There are a lot of lists of positive traits for sports bettors to cultivate. In fact, we have one right here. Among the positive traits which can help you succeed, I listed:
- Emotional restraint
- A balance of optimism and defensive pessimism
- Logical thinking
- A passion for learning
- Balanced living
But what is the flipside of this list? What traits should you try to eliminate if you want to succeed?
- Lack of Follow-Through
- Lack of Commitment
- An Imbalanced Attitude Toward Risk
Patience is tough to cultivate, even if you are starting out with a fairly “neutral” mindset. But if you can actively be described as impatient, you have something big to work on.
Impatience can mess up your life as a punter in multiple ways:
You might jump on a bet which looks exciting before you take the time to really evaluate if it is profitable.
You may lose out on a chance at better odds because you feel compelled to act too soon.
It can be hard to learn a system really well if you get impatient with the process (which can be much longer and more involved than many newbies expect).
If you are in a rush to succeed, you might stake more money than you can afford on your bets.
If you do not succeed as quickly as you expect, you may give up in frustration.
So if you are a naturally impatient person, do what you can to get that personality trait under control. From there, work on building up actual patience.
Are you someone who says you will do one thing, and then you find yourself doing another? Do you make arbitrary changes to the way you work without considering the reasons? Even knowing that you are behaving inconsistently, do you go ahead and do so anyway?
This trait is not a huge problem in every field, but in sports betting, it is an account-killer. Here are some ways in which inconsistency can blow through your bankroll.
If you are inconsistent with your stake sizes, you may end up with a couple of problems. First of all, you might excuse sub-par bets by saying to yourself, “It’s okay, I am only betting a little”.
Secondly, you might have a system which would yield profitable results with consistent stake sizes. But with inconsistent stake sizes, large losses could wipe out your profits.
Inconsistency with how you use your system also could lead to losses. The worst part is, since you are varying things arbitrarily, you may have a hard time figuring out what is going on when you do lose. You have too many variables at play. If you were running a scientific experiment, it would be a poor design.
Consistency is a necessary key to profitable betting. Imagine for a moment that there were no inconsistencies out in the field. Predicting outcomes would be easy—effortless even—if you knew what factors drove events.
But because there are inconsistencies (i.e. flukes), predicting sporting event outcomes is a challenge. All you can rely on is the factors which you do understand, and the strategies you have developed which use those factors to help you make accurate bets.
With your betting method, you are making use of the consistencies you find in your analysis. If you are inconsistent with your system, you can no longer use it to detect those consistencies effectively. This then leaves you at the mercy of flukes and other unpredictable factors.
This is kind of related to being inconsistent, but it is not exactly the same thing. You could, for example, be very consistent in your desires, but simply never follow through on pursuing them. In other words, you start projects, but you never stick with them or finish them.
If you lack follow-through, you will probably never succeed at becoming an expert at a sports betting system. You might manage to learn the basics within a matter of hours or even minutes, but you won’t do the hard work of testing it and understanding every nuance.
There is also the matter of handling all of the time and work you need to commit to sports betting overall. You not only need to learn your strategies, but do ongoing research, follow the odds, keep up with sporting news, plan and monitor bets, and analyze past wins and losses.
A person who habitually quits projects is never going to be able to handle all that and keep going. So if you lack follow-through, you are going to need to make some changes to your psychology in order to become a successful punter.
Lack of follow-through arguably relates more to poor discipline than it does a lack of commitment. But a lack of commitment arguably is an even worse trait for a sports bettor.
If you want to be profitable when betting on sports, you need to be willing to really jump in and commit yourself. The is in a sense the antidote to difficulties with discipline.
Discipline is tough to maintain over an extended period of time, especially if there are a lot of struggles along the way. You have to repeatedly make the decision to keep investing yourself, keep following through.
If you make a commitment at the start though that you will devote yourself to the art of sports betting and will not give up, the decision is done. Following through is simply a matter of getting up each day and getting to work.
The good news is that I have noticed that many people who fear commitment actually fear it because they know deep down that they have the ability to deeply commit. They do not want to commit to the wrong thing.
So if you fear commitment, ask yourself if sports betting means enough to you to make it one of your prime pursuits over the years to come. If you do find the answer is “yes,” I am guessing that you will put your all into it, and will rarely be tempted to give up.
What is worse for a bettor? Being totally risk-averse, or being a reckless risk-taker? There are arguments to be made for either side, which is exactly why this is a trick question. The answer really is “either.”
Here is what can happen if you indiscriminately throw yourself into risk with betting:
- You might find yourself tempted by bets which are not rational to take.
- You could think that large stake sizes are worth the risk, especially in the beginning. But those large stakes will probably empty your account.
- You could end up romanticizing risk-taking. If you do this, you might use that to rationalize bad decisions.
Here is what can happen if you avoid risk at every turn while betting:
- You might let good wagers pass you by, even though your system is giving you strong signals that it is time to act.
