How to handle a losing streak in sports betting

11 Must-Follow Rules to Handle a Losing Streak

I've won more money than I've lost. I have the stats, records and graphs to prove it. It's still hard to lose. 

It's easy to get cocky and over-confident when your bets are winning and your bankroll keeps growing.

It's only when the winning stops and the losing streak from hell shows up when you get to find out what you're really made of.

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A lot of sports bettors have wondered if they could bet on sports for a living. I would bet that most of them don't track their bets, would have no idea what their yield is, don't practice consistent bankroll management, and haven't learned the painful lesson of how to handle a losing streak.

It doesn't matter how confident you are.

It doesn't matter how much money you make.

It doesn't matter how long you've been betting on sports.

It doesn't matter that your model is bulletproof, that you use Poisson distribution, or that you strictly bet with a quarter-Kelly criterion staking plan correlated to the calculated edge you have for any particular bet.

Sooner or later, you will encounter the losing streak from hell.

Every single sports bettor has to learn how to handle a losing streak.

If they don't, they will never be profitable.

They will never be successful.

They will bounce around from handicapper to handicapper, from system to system.

They will continuously deposit money into a sportsbook, or pay their bookie weekly.

They will eventually convince themselves that it's just for entertainment. Just like going to Vegas. They know they're going to lose, and they're "okay with that".

I'm not okay with losing money.

Are you?

I like to make money. And in order for me to make money by betting on sports, I had to learn the same lesson that every other successful sports bettor has had to learn...

How to handle a losing streak


You see, your mind likes to play tricks on you.

It'll create these "what-if" scenarios that cause you to doubt and second-guess your entire operation.

Any time you step outside of your comfort zone, your mind will quickly try to bring you back to the known, even if it has to ask you questions like What if this doesn't work? or tell you things like Everybody loses - Vegas exists for a reason.

So how do you tell your brain to shut the fuck up?

How do you override your own built-in protection mechanisms to keep you safe?

How do you keep going, when that little voice in your head tells you to stop; that you can't do it? That you were stupid for thinking that you could be one of those people that beat the system.

I won't lie; it's difficult.

When you keep losing money week after week, and month after month, it's easy to second-guess yourself. It's easy to give in and let your brain convince you that you were wrong for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

But you know what?

If sports betting for a living was easy, then a lot more people would be doing it.

In order to handle a losing streak, you're going to need evidence.

You see, your brain likes to play the roles of the judge, the jury, and the executioner.

The only way that you are going to be able to override your internal protection mechanism (your brain) is if you have evidence. Cold, hard, facts. In this case, numbers.

That's the only thing that will work.

If you've been tracking your bets, and your record shows that you're profitable over the long-term (for more than 1,000 bets), then that's all the proof that you need.

If you haven't recorded 1,000 bets yet (but you've started tracking your record), then just keep at it, because every bet that you track is just one more piece of evidence that you know what you're doing is working and that you can actually make money betting on sports.

Now that's all fine and dandy - until the next losing streak comes. Then your mind decides to kick it up a notch.

You start to think ...

What if my system just doesn't work anymore?
What if the market has corrected itself?
What if the handicapper's systems aren't working anymore?

And if your brain really wants to mess with you, and I mean really pull out all the negative stuff, you might even think things like...

I knew it. I'm not smart enough. I was a fucking idiot to think I was smarter than the Vegas billionaires. It can't be done. The people that do it are just too smart, and I'm not good enough.

When this happens, you better hope that you have 3 key pieces of information (if not, you're gonna need some iron-clad motivation to keep going):

  • 1,000+ tracked bets
  • A positive ROI/yield
  • A profit-trending chart that shows you the direction in which your bankroll is going

If you don't have those numbers, then it's going to be hard to reason with yourself, and convince yourself that what you're doing is actually working.

You have to be able to completely 100% trust the system(s) that you are using to bet and/or trade with.

If you track your bets over 1,000+ picks, then you'll have the statistics that you'll need in order to know what to expect about your betting performance.

