6 mistakes to avoid when betting on the NBA

By Andrew D

February 25, 2023

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There can be few more difficult ways to make money than by sports betting. Many sports bettors spend their entire gambling lives doing nothing but losing bets. An apt quote by Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity springs to mind…

But it’s not so easy to change your ways and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again if you’re unaware of what those mistakes are. So, we put our massive heads together in The Jump Hub office and have come up with a list of things not to do if you want any chance of coming out on top when betting on the NBA in particular. Here’s our list.

Feel free to hit us up on social media and berate us for the ones we missed…

1) Failure to manage your bankroll effectively

We have an excellent guide on how to manage your bankroll in sports betting but for the purposes of this article, let’s keep things simple. If you lack discipline and focus when it comes to your bankroll, you are almost certainly going to struggle to keep a handle on things. 

The principles of bankroll management are easy to implement and highly effective. It is not by coincidence that every single sharp bettor we know employs some variation of the system. The fact that their bankrolls happen to be vastly larger than our own is the only real difference.

If the professionals do it then we’d have to be really stupid not to follow suit 

It is no secret that many of us (yes, I said us, we are not immune to this just because we understand why we shouldn’t do it) are impulsive when it comes to gambling. Sports betting, in particular, has an incredible capacity to tempt us into spontaneous bets and rash decisions that we know deep down we shouldn’t go along with. 

This leads us neatly to mistake number two…

2) Betting under the influence

As much fun as it can be to indulge in your mind-altering substance of choice and lay a few cheeky wagers, it is a terrible strategy in terms of actually winning anything. 

All of your careful studying of form and statistics (you have been doing those things, right?) go straight out of the window when you bet under the influence. Judgment is impaired and the temptation is to ‘go with your gut’ and bet on a whim. You might get lucky a few times. There is certainly something to be said for gut feelings in the world of sports betting. But they are rarely sufficient to be the foundation of a winning NBA betting strategy and you will almost certainly lose in the long run. Let’s be clear - you’ll probably lose in the long run, even if you bet sober.

Doing it any other way is just adding another layer of ‘no chance’ to the equation.

The temptation to go for the big win and stick your neck out is already strong in many sports bettors and the chances of doing so when live betting are significantly increased. Add a certain self-inflicted lowering of inhibitions and loss of common sense into that equation and it’s what is commonly known as a ‘recipe for disaster.’ 

If you’re going to indulge in some relaxing substances during the game then decide to refrain from making any bets and be disciplined about it. Put your phone in another room if you have to or give it to someone you trust. By all means, use your sophisticated, well-researched system of how to bet on NBA games to pick those bad-boys beforehand and then step away. Enjoy the game and do not make any more bets once you are no longer in full control of your faculties…

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3) Taking on too many bets

Now, we’re all about making a reasonable number of bets, as long as each one is appropriately researched and justified. However, at some point, it pays to ask yourself whether you can really be giving each bet the due care and attention it requires. 

On top of that, it’s hard to get any pleasure from watching the scores and stats come in and rooting for your predicted outcome if there are so many that you can’t keep up with them all. At the end of the day, sports betting should be undertaken for entertainment purposes only and it’s hard to be entertained if scores and outcomes are passing you by because you have too many to handle. Either way, remember mistake number one and

Never bet more than the pre-determined % of your bankroll that is written in stone

4) Betting on your favourite team

We know that logic and reality go out of the window when it comes to the subject of our own teams. As far as this writer is concerned, the Atlanta Hawks (Go Hawks!) are the greatest team in NBA history. Is that accurate? Clearly not. But it’s almost impossible to remain objective when your beloved team are in action.

Are we really prepared to bet against our own team if the stats and predictions tell us that they’re likely to lose? Never. So just don’t bother. Leave your favourite team out of the running and just watch the game for the love of it. 

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5) Failing to do your homework

If you are the kind of person who wants to kick back watch a game and lay a few bets that spring to mind as you go then that’s fine. We’ve been there and we loved it.

We lost a lot more than we made, but that was part of the deal. No research was required, therefore no real expectations were to be had. We knew that we would probably lose more than we won but considered it part of the entertainment fee for the game. It made no real difference to us financially and so was just something that we did to enhance our experience of watching our beloved basketball. It was only when we started to get really interested in the finer details and trends that:

It became obvious we were never going to win any money that way. 

The amount of time, effort, and depth of rabbit holes you are prepared to delve into when it comes to being in the best position to make your NBA bets is a purely personal decision. We’ve drawn our own particular line somewhere between ‘every waking moment’ and ‘2 minutes before the games start’ and have had varying degrees of success with both styles. Overthinking can be just as counter-productive as under thinking and, as with everything in life it seems, finding the right balance for you seems to be the answer.

If you figure out what it is, hit us up on Twitter and let us know, please.  

The most essential things to check before you place your wagers on any game will be very subjective. If you love your player-props bets then it makes little sense to study elements that will have little effect on that. The great skill lies in deciding what things affect each other most profoundly and how to use the information that they reveal to you. 

It certainly pays to be aware of any injuries and team issues before placing your bets. If it turns out that your gut tells you to back the Detroit Pistons against the Houston Rockets then it might be of use to know if there has been an open dressing-room revolt or a mass bout of influenza that has decimated the roster. 

Stick to what you know has paid dividends for you in the past

Pay attention to long on-the-road stretches for any given team and how they tend to handle those periods. Home vs away records could not be simpler to find and are listed next to the teams in many NBA standings.  They can be very revealing and form part of the strategies and decision-making of many experienced bettors. 

6) Keeping unrealistic expectations despite the glaringly-obvious reality

It is a curious thing to be blinded to the obvious truth by the sheer desire for it not to be so. Or to be able to convince oneself that “It will be different this time” if absolutely nothing about the scenario has changed. Such is the nature of addiction. It skews our perspectives and allows us to do all kinds of mental gymnastics in order to justify whatever behaviour it is we want to indulge in. 

Even top-level professional gamblers only expect to win between 53 and 60% of all the bets they place. If you even manage to get half of your predictions right, you will be doing much better than most sports bettors. Sadly, because we have to pay juice for the privilege of betting with our chosen sportsbooks, getting 50% of your bets right doesn’t mean you break even.

That pesky fee means you will still lose money

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Final thoughts

We’re not trying to put a dampener on your betting exploits and make them seem utterly futile. It just depends on the motive behind placing those bets. If you are desperate to make money for some reason, probably to make up for the money you already lost gambling, then you have to stop and face the truth. Sports betting is not for you. It is not a short-term fix to make some easy money. It is a slippery slope to ruin if you allow it to be. 

These few mistakes to avoid will help make your experience a less destructive one but, at the end of the day, gambling should not be the answer to anything except the question:

  • How can I spice up the game that I love to watch by adding an extra dimension of risk that will be exciting but ultimately have no detrimental effect on my overall standard of life or mental health?

That’s it. In a nutshell

Have fun, find your niche and place your bets, just not at the expense of anything else in your life. Lose a few dollars and walk away. Win a few and buy a round. Either way, the quality of your life must not be negatively affected in any way. Just look after yourself and recognise when the situation has gotten beyond your control. If you’re beyond being able to view the situation objectively then ask people you trust for their honest opinions. Just don’t be angry or shocked when they give them.

More than anything:

When the fun stops, stop

Thanks for reading

Here at The Jump Hub we love to make mistakes and talk nonsense at times. 

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