While it’s always good to win, when you lose you may feel a little deflated. After all, you worked hard for that bet, and it’s not like you did anything wrong. But did you? Not necessarily. The fact is, when you bet on sports, you aren’t always guaranteed to come out on top. Sometimes, you’ll lose.
This is called a negative odd and it can be a little tricky to comprehend. To fully understand what a negative odd is and how it affects your betting strategy, you need to know a little bit about probability. Simply put, probability describes the likelihood of an event or situation occurring. For example, if you bet on a team to win the Super Bowl this year, then their odds of winning are 50/50. This means that you have a 50% chance of winning and a 50% chance of losing. (To be specific, it’s 50/50 because there are two possible outcomes – the team wins or they lose.)
Let’s say you wanted to bet on the New York Yankees to win the World Series this year. Their odds to win the World Series are 9/2 – which means there’s a 1/2 chance of them winning and a 49/50 chance of them losing. (1/2×9=1×8+1×2=9/2.)
In general, the more you wager, the more you’ll lose. When you lose, you’ll feel bad because you put your money on the line, but you also made money because the odds were in your favor. The key is to only bet when you have a clear advantage – otherwise, you’re just gambling and might as well go home. (For more on the math behind sports betting, check out this resource from the Nevada Gaming Association.)
The Advantage of Multiple Bets
It’s always good to have more than one bet in the bank because if one of your wagers falls through, you can still hope for another win. Let’s say you had two separate bets on the New York Yankees this year – one at 10/1 and one at 7/2. If the Yankees win the World Series both times, your payout will be three times your initial investment. (In this case, it’s 300% profit – 10/1×7/2=70/1×50/1=315/2.) If they win once, your profit is 50% of your initial investment (7/2×50/1=35/1×50/1=175/2). And if they lose both times, you’ll lose everything (0×50/1=0).
More than one bet can give you an advantage because if one of your wagers falls through, you can still have another to fall back on. This is especially helpful when playing against the odds. If you see a team is heavily favored to win, but you’ve got good reason to believe they’ll lose, you can use this to your advantage by placing a bet on the opposing team. Let’s say you’ve got a hunch that the Atlanta Braves will beat the New York Yankees this year. If you had, say, a $100 bet on the Yankees and the Braves’ odds were 40/1, that would be a $40 profit (40/1×100=40). But if the Braves win the World Series, your profit would be $160 (40/1×160=40). You’d win $40 with the Yankees and lose $120 on the Braves. (This is why it’s important to be a smart sports bettor and not just throw your money at random odds in hopes of hitting on a winner.)
Reducing Your Risks
It’s always a good idea to spread your wagers out over a number of games to reduce the risk of losing. This is especially important if you’re playing against the odds because the more you wager (and the more likely you are to lose), the more you’ll lose. (For example, if you bet $100 on the New York Yankees and they win both games, you’ll have lost $200 – even though you had a profit initially.) But if you spread your wagers out over a two-game series, you’ll reduce your risk by half (100/2=50). For every $100 you wager, you’ll reduce your risk by $100 (e.g., if the risk is $200, you’ll need to wager $100 to reduce it by half).
This is why if you’re playing against the odds, it’s always safer to spread your wagers out over a number of games. For instance, if you’re playing the Atlanta Braves and have a hunch that they’ll beat the Yankees this year, it would be unwise to put all your eggs in one basket by placing a $100 bet on them to win the first game. Better to wager $50 on them to win the first game and $50 on them to lose the second. You’ll reduce your risk by half (you’ll lose $100 if they win and $100 if they lose). But you’ll also double your profits should they win both games (you’ll win $150 if they win both games vs. your $50 initial investment).
Knowing When to Fold ‘Em
It’s important to know when to stop betting on a particular team. This is especially important if you’re trying to reduce your risks. You don’t want to bet your entire bankroll on one team because if they lose, it could cause you to lose a large amount of money. If you’re looking for short-term profit, it’s always safer to invest in a wide array of teams. You can find many profitable teams to bet on, and if one of them loses, you can just remove that team from your bankroll and continue betting on the others. (This is why most sportsbooks offer a wide array of NBA, NFL, and major-league MLB games every day. It’s not uncommon for fans to bet on their favorite team or players during the season – this is where many betting exchanges come in.)
This is the general idea behind reducing your risks – know when to stop betting on a team. If you think they’re going to lose, it may be a good idea to cut your losses and walk away. It’s not always easy to determine when a team will win or lose, but if you put in the right research and effort, you’ll be able to form a good idea of whether or not to wager on them. (For more on handicapping, check out this article from the New York Times.)