It should come as no surprise to anyone that Americans not only love sports, but also love to bet on sports. 

To those who are familiar with the industry, the size of the US betting market is staggering. To those unfamiliar with the industry, the size of the US betting market is still staggering. While exact numbers are almost impossible to nail down due to the prevalence of illegal domestic and offshore sports betting, sources estimate that the industry is worth more than $100 billion. The Super Bowl alone is estimated to generate as much as $6 billion a year in bets, both online and in retail.

While such numbers are difficult to wrap one’s head around, the fact remains that sports betting has always been around and it is now only growing. Since the US Supreme Court decided to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) as unconstitutional in May 2018, states have been passing legislation to legalize sports betting at a rapid pace. 

Of all the professional sports bettors can wager on, the most popular sport, by far, is the NFL. In fact, the American Gaming Association estimates that nearly a quarter of Americans would bet on the NFL if it was legal and convenient to do so in their state. Approximately 40 million adults say they actively plan to bet on the NFL this season.

Given the pace of legalization and the new budding online sports betting industry growing around it, NFL betting is liable to only grow. Such growth will inevitably change the way the people wager. As such, what strategies are available to help bettors, both avid and casual alike, achieve success in betting? 

First thing’s first…

  • Manage Your Bankroll

Sadly, it should go without saying that bettors should only wager responsibly and within their means. 

It’s highly recommended that those wishing to engage in NFL betting should set aside a fixed budget with which to bet for an entire football season. This amount can be allotted in any way a bettor sees fit, with budgets set for individual games, weeks, or months. A popular industry rule of thumb is to wager roughly 2-5% of your bankroll per bet. However, remember that certain bet types can impact your bankroll. For example, placing a futures bet freezes the money wagered until the bet is resolved, so bettor beware!

It’s important to remember that the NFL season is long, with 17 regular season games plus the playoffs and Super Bowl. Anyone wishing to stay profitable for an entire season would do well to keep this in mind and bet smart. Meaning, bet sober and don’t attempt to win back losses. Sports betting over the course of a season is a slow burning marathon and should be treated as such. 

  • Odds Comparison

Would you buy a car, tv, or cellphone without first shopping around to compare prices and reviews? Didn’t think so. So why should NFL betting be any different?

As mentioned before, legal sports betting is booming in the US and sportsbooks are expanding state by state. This means that there are plenty of bookmakers to choose from. This buffet of bookies should be all the more appetizing to bettors when they take into consideration that sportsbooks don’t offer the same odds for the exact same bets! A savvy bettor who is shopping NFL odds can find real value lines. 

While there may not be a significant difference between odds of -115 and -105, there are two important things to keep in mind. First, these differences add up over an extended period of time. Getting the best value week in and week out can be the difference in hundreds of dollars. Second, ask yourself this: Would you rather win more or less money? Case closed.

  • Hedge and Diversify Your Bets

Just as a shrewd investor diversifies their portfolio and assesses risk, so too should a savvy sports bettor. 

Hedging a bet is a strategy in which a bettor aims to either reduce the risk of a loss in a certain bet or to guarantee a profit, no matter how small. Hedging a bet works by placing a second wager against the first bet when a bettor isn’t confident in the outcome of the original. For example, say you bet $100 on the Detroit Lions to win the Super Bowl at odds of +6000, which would net a cool $6,100 payout. Obviously, that’s not the safest of bets. So, say you hedge your original bet with a $1,000 wager on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl against the Lions. Best case scenario, Lions win and you land a nice payday. If not, your hedge wins and you’re still up $900 dollars. 

In addition to hedging bets, it is highly recommended that bettors try several different types of bets. We mentioned futures, but bettors can also try different betting types such as moneylines, totals bets, prop bets, parlays, teasers, and more. Many online sportsbooks offer in-game, live betting options where the odds are adjusted as the game is played, providing fans with a real-time picture of trends that can possibly pay off on a well timed, smart bet.

  • Do Your Due Diligence

It should come as no surprise that winging it on NFL betting is not a strategy that is conducive to winning in the long run. Before placing any bets, one of the easiest ways to help yourself do better on your bets is to follow football. Keeping an eye on the progress of the NFL season week-by-week can give sharp-eyed bettors plenty of nuggets of information that can eventually translate into payouts.

For example, pay attention to where games are played! Teams that have to do significant travel such as from the East Coast to the West Coast (and the corresponding time change) can affect players. Teams such as the Denver Broncos also enjoy a strong travel advantage as teams coming to Denver have to deal with the altitude. 

In addition to long travel and time changes, home teams in general tend to play well, especially when they’re in the position of being the underdog. It isn’t uncommon even for big underdogs to manage to cover the spread due to playing inspired ball in front of the home crowd. After all, teams that throw in the towel early can lose hometown support.

Paying regular attention to season developments can also give bettors information about player injuries, position matchups (such as rookie players taking on veteran skill position players), and whether or not teams have had enough time to rest. Teams coming off bye weeks tend to perform well due to the extra practice time and rest. However, teams playing Thursday night football have less rest than other teams!

While there are many different ways to wager on the NFL, the strategies outlined above are but four tactics among many that bettors can try! We didn’t touch on other strategies such as betting against the public (known as “fading”), alternate lines, buying or selling points, and more. Before placing any wagers, bettors are encouraged to read up on NFL odds and the various bet types that each sportsbook offers.