Pamela Maldonado's best betting traits.

Six Characteristics of a Great Sports Bettor

I have not been a good bettor.

The College Football Playoff National Championship came and went. The Australian Open was a success. Super Bowl 54 passed and that was my cue to step back from betting and take a bit of a breather until the mid-March BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

But we all know what happened. The pandemic hit, everything shut down and life came to a screeching halt.

For a minute there, I was doing OK, though. I was (slightly) profitable making plays on things I could apply research to, like the number of times Donald Trump would tweet “coronavirus,” Ozark season 4 props, BUD stock price and The Last Dance props.

Then something happened, a shift. I started to do what I had never ever done, that is tail other people’s picks on things I had no knowledge of, like NASCAR, Korean baseball and UFC. As a result, I noticed my balance get smaller and smaller.

“What the heck am I doing,” I wondered. It was time to check myself.

Was it boredom? Was it a result of being cooped up for three months because of stay-at-home orders? Regardless of the reason, I went outside my realm of normal practice, and that forced me to step back and remind myself of the character traits absolutely needed in order to be a successful bettor. I’ll start with this:


Above all else, you need control over what you do … and don’t do. In my case, I surrendered my routine. Resisting the urge to place a bet, or make a bet outside of your bankroll, or even knowing when to stop and step back — all easier said than done. However, I believe it is this one single characteristic that can determine your longevity in this field.

People tend to think of discipline only in terms of what not to do. Don’t do A, B and C if you want to achieve this outcome. But the truth is, discipline on the other side of the spectrum is just as important. When it comes to having control, examine not only the things you shouldn’t do, but the things you should do, as well. Acknowledge when you’re slipping. Step back if you need to re-evaluate. Take a break if you deem it necessary. Control both your emotions and the urge to fire on something that you shouldn’t be firing at in the first place.

Discipline and control are the hardest things to exercise in betting but it is most crucial. It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are, the lack of discipline can easily sneak up on you but once you recognize it, be honest and reassess. Gain back that control.


Self-awareness is not a characteristic. It is a cognitive state and it is through this state that you build on the habit of being conscious of your gambling actions.

What does this mean? I know the last baseball game I watched was a 2014 San Diego Padres game. I remember specifically because I watched Johnny Manziel get selected 22nd overall in the NFL draft. So, why would I put my money on Korean baseball, a game I know absolutely nothing about in a league where I can’t even pronounce players’ names?

This could also be where tracking your bets comes into play. Be aware of your results. Look at your strengths, look at your weaknesses, and use that information to move forward. 


I’ve been doing this for a while and every year I learn something new. Heck, every day I learn something new. If you are a noob looking to enter the space, there’s so much to think about. What sport do you want to focus on? What type of bet do you want to make? How much are you betting? Do you want to bet the early lines or wait for game day?

There are nuances to learn, strategies to dissect, algorithms to test, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Everyone’s strategy is just that — their own strategy — and it takes time to build on that and figure out what works. 

Emotional Intelligence

The guy with the statistics degree might be able to create algo after algo but then he throws his phone against the wall after watching Xander Schauffele’s ball lip out on the 17th hole.

Being intelligent is one thing but having the emotional intelligence to back it up is another. Can you handle the ups and downs of playing poker, investing in the stock market or betting on sports? Can you look at a win with the same stoic indifference as a loss?

Having the ability to not be affected by a bad beat, to be unmoved when you hit the largest bet of your career, or to mentally bounce back after your biggest loss is what separates a winning sports bettor from a losing one. 

Desire and Willingness to Learn

How I study college football lines has had the same foundation year after year but it’s been adapted based on the knowledge I’ve gained through experience and practice. I listen to more podcasts, I read more blogs, I have a better understanding of the strategic side of the game thanks to analysts like Warren Sharp.

I can choose to incorporate fantasy projections into my process, I can utilize other stats and tools, I can talk to others to hear their opinion, and I can be open to changing my strategy if need be.|

If something is not working, are you willing to go back into the lab and re-evaluate? Are you doing everything you can to become more knowledgeable in your field? Watching film, hearing breakdowns and analyzing your own process can all positively affect what you do and how you do in betting. 


It’s a quality possessed by people who tend to take risks. None of us would be betting if we weren’t risk-takers. To be a great sports bettor, you have to have a lot of (calculated) gamble in you. You have to be willing to take shots on lines that others would steer clear of.

Example: some prefer to bet the SEC or Big 12 because of familiarity. If you know me, I bet the MAC and for good reason. Maybe the roller-coaster ride is a bit of a thrill but I bet it is the calculated gamble that keeps me firing on the conference less traveled.

To be daring in betting is also a good way to go broke quickly but if you possess the other traits listed above, you can check yourself and hopefully never reach that point.