Sports betting has emerged from the shadows to become a major part of American culture, with billions of dollars in wagers placed legally every year. But with the many different ways to place a bet, and the terminology and jargon that goes with it, it can be confusing for those new to the industry. Here are 12 things to know before you make your first bet.
1. Understand the odds.
The most important thing to remember about sports betting is the odds — those little numbers that tell you how much money you can win if you bet correctly. They start with a minus sign (-) or a plus sign (+). The minus sign means the team is the underdog, and the plus sign means the team is the favorite. It takes some practice, but eventually you’ll get used to how American odds work.
2. Learn the difference between moneylines, totals and spreads.
The three most common types of bets in sports are moneylines, totals and spreads. The most basic bet is a moneyline, where you simply choose which team will win the game. You can place a moneyline bet by clicking on the team you wish to bet on at the sportsbook, which will open up their corresponding odds.
Totals and spreads are similar to moneylines in that you’re predicting the total number of points scored or goals made in a game. The total will be listed as a positive or negative number, and the more points are scored or goals are made, the higher the total will be. Spreads are usually a little bit higher than totals, and they’re meant to balance the action between teams.
3. Separate your fandom from your bets.
Being a die-hard fan can make it hard to separate your feelings for a team or player from the analysis you’re doing on their matchups. If you’re placing bets for real money, it’s important to keep your emotions in check and study both sides of a game. Research includes statistics, injuries and anything else that might impact a game’s outcome. And don’t forget to do your homework, including checking out the lines at multiple sportsbooks. Lines can vary based on a book’s clientele, so you might be able to find better lines at another site.
4. Establish a good bankroll.
The key to success in sports betting is money management, so be sure to set aside a small portion of your bankroll for each wager. Generally, 1-2% of your bankroll on each play should be enough to allow for variance without depleting your account.
5. Consider becoming a contrarian.
The term “contrarian” refers to someone who places bets that go against the crowd’s sentiment. If you’re a bettor with strong analytical skills and can read the public’s reaction to a specific bet, you may be able to earn a living from sports betting. But it takes time to develop that skill, and even the most successful bettors will experience some cold streaks mixed in with their hot ones.