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Managing a losing streak.

By Nolan Dalla. July 2002.

(Reprinted unedited by permission of top rate gambling site

Part 2: How to survive

As we discussed in Part 1, a losing streak becomes more likely: (a) the longer you play, and (b) the more games you play. Since losing cycles are something we all must confront as sports handicappers, the question then becomes "how do we deal with it?"

Sports gamblers who are prepared to take losses, both emotionally and financially, have a much better chance of overcoming downswings. However, most sports gamblers are ill prepared for the inevitable fall when it comes. When times of tribulation arrive, panic sets in and they don't know what to do.

Let's carefully examine several options. Let's say you've just lost several games in a row and are now coming to the end of the regular season. Your options are as follows:


Believe it or not, there are some gamblers who quit betting sports after they encounter a severe losing streak. They decide that betting sports just isn't profitable and they either gravitate to other games of chance, or totally quit gambling altogether. This group is usually comprised of beginning or novice gamblers who are not accustomed to the vicious swings of the sports gambling business and who are unfamiliar with the laws of probability (see previous report which sets the record quite clear). Their plight is often worsened by bad money management practices -- such as chasing losses or using foolish progressive betting systems. Many of these gamblers are also victims of tout services. They usually end up broke or owing bookies large sums of money. Then, they spend the rest of their lives complaining "you can win gambling/sports betting" and chastise anyone who thinks otherwise. After all -- if they couldn't beat the game, no one can. Some of these malcontents even become sports gambling's worst critics in other ventures (such as Larry King, Skip Bayless, et al.). They couldn't cut it betting sports in their earlier days so they became critical/jealous of those who were successful. Another bad sports gambler, who shall remain nameless, became the head of the New Jersey Council on Problem Gambling. He ruined his early life gambling on sports and horses and now preaches against all legalized sports gambling at every level as one of its most ardent critics. Sadly, most of these novices fail to take responsibility for their actions, and fail to understand that consecutive losses are natural part of the random cycle of events. Compounding their plight, they were probably bad handicappers (or worse, compulsive gamblers as was the case with Larry King), but their losses were certainly exacerbated by their own stupidity. They lost because of (a) bad methodology, (b) poor money management practices -- or (c) usually both. If you decide to quit betting sports, that's fine. But don't malign what is for many of us both an art and a science. Keep your mouth shut and enjoy doing something else. Good riddance.


I recommend taking a break when either of the following occurs:

(1) Losses start to disturb you emotionally, or

Losses begin to hurt you financially.
Of course, no one likes to lose. But, we do accept losing as part of gambling. What sets a losing streak apart from "acceptable" losses and losing cycles is the destruction of personal confidence inherent in the streak. For example, let's say you've just suffered your fourth losing night in a row betting college basketball games. The idea of going back to the grind of doing research and analysis the next day after going 1-9 the last ten games is nauseating. The solution is to take a few days off and regroup -- both physically and emotionally. After all, if you shoot a double-bogey the final 6 holes during a round of golf, the last thing you should probably do is go out and play another 18-holes. That would only reinforce negative habits and destroy confidence. Take a break. Come back tomorrow. When you return back to action, you will be in a better frame of mind and will be able to analyze games with a clear vision and purpose. You may even want to use the "down time" to experiment with other trends, factors, betting systems, go back and review past performance results (via the Internet), or watch games purely for the sake of gaining information. Then again, you might want to just take a break from sports for a few days and go see a movie. That's fine too.


