Ultimate Sports Betting Guide

Chances are you are among the massive majority of Nigerians who have heard of betting but have not really gotten into doing it yet. Maybe it’s not because you have no interest in the area, but you don’t really know what it is all about.

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn how to play. This sports betting guide can be used by both new and veteran sports bettors to learn and perfect their sports betting skill and to potentially start making a living.  

A proper understanding of sports betting is crucial given that you are going to risk your hard-earned money. Therefore the more you know the better for you to stand a chance of making long term profit. You may have big dreams of hitting the jackpot and retiring on an exotic island but that’s not going to happen overnight. Betting is a good but cautious affair. The aim of this article is to provide you with an overview on the do’s and dont’s of sports betting. The guide is designed to answer practical questions about betting and ease any concerns you might have. In it you will learn,  

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  1. Understand main terminologies used
  2. Common mistakes made by punters
  3. How to avoid the betting mistakes
sports betting guide

Sports betting terminologies

Since this article is for both the rookie as well as the expert at betting, there is the assumption that the terms used are not known to all.

  • Bet and wager

To wager is a fancy way of the word to bet. When you wager on something, you are risking a certain amount of money for the outcome of an event that is yet to happen.

  • Parties to a wager

There are two parties to a wager with each taking an opposing position to the other. There is you, also known as the punter or bettor, and the bookmaker who takes the wager.

  • Selection

The selection is what you as the bettor is betting on. There are lots of different types of wager s that can be placed on the numerous sports disciplines.

For instance let’s say you fancy Arsenal to win a game against Watford. Your selection will therefore be Arsenal to win.

The selection does not necessarily have to be on a team to win a game. It can aslo be on a player e.g. Serena Williams to beat Maria Sharapova in the US Open Women’s Final.

  • Stake

The stake refers to the amount of money being risked on a wager. The amount you put on the selection above in the bet is paid to a bookmaker at the time the wager is placed.

In the event that your selection is right and you win your bet, the bookie returns the stake to you plus the returns of the win while it keeps those of losing wagers. There is usually a minimum and maximum amount of money you can stake for most bookmakers.

  • Odds

Odds serve two purposes in betting. First and foremost is that they reflect the likelihood of an outcome or result. The more likely an outcome the lower they will be. To put it simply, the better teams or players are more likely to win therefore placing a wager on the lower ranked players means higher returns to yourself.

Imagine a Nigerian Premier League match pitting last season’s champions against a relegated team. It stands to reason that the best team in the league is going to be considered more likely to win than their lowly opponent. Therefore a wager on the former champions winning would have very low odds and that of the newly promoted team would have very high odds.

The second function of odds is to calculate the payout of winning bets. They are offered at the time the bet is placed and should you win, the higher the odds were, the more your reward relative to the stake you placed.

Odds are further complicated by the fact that they have different formats namely the decimal, American and fractional formats.

Although all three are popular, the decimal format is largely the standard in most online bookmakers. This is because it is the most straightforward of them all where they are expressed as a single positive number, typically to two decimal places.

The number shows how much the total payout will be, including the original stake per unit staked. For example, a winning bet at 1.5 would return a total of Sh150 for every Sh100 staked.

Common Mistakes

To set the record straight, betting is hard. It sounds much easier in concept than it proves to be in practice. For those outside looking in, it may seem easy to just pick a bunch of teams and throw some hundreds of shillings that will grow to another set of hundreds or thousands. Especially when the people you are looking at are sports enthusiasts.

Without a purpose and a plan, it is not smart betting but plain stupid. Betting can offer a nice rush when things seem to be going your way but it’s not how it looks in the adverts.

Below are common mistakes punters commit whether they are betting for profit or simply for recreational purposes together with advice on how you should seek to avoid them;

  • The house always has an advantage

No matter what game you’re playing, the betting site has an edge over you. You should make no mistake about it, a bookie is not your friend or partner. Most bettors are in competition with the house. Whatever betting site you visit is out to squeeze every cent and every shilling from you. Unlike you, they don’t need to rely on luck and make money, they just need players like you. One of the major aims of betting is to make money. The mathematics is always on their side, have upper hand. The average return-to-player rate is always lower than 100%

Sometimes in betting, it is more about trying to consolidate or minimize risk than it is about simply going for the big win. Almost all bookmakers are going out of their way to offer punters free bets, odd boosts among other promotional offers and reward programs.

  • Playing too cautiously without much reward

Another shortcoming associated with many inexperienced betting players is referred to as the grind. This is a situation where they have the tendency to keep their bets small because they are afraid of putting their entire stake at risk. This protects them from losing everything at a go while also bankroll them for a long haul.

Their thinking is that the more they play the more they stand to win. This could be further from the truth. An infinitely long betting session reduces your gaming wallet to nothing regardless of the past success you had in the short term. A single Sh100 bet is more preferable than 100 Sh1 bets. Be as bold as possible when it comes to sizing your bets.

  • Biting too much than you can chew

Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. One characteristic about this mistake is changing your waging amount depending on how well or poorly you are doing. Punters on a hot winning streak often get the irresistible urge to go large and double or risk more because they are feeling confident

On the other hand when one is one a losing streak, they tend to chase their loss on top of trying to add to their original pot to avoid seeing as if they wasted their precious time

Start with a fixed amount of money you are ready to lose. Gambling is not a lucrative way to make long term profit. It was created mainly for entertainment. Before logging on to that site decide how much how you can comfortably play with.

