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What You Should And Should Not Do When Betting On Sports

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We look at the DOs and DON’Ts of sports gambling from the easily avoided pitfalls to the creeping dangers so you can steer clear of them.

There are, of course, rules to gambling, and not all of them are written down. Certainly the bookmaker, website or sports-book will have terms and conditions (which you should ALWAYS read) but beyond these little technical matters of small print, there are pitfalls that the unwary novice can all too easily fall into with little or no effort. Some of these are obvious, you’d be surprised how many forget them.

First off let’s start with the big one. Keep it legal. Yes, yes, that illegal bookie you know might just be offering staggeringly large odds on a particular event, and certainly he’s convenient, but in a world of the internet and the myriad of gambling websites offering easy access and simple betting procedures why go to a criminal? It seems a trifle cavalier even for a gambler.

Legal bookmakers won’t send people to break your legs, spend their profits on terrorism or have you arrested with a phone call because you won and they owe you more money than they wish to pay you.

Reputable bookmakers, online sportsbooks and casinos exist, use them and leave the shadowy world of illegal gambling alone. There’s gambling and there’s risking, don’t confuse the two.

Now obviously if you’re in a country where gambling is illegal, or only legal in certain areas as with the gambling laws in the USA, you might think it tricky to place bets legally. However as I’ve pointed out the online world has changed that and it doesn’t take a massive knowledge of much more than google search to find places to put bets on legally around the world.

Limit Your Losses Where Possible

What to do and what not to do

•Use a reputable online sportsbook
•Never gamble what you can’t afford to lose
•Know when to walk away

The next most important thing is to know your limits. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t gamble it. It can be awfully enticing in face of success to place larger and larger wagers but this is almost always a mistake. Just because the first two horses you backed came in first doesn’t mean that third one will, and your team’s recent run of good performance is no guarantee.

The inability to see the future means one has to allow for all circumstances to come to pass and it is sometimes easy to overlook the possibility of defeat whilst dreaming of victory. Now if that means you feel you can’t afford to gamble, you’re wrong. In the UK for example your average high street bookmaker will take wagers of a single pound or less which isn’t beyond the purse of all but the most hard up amongst us.

These small wagers are still as much fun as gambling huge amounts, and whilst they’ll never make you rich, they’ll never leave you destitute without this month’s rent money. If nothing else the novice sports gambler may wish to keep bets as small as possible to begin with just until they get the hang of it. This is what they call responsible gambling, and it makes a great deal of sense.

Sense is important. You won’t have any if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs so it’s probably best not to get drunk and high and start putting hundreds of dollars on 7 horse accumulators or Israel to win the next World Cup. Keep your wits about you, gambling on sports is about skill as much as it is luck, so don’t just scatter your money and pray, put in some effort and check out the form.

Never Gamble Your Wife Or Life

Looking at a team’s stats or a horse’s form in the gambling news is an all important part of sports betting since no event is held in isolation of the rest of the season for that particular sport. Injuries of key players, changes in the firmness of the racing surface, and past results can all play a part in today’s result and if you’re unaware you’re gambling at a disadvantage. Be knowledgeable of what you’re betting on to avoid silly mistakes.

Silly mistakes are often disguised as genius by the one or two people for whom they work. There will always be the story of the guy who put five bucks on a bizarrely massive chain of events requiring a correct choice in each one at the start, and who wins millions. This won’t be you. Promise. Long shots are just that and fail to pay off far, far more frequently than they make people rich. Stick to the reasonably possible not the highly unlikely.

It is also highly unlikely you’ll fall prey to the error of gambling your wife, house, job, name or genital privacy but people do, usually people who should know better, and in no case is the result ever a pleasant one. Strange stakes and weird wagers might be fun to read about but they’re not for the faint of heart or new to gambling. Avoid them.

If you keep it legal, use a reputable bookmaker, always read the terms and conditions, keep within what you can afford and pay enough attention so that it’s not mere whim of fate than chooses who you back, and of course know when to walk away, gambling can be a responsible hobby that provides an extra thrill to the already exciting world of sports without costing much more than a night out of any other variety.

Read more of our guide to sports gambling.

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