This is a viable alternative you should consider when there are multiple sports being played during various times of the year -- and you have been consistently following more than one sport. However, unless you have current knowledge of other sports, this is not advisable. I even advise against playing more than one sport at the same time -- assuming you are doing your own handicapping -- because no one that I know can seriously follow more than one sport at a time at an expert level. A bettor that knows the NBA inside and out, but who does not know hockey would be ill-advised to begin betting on NHL games using his own analysis. However, for those who are familiar with multiple sports, here is crossover between sports during the following months:

JANUARY: NFL / NHL / NBA / NCAA Basketball


MARCH: NHL / NBA / NCAA Basketball

APRIL: NHL / NBA / Baseball

MAY: NHL / NBA / Baseball

JUNE: NHL / NBA / Baseball

JULY: Baseball

AUGUST: Baseball / Pre-Season Football

SEPTEMBER: Baseball / NFL / NCAA Football

OCTOBER: Baseball / NFL / NCAA Football


DECEMBER. NFL / NCAA Football / NBA / NHL/NCAA Basketball

For instance, if you experience a bad run in the NBA, and have also been following college basketball and are achieving some measure of handicapping success, it may be advisable to decrease the amount of time you spend handicapping NBA games and focus more on college basketball. Go where the money is.

However, there are times of the year when it's not possible to play other sports (July, for example). During these times, many handicappers (who are non-baseball enthusiasts) either take a vacation before the NFL begins, while others exhibit what I call a "bunker mentality." They put everything into handicapping baseball and ignore everything else. In the past, I have found July to be one of my most profitable months for this very reason. When faced with no alternatives, a handicapper can often do his best work. I call "Baseball in July" the "Manhattan Project" effect. For those who are not history buffs, when a group of scientists were thrown out into the New Mexico desert in the mid 1940s, they had nothing else to do but put their collective talents together and construct the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project would not have been possible if the scientists were living in Chicago, or Los Angles, or any other large city with many distractions. Similarly, when handicappers are forced to put everything into baseball, combined with the fact there is an influx of casual money on all the games giving us more varied lines, the results can be impressive.

OPTION 4: "REDUCE THE SIZE AND/OR NUMBER OF WAGERS" If you are convinced your methodology is solid, you are unlikely to reduce the number of trials that you use. For example, the NFL regular season runs only 17 weeks. Taking a week or two off is highly unlikely, since there are only a limited number of plays that can be made between September and December, which constitutes football season. But in longer sports seasons such as the NBA or MLB, a reduction in the number of games you play or the amount you bet should not significantly affect your season-end results. Unless you have an infinite bankroll, reducing the size of your wagers during a losing cycle is almost mandatory. Of course, this runs counter to the novice's approach which is to "press" his bets in order to recoup losses, which is usually suicidal.

OPTION 5: "INCREASE THE SIZE OR NUMBER OF WAGERS" The only way to get the money back that you've lost is to play more games and/or bet higher, right? Wrong! This is, by far, the worst thing you can do. There is no such thing as "getting even." What's lost is no longer "your" money. You are starting from this day forward, from the next game forward. The eight games in a row that you just lost is money that's now gone. It's no longer yours. The important thing is to focus on winning now, just the next game. Win one single game. Then, win another. Don’t worry about getting all eight games back at once. That's not even humanly possible when you are in a the midst of a severe losing streak. If you are truly skillful, you WILL win eight games eventually and go way beyond that. So, in retrospect, you WILL get that money back at some point. But it will take hard work and a certain degree of risk. On the other hand, if you try to play catch up and starting increasing the size of your wagers or taking foolish chances you are going to end up busted. Question: Is there anyone who hasn't committed this, the "Cardinal Sin" or sports gambling? The smart learn from their mistakes. The dumb repeat them. Often, over and over.


Most sports gamblers that I know like to make their own decisions. They want to pick their own games. But, there are some sports gamblers who lack the necessary time or lack the ability to research games for themselves. Therefore, they chose to coattail the picks of other handicappers. This practice is widespread and certainly is encouraged at this site. The only downside of abandoning your own handicapping in lieu of others is that it will not enable you to develop your own skills and approaches to sports handicapping. Furthermore, when the public handicapper that you follow suffers a losing streak, the loss is usually unexpected and perhaps quit costly. The professionals aren't supposed to lose eight games in a row, right? (See previous report once again, for a discussion of this topic). I consider this approach merely a temporary solution. Since no public handicapper will be around forever, it is best that you try at least to develop some sense of the concepts that are used by successful handicappers.

In Part 3, we'll discuss the reasons why you (or I) may be experiencing a losing streak.


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