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Top Football Betting Tips for Beginners

Top Tips for Football Betting Beginners

It’s easy to make mistakes when betting on football. Even the really smart guys with plenty of experience get it wrong from time to time. So you don’t need to beat yourself up over every little mistake when you’re just starting out. It’s actually important to accept that you’re going to make them, and try to learn from them.

With that being said, you still want to avoid mistakes as best you can. That should go without saying really. Since mistakes in betting inevitably cost you money, it’s important to limit them as much as you can. Even though it’s relatively easy to avoid, there is one common mistake that most beginners make over and over again.

Beginners tend to overcomplicate things.

The best thing to do as a beginner is to keep things as simple as possible. There’s absolutely no point in trying to get clever and implement complex strategies when you don’t really have the necessary knowledge and experience. All you’ll do is make things more difficult than they need to be. Why would anyone want that?

There will come a time when you’re ready to experiment with more advanced techniques and strategies that can give you a serious edge over the bookmakers. But that time isn’t now. Not as a beginner. At this stage it’s all about trying to get the basics right.

The purpose of this page is to help you do exactly that. We’ve put together a collection of tips that we think are especially useful for beginners. They’re all very simple, and some might even seem blatantly obvious. But you might be surprised at just how much difference these tips can make to your betting results. As simple as they are, they’re still very valuable.

Have a Budget

You’re not going to win every single football wager that you place. You know that, right? In fact, as a beginner, you’re probably going to lose a lot more than you win. Unless you have an amazing natural talent for betting, or manage to pick things up very quickly, that’s just the reality you have to face.

It’s not something to worry about though. You can’t expect to make a ton of money as soon as you start learning strategy. Football betting just isn’t that easy. You need A LOT of knowledge, and even that’s not enough by itself. That knowledge needs to be combined with experience. Unfortunately, gaining that experience usually means losing some money along the way.

You could consider these losses to be an investment. That’s not an unreasonable point of view if you’re serious about becoming a successful football bettor and are committed to putting in the necessary time and effort. The important thing is to think carefully about how much money you’re prepared to put aside for this. And always remember the following point.

Never, EVER, bet more money than you can afford to lose.

We really hope that this is obvious to you. We’ve established that there’s a significant risk of losing money, so there’s absolutely no way you should be risking funds that you can’t afford to lose. Any money that you put aside for the purposes of betting on football should be money that you’re fully prepared to say goodbye to.

Try to have a clear budget for how much you’re going to spend on football betting over a specific period of time. For example, this budget could be $1,000 for an entire NFL season. Ideally, you should take that sum of money and keep it separate from the rest of your finances. You’ve then got a proper bankroll which can be used solely for betting purposes. If you lose it all before the season ends, then it’s time to stop. You can always go again the following season if you can afford to allocate another bankroll.

In theory, you should never lose an entire bankroll. Not if you look after it properly. The whole point of having a dedicated bankroll is to then manage it in a way that you’ll never go bust. For starters, you should try to follow these three rules.

  • Set weekly or monthly limits for your overall betting spend.
  • Limit the amount you bet per individual wager.
  • Resist the temptation to chase your losses.

That’s essentially all that’s involved in managing a bankroll. It’s important to set the right limits and stick to them. If you’re disciplined, and reduce stakes if and when necessary, then you should be able to avoid losing the whole lot. And if you DO go bust after doing all that, it might be time to question whether you have what it takes to be a successful football bettor.

You can read about managing a betting bankroll in more detail in the following article.

Be Patient

We already mentioned how it takes knowledge and experience to be successful, both of which take time to master. Patience is a virtue, and that same principal can be applied to your football betting. Remember: you’re not going to become a winning bettor overnight.

It’s natural to want to start winning money as soon as possible. We understand this. It’s also why we suggest thinking long term. It will be hard at times, especially if you feel like you’re not really progressing, but you’ve just got to deal with that. You’ll just end up making lots of mistakes if you try to rush things.

Remember to stay focused on your ultimate goals. That’s the only way you’ll ever actually achieve them.

Bet Online

This tip is perhaps a little unnecessary since most people do their betting online these days, but we included it anyway. It’s still a solid piece of advice. Online betting offers several advantages over the other alternatives, so it’s quite simply the best option.

Here are just a few of those advantages.

  • Fast, safe and convenient.
  • Competitive odds and lines.
  • Bonuses and rewards.

