50% chances of winning. That’s a significant increase in chances, that is bound to make a difference in the long term. Numbers always tell the truth, so if you’d like to bet just to make profit and don’t rely on your instinct, just follow the higher percentage.
The truth: In theory, this is true. But even if you've just begun betting, you should be well aware that punting has little to do with theory. To be quite honest, it doesn't matter if your are picking one option out of two or if you are choose among 12 possible outcomes. The same rule applies to each bet type: Find odds that exceed the potential winning chances.
You lose more matches than you win due to late goals
Undoubtedly, this is another popular myth. Every bettor has a story to tell about losing a small fortune due to a late goal. It feels as if the universe has conspired against this specific betting choice. And it does not happen once or twice. It feels as if you are always on the receiving end of a late goal .
The truth: Sure, luck is a harsh mistress, however if you are looking to improve as a bettor, you should face the truth. There have also been many times where you've won a bet due a late goal. Unfortunately, losing due to a bad beat leaves a harder impression compared to catching a glimpse of luck. Your style of play also plays a large part in this: If you’re consistently betting on outsiders or like placing under 2.5 bets on high scoring teams, you are far more likely to lose due to a late goal.