- If you have a losing streak, you might be extra leery of jumping back into the game, even if you have figured out what caused it and know that it is unlikely to repeat.
- The truly risk-averse may find it a struggle to even start betting in the first place, even after conducting tests on paper.
It is okay to lean a little bit in one direction or the other—pretty much everyone does. But if you have an extreme attitude in favor of risk or against it, you will want to adjust your perspective to one which is more realistic and conducive to success.
The stereotype of the cool-headed bettor with an icy disposition is all over the place. This bettor doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him. In fact, he doesn’t have any. He leaves them at the door.
Is that ideal? Well, maybe, maybe not. Emotions can actually be useful. Sometimes that gut feeling you get which warns you “don’t take that bet” is actually correct.
But I would like to point out two things:
- One. Very few people can actually bet unemotionally. Our stereotype of the icy professional bettor may be common in our imaginations, but he is a rare beast in the wild.
- And two. While emotions can sometimes be useful, they are often wildly out of phase with reality.
I am sure that some people have smarter emotional radars than others. For my part, I would say my emotions probably bat less than 50/50 in terms of “What is a smart investment?”
They are also quite faulty when it comes to evaluating my own performance at just about anything. On top of that, as someone with an anxiety disorder, they frequently tell me that everything is falling apart, whether it is or not.
So I would say that the problem is not “betting with emotion”, that is something you cannot avoid. Plus now and again, emotion does assist.
The problem rather is putting too much trust in emotion or believing that everything you feel emotional about is important or relevant, just because you feel like it is.
Overvaluing emotion can lead to these issues:
If you have a bout of irrational anxiety involving a bet, you might duck out of an opportunity which you rationally should have taken.
If you are feeling overconfident, you may take a wager which you logically should have avoided.
Overconfidence can also lead to wagering too much on a bet.
If you are on tilt, the more value you put on emotion, the less likely you are to figure out what is going on and put a stop to it. You will believe the wild signals in your head telling you that everything is falling apart.
If you learn to step back from your emotions and recognize them for what they are—sometimes helpful but frequently misleading markers of “importance” in our brains—you can give them less weight when making your betting decisions.
This is a word we all learned in English class. Hubris is pride taken to an extreme degree. It often goes a step further too.
In Greek legends, characters with hubris challenged the gods. The gods, in turn, made life difficult for those characters, who needed to be put in their place.
By the end of the story, the characters would either repent in some way and admit that they needed help (and maybe get it), or their lives would continue to unravel in tragedy.
So if you have hubris as a sports bettor, you not only are conceited but believe that you do not need anyone else. You think that you have greater knowledge and/or ability than everyone else you meet and that you have nothing to learn from others.
Hubris is very dangerous since it can lead to these problems:
If somebody questions what you are doing, you may ignore them even if they have a point and/or the experience to know you are making a mistake.
You might shrug off offers to help you learn from people who could pass on valuable expertise to you.
If you are screwing up and you are in dire need of help, you might have too much pride to ask for it.
There are a lot of great resources out there which can teach you about betting. These include ebooks, webinars, forum threads, and more.
But all of these resources are created by people. Indeed, other punters are the most important resource you have.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a lot of the advice you are given with a grain of salt, but it does mean you should not always dismiss the advice you get out of hand.
If you do find yourself on a losing streak and you do not know the cause, it is vital to accept your own fallibility and to admit to yourself that someone else may have the answer.
It doesn’t make you lesser to reach out for help. In fact, you may find that it is that action which leads you to finally finding the results you have been fighting for.
I have mentioned adaptability as one of the most positive traits which you can cultivate as a sports bettor. But let’s be honest. It is also one of the most difficult ones to build.
In fact, I can definitely cite it as an example of a personal weakness which I literally have never had a clue how to compensate for, at least in terms of ability. I think adaptability requires creativity, and I have always been better at applying solutions which present themselves rather than coming up with new ones.
But one thing you definitely can adjust in this respect is the attitude. One thing which will never help you to become more adaptable is a negative outlook on change.
Change is never easy to deal with because it does require massive adjustments at times, and sometimes you might not know how to approach that transition.
But change is also unavoidable. And while it might not feel like it at the time, the challenges it presents can sometimes lead to amazing opportunities.
If you are negative about change, you may overlook those opportunities. You also will have a hard time psychologically every time you need to tweak your strategies in some way.
So try and look at the positives when you are confronted with change. Sometimes a situation isn’t as bad as it seems, and it might even open the door to greater profits.
Ambition is a bit of a mixed trait if you want to become a profitable sports bettor. On one hand, you obviously need at least some ambition, otherwise, you would have nothing driving you forward.
But on the other hand, too much ambition—or ambition which is not tempered with realism—can be a negative trait for betting success.
If you are not realistic, you can hold yourself back from success in these ways:
You may be easily taken in by scammers selling products such as “betting locks” which are too good to be true. This can result in you wasting a lot of cash.
You might make bets which are way too large because you have given yourself an unrealistic timeframe for growing your account. Desperate to reach the financial goals you have set “on time,” you may make stupid decisions.
