Sports betting has become a popular form of wagering among Americans. With more and more states legalizing the activity, sports bettors are able to place wagers on a variety of different sporting events. However, the market has its share of challenges and potential pitfalls.
Sports bettors must learn the basics of the industry before putting their money on the line. While the odds are stacked against most people, there are strategies that can be used to improve your chances of winning.
1. Know the Odds
In most cases, the odds offered at online and land-based sportsbooks are identical. They’re typically displayed in American, decimal or fractional form.
This is because they’re based on a set of parameters, such as the number of points scored by each team in a game or a percentage of points scored by both teams combined.
2. Understanding Spreads and Totals
In football, hockey and soccer, oddsmakers will set a spread and total for each game. These values can help sports bettors decide whether to place a bet on the favorite or the underdog.
For example, a spread of -2 indicates that two relatively even-matched teams will meet. Similarly, a total of 10-plus points suggests that one team is favored by a significant margin over the other.
3. Betting on the Favorite Side
The favorite in a sports betting market is the team that has a higher probability of winning. For instance, if the Texans are +300, they’re expected to win by at least 300 points. Similarly, if the Lakers are -500, they’re expected to lose by at least 500 points.
4. Understand Moneylines
The moneyline is a popular betting option for many sports, and it is also commonly used in fantasy sports. The moneyline is an indicator of the relative value of each team to a sportsbook, and it is usually used by players who are wagering on lower-scoring games.
5. The Line Doesn’t Always Match the Actual Results
In most cases, the lines offered at online and land-based sportsbooks represent the opinion of a sportsbook. They’re often influenced by the perception of the public, but they’re also affected by various other factors, including the oddsmakers’ own biases and the type of bettors that each sportsbook caters to.
6. In-Play Betting
If you’re a serious sports bettor, then you’ll want to bet in-play. In-play wagers are a great way to take advantage of early trends and make sure that you’re in the best position to get ahead before the markets settle.
7. Mandated Use of “Official League Data”
There’s a bit of a war going on between the major sports leagues and the legal sportsbooks over usage of “official league data.” While the NFL and MLB claim it’s necessary to preserve integrity, they’re also concerned that using such data will stifle their business.
As of now, only Illinois and Tennessee have passed laws requiring the usage of “official league data.” It’s not a decision that most people agree on. It’s something that requires a lot of debate and negotiation, but in the end, it’s up to individual states to decide whether or not to allow the use of this information.