Many sports bettors don’t do proper research before making their picks. But to simply plop down your money blindly without developing a plan of action based on the facts discovered through research isn’t wise. And yet we see it every day. You probably do, too.

Needless to say, the results that sports bettors get from randomly making picks based on little to no real information leave much to be desired. Yes, there is such a thing as beginner’s luck, but it runs out fast, as anyone who’s “in the game” well knows – you need to learn how to bet on sports.

Post-beginner’s luck, sports bettors looking to make money in this game need to have their own game on point, and that means doing sufficient sports betting research.

One possible reason why so many sports bettors don’t do enough research, even though they know it’s a good idea, is because it can be difficult to know what, exactly, to research. Some successful bettors rely on certain statistics, others rely on other statistics, but there’s no set formula for researching sports bets. How do you know which facts to pay attention to most, whether you want to bet on horse racing, football or basketball?

We can’t answer that for you; every sports bettor must choose for him or herself which pieces of data are most relevant when it comes time to make the fateful pick.

What we can give you, though, is a list of sports betting research topics that should be consistently considered. So here you go, here are our top five tips for conducting sports betting research:

1. The Obvious Stuff

There is a certain basic level of sports betting research that is necessary to even contemplate betting any significant amount of money on sports.

You should know, or research until you do know, such facts as what both teams’ records are, where they are in the standings, whether they’re in the same division, what this contest means in the big picture (for example, is one team fighting for a playoff spot), who are the best players for either team, any specific “match-up problems” that may be present in the contest, any pertinent injuries, and so forth.

These basic facts may seem like obvious stuff, but we are always shocked at how many sports bettors don’t know this stuff before they lay down money on a game.

Even if you do know this stuff, it can often be helpful to take another look at the vital statistics before you wager; something may jump out at you that you didn’t notice before.

2. Record vs. The Spread

The second factor that we always like to research is a team or contestant’s record versus the spread. There are certain teams and athletes that are very good at covering the spread, and then there are certain teams and athletes who are very bad at covering the spread.

This is essential info!

What you often find, while researching a team’s record against the spread (ATS), is that the team that looks so good “on paper,” is maybe number one in the division or whatnot, may not be so hot against the spread. Be wary of this team, for the ATS record is as important if not more important than the team’s real record, if you’re seeking to make a profit betting on this team.

3. Alert: Moving Odds

A third area of effective sports betting research is to evaluate the game from the perspective of the bookmaker. Remember that bookmakers adjust the odds on sporting events based on the action that is coming into the book.

When you see those odds moving, when the opening odds were much different than the odds being now, this needs to be a part of your betting considerations.

Why is the line moving? Is it a rational move based on facts, or is it the typical all-aboard bandwagon kind of deal?

You are never going to be able to answer these questions if you can’t research the opening odds. Of course, many sportsbooks only give you the current odds, so sometimes you must be resourceful in finding data about not only the game and its players, but the other game and its players: that is, the bookmaker and the other bettors taking action on this contest.

4. Average Opponent Power Rating (AOPR)

If you’re looking for a sports betting measurement, a real number, that can give you another perspective on a bet that you may be contemplating, look no further than the Average Opponent Power Rating, or AOPR.

The AOPR is a sort of “strength of schedule” statistic that measures the skill level of the team’s previous opponents. The calculation of AOPR is reached by using a “power ranking” number, for example the RPI in NCAA Basketball, and then simply adding up all the previous opponents’ power rankings and dividing that figure by the number of games played; this will give you an average of the power rating of the opponents.

If you don’t want or need to do that kind of math, just get the AOPR from somewhere else. The main thing is to consider it, for it can tell you the level of competition a team has been facing.

5. Look for Trends and Patterns

Any researcher can tell you that often it’s not so much what you’re researching as it is the attitude you take towards the facts and statistics that you encounter.

Always remember that facts are not worth much without interpretation. And this is your job as a sports betting researcher, to “make sense” of the facts that you see and form an informed opinion.

One of the most reliable attitudes or approaches to take towards sports betting research is to look for trends and patterns. You can’t force it, but if you do see a trend or pattern, especially if the general betting public is not aware of the trend or pattern, or underestimating it, this may mean that you’ve hit paydirt.

In human affairs, including sports, there are always trends and patterns that can give us a hint of what’s to come.

As you’re conducting your sports betting research, then, take care to “step back” from the hardcore statistics every once in a while and try to determine what it all means in terms of trends, of patterns. If indeed you are able to spot a trend that gives insight into your bet, the next pattern you might be seeing is the pattern of more Benjamins in your bank account.