You may throw away a perfectly excellent betting system because the results it is delivering are not “good enough”—even though the win percentage you are aiming for is unachievable.
When things inevitably go wrong, you might be so upset by the clash of reality with your unrealistic expectations that you find you cannot go on.
Coupled with high ambition, a lack of realism may result in you expending more time and effort than is sane and reasonable. You will tell yourself that you are capable of extreme sacrifices over the “short term” in order to reach your long-term goals. But you will probably overextend yourself and damage your health, finances, and relationships.
Many people who lack realism are not aware that they do—that is exactly what makes it such a concerning problem.
One thing you can do is think about your past. Have there been a lot of times in your life where you were convinced of unrealistic possibilities, only to get your hopes smashed later?
If you find that you are prone to these types of misperceptions, it is worth asking yourself, “Could this be one of those times?”
I can also tell you from experience that lack of realism takes on certain common forms in the betting population.
For example, let’s say that you are new to sports betting, but you have picked up on the basics.
A year from now, you foresee yourself making steady profits. Two years from now, you picture yourself quitting your boring day job. Five years from now, you see yourself living on a luxury yacht and cruising around the world.
It is amazing how many newbies actually project that kind of rapid, easy success.
And you know what? I was one of them. So I know how it happens. There is no reason to be ashamed about it, but it is very important to temper your expectations a bit.
I have a naturally lazy disposition, but that doesn’t stop me from doing my work each day. For that reason, I chose the word “sloth” instead to list here, as it always has a negative connotation.
Laziness is not necessarily bad, because it motivates us to “work smart, not hard.” In fact, laziness could even be one of the reasons you decided to jump into sports betting. You may feel that working a 9-5 grind doesn’t suit you.
But sports betting is hard work. It is hard work on your own terms, though, and that can make all the difference in the world.
I would say that sloth is laziness even in the face of seeing clear benefits. It is laziness which has gone so far beyond the pale that it is inviting disaster.
A person who has an amazing working sports betting system but cannot be bothered to put in the hours to do the research and make winning bets with it is slothful.
Someone who quits her day job to bet on sports and then fails to follow through despite having no other source of income is slothful.
What is the root of sloth? I think that it probably comes down to a few things:
Fatalism. If you think that none of your efforts are ever going to pay off, that could cause you to fall into sloth. Sometimes our sense of despair can even override the rational signs we have that we are on the right track with our hard work.
Lack of gratitude. Someone who does not make good use of his or her blessings has not cultivated proper gratitude for them. If you routinely waste great opportunities, you may not be aware of what it is like to go without them.
Indifference. Sometimes sloth is the result of someone not really valuing the good things they have or having any motivation to avoid the bad.
If you tend toward slothfulness, see if you can get to the bottom of it and discover the reason. This may give you the perspective shift you need to apply yourself more diligently to your sports betting.
Finally, one more personality trait that can wreak havoc on your account is a tendency toward self-sabotage. While this can originate from many different issues, poor self-esteem or struggle adapting to change may be involved.
The danger of self-sabotage when betting is obvious. If you tend to stand in the way of your own success, you can be sure that no matter what you have on your side, you will have a hard time reaching it.
Self-sabotage often walks hand-in-hand with self-deception, making it even more dangerous. Many people who excel at self-sabotage have no idea what they are doing to themselves. The think that external forces are to blame for their misfortunes.
Here are some examples of how self-sabotage can tank a would-be career in sports betting:
You might stop using a system that works, convincing yourself that it doesn’t just because of a temporary run of bad luck.
Instead of using a profitable system you have discovered, you may quest relentlessly after one which is better, refusing to accept that you already have what you need. You come up with reasons to justify this, like “avoiding risk.”
You allow your emotions to run roughshod, but you tell yourself you are at their mercy.
What is the key to avoiding self-sabotage? First of all, you need to become aware that you are doing it. Secondly, you need to find out the root of the behavior and address it.
The way to do both is to become more honest, which is why I listed that among the most desirable traits for successful sports betting. Indeed, the more honest you are, the less likely it is that any of the personality traits I have listed in this article will sabotage your success.
Conclusion: Quite a Few Common Personality Traits Can Interfere With Betting Success, But You Can Overcome Them
It is important to focus on the positives and to be aware of your strengths as a person. But knowing yourself has two sides to it, and the harder task is certainly examining your failings.
The traits I have listed can cause you problems in other areas of your life, but they will definitely be magnified through the lens of sports betting.
In the end, it isn’t the betting system that makes the punter; it is the psychology and self-awareness of the punter, and how that modifies the way that system is applied and improved upon.
Nobody is perfect, and we all have issues to overcome. But that is the good news—every successful sports bettor has had to wrestle with some demons.
Keep that in mind when you are wrestling with yours, and you may find the fortitude and ingenuity to overcome. Seek workarounds for your shortcomings, and strive to offset them with positive traits. Do this persistently, and you too may become very successful one day.
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