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Top Do's and Don'ts for Betting the Major Sports

When you start to have success betting on major sports, the tendency is to diversify into other sports before you're ready. Honestly, it's a mistake that's more common among sports betters than you think.

What are the differences between each sport's point spread/line? Is the plus-minus different too? And what about parlays across other leagues?

The questions are numerous, so this article will go over the top do's and don'ts for betting on each major sport.

Ultimately, this information will give you an edge over other players who get in over their heads, playing high-stakes too fast without understanding the nuances of each sport.

National Football League (NFL)

No matter how you look at it, the NFL is the number one sport in the US in all categories, including revenue, attendance, and the sheer amount of action that sportsbooks get on any given Sunday.

After all, the NFL is popular for a number of reasons, depending on who you ask. It's an incredibly competitive, complex sport with a lot of parody between teams, much more so than any other major sport in the US.

Without a doubt, this competitive landscape extends to the gambling world as well. It may seem easy to bet on NFL games, but if you ask any seasoned gambler, it takes practice to get good at betting on football games, especially college games that usually come with absurdly wide-point spreads.

That said, here are the main dos and don'ts of betting on the NFL.


At a minimum, you should keep the following words of wisdom in mind when you lay bets on the NFL:

  • Don't bet on too many underdogs each week
  • Remember that the NFL is the least statistically correlative game of all major sports (i.e., stats are very deceiving when it comes to betting)
  • Notice which good teams seem to struggle to cover the point spread versus inferior competition

The most fun part about betting on the NFL is actually the most challenging concept to grasp for beginners. In short, the best team in the league can still lose to the worst team, and it happens more often than you'd assume.

That's what's fantastic about betting on professional sports leagues because you never know what's going to happen until the teams actually play the game.

But most importantly, always remember that stats can be very deceiving in the NFL. The reasons go beyond the scope of this article, yet generally speaking, consider NFL statistics in context rather than take them at face value.


On the other hand, here's what you ought to avoid when betting on NFL football:

  • Never bet on your favorite team – period
  • Don't ignore small point spreads
  • Don't take large point spreads too seriously

National Basketball Association (NBA)

Whether it's a real game or a fantasy league, the NBA's second most popular sport to gamble on, either way, any sportsbook in the country worth their salt takes action on the NBA.

Yet the main challenge is knowing the nuances of professional basketball because the sport has far less parody than the NFL, meaning the difference between the worst teams and the best teams is substantial.

That's not to say that lackluster basketball teams can't beat all-star squads; it simply recognizes that the top teams in the NBA tend to hoard talent or overpay for veteran players to "make a championship run with a Big 3."

Take a look at the dos and don'ts of betting on the NBA to see the difference between basketball and football.


The following tips are pretty general, but they are a solid place for beginners to start wagering on professional basketball:

  • Keep up with injuries of the top players in the NBA
  • Know which bad teams are no longer trying to win (i.e., “tanking” for better draft picks)
  • Betting the over-under of each game is a pretty easy prop to hit

Yes, all sports are different, and knowing those intricacies, it's how you learn how to bet to win. Betting on the NBA is a prime example because most analyses you come across online will hype up the vague concept of "star power."

That's why it's so important to keep the don’ts in mind when betting on the NBA.


With those tips in mind, here's what you absolutely never do when betting on the NBA:

  • Never bet on your favorite teams – period (sound familiar?)
  • Don’t lay bets on too many parlays at once
  • Resist the urge to listen to the hype in sports media

Major League Baseball (MLB)

You may not know that the MLB is another popular league among sports bettors. Indeed, professional football and basketball receive the lion's share of the action, but you can lay bets on baseball games at most sportsbooks.

In fact, some sports bettors prefer to gamble on MLB baseball for many reasons, including the length of the season and how well statistics correlate to player performance.

So, if you think betting on baseball might be for you, here's what you do and don't do to cash out each week.


Overall, the most vital advice about betting on the MLB include:

  • Stick to the numbers
  • Pay particular attention to the pitching matchup
  • Know which ball clubs are "chasing a pennant" near the end of the season

The good news about betting on baseball is that you can make reasonable assumptions based on a team's or player's statistics throughout the season.

The reason is that the season is much longer than any other major sport, so you have a bigger pool of numbers to draw from when you decide who to bet on.


Also, here's what you don't do when betting on pro baseball:

  • Don't take too many prop bets throughout the game
  • Don't pick parlays based on the team's fame and brand (i.e., betting on the Yankees every day)
  • Don't bet the same way during the playoffs that you do during the regular season

National Hockey League (NHL)

The fact of the matter is that NHL hockey is a regional sport, even though some cities in warmer climates also have franchises.

So, if you've never bet on NHL games, someone more familiar with the nuances of the game will have an advantage over you at first.

But if you keep these do's and don'ts in mind, you'll quickly catch up.


These tips will help you make the right decisions when betting on professional hockey:

  • Remember that the goalie matchup matters most
  • Know all of the various NHL betting lines (i.e., puck bets versus depth lines)
  • Look for team's with the most consistency


On the other hand, here's what you don't do when betting on professional hockey:

  • Don't confuse hockey lines with other sports
  • Be careful about which line you're betting
  • Watch out for teams no longer playing at the top level

Overall, those are the top do's and don'ts for bedding each major sport you should know before increasing your betting volume or your stakes.

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