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Top Ten Beginners Gambling Mistakes

Top Ten Beginners Gambling Mistakes

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Top Ten Beginners Gambling Mistakes

Learn from the Pros and avoid making these costly gambling errors.

1. Not Using Bonus Betting Offers Correctly.

One of the cornerstones of value betting is taking advantage of free sports bets and no deposit bonus offers to add more value to your bets. However many people don't use the bonuses or free bets properly and miss out on the value they provide.

Let's take a recent example to show you what I mean:

All free bets whether they are of the no deposit kind like the current £5 get £20 at Coral or the matched bets type like £200 free at bet365 are designed for a reason – to get you betting and parting with more cash.

At the beginning of the Euro 2012 football tournament Betvictor were offering a money back bet up to £50 if Spain won the tournament. These types of offers come up regularly at big sports events so it is worthwhile looking out for them.

Clearly you would not bet on Spain to win and as you were offered good odds that you would get your money back if you placed a bet on an outsider to win then betting on Portugal or England as 14/1 and 20/1 outsiders is a good risk.

Where most people go wrong with this kind of bet is that they get too greedy and plump for rank outsiders trying to pull off spectacular odds. Try and stick to finding the value in the bonus offer and using it to your advantage. Like this example.

2. Not Getting The Best Odds

Bookmakers are in it to make money from losing bets. Maximising your winnings from your winning bets is the name of the game.

The reason we own multiple Bookmaker accounts is because some Bookmakers are strong in some areas that others are not so good at and vice versa.

It makes sense to place your bet at the Bookmaker where you are going to get the most value if your selection wins and not just keep repeatedly using the odds presented to you at your favourite bookie. As always it pays to shop around and get the best price.

As an example of strengths, Bet365 (see my bet365 review) are extremely strong when it comes to in play betting. They have the best developed platform for this type of betting as they were an early adopter of this technology. Betfred (see my Betfred review review) often has some of the very best odds with their daily "bet of the day" and Coral (see my Coral review) although a comparative late starter has brought a freshness and ease of use to the betslip. Read all the bookmaker reviews and start to get a feel for which Bookmaker is the right choice for a particular bet.

Look at it this way:

For the upcoming Cricket one day international series against Australia we got odds of 10/11 for an England series win at Skybet.com where a £10 bet returns £19.09.

If we had placed the bet with our favourite bookmaker – for example Stanjames.com, they were offering odds of 4/5 so our £10 bet in this case would yield exactly £18.

If you made this winning bet on a regular basis – say every week then at the end of a year you would be down £56.68. If you are a regular sports bettor and you make say 10 bets a week then just on this one example you would be down £568.80 at the end of the year because you didn't take advantage of the best odds offered at the time.

Considering the narrow window of opportunity with which we operate in sports betting if you do not take advantage of the best odds being offered then you are setting yourself up to be a losing bettor.

3. Adding Too Many Accumulator Bets

Many punters think placing accumulator bets is the quick way to riches but I'm here to tell you that this is not the way it's done. Read my football betting accumulator guide for a primer on how to place accumulator bets properly.

Never add more teams to your accumulator simply because they are a dead cert and may add slightly more value. Invariably these additions end up losing and destroying your accumulator.

Keep the accumulator to three or four bets and remember that it is hard enough to try and predict the outcome of one match let alone four or more.

A good way of incorporating accumulators into your betting strategy is to only use them when your bankroll is in positive territory or you have a recent win where you can use the profits of that win to gamble on an accumulator. Use value betting as your bread and butter strategy and then use accumulators as the icing on the cake and not the other way around.

4. Not Understanding How Value Betting Works.

There are many ways of calculating value in a bet and for this article I'm going to show you a simplistic way of looking at value in a sport bet so that you can take the idea away and expand on it.

It is very easy to spot where value does not exist.

For example you can get 7,500/1 that newly promoted Reading or Southampton will win the Premier league in 2012/2013. But why don't you just burn your money instead?

On the other hand you can get 5/4 that Manchester City will retain their Premiership trophy for a second year running. Is that a good value bet?

£10 staked will net you £12.50. Clearly City have a good chance and are favourites but with United, Arsenal and Chelsea all pushing them it doesn't really represent truly good value. In my opinion.

You may see it as a nailed on cert in which case you would get your bet on. It is the perception of value that makes the difference.

A better Premier League bet – in my opinion - would be Liverpool to finish in the top four which you can get 11/4 at Betfred. A £10 bet would gross you £37.50 and it represents true value.


Of the teams with real expectations of finishing in the top four, City and United have the most money to add to their squads, whilst you would not expect Arsenal and Chelsea to go backwards.

Tottenham though have lost the manager who took them from near relegation to finishing fourth and whilst it wasn't good enough for Champions League football this time around because Chelsea gate-crashed the party and won the trophy I don't expect Tottenham to be the force they were under Redknapp.

By contrast Liverpool have Andy Carroll starting to hit the heights and a clutch of young players who will improve their game. They reached two domestic finals last season and have brought in a young capable manager who took a newly promoted team (Swansea) to mid table.

