Sports betting has surged from the fringes to the mainstream over the past four years, a boom fueled by billions of dollars in legal wagers and new tax revenue for states. As the industry continues to grow, many sports fans are curious about the basics and may be considering betting on their favorite teams for the first time. Before you start, here are 12 things every beginner should know about sports betting.
1. Understand that you are not going to win every bet.
No matter how much research you do or how well you think you know the game, you will lose some bets. That’s why so few people make a living from betting on sports; it’s just too difficult to be profitable over the long haul. There are plenty of losses that will come from surprise upsets, unlucky plays and even your own mistakes (we all make them).
2. Open a dedicated bank account.
The best way to protect yourself from a big loss is to establish a separate bankroll for your sports bets. This way, you’re not risking more than 1% to 5% of your total bankroll on each play. Depending on your goals, you can adjust this amount accordingly. For example, if you’re hoping to make a consistent profit, you might want to start out with a larger initial bankroll and gradually increase your stakes as you gain experience.
3. Learn the difference between moneylines and spreads.
A moneyline bet is an oddsmaker’s way of showing the likelihood that a team will win a game. In a moneyline bet, the odds are multiplied by the amount that you bet. A positive number means the team is favored to win, while a negative number indicates that the underdog is the favorite.
Sportsbooks will often offer multiple types of moneylines, including game-specific moneylines, totals and run/puck lines. The latter are popular in hockey, as they take into account factors such as total goals scored, power play opportunities and short-handed teams.
4. Bet on the underdog.
As a general rule, betting on the underdog is a good way to increase your chances of winning. However, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that you can “make it big” by betting on the underdog every time. You will need to do your homework and find a team that offers value on the moneyline.
5. Look for value on totals and props.
Totals and prop bets are similar to point spreads in that they focus on the combined points of a game rather than who will win. Essentially, you’re betting on whether a team will score more (over) or less (under) than a predetermined line set by the sportsbook. For example, a Seahawks-Rams matchup might have a total of 42.5 points. If you expect a defensive slugfest that ends with more than 43 combined points, you should place a bet on the over.
Props, or proposition bets, are one of the fastest growing areas of sports betting. These bets can include anything from the number of total field goal attempts in a basketball game to how many rushing yards a player will get in a football game. These bets aren’t always accurate, but they can help you diversify your bets and potentially boost your profits.