Betting is fun and can be profitable, however, no matter how successful you are a losing run is inevitable. It is therefore vital that you stake within your means and that if your bet loses you are not going to end up in financial difficulty. I therefore recommend that you have a separate fund (or betting bank) for betting only. This will also make it easier for you to keep track of your profit and loss. (see rule 7)
If a bet loses it is natural to be annoyed and want to get your lost money back as soon as possible. Annoyance leads to rash judgments and bigger bets which is the fast way to big losses. Discipline is the key to successful betting - do not bet just because you lost, stick to rule 3. There are always more betting opportunities tomorrow.
It is vital that before you have a bet you thoroughly research what you are betting on so that you are confident in your selection. Betting on a whim or simply because there is live sport on the TV and you want to have an interest in it is a quick way to lose money. Consider all options and only when you are confident place your bet.
This may seem obvious, and in most cases it will be, but some bookmakers may attach conditions to some markets. Make sure you are aware of what constitutes a winning bet as there is nothing worse that celebrating a winning bet only to later discover it was a loser. This is particularly important when betting on special events (e.g. Big Brother or whether it will snow on Christmas day) and novelty bets but also the more popular markets. Examples include knowing the number of horses that are placed for each way betting purposes or do own goals count for each way betting in the football first goal scorer market.
Do not make a bet just because everyone else is backing that selection or because a certain newspaper tipster has given it as a tip. Do your own research and trust your own judgment. Besides, if you wait for everyone else to back a selection and follow them in you will be at the tail end of the crowd and will have lost out on the value. (see the section The concept of value for further information on this)
When you have made your selection look at all the bookmakers and exchanges to find the best price available. Even a small difference in odds can make a big difference to a successful gambler over a period of time. It is therefore important that you have as many online accounts as possible.
This is a must do if you are at all serious about betting. It is the only way that you will know for sure whether or not you are making a profit or a loss. It doesn't have to be complicated, a simple spreadsheet or even a notebook is sufficient. The record should contain details of the bet (event, amount, odds, bet type) and the result. If betting on horses a good idea is to include details of the type of race such as class, distance, etc. Doing this allows you to examine your betting and establish where you make your profits and where you lose therefore allowing you to concentrate on the profitable bets.
Systems can be useful but you should not blindly follow them because even profitable systems can stop being profitable when circumstances change or when bookmakers become aware of them and shorten their prices accordingly. You should look at the reasoning behind the system and ask yourself why it works, it can then be adapted to take account of any changes.
Bookmakers do not often make mistakes - if they are offering odds that you think are much too big, or small, check your homework. Once you have done that check it again. Only if you are still confident with your selection make the bet.
Note: If the odds are significantly different from your evaluation and from other bookmakers beware of the Palpable Error rule. See the Betting Glossary for further information.