Swansea made the second highest total of passes behind Manchester City and if they can come anywhere close to repeating that feat with better players to work with Liverpool must improve their league position. Liverpool have qualified for the champion's league in seven of the last ten seasons.

I expect Liverpool to be pushing Arsenal and particularly Chelsea who are losing ageing players like Drogba for fourth spot.

5. Playing Incomplete Blackjack Strategy

The way to build a sizeable bankroll is not by playing casino games where you are at the mercy of the house edge. Poker is an acceptable way to build a bankroll because you are playing against other players and the trick is to find tables and situations where your edge is bigger than the other fish sitting at the table.

In casino games after poker comes blackjack and if you play with correct strategy you can easily add a lot of cash to your bankroll in a short time frame.

Of course it is easy to lose it as well and remember that the more often you play casino games the more likely it is that you will start to meet the casino house edge expectation which is of course a loss.

Where most people go wrong when playing Blackjack is that they don't play with the correct strategy thereby increasing the house edge. If the house edge for Blackjack is typically 0.5% at the start of play, if you use incorrect strategy – for example splitting picture cards against the dealers Ace – then you can easily start to give the house an edge of 5% or more and you can lose your money very quickly.

Use a cheat card like this one to play Blackjack in an online casino.

6. Playing Above Your Limit In Poker

As a way of building your bankroll, poker is one of the best possible ways to accumulate cash.

However it's not like the old Wild West days of 2004 anymore and you need to be a decent player to make money at it.

One of the absolute best ways of winning at poker is by playing the double or nothing sit and go's which have sprung up recently. This game requires the patience of a saint but it is a very easy game to beat if you follow a tight six handed playing style. The trick is to sit tight and not play hands out of position.

Playing above your bankroll limit in poker is to be highly discouraged. Whilst it truly is a skill game the fluctuations in fortune mean that you can hit losing streaks that wipe out your bankroll very quickly. For example hitting a set and being felted by a flush. Hitting your flush and watching the board pair on the river and losing to a full house etc. It happens a lot more often than you would suspect and whilst it is very frustrating to keep losing like this if you play within your bankroll you leave yourself the chance to come back another day when the luck goes with you.

7. Playing Slots

Playing slots is an atrocious way to try and add to your bankroll. The house edge is astronomical and you will see your money drain away faster than you can make the petrol pump counter spin round.

Playing slots for the jackpot is acceptable if you have spare money to play with and it is separate from your betting bankroll but in general playing slots marks you out as the fool you are for playing them. Ditto scratch cards which are an abomination.

The only time you should be playing slots or scratch cards is when you have a free bonus to play with or free money that the operator often sends out to entice you to start playing. Very often these bonuses are worthless though because the wagering requirements are astronomically high.

8. Practising Poor Bankroll Management.

Bankroll management is the foundation of your betting strategy. Check out my Bankroll management guide and advanced bankroll management for guides on how to manage your gambling bankroll.

The most common mistakes are not keeping your bankroll completely separate from day to day finances and making bets that are too big for your bankroll to sustain.

9. Not Understanding The House Edge

The house edge is the margin that the casino operator has built in so that they can make a profit. Typically casino games start with a house edge of around 1% for blackjack games and then rise up depending on the type of game you play.

As I've already mentioned in blackjack strategy if you don't play optimally then you are unwittingly increasing the house edge.

Standard slots games typically have a high house edge – anywhere from 5% - 15% but video slots is the one slots game where correct play will have a house edge of around 2% and it's possible to walk away a winner with correct play.

The house edge is different depending on the casino you play at which is why it is important to play at a reputable and regulated casino. Who wants to play blackjack and lose nearly every hand?

Interestingly it is not in the casinos interest to take your money as fast as possible. With an edge of 2% a casino can drain your money slowly and give you the illusion that you are winning when you are being bled dry. This is why games like video slots and blackjack are so popular because they can provide hours of entertainment with correct play.

The new generation of online Scratch cards in particular have developed very sophisticated ways of paying out a win on every scratch to entice you to keep you reloading your account.

10. Letting emotion cloud your judgement

Most football accumulators go in the toilet because the bettor included their own team on the betting slip.

It is hard enough winning regularly at sports betting without letting your heart rule your head.

All sorts of things can happen – players get sent off, referees award dubious penalties, one team parks the bus and breaks away to win with their only shot of the game. These sorts of things happen regularly.

Betting on your team to win – especially in accumulator betting – is one of the sure-fire ways of handicapping your efforts because you tend to overestimate their ability to add value to your bet slip.

Always keep your favourite team out of the betting unless you have strong reason to believe they are adding real value to your position.


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I've compiled some articles to help you gamble responsibly. Betting for value explains how and why you need to find value in a bet. I have two excellent articles on managing your money - Beginners bankroll management gives you the information you need to stay clear of playing with the rent money and advanced bankroll management will help you master the art.

Don't miss the Top Ten Beginners Gambling Mistakes