here are plenty of ways to win money betting sports, but there are no winning methods without a serious amount of discipline and patience. My advice is sure to be different from plenty of other handicappers, but after playing the sport my entire life, and betting on it for over five years, I’ve found these things to be of utmost importance.
DO NOT BET THE BOARD
The beauty of tennis betting lies in the ridiculous volume. There are dozens (sometimes hundreds) of professional matches happening around the world each day. You only need to pick one or two, and sometimes you don’t need to pick any. If you aren’t selective, and bet high volume each day, you will most likely encounter a seriously painful stretch, which your bankroll may or may not survive.
Lower Stakes in Early Rounds
You never know how a player will react to the conditions at each new venue. Frankly, you don’t know if they even want to be there. It is imperative to watch as much tennis as you can in the first round to determine each player’s current playing and motivation level. Almost every single one of my biggest losing days has happened on a Monday or Tuesday.
Don't Have Expensive Theories
Is a player injured? Are they just picking up a check? By following the Tour closely, you can amass many nuggets of knowledge. But before you act on some “inside info” or a strong gut feeling, make sure you know for sure. Almost all of my most painful losses have come when I believed a certain outcome was a “sure thing.” Always remember that you never quite know for sure. Don’t have expensive theories.
A player once told me that John Millman was battling a serious foot injury, and was just traveling around the world picking up checks since he could not re-enter Australia due to COVID travel restrictions. I went on to fade Millman in his next two matches. He won both from a break down in the third set. I stopped fading and he lost his next match to James Duckworth in straight sets. He wasn't fucking injured.
Don't Overexpose Yourself
At the end of the day, you never know if the player you bet money on will have the worst day of their life. Sometimes these guys forget how to play tennis. Sometimes they are on the wrong end of a line-call and tank the match. Sometimes a player you bet on might be involved in some match fixing. If you overexpose yourself to a certain match not only do you invite unnecessary risk, but you also may end up talking yourself into said pick with some serious confirmation bias. By all means, attack a spot hard if you believe the price is right, but always leave yourself some wiggle room in case the player you bet on plays the worst match of their life. It happens much more often than you think.
My worst losses of 2021 both involved Jannik Sinner. In Paris, I thought that he was going to show Carlos Alcaraz how proper indoor tennis was played. I was seriously overexposed, and instead of playing smart, Sinner tried to hit the ultra-athletic Alcaraz off the court. 49 unforced errors later, my balance was deep in the red. The other Sinner loss I’ll never forget was against Andy Murray in Antwerp. Murray survived Viktor Durasovic 6-1, 7-6, in an objectively unimpressive performance. Surely Jannik Sinner, who had won 15 of his last 19 sets on indoor hard court was going to take out Andy Murray, right? Very wrong. Murray took the young Italian to school in two convincing sets. I could go on and on about bad losses where I was 99% positive I had made the right play.
If you get seriously angry about a loss, you definitely bet too much money.
If You Need the Money, Hedge the Bet
This topic is hotly debated, but I will die on this hill. If your pick is up a set, or even a set and break, bet the other side and guarantee yourself profit. Unlike other sports, tennis has no time limit, and the player must finish the match on their own terms. This leads to more chokes than I can count. A little profit lost is much easier to deal with than an epic collapse. Once the collapse is imminent, it’s too late to get your money back. This advice is more for high volume bettors like myself, but especially on clay, or slow hard courts, where holding serve is more difficult, take the money and run.
I had a big bet on Lloyd Harris over Kwon SoonWoo in Auckland. Harris found himself up match point and I decided not to hedge. Harris missed a sitter overhead on match point. An overhead that your average recreational player makes 95% of the time. That was his one and only chance to close the match out, and Kwon came back and won.