The fact that online betting is fast, safe and convenient won’t have any direct impact on your betting results of course. But it’s worth mentioning because it means that everything is already taken care of for you. There’s enough to worry about when betting on football without having to worry about how you’re going to place your wagers. Using betting sites is hassle free, and that alone is a good enough reason to bet online.

There’s one stipulation to that last comment though. You need to use the RIGHT betting sites. Specifically, you need to use the ones that process deposits and withdrawals with ease and can be 100% trusted. There’s a few other factors to consider too, but they’re among the most important. You can check out our list of recommendations to find out which sites we consider to be the best.

The other two advantages mentioned above can definitely have some impact on your betting results. Getting the best odds and lines is vitally important, as we’ll discuss in a moment, and bonuses and rewards effectively give you additional funds to bet with.

Compare Odds & Lines

We just told you that getting the best odds and lines is important. There are two reasons for this. For starters, better odds lead to higher payouts, so you make more money on the wagers you win. Also, better lines can mean a greater chance of winning your wagers. Just a half- point difference on the spread can be the difference between winning and losing a wager.

You’ll get better odds and lines just from betting online, as betting sites are typically more competitive than other types of bookmakers. Not always, but often enough. You can further enhance that advantage by having accounts at a few betting sites, and shopping around to get the best deal for each wager you place.

Let’s use a couple of examples to illustrate this. We’ll start with a game where we’re planning to make a point spread wager. The Tennessee Titans are three point underdogs against the Minnesota Vikings and we figure they’re going to cover. Before placing the appropriate wager, we have a quick look around to see what odds and lines our betting sites are offering.

This is what we find.

Minnesota Vikings vs Tennessee Titans
Spreads Odds
Betting Site A
Minnesota -3
Tennessee +3
-110
-110
Betting Site B
Minnesota -3
Tennessee +3
+100
-120
Betting Site C
Minnesota -4
Tennessee +4
-105
-115

You’ll see that there are a few differences here. The first two sites both have the spread at three, but there are some variations in the odds. If we were backing the favorites here, we’d want to use “Betting Site B.” We’d be getting +100 instead of -110. That’s not a huge difference, but not an insignificant one either.

But since we’re backing the underdog, the best odds are at “Betting Site A.” We’re getting -110 instead of the -120 at “Betting Site B.”

“Betting Site C” is even better though. The odds on Tennessee are slightly worse at -115, but there’s a four-point spread. That means we’ll win even if Tennessee loses by three. At the other two sites, that would be a push. It’s worth taking the marginally worse odds for a better chance of winning.

For the next example, we’re planning to make a totals wager. Chicago is playing Houston and the total is 44.5. We like the over. Again, we have a look around at our sites to see what’s available.

Minnesota Vikings vs Tennessee Titans
Totals Odds
Betting Site A
Over 44.5
Under 44.5
-110
-110
Betting Site B
Over 44.5
Under 44.5
-115
-105
Betting Site C
Over 43.5
Under 43.5
-110
-110

Looking purely at the odds, we can instantly see we want to avoid “Betting Site B.” We’re only being offered -115, instead of the -110 at the other two sites. When we look at the total too, we can see that “Betting Site C” is clearly the best option. The odds are the same as “Betting Site A,” but we only need 44 points to be scored instead of 45. That gives us a little more margin for error on our prediction, so we’re more likely to win.

Scenarios such as the two outlined here are common on football games. Betting sites will often have different odds and lines, so there’ll always be a best option for any given wager. Even when the differences are very small, it still pays to get the best deal available. By fractionally improving your chances of winning, and fractionally improving your payouts, you’ll definitely make more money (or lose less) in the long run.

Follow the Sport Closely

We did warn that some of these tips are very obvious. This is perhaps the most obvious one of all. Paying close attention to what’s going on in the world of football is clearly going to help when betting on the sport. The better you know the teams and players, the more likely you’ll be to make good betting decisions.

There are several ways to keep up to date with football and make sure that you have the information needed to make informed judgements and predictions. The following are the most effective.

  • Watch plenty of games.
  • Read match previews and reports.
  • Keep track of injuries and roster changes.
  • Get the views and opinions of others.

The first one is especially important. The others are all very useful in their own right, but watching games is the best way to form your own opinion about teams and players. It provides real insight into their quality, their form, and their style of play. That’s all useful information to have.

And there’s really no excuse for not watching enough games. Not if you live in the United States anyway. Football is the nation’s most popular sport, and that’s clearly reflected in the amount of airtime it gets.

Popular Sports Networks

The coverage of football is extensive across several major sports outlets.

