As with so many well-intentioned endeavors to self help, vows to improve your sports betting discipline often can go the way of countless other New Year’s resolutions.
You know, the same ill-fated list of grandiose endeavors that includes more gym visits, less jaywalking and fewer late-night Cinemax programs.
In other words, an afterthought.
So while the glow of the cheap champagne on New Year’s Eve will inevitably fade, here is a printed reminder of sports betting resolutions to keep in mind in 2013.
No. 5: Thou shall not parlay (excessively)
We all understand the temptation: Small risk, big reward. Thus, the glorious potential of it all clouds our judgment and we end up putting the “sucker” in sucker bet. Sure, there’s no harm in playing the proverbial lottery ticket once in a while, plucking down $5 on an eight-teamer and hoping the planets align correctly. But to risk the majority of your bankroll this way? Forget it. Of course, there are those days when you go 6-0 on straight bets and lament not doing a parlay. But what about the others when you go, say, 4-2?
Another common argument is the one in which a bettor says he only has $20 to his name, so he might as well go for a big score. Come again? Let me get this straight: You would rather have a terrific chance at walking away broke, as opposed to a pretty good one at walking with about $40? Don’t get the “logic” here. Just remember, bet straight, bet great.
No. 4: Thou shall not complain (nor celebrate)
Emotional detachment is key for a good sports bettor. While losing generates a natural disappointment, don’t let it linger. Negative feelings can lead to a lack of confidence. Try to see each bet as an individual business transaction and treat it as such. Don’t get too high, either, as a sense of invincibility after a winning streak also can be detrimental.
No. 3: Thou shall not exceed thy bankroll
As with many gambling endeavors, this is a critical component to success, but easier said than done. It’s why you can consistently beat a sportsbook and they will gladly still take your business. In the long run, those who accept the bets expect you, the gambler, to self-destruct. Disappoint them. While everyone’s limit might be different, you know what you can afford. Stick to your means.
No. 2: Thou shall not bet blindly
How many times have you walked up to a ticket writer and said, “Give me a bet on number one-eighty-sev … make that 188?” If it has happened more than once, take caution. Betting for entertainment purposes only certainly has its place and, if that is your goal, then have at it. But how many times have you let an “action” bet put a dent in your profit for the day? When you were a collecting a day’s worth of winnings and fired on the 7 p.m. game just to keep your juices flowing? These often are low-percentage wagers. Know when to say when.
No. 1: Thou shall not back down from a great bet
With all due respect to discipline, there are times when you need to let loose and fire. Mainly, when you’ve found what you believe to be a can’t-miss game. Granted, the term “sure thing” is an oxymoron in sports betting.
But we’ve all had particular games in which we were certain of the outcome. When this feeling comes, if you have any sports savvy at all, you likely are right about 90 percent of the time. But how often is this accompanied by the empty feeling afterward, when you had just a small bet or no action at all? When you find a great game and are sure of yourself, it’s time to gamble, whatever the maximum unit your bankroll allows. As an old axiom states, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win.” Keep this in mind when you find a good bet.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2009 but these resolutions ring true no matter what year you're betting in.