The one thing I do to decide on a sport for betting is to pick a sport that I know well and continue to maintain avid interest. Choosing a “sure bet” from a friend’s advice on a sport that I don’t know anything about does not serve me well.
When I forget about this main rule, I end up having a week-long conversation with myself, saying that “I am never doing that again.”
Here’s a list of things to consider and overviews of several common sports lines that will help when picking a sport to bet:
Only Picking One Sport to Bet
One of the critical benefits of picking one sport to bet is that I become an expert at that sport. I love my fantasy baseball league and always research players, ballparks, news flashes, organizations, prospects, history of the matchup, and weather. Since I am already doing all of this for my fantasy league, it’s easy for me to transfer this information over into baseball betting.
I will already know lineup changes, arrests, injuries, homerun parks, pitchers that give up home runs, bad blood between teams (Dodgers against Houston), and many other details that help me set the perfect lineup for fantasy.
When picking one sport, I tell myself not to bet on my home team. How many times have I justified a bet because I think the spread is ridiculous for my home team, and we will destroy our opponent on our way to the championship?
My passion gets in the way, and next thing I know, I am betting on the Oilers to win over the Steelers, and we all know how those games turned out.
I’m still smarting from that Oiler/Buffalo game.
If I only play one sport, what happens when the season ends?
Well, I get to spend the offseason waiting until next season studying all the transactions, trades, relationships, arrests, and dress code issues.
You see what I mean… I get bored.
Plus, betting on the NFL, which only has a limited number of games and the shortest season, leaves me either bragging about my winnings or agonizing over my loss for six months.
Either way, my friends get tired of me.
Personally, I’m not a big one sports betting kinda guy because I miss the excitement and value that other sports leagues bring. This doesn’t mean I need sports betting all year; breaks are required, and a short sabbatical is much appreciated by my family.
It’s usually baseball and football for me — mainly because I play fantasy in both sports.
Learn the Betting Structures
Let’s say I am an expert on the game, know the players on every team, know all of the stadiums, and every rule in the game.
Does that mean I am ready to bet?
No, I also need to understand how to bet and the diverse types of bets. It means that I will need to know what each number tells me along the betting line.
These numbers tell me the total points, spread, bet amount, and payout.
Each sport has a similar betting structure to every other, but each sport also has unique betting characteristics.
And knowing the sports line allows me to determine the way I want to bet based on my sports research.
In most sports listed in the local paper, the home team will be listed 2nd; however, when looking at a baseball line item in a sportsbook, the favored team will be listed 2nd and the underdog listed 1st.
The run line will show a positive number (runs) for the underdog and a negative number for the favorite.
The “run line” will have the number and to the right of the spread that tells me the dollar amount I need to bet to win $100 or how much I can win if I bet $100. To demonstrate, if the spread is +1.5 runs and the number next is -190, by picking this line, I will be picking the underdog getting +1.5 runs, and pay $190 to win $100.
For this same example, the second team is the favorite and will have a -1.5 for the spread and may have +165.
I will need to bet $100 to win $165.
You might think that I will always bet the spread for the underdog since the payout is higher, but as in all gambling, there is a method to this madness.
Baseball is, after all, “America’s game,” and I know a lot about baseball mainly because I have been in a fantasy baseball league for 15 years.
Maybe that’s why all the baseball sports line spreads are set at 1.5 runs. A home favorite team wins by two or more runs 40% of the time, and a road favorite wins by two or more 44% of the time.
The team I pick to win needs to win by two or more runs, and the team I choose to cover can’t lose by two or more.
The underdog will cover more than the favorite, especially if they are the home team. My first reaction is to always bet the underdog, but if you remember, the amount to bet to win $100 is significantly higher for the underdog, which is why value can be had betting on the favorite.
Since all the spreads in baseball are 1.5 runs, the money is how they control the spread in baseball. Another betting line in baseball is the moneyline, and these are the amount you bet to win $100 or the amount you can win if you bet $100.
These are straightforward win or lose bets with no spread.
In football, betting is similar to baseball, but the spreads vary for each game, and the wagers are much closer to $100. Also, it’s not uncommon to see both teams showing a negative number for the wager.
Football is much more unpredictable, statistically speaking, and the lines change frequently. Remember, your ticket will show you what odds you received when you bet, and it will not change.
Unlike baseball, football sportsbooks list the home team second, so I need to pay closer attention to the direction of the spread relative to the money.
If you have football sports lines figured out, you will have NBA lines as well. The home teams are listed 2nd, and the spreads vary significantly between games. They have a Total Points column that will be the same for both teams, but the odds differ for each team.
Basketball has a column similar to baseball showing the points over/under for each team as well. I have found these especially beneficial when playing fantasy basketball and maintaining current information on the players.
Betting on the NBA is very dependent on individual players, much like baseball can depend on a specific pitcher.
Other Stuff to Consider
Sportsbooks have over two dozen different sports for me to place a wager.
A brief list includes:
- Horse Racing
I stick with the ones I know, but if you play the stock market, you can also use a sportsbook to bet on the Index.
I have to mention here that the fastest growing sport of esports with games such as Counter-Strike, DOTA-2, League of Legends, and Madden NFL is widely available. So, if you are a gamer check these out, but remember to do your research not only on the players but also on the country environment if they are held in person.
For a sports betting beginner, the money line is the most straightforward bet to make, and you can easily see the results. Every major sport has a money line that uses the same basic structure.
They are regulated by the betting amount, and I simply need to pick the winner or the loser based on the calculated odds I pay versus the payout amount.
Pay attention to the sport and make sure you know the home team because sports lines do not necessarily show the home team 2nd.
I cannot overstress the importance of staying up to date on information about the sport and its players. Join a fantasy league to help you increase your knowledge about the players in the sport.
Lately, I’m thinking they need to start a sports line for the number of times my Astros get hit at the plate this season… I’ll take the over.
No matter which game you choose, learn some statistics about winning percentages accurately, as I illustrated in the baseball section. Today there is no real excuse to not look at the stats with data being so widely available for every sport – even snooker.
Please remember to stay away from being a homer to not let passion overcome sound judgment.