How to win at sports betting: guide and tips

Sports betting: understanding your interests to win

In 2017, French bettors numbered more than 3 millions. And this number is only increasing. So what is so attractive about sports betting?

Easy money

The main source of motivation for bettors is the lure of money. I won my first sports bets on the “Betandwin” site (Bwin since 2006). At the time, I obviously didn’t have the same maturity in gambling. It seemed so easy to fill my pockets by betting on my favourite sports. I had hearts in my eyes and dreams in my head. I could already see myself spending my days watching sports on TV (in a big house by the sea of course). Not forgetting that there had to be a big swimming pool (admit it, you’ve already thought about it).

After many months (not to say years) of playing, we had to come back to reality. Indeed, things were not really going as I had planned. Even if I managed to make some money, I was far from the millions I had hoped for. It’s amazing what you can have in your head when you’re young.

This category undoubtedly includes the majority of sports bettors.

Fun above all

In the sports betting world, there are also bettors who are simply looking for entertainment. No matter how much money there is behind it, the main thing is to bet to get a positive feeling. And, with a little success, a winning feeling.

This type of bettor is not necessarily less involved than someone who is primarily looking to make money. But he most certainly has more of a stake in gambling. For him, it’s just another way to have fun. You see the great combination of death coming?

Common features of sports betting

Whether they are looking for easy money or atypical fun, sports bettors all have things in common.

This is the intense emotion felt after placing a bet and during the game in question. You’ve had that adrenaline rush before, haven’t you?

There is also that joy after winning a sports bet. Let’s get to the cashier.

Sports betting: Who is the best bookmaker to win?

Ah, we’re at my favorite part. This is where I’m supposed to sell you the dream by telling you about my favorite bookie. The objective is of course to encourage you to join him via a personalized link that will make me earn astronomical sums of money.

There’s no such thing as the perfect bookmaker…

More seriously, this is a question that comes up very regularly. Type “best bookmaker” on Google and you will come across a bunch of sites that will offer you bookmaker rankings. If you look closely, you will see that the first bookmaker is never the same according to the site you visit. The reason is very simple: there is no better bookmaker to win in sports betting.

…but there are points of attention

Even if the perfect bookmaker doesn’t exist, there are points to consider when choosing one.

Below is a list of some interesting criteria. Please note that they are not listed in order of importance. I think it is a personal choice. A bettor should put forward the criteria he considers most important.

Approved bookmakers

We are talking here about bookmakers licensed by the online gaming regulatory authority, better known as “ARJEL”. Obviously, this does not concern you if you do not live in France (you little foreigner reading me, welcome). You will find more explanations about this in the next chapter.


The bettor can spend a lot of time on the bookmaker’s site. It can be interesting to feel comfortable there and to easily find your young.

Being compatible with smartphones can also be a determining factor in the choice of bookmaker. That way, after a failure, you can place a new bet on a whim and then lose everything. (Is that only me laughing?)


When you sign up with a new bookmaker, it is always nice to receive a bonus. You will have to be careful to read the conditions linked to this offer (you know, the small lines you find after a few minutes of searching). The idea is to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Otherwise, you can always sign up on all bookmakers to take advantage of the bonuses. On the other hand, if you miss your shot you will have to go and explain to your spouse that you have sealed the family accounts.


The ideal is obviously to be able to bet money on the best possible odds. There are obviously differences between bookmakers. The small amount bettors pay little attention to them. It must be said that on a bet of 10 euros, having an odds of 1.75 or 1.80 doesn’t make much difference. We will see things differently with larger bets.

Live match broadcasts

Some bookmakers stream games legally. You usually need to have money in your account to access them. Forget your pirate links that offer ugly streaming.

Live sports betting

In addition to live broadcasting, you have the possibility to place bets during a sporting event. If you often have flair, this is for you.

Exotic Sports

Because tennis or football is not enough for you and you are also a fan of pool? Then this criterion will be important.

Customer Service

It’s always nice to have customer service available and reactive. Well, if it’s the same style as some French companies that outsource this service, you’ll have some time ahead of you. Or talk like the alien in E.T. (“E.T. phone home”, remember the old guys?).

Bookmakers approved by the ARJEL

The Online Gaming Regulatory Authority was created to regulate online gambling in France. The ARJEL aims to :

  1. Protect the players, in particular by fighting against addictions,
  2. Make sure the bookmakers are clean,
  3. Fight against fraud, illegal sites and money laundering.

By following the link below, you will have access to the complete list of bookmakers approved by the ARJEL :

You should also know that the ARJEL levies a tax on bets (a kind of levy at source, and we love it). This explains why the odds on the sites approved by the ARJEL are lower than what we can find in our neighboring countries (bookmakers must also find their account there). Very frustrating, isn’t it?

