Sports Betting 101 – How to Find Value in Sports Betting

Sports betting has exploded since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. What was once limited to Nevada is now available nationwide as sportsbooks open wherever they can legally operate. The proliferation of sportsbooks means more options for bettors, but it also introduces a whole new set of challenges to the sport.

Sportsbooks are highly efficient enterprises, with teams of oddsmakers and computer algorithms that determine the likelihood of a game’s outcome. As a result, they are often tough to beat. However, there are still opportunities to find value bets if you know how to look for them.

Whether you’re placing a simple moneyline bet or an intricate round-robin parlay, the key to success is meticulous research and preparation. Identify how much of your bankroll you want to risk on each game and stick to it. This will help you avoid losing too much money when you lose and prevent you from getting cocky and trying to make up for past losses by making bigger bets the next week.

Understanding the different types of bets is a must for any sports bettor, especially those just starting out. The simplest bet is a straight bet, which involves wagering on a single outcome. If you think a team will win, for example, bet on it with a straight bet. A more advanced type of bet is a spread bet, which involves betting on a team or player to cover a number (i.e., win by more than the points/goals/runs listed on the bet sheet).

Regardless of the type of bet you’re placing, there are a few common errors that most bettors make. The most fundamental mistake is ignoring value. It’s easy to focus solely on picking winners and ignoring losers, but smart betting is about finding value. A good place to start is by using a tool like Sharp, which compares teams for profitability on the moneyline, against the spread and when betting totals (over/under).

Another mistake sports bettors make is over-relying on advanced metrics such as Expected Goals (xG) in soccer or Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) in basketball. These tools can give you deep insights, but they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your analysis. A complete sports betting analysis should include advanced metrics as well as traditional data such as matchups, team and player history and underlying trends.

Lastly, it’s critical to remove emotion and superstitions from your bets. Putting your faith in jersey colors, horoscopes or whatever other superstition you might have will only hurt your bottom line. The best bettors are able to make rational, data-driven decisions that lead to long-term profits. By focusing on positive expected value, you’ll be much more successful than the casual bettor who places their bets on gut instinct or because they have a favorite team or color.

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