How Often or How Many Games Should You Bet On?


Last Updated: 2017-05-16

I get asked by people quite often if we are betting any more than a game or two on any given day. The answer doesn’t vary. It’s always “I don’t know yet.”

Recreational and casual bettors feel either the need for action, or the need to have a certain amount of wagers in play. As we’ve discussed before, if you are in this for entertainment purposes only then that’s all well and good. If you are in the serious business of making money then that way of thinking should go out the window.

If you’re one of those people that likes 3+ bets a day, you may struggle on a Monday in NFL. Then again, you can generally find baseball or basketball to add to the portfolio on a Monday night, but that would be what we call “forcing plays”. If you are going to take this seriously you need to bet a game when you feel you have an edge and simply pass if you don’t.

There is a reason there are any number of tout picks available on Monday Night Football, or better yet, the last College football game on a Saturday, generally in Hawaii when many of us are looking at the inside of our eyelids. It’s because people crave action. There cannot be an edge on every Rainbow football game or every Monday Night Football game. Add to that the fact that they are very public/stand-alone games, so there is more recreational money involved, which of course can skew the numbers.

There are days when I will bet one or two games and there are days when we might have action on five or more. If you do the work and feel that you have an edge, you bet the game. There is simply no finite way of calculating your edge, at least in my book. A game is either a bet or it is not. Often times I look back at a game and say “I knew that,” and wish I’d have bet it.

Take out the emotion for a bit. Over the years we have NOT bet games that we considered that would have lost. That is as good as winning; saving a loss. That would be the quintessential example of not making the work/handicapping/numbers say what you WANT them to say, because we can extrapolate exactly what we want to make our case. Don’t do that!

That’s also the definition of betting what we’d like to have happen rather than what most likely WILL happen. Don’t do that, either. If there is any hesitation, don’t bet the game. I know that many of you buy plays of subscribe to a service, and I also know that many off you are very sharp in your areas of expertise. If you get a play you simply don’t agree with, don’t bet it. I have a great deal of clients that know far more than me about a Conference or a team I don’t follow as regularly as they do.

So to summarize, let’s look at sports betting as if it were the stock market. In a way, it is. You don’t look at the NYSE on a daily basis and say you are going to buy five stocks that day. You look at the NYSE and know you have $500 to invest, and you either buy one stock, or spread the risk around. When people start looking at sports betting that way, they will either make more money, or lose less.

Dave Essler is a handicapper at Pregame, featured on ESPN, CNN, Fox Sports, and more.

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