Playing at bookmakers outside ARJEL?

Officially, the French are not forbidden to play outside ARJEL. It’s smarter than that. In reality, it’s the unregistered bookmakers who are not allowed to offer French residents access to their platform. However, we can quite easily find non ARJEL sites that accept French people.

Not recommended for French people

I don’t advise playing on unlicensed sites. The most reliable bookmakers will deny you access, and most of the rest are dubious. Moreover, they don’t necessarily have the same rules. For example, the abandonment of a tennis player will not necessarily be counted as a cancelled bet. Or you have chances that your account will be closed without explanation and without the possibility to get back the money you won (you will only have your eyes to cry).

Finally, since what you play outside ARJEL is not taxed, there is a blur about the money that will end up in your bank account. The State should not come ringing at your door one day and ask you to regularize the situation. Already your wife is angry with you because you ruined all your savings in sports betting because you thought you were winning. 


Elements to take into account to win in sports betting

A bettor may take some time before placing a bet. Indeed, he has to take a lot of elements into account before deciding (some people flip a coin, but I’m not a fan of this strategy). being very oriented on tennis (yes, I assure you, hehe), I propose you to take this sport as an example. Nevertheless, some elements can also be used for other sports.

Know the players

First of all, the sporting qualities of the players must be taken into account. A player out of the Top 100 who faces the number 1 will have a great chance of losing the match (unless the highest ranked player plays by walking on his hands and holding the racket with his feet).

Knowing a minimum knowledge of the players is the basis of an analysis. I always advise against placing money on a match without knowing the two players who are playing against each other. In order to help you, I have created a database with the strengths and weaknesses of more than 150 ATP players. In fact, there’s nothing more effective than watching a lot of matches. You get your kicks out of a sport you love, and you learn more about the players (it’s royal). Your instincts and the following will help you do the rest.

The environment and location

The environment is a factor that can be a determining factor in a tennis match. You will have to take into account the playing surface (an excellent clay court player is not necessarily an excellent player on grass), but also outdoor conditions such as playing indoors or outdoors (I wanted to speak English because it gives a style, but translate that as “indoor” or “outdoor”), playing it in full sun, with lots of wind, etc.

In addition, the geographical location of the tournament is very important. Indeed, a local player may be much harder to beat since the public will be mostly for him (and this often transcends the players). That’s when you have bad memories that come to the surface (remember the little surprise that made you lose your 10-match combo and a potential win that included 4 zeros?).

Tennis, a psychologically demanding sport

The mental solidity of the player is an important element to take into account. A player who does not manage stress well may encounter difficulties in the event of a high stakes game (a final for example). We can also put in this category the confidence of the player. Before a match, the player will not have the same approach if he wins 10 consecutive victories or 10 defeats. In the latter case, he will tend to play less relaxed and this will have a direct impact on the quality of his tennis. It is in these moments that the athlete’s entourage will have a role to play.

Finally, the character of the player can make differences (in one way or the other for that matter). For example, a character player will have more “cojones” to raise in a match. But it can also make him lose his concentration and get him out of his match if he gets too angry (cuckoo Fognini).

The motivation

The motivation of the player is one of the very difficult points to determine (besides, it is very related to the paragraph above). To evaluate a player’s motivation, punters tend to look at the level of importance of the tournament in which he is playing. For example, a Top 10 player will not necessarily have the same motivation in an ATP 250 as in a Grand Slam. Unless he’s coming back from injury and needs points, or he’s playing in a tournament that is close to his heart (in his country for example). Conversely, if an ITF and Challengers regular finds himself in an ATP 250, then he could be very motivated to play in that event. Also, keep in mind that the player may have points to defend or catch up on. That can be an extra source of motivation.

Players off the courts

There are bettors who go much further in their investigations (and they are right) by following the players’ news. Be aware that social networks are not just about spying on your friends or pretending to be someone who has an extraordinary life. They also allow you to stay connected to players by checking out what they share. A Benoît Paire eating at Mac Do the day before a game and posting a picture of his hamburger is not necessarily a positive sign for example. Interviews in the press are also a mine of information to highlight. It is quite simple to analyse a player’s speech to identify a possible point of attention.

Sometimes it will be necessary to take a few tweezers with the information given. Indeed, some players are clever and reveal little. Moreover, it is enough that before the match the man gets into trouble with his wife for his motivation to crumble (what an idea to forget his birthday too). And that, apart from reading the future on a crystal ball, I don’t see how we can know that.


Also, a bettor will have to analyze the players’ statistics. This is a very interesting source of information. One can quite simply see if a player is having difficulty serving, or making winning shots for example.

