When it comes to wagering on sports, the future has arrived. New laws and attitudes about gambling have made the hobby more accessible and accepted than ever before. Gone are the days of dealing with shady figures and defensiveness from professional sports leagues when the topic is brought up.
The rise of fantasy football and US sports betting apps have brought even the most fringe sports fans into the world of sports gambling. Some of the biggest sport shows on TV discuss lines, spreads, and odds in great detail.
But if you’re completely new to sports betting, you’ll be surprised at some facts you may not know about betting and how it works.
Although whether you’re a casual sports fan who’s just looking to make a few extra bucks during the weekend, or a hardcore, analytical individual who thinks the right system could be extremely profitable, these sports betting tips are what you need to know to get started.
1 – Create a Betting Bankroll
Your bankroll is crucial because it’s the key to keeping track of the money coming in and going out. Your bankroll should keep you in check and help you avoid spiraling out of control, or making bets that can really hurt your bottom line long-term.
Creating a bankroll isn’t difficult. Set aside an amount of money you can afford to lose (this is important) and don’t add more to it without serious consideration. Next, determine a percentage, or a percentage range, of that overall amount that you’ll bet on each game.
The key to being a profitable sports bettor is to keep track of the numbers and manage your bankroll. Without an adequate tracking strategy, you put yourself at risk of suffering big losses. If you’re just starting out, develop this habit from the jump and you’ll be better off for it.
2 – Learn the Different Types of Sports Bets
When you really get down to it, there are nearly endless types of bets you can place on sports. There are even secret US sports bets that many bettors don’t know about unless they’ve done their research. However, when you’re just starting out, it’s best to focus on the more popular bets and get a good handle on how it all works.
I’ll lay out the three most common that can be utilized effectively on just about any team sporting event.
The moneyline is what you bet on when you’re choosing a team to win the game outright. You’ll see it listed beside the team as a (+) or (-) number. For example, in a game between the Colts and Packers, you might see “Colts +200” and “Packers -160.” This means that if you bet $100 on the Colts (the underdog) and win, you’d come away with $200.
On the other side, it would take a $160 bet on the Packers (the favorite) to win $100. Note that you don’t need to bet $100, but that’s the scale. For example, you could bet $10 to win $20 or $16 to win $10.
Betting on the spread is a favorite of gamblers because it makes every game interesting. An example of a spread might be Eagles vs. Cowboys, with Eagles at -3.5 which would make them the favorite. On the other side, the Cowboys would be the underdog at +3.5.
If you bet on the Eagles, they must win by more than 3.5 in order for you to win your bet. If you bet on the Cowboys, you’d need them to lose by less than 3.5 and you’d come out on top.
When there’s no half-point involved, it’s possible to tie in what’s known as a “push.” For example, if the Eagles are -4 and end up winning by 4 exactly, nobody wins and you get your money back.
Don’t really know who has the advantage in a game but have a feeling it’s going to be a high-scoring affair? Throw down your bet on the over! The over/under is probably the most simple bet in the game. The book will provide a number, and you decide if you think the combined final score will be over or under that number.
You might notice that in most of your bets it isn’t a perfect 1:1 risk to reward ratio. Typically, sportsbooks will make each “evenly-matched” bet, such as the spread or the over/under, a -110 proposition. That extra 10 is known as the “juice.” Essentially, it’s how the books make money if there’s 50% of the money on either side. There’s all kinds of betting math to understand, but you’ll pick up on it as you become more familiar.
3 – Find a Good SportsBook (But Don’t Get Too Loyal)
One of the best things about the increasingly relaxed laws regarding sports gambling is that several online sportsbooks are competing for your business. If you shop around for some deals that online books offer, you can find some that are worth exploring.
For example, several online books offer a matching bonus such as a free $100 when you load up $150 onto your account. It’s easy to think these offers are scams, but they’re genuine attempts to win your loyalty.
This is where another important tip comes in. Don’t become overly loyal to one particular sportsbook. On any given bet you’re looking to make, there’s a good chance you can find an offer on another site that gives you slightly better odds or a higher payout for your money.
This applies to regular sportsbooks, too. Say you’re visiting the Las Vegas’ Westgate sportsbook, you may be drawn in because it’s the largest sportsbook in the world. This shouldn’t stop you from shopping around the books over at Caesar’s Palace Casino.
They’re both great sportsbook options and could be offering bettors different moneylines.
So while it’s easier to just stick with one site where you feel comfortable, if you’re looking to make money and not just bet for entertainment, choosing the right book or books is very important.
4 – Don’t Chase Your Sports Betting Losses
This goes hand-in-hand with effective bankroll management. When you inevitably lose one or more bets, you want to make up your money as quickly as possible. In fact, you might even try to make up from two $20 losses by betting $40 on the next game. Don’t do this.
You’re going to have stretches where it feels like you’re losing the majority of your games. On the flip side, you will have stretches where you get hot and win a few in a row. The key to sports betting is to never get so deep in a hole that you put yourself in serious financial jeopardy.
It’s hard to do, but focus on making up losses by going slow and steady, not by taking a major risk. Effective sports betting is a long-term game and avoiding big losses is the best way to stick around until you’re safely in the green.
5 – Don’t Bet Blind
If you think sports betting is simply a game of chance, you’re not looking at it correctly. Having some degree of knowledge of a particular sport is hugely advantageous.
Just make sure that you’ve done some type of research before placing a bet. Remember, you don’t have to bet every game and sometimes, the best option is sitting it out.
Sports betting, for most, is a fun hobby that can put a few extra dollars in your pocket while increasing your enjoyment of watching the games. Before you dive headfirst into the action, take some time and get familiar with the options available to you.
As you get comfortable, you can experiment with all the other betting options like parlays and teasers, but as a beginner, it’s good to stick to the basics. As with any good vice, everything in moderation. Good luck!