Excited sports fans watching a game on the TV rooting for his team

Sports betting is the fastest growing niche within the vast world of gambling.  Some people place their sports bets at online casinos or sportsbooks, some at land-based casinos, and some still place their sports bets illegally with bookies.

Sports betting sites also offer bets on non-sports events such as political elections and entertainment industry awards contests.  But betting on sporting events is still the number one type of betting in this industry niche.  Since sports betting is becoming legal in so many jurisdictions many people who never placed an illegal; sports bet are coming to the legal sportsbooks to place bets.

Many of these new sports bettors—and, unfortunately, many people who have been making sports bets for years—don’t know as much as they should before placing even a single sports bet.  This article will explain the basics of sports betting that all sports bettors should know.

Bet on Sports You Know Well

This should be a no-brainer but there are so many sports being offered to bettors that the temptation is great to place bets across a broad spectrum of sports.  In the United States, for example, there is high school basketball, college basketball, and professional basketball.  There is girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball; there is women’s and men’s basketball.

At the college and professional levels, there are many divisions based on school size and the expected skill level from the athletes at those schools and lower professional leagues also based on the players’ skill level. 

No one can know enough about all these different age groups, divisions, and leagues.  Sports betting requires quite a lot of attention to detail so it’s best to concentrate on the one or two sports you know best.

Betting Systems Don’t Work

These systems don’t work on 1-1 bets such as those in roulette or craps.  They don’t work in casino games that require decisions on every hand such as blackjack and poker.  It is even harder to make an informed bet on a sporting event where the outcome is ultimately completely out of your hand.  In blackjack, you can make the best decisions and luck will shine on you one day and not the next.

In sports, athletes can make great plays or can make totally unexpected mistakes at crucial moments.  No betting system can accommodate both the expected and the unexpected in a sports match.

Continue to Pay Attention

Even after you place a bet, pay attention to the “line” until betting stops for that match.  The line moves for several reasons and if you pay attention you can increase wins or cut losses by making another bet later on the same match.  For instance, if the line opens with one team favoured to win and so many bettors take the bet because the line seems favourable to them, the line will then change.

Furthermore, if the weather, injuries, or any controversy occurs after you’ve made your bet, you might bet on the other team which you now think will win, thus covering the anticipated loss from your first bet.

Athletes have fine-tuned skills and even a minor injury can affect their play to the extent that their team may no longer be favoured to win.  Many bettors lose money because they don’t make a second bet that takes changed conditions into account.

Understand the Terms

Just as in card counting in blackjack, many players get confused by how the line is expressed.  Let’s look at two bets: a spread bet and a money line bet.

A spread bet means that a winning bet will be on the team that “covers the spread”.  The team that is the favourite to win will have its spread designated with a minus sign.  That means that you have to subtract that amount from the team’s score to determine if you have won the bet.  The team can win the game and you can still lose the spread bet.

The team that is considered the underdog will have its spread designated by a plus sign.  That means that you add that amount of points to the team’s final score to see if you have won the bet.  The underdog can lose the game and still cover the spread.

Some sports are much more conducive to spread betting than others.  International football often has games settled by a single goal.  Spread betting in this sport is very difficult to impossible.  However, American football, rugby, and Aussie rules football work perfectly against the spread.

The final scores in many basketball games are in double digits making basketball also a good sport to bet on the spread.

Moneyline Bets

These bets are strictly on who will win the game.  With a moneyline bet, you can bet on either team.  The favourite will have a negative number next to it and the underdog will have a positive number.  That’s because when you bet on the favourite, you have to risk more to win a smaller amount and when you bet on the underdog, you can win more money with a smaller bet.

Always keep in mind that the line changes as the bulk of the bets move from one team to the other.  The bookmaker has a built-in profit margin so they don’t really care what happens to the betting line, just that it should always come close to even for all bets with the bookmaker’s profit safely ensconced in the line.

Thus, it’s up to the sports bettor to constantly be aware of how the line is moving.  The line may reflect an injury or the weather conditions or it may simply reflect the overall feeling of many thousands of bettors.

In this sense, the betting line is the epitome of the free market.  The betting market sets the line and the facilitator or the bookmaker takes his profit however the line moves.


This is sometimes called the total bet.  It reflects how many points bettors feel the teams will score together regardless of who wins the game.  This is a very difficult bet to handicap because so many things including coaches’ decisions go into the total score.

In Game Bets

These may be on what the next play will be like.  In basketball, it might be on a single statistic for the next play.  Even if you know quite well who will win the game, every game has its own ebb and flow.  In the stock market, a stock may rise one day by a full percent but it may have fallen in value a hundr4ed times over the course of the day.


These are similar to in-game bets but they predict certain outcomes before the match starts.  They are just as hard as in-game bets to win.

Become an Expert

There is nothing like study and realism in any investment and sports betting is a form of investment in the performance of a team or individual athlete.

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