What to do next

  • Take a day off. Sports betting has a huge psychological role to it, and if your mind isn't sharp that day, there's nothing wrong with taking the day off. Emotions can easily ruin your bankroll by causing you to do things you normally wouldn't do.
  • Realize that losing streaks happen to everybody. As long as your numbers show that you are profitable, then you're not doing anything wrong; losing streaks are simply a result of mathematical odds. Just like winning streaks will happen to you, so will losing streaks. They happen to everybody.
  • Keep doing what you've been doing. Again, as long as you're profitable, then realize that what you've been doing works, and that you need to just keep at it. Your bankroll will go through ups and downs, just like a rollercoaster. In fact, it doesn't matter which financial market you're trading (whether it be sports or stocks), everybody's profit charts are always up and down. This is another reason why you need solid data (from tracking your bets) to re-assure yourself that you're on the right track.
  • Examine your bet tracking results to see if you can pinpoint exactly what the problem is (if any). You need to be able to determine the cause of your losing streak, and if it's fixable. If you know that you haven't made any mistakes (and your data backs this up), and that you've followed all of your own betting/trading rules, then you have nothing to worry about. It's just variance at play, and there's nothing for you to change.
  • If you're not already doing so, start tracking your bets!  I really can't stress this enough. Yes, it can be annoying sometimes to record your bets, especially if you're placing 10 bets in a day, but it's such a vital piece of information for you to have. Don't even think about it, just do it. Track your bets!

What NOT to do next

    • Don't be too quick to change anything. Assuming that you are profitable in the long-run, then realize that what you're doing works. Don't make any rash decisions. Don't necessarily drop the handicapper or system that you've been using. Jumping from one system to another is not the answer. That only makes you a losing sports bettor.
    • Do not bet erratically. Don't chase your bets. Don't make stupid, high-risk bets. You want to keep everything the same. You want to keep doing exactly what you've been doing.

      I know how your mind works. You have a really bad 2 weeks, your bankroll is cut in half, and your brain tells you to double your bets, otherwise it's going to take forever to get back to where you already were.

      It's just how sports betting works. It's never linear. Your profit-growth graph will look like a zig-zag line, hopefully trending upward.
    • Don't change your money management strategy. Don't increase your bets from 1% of bankroll to 5% (or more!). Don't start chasing your losses or betting with the Martingale system. Those are things I would do if I were trying to lose my bankroll.
    • Don't change your betting/trading strategy. You must be consistent, persistent, and patient. Don't change anything. Don't try to adjust your model. Don't tell the handicappers that they suck. Realize that you should measure results on a season-by-season basis.
    • Do not blame your losses on bad luck, or a bad beat. Accept responsibility and own your losses. This is all psychological. Your brain has a very hard time dealing with losing streaks.

      It's not luck. It's variance. It's regression to the mean. It's what is expected to happen with sports betting. It happens. Learn to accept that as soon as you can.
    • If you drink or use drugs to take the edge off, or just to have some fun, please don't login to your sportsbook. Don't place any bets. Alcohol and drugs lower your inhibitions, and you can make some really stupid decisions.

      I remember one year, I was following a progressive (chase your losses) NBA sports betting system by "John Morrison" (his real name is Tony Chau), and I was up $7,500 for the season. It was a Friday night in April. Lakers were playing Portland. I bet I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

      Some friends and I decided to do some day-drinking, and at some point (after I was feeling really good), I had the brilliant idea of going all-in and betting everything I had won for the season on one game. I didn't even consider the possibility of losing; I was already getting excited about having a $15,000 bankroll.

      It was on the Lakers +1. It was a sure-win (or so I thought). It wasn't part of the sports betting system. It was a stupid recreational bet. I was taking a risk. Lakers lost, 98-106. I lost.

      I was so drunk that I didn't even care. It hit me the next day. Everything I had won for the season, gone in one drunken night. Don't drink and gamble. There's a reason why casinos give you free alcohol.

You will learn something from every streak that you experience (whether it's a winning or a losing streak).

You will build confidence the more you bet. Once you hit 1,000 bets, it gets easier.

With every additional 1,000 bets that you add to your total record, your confidence will keep growing.

Once you hit 5,000 bets, while the thoughts will still pop into your head, you will have learned how to handle them.

And after you reach 10,000 bets? Well, if you have a positive ROI/yield after 10,000 bets, and your overall profit-growth graph is an upward-trending line, then congratulations. You've made it.

BTW, if that's you, I would love to interview you. We can keep it as anonymous as you like. Definitely hit me up; I love talking to my readers.

About the Author Steve

Steve firmly believes that most meals can be improved with mac n cheese. When he's not helping people make money betting on sports, Steve loves mountain biking, playing video games with his son, & annoying his wife. Oh, and he's a big Dallas Cowboys fan. Don't hate.

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