As you can see, it’s not enough to look at the “head-to-head” tab of live score sites to know who to invest money on. It goes much further. However, even if we can direct our prediction towards a player with more or less confidence, we are far from the magic potion. There’s a certain amount of unpredictability in sports (and that’s beautiful!).

Bankroll and bets

The majority of bettors have poor bankroll management and bet values are random. Bet 10%, 20%, 50% to go up to your entire balance on a single bet (“BIM! All-iI man!”). However, without good financial management, the sports bettor will not be able to win in the long run and will spend most of his time sulking. Every bettor must have a line of conduct and stick to it.

Accepting to lose

First of all, you have to accept to lose the money you’re betting. All bettors lose, but there are few who can manage the tricky times properly. Besides, it is unimaginable to bet everything you have on the same bet because there will be no way to get back up if you fail (you know the expression “you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket”). With a bit of luck, you will certainly be able to make some nice moves. However, forget this method if you want to last over time and avoid taking money out of your bank account every week.

Bet as a percentage

Secondly, we should no longer speak in euros but in percentages. You no longer bet X euros, but a percentage of your bankroll. You should assume that you never bet more than 10% of your bankroll on one and the same bet. Of course, this technique is not a dream for the small bettors because it forces them to play only a few euros. Nevertheless, let’s be objective, it’s impossible to win interesting sums over time starting from a low balance (unless you have, sorry for this lack of finesse, your ass lined with noodles).

Personally, I’ve already bet more than 10% of my bankroll (and never more than 20%), but that’s on the fingers of one hand. This was when my confidence was at its highest level, and during major events.

Long-term gambling

This “10% max” technique allows you to play on the long term and to be able to get up again in case of consecutive failures (rest assured, all punters go through this step). Chain several lost bets with 50% of the bet each time and you will regularly go to the “Deposits” section of your favourite bookmaker.

I had the opportunity to test several techniques and this one allowed me to play serenely, but also over time. I don’t pretend to have the miracle recipe. It’s up to you to try several methods before finding the one that will suit you best, whether it’s in terms of pure pleasure (let’s not forget that it’s a game) or financially speaking.

Risk evaluation

The last step before validating a bet is to evaluate the risk in order to adjust the bet accordingly.

I propose you this small table (home-made) which should help you very simply to evaluate the risk of a bet:

In short, the more confident you are in your prediction, the lower the risk. It is quite rare to play small bets on high-confidence predictions (“Very low” box). Unless you are that type of person who, in a restaurant, always takes the entrecote steak with fries because he is afraid of being unpleasantly surprised by something else.

Zero risk does not exist

Of course, low risk does not mean that there is none. There are many surprises in sport. The objective for a bettor will be to avoid them or, even better, to feel them in order to enjoy them. For the latter, we will then talk about a high-risk bet that will have won. You know, it is this type of bet that allows you to impress all your buddies on social networks with the screenshot of your big win.

Conversely, the more you bet a large sum, the greater the risk. This is also the case when the bettor makes a combination: the more matches there are in the combination, the higher the risk. This is the case even if the matches are very good and the bet is low.

Adapt your bet

The risk evaluation will allow you to adapt your bet (as a percentage of the bankroll):

  • Low: between 7 and 10%.
  • Medium: between 4 and 7%.
  • High: between 1 and 4%.

Is it necessary to bet a large sum on a small odds with a very high confidence?

This question comes up regularly. I think it depends mainly on the bet. Putting 1000 euros on an odds at 1.20 will allow the bettor to win 200 euros (which is still an interesting sum), while betting 10 euros will make him win 2 euros (and that’s much less sexy). It should not be forgotten that the higher the bet, the higher the risk. Small odds are, on paper, more interesting for bettors with a high bankroll. However, for modest players, these small odds can be used for two things.

1. Integrate them in combinations

But beware of the risk that increases as more matches are added. A combination of 2 matches can have a low risk. A 3 match combination will have at least a medium risk. When there are 4 matches or more, the risk will be systematically high.

2. For fun

The person who primarily takes sports betting as a hobby can easily place a few euros on a small odds. In case of victory, he will be satisfied and will be able to go for a bike ride with a smile up to his ears.

The move to play

It is important to know that a good bettor is able to feel that there is a move to be made at certain times. Sometimes he will want to freestyle with his bets in order to take advantage of an opportunity (like a very risky Prediction that he feels good). The bettor will then place an exceptional bet (between 5 and 10% for a risky bet) in order to play the move to the fullest. I strongly advise against doing this kind of operation when you are in a negative period (a string of lost bets for example). Unless you need to test the efficiency of your heart a little more.

Don’t force yourself

Finally, a good bettor will never hesitate to place no bets on days when there are no interesting matches (or if the matches he has selected are rated too risky). Forcing yourself to bet to avoid a blank day is often a source of failure (and therefore of loss of money). Keep your cool.

