10 New Year's Resolutions for every sports bettor

New year, new me.

That's what everybody says, right?

We're about to ring in 2022, and most of us certainly hope it's a more normal and pleasant year than the last two have been. A lot of us are also planning on enacting some resolutions to make ourselves better people in the new year. Some of these resolutions include things like losing weight or spending more time with our significant others.

What about from a sports betting perspective? What can we do to make ourselves better sports bettors and better members of the sports betting community? My top 10 New Year's resolutions for sports bettors are here.

Bankroll management

It might not be the first thought that pops into your head, but I would say bankroll management is the most important part of being a successful sports bettor.

You need to set aside a separate budget that you dedicate solely to betting on sports. This money should come from your entertainment budget and it needs to be money that you're willing to lose. Don't bet with rent or mortgage money and don't bet with money that you need in order to live a comfortable day-to-day life.

From that bankroll that you set aside, you can determine your unit size. Your unit size is what you bet on a normal game-to-game basis. Your unit should be between 1-2% of your total bankroll. If you've set aside $1,000 that you're willing to lose betting on sports, you should be betting between $10-$20 a game. If you've set aside $5,000, then your unit moves to between $50-$100 per game.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 26: Cooper Kupp #10 of the Los Angeles Rams reacts after fielding a punt in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Cooper Kupp has been making bettors money in 2021. (David Berding/Getty Images)

By following a unit-driven bankroll, you give yourself the ability to withstand a potential losing streak without losing all of your money. You've also taken the necessary steps of preventing your betting hobby from potentially ruining your life in other ways.

No such thing as a lock

You wake up and check the day's games. You immediately like one particular bet. You talk to your friends, and they all like the same side of the same game. Your favorite Yahoo writer is also on the same side and then Twitter is on your side as well. This is a lock! No way it loses. We're going all in on this game and we're doubling our money. Easy.

Well, if you haven't learned by now, you eventually will learn: There's no such thing as a lock.

Sure, there are some games that we certainly like more than others. There are games that we have more confidence in. It's OK to bet more on those games. However, piggy-backing off the earlier bankroll and unit talk, we need to do it responsibly. If your normal bet is 1% of your bankroll, I wouldn't bet more than 5% on any singular game, even if you do think it is a lock.

By doing that, we still have increased our risk and given ourselves the ability to profit off our conviction. We've also taken away the risk of being overly confident while acknowledging the fact that there's no such thing as a lock.

Take advantage of free money

Betting is hard enough and bettors need every advantage they can get. Thankfully, BetMGM has given the bettor some advantages.

Bettors can get a risk-free bet. This means you either win your bet and collect your profits, or you get your money back. It doesn't get much better than that.

Additionally, BetMGM often offers bettors perks such as free plays and odd boosts that help increase the odds in favor of the player. Make sure to take advantage of all of these perks as they can only help your profitability.

Understand the math

Math isn't fun, but it certainly helps explain things. If you understand the math behind something, the whole idea clears up. Take for example, losing weight. You can say exercising more and eating less is the key, and you would be correct. However, once you realize that it's a simple equation regarding calories consumed and calories burned, you know exactly what you're dealing with.

You should understand the math behind odds. On a typical football or basketball spread or total where you're laying -110, you need to win 52.38% of your bets to break even. That means that even if you have a 21-20 record, you are still a losing bettor.

You also should understand the math behind value. If you bet a +200 underdog, it's implied that the underdog wins 33% of the time. If you believe the underdog wins 40% of the time, it's still a good bet to make even if it loses 60% of the time. Process outweighs singular results.

The math also applies to betting on games themselves. For example, teasing a 1.5-point underdog up to a 7.5-point underdog is a much better tease than teasing a 9.5-point favorite down to a 3.5-point favorite. The math tells you that the points teased through in the first example are much more valuable than the points in the second one.

Closing line value and line movement

One sign of a profitable bettor is that he or she often gets a better number than the closing one. For example, if you bet the Packers to cover as a 2.5-point favorite on Wednesday, and they're a 4-point favorite by kickoff on Sunday, you got positive closing line value.

Betting early in the week is a scary proposition during these COVID times, but it's still a risk generally worth taking. If you're constantly getting the best of the number over time, you should become a profitable bettor. It also signals that you're sharp in terms of what's going on in the market.

