How to Handle a Losing Streak

Detroit Lions fan Jared Goff Minnesota Vikings
A Detroit Lions fan reacts in the stands after a fumble by Jared Goff #16 against the Minnesota Vikings. Nic Antaya/Getty Images/AFP.

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here goes: You are not going to go undefeated in sports betting. Every game (except ties) has a winner and loser, and so does every bet. So, your bankroll is not going to steadily build until you become outrageously wealthy.

You’re going to lose. There will be sure-thing wagers, where you did all the research, and it all points one way… until the teams involved go the other way. Sometimes, you’ll even lose multiple bets in a row, to the point where it seems like you’ll never win again.

It happens to everyone. You can’t change this truth about the universe, and, since you can’t, your best betting strategy is to prepare for when the inevitable occurs. Here’s how to handle a losing streak.

Don’t Take It Personal

No one cares about the bad beat you just took. Yes, the over was well in hand, until that walk-on hit a half-court shot at the buzzer. Yes, your fighter dominated every round until the opponent landed that one lucky shot to end it all.

This didn’t happen to you. You’re betting on other people’s games, other people’s careers, and other people’s lives. They didn’t conspire to stick it to you.

So, before you moan to the folks sitting around you at the bar or send the nasty tweet to that walk-on whose celebrating his big moment, take a second to realize that you’re a spectator—a spectator who’s out some money, yes, but a spectator all the same.

Sports Cliches Are Your Friend

That coach speak you hate so much in postgame interviews? It turns out the coaches have a reason for saying it.

It can help a team manage the psychology of a long season and, since the betting season never ends, you have a longer season than any of them. So listen to those coaches as they spout their cliches.

Trust the Process

A pitcher will scout the batters he’s going to face, plan out the ideal sequence of pitches to throw to each one, and still, he might give up a bunch of runs. The lack of success came despite the proper preparation, not because of it.

Coaches and athletes try not to focus on the outcome, but on the process. Because that’s what they have control over. You can’t control a bench player having the game of his life or a star going into an untimely slump. All you can control is your preparation.

Doing prep work and research doesn’t guarantee you a win, it improves your odds. So keep doing the work. When you’re losing, you need to improve your odds as much as you can.

They Give Scholarships Too

When a college coach loses, he’s often quick to point out that the other side also gives scholarships (or, in the case of pros, salaries).

The house pays a lot of people a lot of money to set the lines, and a lot of people are doing extensive research to decide that the game is going to turn out the exact opposite of the way you think it is.

So, when you lose, tip your hat to your well-qualified opponent and move on.

Take a Breather

If a basketball player is missing shots, the coach will bring him to the bench to stop, catch his breath and regroup. A baseball player in a slump might take a day off to get away from the daily grind.

If you’re doing everything right and still not winning, take a moment. Get away from it for a day or two, then come back refreshed.

A Bite at a Time

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s how you get out of a hole, as well.

If you’ve lost several bets in a row, the temptation is to “get it all back” with one big splash. That’s not the way out.

It took you a while to get to this point, and it’s going to be a while before you get back out. Going big to try to even things up isn’t trusting the process—it’s the opposite.