Is it possible to win and live from sports betting?

A lot of us have thought about it (the big house with pool, remember). It would be great to make a living watching sports on TV. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to bring you down to earth.

In 2017, the number of professional gamblers was estimated at only 2%. These are the players who have left their jobs to devote themselves fully to betting, not those who keep their jobs on the side.

Mastery of the elements

In order to win and live from sports betting, you obviously have to master all the elements described so far in this dossier. But you also need to have a sufficiently large bankroll (not to say huge). Don’t expect to live on that with a 1000 euro bankroll. Professional gamblers have a bankroll that approaches 20,000, 50,000 or even 100,000 euros without exaggeration. In the chapter “Betting”, I explained that the bet should not exceed 10% of the balance. You should know that a professional punter will rarely exceed 5%.

Secondly, and this is a significant point to take into account for French people, no professional bettors reside in France. The ARJEL obviously has its share of responsibility with the limits in place (to protect the players) and the low odds linked to the tax.

The limit of bookmakers in France

Finally, if you start to win a lot of money, the bookmakers will eventually limit your bets. You will no longer be able to make certain bets by betting large sums (500 euros, 1000 euros, or more). This will be refused by the bookmaker. On the other hand, and this is certainly the most frustrating thing, the same large bet will be accepted if you place a much riskier bet (an odds higher than 2 for example). In reality, all bookmakers (at least the FRs) reserve the right to cap the amount of bets without having to give any further explanation.

Winning in sports betting is of course possible, but living there in France is much less so. However, this does not prevent us from winning very comfortable sums of money. If you are solid, you can easily make a few thousand euros a year to treat yourself to a nice holiday (imagine the lady choosing the motorhome of her dreams from the online catalogue). 

Failure and excesses of sports betting

Unfortunately, not everyone wins at sports betting (much to the delight of bookmakers). There are two main reasons for this:

  1. The bettor does not have a good enough grasp of the sport he is playing. It’s not enough to follow “The best tipsers in the universe” on Facebook, you also need to know what you’re betting on.
  2. The bettor’s mentally feverish. He has had a hard time holding on in the long run because he doesn’t give himself any rules, or he doesn’t respect those he has given himself (“after all, rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?”).

“I’m gonna make myself whole again.”

This is one of the biggest mistakes a bettor can make: not accepting failure and thinking that you can immediately get back the money you lost. It’s in these moments that the bettor wants to force his fate and forgets all the rules he has imposed on himself (“this time it’s a promise, once again to make up for it and then I play more cautiously”. Ahah.).

However, a good bettor must accept defeat (it is sport and even the best can lose). He must also take the time to understand this failure, to see if he has missed something decisive.

To win in sports betting, bettors have to be mentally strong (just like in tennis, for that matter). If they find it difficult to stay on course, it becomes much more complicated. In this case, they may find themselves with their backs to the wall.

The limit not to be exceeded

Gambling involves risk. Not everyone has the ability to take a step back from gambling (let alone lose).

First of all, let’s remember that a bettor should only gamble money if he can afford it. It is unacceptable to put one’s personal and family situation in trouble because one has decided to gamble all one’s savings or, worse, call on the little green guy to play on credit.

There is a lot of abuse in the world of sports betting, and gambling in general. Gamblers are hypnotized by the potential winnings and by the idea of quickly recovering from a defeat. They no longer take a step back from the game and are no longer objective when it comes to analysing a match (“He’s on one leg but it doesn’t matter, the odds are crazy!”).

Players who realize this have come a long way. When you’re in trouble, you have to know how to cut costs. However, when the addiction is too great, calling in outside help will not be a bad idea. For this, you can rely on the site, but also call the following number for personalized help: (from 8am to 2am).

Don’t be ashamed! Be proud to have this willingness to change things and move forward. There will be better days.

The final word

If you have read this entire dossier (bravo and thank you), you have certainly realized that it is not enough to know a sport very well to win at sports betting. Mastering this gambling game is not simple and takes time.

Before betting money, don’t just think about the sports side of things. There is a more global reflection to be had. You have to know how to manage your bankroll correctly in order to be able to play and win over time. Taking the time to evaluate the risks is also a determining factor to refine the stakes and not play just any old way. Finally, it will be important to know from the start your gambling objective (for money or for fun) so that you can set yourself limits that should not be exceeded under any circumstances.

Finally, don’t forget that as a bettor, you don’t have to place sports bets every day to win. Let your instincts speak for themselves. Don’t force yourself to play “just because” when you don’t feel it.

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Find out more about me by visiting the About page. is all year round analysis and prediction of tennis matches. But also a database of more than 150 players (with strengths and weaknesses) constantly updated.

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