Where people sometimes fail is that they jump on the train much too late. A great example was the Las Vegas Bowl on Thursday night between Wisconsin and Arizona State. Wisconsin was a 6-point favorite at the start of the day on Thursday. By the time the game kicked off, Wisconsin was laying 8 points. Wisconsin ended up winning by exactly 7 points. You need to realize when you're too late to the party.

Don't be afraid to admit you were wrong

This advice could apply to anything in life, but it's extremely important in sports betting. Things change, variables are different, unforeseen things happen. Hell, sometimes we're just plain wrong about something. Don't be afraid to admit you were wrong and pivot.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 25: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field following a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Browns 24-22. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Many people were wrong about Baker Mayfield and the Browns this season. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

A great example of that this NFL season has been the Cleveland Browns. Many had them as a dark-horse contender to win the Super Bowl, but quickly it became pretty obvious they were a relatively mediocre team. If you got off your preseason conceptions early, there was money to be made fading Cleveland in the middle part of the season. However, if you were stubborn and were confident Cleveland would find its way, you've probably lost quite a few bets this year.

Be selective

Believe it or not, you don't need to bet every single game that's on TV and you don't need to bet every single big game in every sport. This depends on your goals. If you're doing this for fun and throwing a few shekels on a game, you can get away with it. However, if you want to be profitable, you need to be selective.

Just because there's a Thursday night game between the Jets and the Dolphins doesn't mean you need to bet on it if you don't see any potential edge or angle to attack. Sure, you might win 50% of the time blindly picking a side, but all you're really doing is handing the vig back and forth to the oddsmakers.

You don't need to bet every game, tease every game, parlay every game, or pick a prop in every game. Bet only when you have conviction.

Focus and try to find a specialty

The reason most of us have turned to sports betting is because we are fans of sports. There are sports we like more than others, and there are teams and leagues that we follow closer than others. Instead of trying to get an elementary knowledge of all sports, focus on becoming extremely knowledgable in certain sports and leagues.

For some sports, it's harder than others. Obviously, it's hard to outsmart the betting market in sports like the NFL or Power Five college football. However, if it's a lesser sport like baseball, hockey, golf or tennis, it's not out of the realm of possibility that you could have an edge. It's also possible that you know more about the MAC or the Sun Belt than the betting market if you focus on those conferences.

For me, my sport is hockey. I've been a profitable hockey bettor in eight of the past 10 seasons, so I focus a lot of my attention there. I also went to school at UAlbany, so by following its basketball team, I know more about America East basketball than most. Try and find sports and leagues that you can feel confident in mastering.

Understand the grind

For new sports bettors or non-betting sports fans, betting on sports might seem easy. I remember my first sports bet. It was a 3-leg parlay that paid $120 on a $20 bet. I never felt more confident until two of the legs were toast in the first half of the game.

We already mentioned that a bettor needs to win 52.4% of his or her bets at -110 in order to be a profitable bettor. Good sports bettors could hit at a 55% clip, and mostly everyone would be happy hitting at that rate. Any bettor who claims he or she is hitting at 60% or better is either lying or on an unsustainable hot streak.

Once you realize that even the world's best sports bettors are losing at least 4 of every 10 bets, you understand how much of a grind it is to be a successful sports bettor. You need to put in work and the payoff could be slow at times.

Be kind

Nobody likes losing bets. Nobody likes bettors who are obnoxious. Nobody likes social media trolls.

Trust me when I tell you that anybody who loses a bet already feels bad enough. They don't want to read your comments, your hindsight second-guessing or your opinion after the fact. If you find yourself on the opposite side of a bet as someone else, and you end up on the winning side, certainly don't be obnoxious and start parading around and rubbing it in his or her face. That's bad betting karma.

Certainly don't be one of those social media trolls. The beauty of betting is if you disagree with someone and think they're a moron, you could pop open your betting account and bet the other side. If someone's having a rough stretch, just know it happens to every single bettor at some point. Anyone who has been doing this for any length of time has had bad weeks, months, seasons and even years.

It costs absolutely nothing to be kind to people, especially people who put in hours of work and publicize their opinions and leave themselves exposed to the masses.