Even if you don’t have the time to watch the entire game at once, you can still watch the highlights. These don’t always paint the whole picture of a how game went, but they do provide a reasonable idea.

Before we move onto the next tip, there’s one more important thing to cover. We’ve mentioned that getting the views and opinions of others can be effective, but we need to clarify that a little. Specifically, we need to make sure the following point is very clear.

Don’t blindly trust the “experts.”

You should never make betting decisions based SOLELY on what another person thinks. Not even if they’re a respected sports journalist or an ex-professional of the sport. Even the genuine experts aren’t right all the time. There’s nothing wrong with considering their views and opinions, and factoring them in to a decision, but don’t rely on them completely. It’s also important to remember than not everyone on TV actually IS an expert. That term gets thrown around far too often.

Know Your Betting Options

You’re probably already familiar with the two most popular types of football wager. In the unlikely event that you’re not, please see the following page for more information. You really shouldn’t be betting on football without understanding how point spreads and totals work.

It’s possible to make money from football betting using just those two wagers. But, ideally, you should also be aware of all the other betting options too. This will give you a much greater chance of finding good opportunities to get some money down.

The wagers listed below are probably the most important ones to learn more about.

  • Moneylines
  • Futures
  • Parlays
  • Teasers
  • Pleasers
  • Props
  • If Bets
  • Reverse Bets

Have you heard of all of these? Do you know how they work, and when you should use them? No? Then please read through the following article. It covers each one of them in detail.

Work on Your Predictive Skills

This is another fairly obvious tip. Regardless, it’s still something you should do. You’ll never be able to make accurate predictions all of the time, but you can certainly try to improve your predictive skills as much as possible.

How do you do this? Well, the first thing is to make sure that you’re fully aware of all the information that can be used to help make accurate football predictions. This can be broken down as follows.

  • Factors that directly affect the outcome of football games.
  • Player and team statistics.
  • Trends and patterns.

Next you need to learn all about those factors that affect the outcome of football games, and how they can be assessed and analyzed. Then you need to learn about the various player and team statistics that are relevant to football betting, and understand how to use them effectively. Finally, you need to learn which trends and patterns can be useful indicators of what’s going to happen in the future.

Or, to put it another way, what you need to do is read the following three articles.

Learn to Find Value

As a beginner to betting strategy it’s possible that you’re not familiar with the concept of value as it applies in this context. And, even if you are, it’s unlikely that you fully understand the concept and recognize how important it is. We’re not criticizing here, as most bettors fail to properly grasp this concept.

Identifying value is the key to football betting success!

This is NOT an exaggeration. Your chances of making money from football betting, or any kind of betting for that matter, are severely limited if you don’t understand value and identify it in the betting markets. Finding value is essentially the only way to make consistent profits, unless you’re simply insanely lucky.

Don’t be worried by this though. The good news is that the basic concept is actually not that complicated. And putting it into practice is surprisingly not that difficult. It does take time to learn how to regularly and effectively find value, but even that can be done with the right level of effort and commitment. Take a look at the following article to find out more.

Trust Your Instincts

Throughout this entire football betting guide we talk about the need to make informed judgements and rational decisions. We talk about how many different factors must be taken into account before making predictions, and how important it is to have a clearly defined thought process.

One thing we don’t talk about very much is instinct though. This is partly because instinct isn’t tangible. We can’t really teach people how to interpret instinctive thoughts, or how to factor instinct into a betting decision. One thing we can say though is that there’s nothing wrong with trusting your instincts. In fact, there will be times when you’ll want to rely on them completely.

Is it ever right to bet on a hunch?
Yes!

You’re unlikely to make money if all you ever do is bet on hunches. But there’s nothing wrong with doing so occasionally. There will be times when a hunch is all you’ve really got to go on. In some situations, all the analysis in the world won’t help you make a final decision. And in these situations, it’s fine to have faith in your instincts and just follow them.

This approach will let you down sometimes for sure. No-one’s instincts are perfect. But then, even the very best strategies will let you down on occasion too. They’re not perfect either. There isn’t ANY foolproof way to pick a winning selection. So when trusting your instinct feels like the right thing to do, don’t be afraid to just go for it.

It’s also worth considering that instincts can effectively be “trained” over time, to become more reliable. The more you study football betting strategy, the better you’ll become at analyzing all the relevant information that’s available. Your interpretations of how various factors affect the likelihood of certain outcomes will become more accurate. Your decision making will naturally become more intuitive as result. By that point, it’s quite possible that your instincts will have become a powerful tool.

