Sports betting: The two most important characteristics that will set you apart

To be a sports bettor nowadays, it seems like all you need is a Twitter account and how to use the bomb, fire, lock and rocket emojis. How I see it, there are two types of bettors: the ones who bet purely for entertainment and those who place a bit more focus on building a bankroll.

"Wagertainment" is part of betting, for sure, regardless of the type of bettor you are, but bettors just looking for entertainment are usually the ones who continuously have to redeposit, bet mostly parlays, don’t really look for analysis — they just want picks — and are OK with losing because they know it’s all in good fun. The other type of bettors, instead of depositing, are withdrawing, either doing their own research or tailing those who provide reasoning, and focusing on a few key sports instead of wagering on whatever sport is available for that day. Though these types still keep betting as a form of entertainment, they do invest a little in an effort for an ROI (return on investment).

Neither is better or worse than the other, and depending on the season, perhaps we’re all a bit of both types. However, I do find that there are certain character traits that more successful bettors possess. These are the characteristics I deem most important for longterm success.

Financial and emotional intelligence

Financial intelligence is a bit of a big umbrella but under this is the most common term used in betting: bankroll management. We all know what that is but for those in the back, managing your bankroll means:

  • Keeping your betting roll separate from your life roll: don’t bet with your rent money.

  • Betting within your means: if you have $300 in your betting account, one wager should not be $100.

  • Knowing proper bet sizing: parlays should be a fraction of your normal one unit wager and not equivalent to.

Bankroll management is only a portion of what it means to be financially intelligent. In broader terms, it’s also about being smart on capital allocation. For example, today is Tax Day. Did you think about your longterm gains and contribute to your Roth IRA, or did you think short term and instead re-deposit to your online betting accounts? If you have money to bet on whether Tom Brady and the Bucs will win the Super Bowl in February 2023, then you have funds to contribute to your retirement.

Financial intelligence can also refer to understanding the importance of line shopping. OK, fine, you insist on Brady coming back from “retirement” and winning the big game. One book has those odds at 7-1 while the other has it listed at 8.5-1. Even if it doesn’t come to fruition in the end, which betting ticket is more logically sound to be holding? The 8.5-1 because you get more return on your investment.

Now, the emotional intelligence part is simple in theory. If you win a +1000 wager, can you look at the win with the same stoic indifference of winning a -110 wager or losing wager? Don’t be affected by the bad beats, don’t be unmoved when you’ve hit the largest bet of your career, or become unhinged when you’ve had a streak of losses. Stay neutral through the good and bad.


You don’t need the motivation to become a better sports bettor. You need discipline. Discipline is what drives you to stay the course and not change strategies one day to the next simply because you’re on a cold streak. Discipline drives you to not force action because you feel a need to make back your losses. Discipline generates consistency. Consistency can create success.

If you lose back-to-back wagers, will you stick to your same one-unit bet for the next two or double down in order to attempt to make back your losses quicker? If there’s nothing you like in the MLB slate, are you going to turn to the NBA because you need action?

Discipline is the most important factor you need and yet it is the most difficult to obtain. However, it translates to all aspects of your life. You did chores all morning, made lunch, handled your taxes but you still need to get in your movement for the day (lifting, bike riding, rollerblading) and you’re tired. Are you going to push it off for later or get it done as planned?

Financial intelligence plus emotional intelligence plus discipline is the recipe to becoming a better sports bettor and, like anything else, it takes practice. Start the practice of these traits today for a chance at success tomorrow.