Sports betting has become increasingly popular because it engages players on more levels. Detailed knowledge of a sport can lead to greater chances of placing winning bets. The key is to sign up with reliable sportsbooks that have been around for a while and have earned a good reputation in the market. Don’t hesitate to do as much research as possible so that you feel your money safe and know you will get paid after placing some smart bets.
The odds bet (aka the money line bet) and the point spread bet (aka straight bet) are still the basic foundations of sports betting. When betting the money line one team is assigned the role of favorite and the other the underdog which is expressed like:
- Dallas -170
- Philadelphia +135
The team with the (-) is the favorite and the number means that to win 100 units the bettor must wager 170 units. The higher the (-) number the larger the favorite. For instance, -300 would carry a much higher risk to return 100 units. The (+) side is the underdog. For this line a bet of 100 units would return 135 should Philadelphia win the game. The numbers are linked in their movement so if Dallas was that -300 favorite a winning bet on Philadelphia would return more, say +235.
These are typical numbers encountered in North American sportsbooks. International odds are often expressed in decimal form, such as:
- Dallas 1.35
- Philadelphia 1.95
A play on Dallas would return 135 units for every 100 wagered and a player backing Philadelphia would bank 195 units for every 100 wagered should Philadelphia win.
The point spread is printed on a betting sheet as:
- Dallas -7 -110
- Philadelphia +7 -110
In this case the bettor chooses not necessarily on which team wins the game but whether the favorite (Dallas) will win the game by more or less than seven points. If a bettor sides with Philadelphia the bet can still be won even if Dallas wins the game but by fewer than seven points. If the result of the game is a win by Dallas by exactly seven points the game is considered a “push” and the original stake is refunded.
Another common bet is totals, or the over/under. Here bookmakers set a number based on anticipated points scored by both teams in a basketball or football game or runs in a baseball game. The bettor then makes a 50-50 wager on whether the actual game total will be over or under that number.
When bookmakers post odds on a game it is known as “an opening line.” In the time before the game starts the sportsbook may receive more money on one side or the other. In an attempt to keep the amount of money played relatively even on both sides the bookmakers will move the odds. In this way the average bettor is actually betting against the other bettors on the game, not the bookmaker.
Bookmakers adjust lines two ways. Using the previous example of Dallas as a seven-point favorite let’s assume that early bettors feel this line is too high and bet heavily on Philadelphia to “cover,” or lose by fewer than seven points. To bring more money on Dallas the line may be adjusted to:
- Dallas -6 -110
- Philadelphia +6 -110
If the bookmaker does not want to move the point spread the adjustment could look something like this:
- Dallas -7 -105
- Philadelphia +7 -115
In this instance the bettor needs only risk 105 units to return 100 by playing Dallas but must part with 115 units to bring the same 100 units back with a Philadelphia bet. The odds in play when your bet is made are the odds that will determine your payout in the event of a win, regardless of how the line moves after your bet is finalized.
When betting with a bookmaker the player must wager 11 units to win 10. This 9% commission is known as vigorish, or vig. So even though a sports bet with only two outcomes can be considered a 50-50 proposition because of the bookmaker commission the gambler must achieve a success rate of 52.4% to realize a profit.
There are many bets in a sportsbook that are not 50-50 propositions. These are often referred to as “exotic bets.” They can involve the results of more than one game (parlays), adjustments to the lines (teasers) and more. The further away the wager gets from a simple straight bet the greater the odds favor the house. So while their large payouts may be tempting these complicated bets are even more difficult to win than those long odds indicate.
We have created pages broken down the sports betting into specific sports. Some bets are generic (like the over/under) but there are many sport specifc bets – like the run line bet in baseball betting.