Track Your Results

You’ll never truly “master” football betting. Sorry if that’s disappointing to hear, but it’s a fact. The sport itself is evolving all the time. The effect of various factors fluctuates as a result, and so does the relevancy of certain statistics. It’s an ever changing landscape, which means you’ll never have ALL the answers.

Any systems and strategies you use will have to be constantly tweaked so that they too are evolving and changing as necessary. This applies even after becoming successful, and it most definitely applies before reaching that stage. It’s important to always be looking for ways to fine tune things and improve overall betting results.

This can only really be done effectively by tracking results. Keeping detailed records of your betting allows you to do the following.

  • See how much you’re winning or losing.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Knowing the amounts won or lost is obviously important. It’s the only way to measure just how well things are going. Properly analyzing past records can reveal MUCH more than that though. It’s a vital process for understanding what’s working out well, and what’s not working at all. With this information on hand, it’s then possible to highlight the best ways to improve.

We won’t get too in depth here, because we’ve covered this subject in detail in the following article. Please take the time read through this, and be sure to take the advice into consideration. It will prove very helpful in the long run.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

Successful betting isn’t simply about winning as many wagers as possible. It’s also about achieving a good ratio of winning wagers to losing wagers. To achieve a good ratio, it’s important to be selective. It might be tempting to bet on every game each weekend in the hope of getting every single prediction correct, but that’s not a sensible approach. Could you honestly make a good case for each wager? We doubt it. Your goal should be to only bet when there’s a good reason to do so.

ALWAYS bet for the right reasons. NEVER bet for the sake of it.

There’s only two good reasons for making a wager. The first is if you’re genuinely confident about making an accurate prediction. The second is if you’ve identified value in the betting market. Ideally, most wagers you place will meet BOTH of these criteria.

The simple fact is that betting for any other reason is going to cost money in the long run. So don’t worry about trying to make lots of wagers. Focus instead on placing well thought out wagers. Doing so will almost certainly lead to much better results.

Beware of the Touts

The internet is full of football touts. A small minority of them offer a good service at affordable prices. Some even offer a few good quality picks for free. The vast majority of them are a complete waste of money though. We don’t particularly recommend using the tout services at all, but if you really want to then, PLEASE be very careful about which services you choose.

Football Touts

Football touts are prone to making amazing claims. Don’t believe them all.

We understand that paying to get winning picks can seem attractive. It’s certainly a lot less effort than carrying out a load of research and analysis, and then trying to make good betting decisions based on that work. The idea of just following someone else’s instructions is obviously appealing.

Putting in the effort is likely to pay off in the long run though. Paying for picks, on the other hand, rarely does. There might be a few winning weeks, or even a winning season. But truly long term profits are unlikely. Few, if any, tout services actually pay for themselves over a prolonged period of time.

Honestly, if you’re not prepared to put in the effort required to be a successful bettor then you might as well forget about making money. Just stick to betting recreationally. This will probably give you the same chance of showing a profit as when you’re paying for picks anyway.

Study, Study, Study

We’re on to our final tip. In keeping with the general theme, it’s another very straightforward one. Regular and continuous study can be very boring at times, but it’s essential if you want to become a knowledgeable and successful football bettor. So our last piece of advice is to simply keep on learning as much as possible about football betting and the strategy involved.

Will this be enjoyable? Probably not. Will it help? Almost certainly. And that’s a good enough reason to do it. If you’re genuinely serious about wanting to show profits from betting on football, then you’re going to have to do a great deal of studying. It’s the only way to achieve that goal.

Don’t try to learn everything all at once though. It’s not even possible. There’s too much information and advice to take in over a short period of time. Remember what we said earlier about being patient. Taking things one step at a time is a better route to success than trying to get there in a hurry. Focus on the basics first, and then worry about the more advanced stuff when you’re ready.

Having completed this article, there are a few more articles that we would recommend reading. We’ve listed these below. They are also relatively straightforward and suitable for beginners, but still very useful nonetheless.

This article teaches you some simple football betting strategies that are ideal for beginners. They’re easy to understand and easy to use, yet they can still be very profitable.
Point spread wagers are likely to account for a sizable percentage of all your football betting activity. So you should learn how to bet them effectively. This article will help with that.
You’ll probably want to place a lot of totals wagers too, as they’re one of the simplest of all football wagers. The advice in this article will help you make money from them.
Football handicapping is a subject you simply have to learn about if you want to be a successful bettor. This article explains it all in great detail.
A follow up from the above article, this one explains several basic handicapping techniques. Learning and using these techniques will improve your football betting results