Disciplined Betting: what does that actually mean?

Disciplined Betting

What does disciplined betting actually look like? Lack of discipline is often used as an excuse for losing bets – but what does disciplined betting really mean and how can you get better at it?

Disciplined betting affects very different areas and behaviors, and the term is not always properly understood and used. Basically, you can differentiate between these three aspects:

  • Areas where discipline actually plays an important role
  • “Lack of discipline” as an excuse for losing bets
  • Techniques to improve your discipline

Where discipline is important when betting

There is almost no area in betting where discipline is not important in one way or another. Finding value is always only one side of the coin, otherwise successful betting is mainly characterized by pulling it right. Since your intuition will always play tricks on you, you should take the following advice first:Set yourself fixed rules and then stick to them.

1. Capital management and discipline

Disciplined betting means in particular that you manage your betting capital in the right way. The most common mistake in this area is wasting too much of the money available. While 1% of your betting capital per bet may initially sound like ridiculously little, in most cases this is already the maximum that is recommended [1] .

It is important that you keep in mind that the growth of your capital is only your second priority. It is even more important to survive the bad days as unscathed as possible – since in the event of bankruptcy you will lose all your future earnings. Incidentally, this is also a mistake that brought Bank Lehman Brothers to its knees – the bank’s core problem was not principally a lack of profitability, but the fact that there was not enough money available in the short term. In short: the stakes were too high.

For your capital management, discipline means, if in doubt, prefer to bake smaller rolls first. Patience is also a virtue when betting, especially since the compound interest effect is on your side.

2. Avoid tiling at all costs

“Tilting” is particularly well known among poker players, but it is by no means a rarity when betting. It describes a loss of control that is usually triggered by negative events, such as losing bets or a series of bets lost. The result is frustration bets that are either placed with insufficient information or too high stakes – or possibly a mixture of these.

Maintaining discipline when betting means avoiding these situations. Betting should always be done with a cool mind, an investment – speculative, but well calculated. If you can no longer think clearly, as is always the case with tilts, then you absolutely have to evade this situation.

As soon as you feel like you are no longer master of your senses when betting, pull the ripcord: Perhaps it is better, for example, to simply stop betting for a while. Mental techniques can also help you to cope with frustration, from simple walks at the right time to physical balance (sport!) To regular meditation, the range of possibilities is extremely wide. The goal in any case is to clear your head and regain focus on the essentials.

Another technique to avoid tiling from the outset is to use statistical betting models that are primarily based on numbers. Since you do not rely on your gut instinct from the start, or at best only secondarily, with such an approach, tilten is a much smaller threat to you. Clearly defined guidelines for the amount of your bets are a huge help in order to be able to bet in a really disciplined manner.

3. Longer periods of loss

Even if you have overcome the tilts: Longer periods of loss will be undermined by the best weather and the greatest experts with the very best betting model [2] , and it is precisely then that disciplined betting is the first civic duty.

Random fluctuations are part of the business, so there is no way around it. Accordingly, it is important not to panic at the first strong headwind. Instead, ideally you have already made provisions: you bet only a certain small proportion of your betting capital per bet, which you can further reduce if necessary.

In this context, disciplined betting also means: Do not raise the stakes, because the tide is likely to turn soon. When you place value bets, it will certainly happen at some point, but when exactly is unpredictable. Here is a personal example of mine in baseball, a loss phase of exactly 200 bets:

Loss phase over 200 bets

Loss phase over 200 bets

The sequence looks less dramatic when you look at it in context:

The loss phase in context

The loss phase in context

The longer you bet, the better you can balance loss phases. This placing in a higher context helps you mentally to stay on course even in difficult phases until it looks better again.

4. Beware of winning phases!

Disciplined betting is also in demand, especially when it comes to success. You will also have experienced phases in which you succeed and nothing seems to go wrong. The associated euphoria is dangerous because it creates an illusion of total control.

It is always helpful in these cases to keep in mind what percentage of a bet won is actually based on skill. The rest is simply happiness, which can turn against you again and sometimes.

Disciplined Betting

Accordingly, you should keep your course stoically in these phases of euphoria as in bad phases. Even if it may be tempting to suddenly bet much higher amounts than usual, since everything seems to be going well: stick to your previously defined rules and bet no more than 1% of your capital per bet.

5. Discipline in plateau phases

Betting can also be dull for astonishingly long periods of time – a plateau phase in which things go up and down a little bit without the world moving.

plateau phases

That also happens, and shouldn’t upset you. The psychological danger posed by plateau phases is significantly lower than in profit or loss periods. Still, they can be frustrating. The same applies here: do not let the rest of you rest and keep the course steadfast. If your bets are good, it will pay off sooner or later.

6. Choose your bets well!

Discipline is also expressed in betting that you are not betting on any game. If you want to bet successfully, you need value – and you only get value if you have a knowledge edge over the rest of the market. You can only do that by specializing in certain sports and leagues. Even within these sports and leagues, you shouldn’t bet on every game – that would be a sure sign that something is wrong with your approach and that in many cases you won’t find any value.

7. Take only the best betting odds

Betting successfully has nothing to do with finding winners: it’s about betting at the right odds .

Before placing a bet, you should always have a minimum odds in mind. In this case, discipline means that you definitely don’t accept a betting odds below that, however tempting the bet may seem. You should also be careful not to become weak afterwards and to draw the wrong conclusions. For example, it may happen that you did not bet on a certain team because the minimum quota was not reached. Now this team wins. So was it wrong not to bet on it?

No. This is a look back error because you can only work with the information you had when you placed the bet. Your intuition plays an additional trick on you because you will remember these cases in particular – and not the occasions when the failure to place the bet saved you money.

“Lack of discipline” as an excuse

Discipline is also often placed in a completely wrong context when betting, when bets are lost. Conversely, bets won are attributed to one’s own ability and, in this perspective, are an expression of successful discipline. In both cases there is a lookback error; the outcome of the bet is attributed to an inevitability based on the facts known afterwards that have never existed before.

So there is no point in ticking off a bet as being undisciplined just because it was lost. The question is rather whether it was closed for the wrong reasons. For example, was it a bet in a league where you would never otherwise bet? Did you make a bet because you were bored? Or at a betting rate that you actually found too low?

If you have to answer yes to such questions, you have to work on disciplined betting – even if you win those bets! In such cases it is easy to tell yourself: “I knew it!” But that borders on active self-deception, simply because you just didn’t know it.

How to work on disciplined betting

Perhaps the most important tip for improving your betting discipline is this: Write down every single one of your bets, in as much detail as possible – preferably with a spreadsheet program, because this is the most efficient way to work with your betting history. For example, you can use Excel or the free Libre Office Calc .

By conscientiously writing down your bets, you can better understand where your mistakes and discipline are actually. Because your memory can deceive you. I also recommend that you write down your predictions about the game beforehand , such as your estimated probabilities.

You should also spend some time analyzing past bets – analyzing the past is the key to improving your bets in the future.


[1] There may be exceptions with a lot of value, but these should only occur very rarely. If you don’t have a few years of weather experience under your belt, you will chronically underestimate the violence of the random fluctuations.

[2] For example, I can report firsthand that the third largest soccer betting syndicate in the world, with which I have worked for a while, was not able to post any profits in 2017, but only losses (albeit relatively light, in terms of sales). And here we are talking about a few thousand bets a year, and an overall working business model.

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