Create boundaries for yourself. Players need to instill in themselves the value of bankroll management. This involves setting aside money you intend to bet on aside from that of your daily expenditure and savings.

Never deposit money to your gaming account unless you are willing to lose it. Don’t stake your rent, fare or worse your supper!

  • Not knowing when to give up

A good run never last. When you are winning and have more money than you started with, start thinking about stopping. You should never be ashamed of walking away when you have more than what you started with.

Betting can be addictive. Take precautions and know when to quit. Never chase your losses. There is a whole science behind this common error referred to as the gambler’s fallacy. This is the false belief that the outcome of a random event can influence the outcome of a different, unrelated event.

Here one thinks they can suddenly get lucky again and recoup lost money. You start to believe you are due for a big windfall and that you can regain your money if only you give it one more shot. Unfortunately this does not work like 90% of the time. If you increase the stakes and the bad run continues, you are highly likely to run out of money before your turnaround of fortunes happens. That is why most bookmakers have set deposit and betting limits to save the hopeless and reckless punter from falling from this terrible pitfall.

Losses are part and parcel of betting and chasing after them is going down a slippery slope. Continuing to play is guaranteed to rob you of your money sooner or later.

  • Failure to understand the concept of value

Value is a simple concept that most people who engage in betting fail to fully comprehend. Do the odds being offered for a given event give any value?

Let’s say you are a football fan who loves to bet, you have probably considered placing the big teams that win more almost every league match on your betslip. Teams that come to mind include Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG and the like. Their games usually offer an odd of less than 1.30. You probably say to yourself that there is no way these teams are going to lose against the other “weaker” opponents.

They might be legitimate favourites but is the probability of them winning better than the odds being offered?  Failure to understand the stakes in these seemingly walkover wagers leads to naivety on the part of bettors that may disrupt a potential winning betslip.

  • Not picking the right games to play

Some games are better to play than others. As a general rule in life that is applicable in betting, when you have many options available to you, it only makes sense to determine which one is going to offer you the most value

Closely related to the above advice is betting on sports you aren’t familiar with. This only serves to worsen the odds against you by dividing your research time and attention over more than one sport.

A good approach to betting is to be selective. Instead of wagering on lots of different sports and events, why don’t you try to focus on one or two that offer greater security of winning? It is rarely a good idea to regularly make a large number of bets.

  • Failure to do proper research

Education is a major stepping stone towards becoming an aware and informed punter. You may have heard the occasional story of someone who struck it big with a bet or jackpot without anything more than maybe the winning team’s names. Practically a novice. But this is only the exception and not the norm.

The truth is that the more you know about an event you are thinking about wagering on, the better your chances of winning. You should strive to learn optimal strategies and place proper bets. Don’t get distracted by gimmicks and discouraged bettors.

While plenty of gamblers can make a success of betting by instinct and gut, to be successful in the long term needs a viable plan. You also need to understand what the odds reflect in terms of probability.

Get as much advice and information as you can find as it not only mathematically betters your chance of a payout but also makes the whole experience more enjoyable and worthwhile. Stay focused on your strongest areas of knowledge and place small stakes on everything else or better yet avoid them in their entirety.

  • Overconfidence

This happens when you are already up against the bookmaker and have more than when you started or maybe you are just on a hot winning streak. You start thinking maybe you should up the ante since you are already doing so well. Terrible idea!

It has been referred to as the “Gambler’s conceit”. The problem with this idea is that when you are ahead, you are unlikely in your high flying and overconfident your capacity to predict when you will stop is very low.

The painful truth is that every time you bet again the odds are always 50/50 regardless of the outcome of the previous bets. As soon as you start having the thought of “just one more” quit.

A solution to ridding yourself of this menace is when you find yourself justifying why you should play one more bet, you shouldn’t be playing. Don’t let past wins give you false courage and lead you to over extend yourself. You should quit while you are ahead.

  • Beware of scammers and con artists

The Nigerian gaming industry is still a relatively new field that consequently lacks proper oversight and regulation. In this age of technological advancement, anyone can start a website and begin selling picks and odds.

You have probably seen bookies or people claiming to be expert tipsters urging you to pay for betting tips at very steep costs for what they claim to be “expert picks”. The question abounds on whether you should buy them.

They can tout false records and promise unrealistic growth and unimaginable fortunes to lure. These tipsters create illusions with made up winning percentages and fake documentation and success stories of others who have been “helped” to win when you ask them for proof of their reliability.

Our advice is that you should steer clear of such gimmicks. Chances are that the purchased selections will not materialize or win and in the event that they do, they will not outperform the market. This is beside the fact that you will be out of pocket for the money you paid for the tips in the first place.

They are out there to con you with fake names, flashy signs and wild stories of how they turned their stakes into hundreds of thousands of shillings. If it looks like, breathes and walks like a scam, it probably is one. Be wary of bookies who promise money easily

Check the small print on the terms and conditions. Scamming sites often use placeholder or rushed texts in this section to give the air of professionality. If you find it missing or is of poor quality, think twice before sending any money there. Certain sites will also try and trick you into thinking they are a legitimate one. Make sure that the domain name of the site is as expected. When still in doubt do not engage with the bookie. Don’t let a great odd cloud your judgement.


This guide is not entirely foolproof. In all betting guides, the advice is the same. Start out slowly, allowing yourself time to learn. To bet is to act with a cool head. Don’t lose your head. Play by the rules and you will be all right.


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