How to Bet on Sports

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The world of sports betting can be confusing for newcomers. However, once you learn a bit about making picks and predictions – and picked up a bit of the terminology – you’ll see how easy it is to bet on sports.

This guide will introduce the main types of bets you can make – and how to understand them. We will also look at what you need to do to be able to bet on sports in the US, including calculating a bet’s profit.

Read on to find out more about how to bet on sports. If you haven’t yet, make sure you know how to read odds.

Main Types of Bets

Although there are many different types of bets relating all kinds of tournaments and leagues, there are three main ways to bet on sports in the US.

  • Moneyline
  • Totals Over/Under
  • Points Spread

We will take a look at each of these types in turn – using examples to help you understand how they work.

how to bet on sports

Moneyline Betting

Moneyline, or American odds betting, is probably the easiest form of betting to understand for the complete newcomer. Naturally, it is most common in America. But, it’s still a popular betting type internationally with anyone who likes to bet on sports.

A moneyline bet is basically predicting the winner of an event. For example, you may want to bet on an NBA game. You would see the betting odds listed in American odds:

NY Knicks +250
Toronto Raptors -150

As in any sporting event, there will be a favorite and an underdog. The odds show you immediately which team is the favorite and who’s got a tough game ahead.

The +250 next to the New York Knicks means that if you bet $100 on them and they win you would receive $250. Choosing the Toronto Raptors at -150 would get you $150 from a $100 wager.

You can usually make a moneyline bet on any sport. However, it should be noted that with some – such as soccer – you can also bet on the draw.

Totals & Over-Under Betting

Betting on the total and over/under betting is the same thing. With this type of bet, you are not concentrating on the winner of an event but the total amount of points scored within a defined time period.

This is a particularly popular way of betting on sports in the US as there are a number of games that high scoring is a feature of. Again it is incredibly straightforward and easy to understand.

The bookmaker will set an amount as the total and a bet can be made as to whether that amount will be beaten or not.

For example, an NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets might have a total set at 40.5 points with -110 odds for both over and under. The bet is simply whether you believe more or fewer than 40.5 points will be scored in the game.

The .5 is not always added but is there to make sure that the bet can be won or lost – as it is not possible to score half a point in football. Sometimes you will see the total as a round number. If the game ends with the exact same amount of points as the total it is called a ‘push’ and the stake is refunded.

Point Spread Betting

One of the most popular ways to bet on sports in the US is a point spread wager. They are most common in football and basketball – but it is possible to bet on other sports this way as well.

The concept of point spread betting can take a little getting used to for the complete beginner when it comes to betting on sports. This is because you are not betting on a particular player or team to win an event. You are more interested in whether the favorite will cover the spread.

The points spread is set by the bookmaker in an attempt to balance the two teams to give both an equal chance of winning. It is a type of handicap that adds or subtracts points from a team’s total. Recently, PointsBet, an Australian sportsbook, has launched points betting in NJ with great welcome promotions. Check them out today and get two risk-free bets worth up to $1,000.

On a point spread, for example, you would see the odds listed something like this:

New York Jets Buffalo Bills
-5.5 +5.5
-110 +110

The -5.5 and +5.5 next to the two teams are the handicaps. Effectively, you are betting on New York and subtracting 5 points, or adding 5 points to Buffalo’s total. The Jets are the 5.5 point favorites and the Bills are the 5.5 point underdogs.

If you bet on the Jets, your wager will be successful if they win by more than 5.5 points. A bet on the Bills would be successful if they won, or lost by fewer than 5.5 points.

Points Betting Example

If the game finished New York 24 Buffalo 13, then a bet on New York would be a winner. Even with the -5.5 added to their total, the Jets would still win 18.5 to 13. A bet on Buffalo at +5.5 would lose as the amended score would still be New York 24 Buffalo 18.5.

But, if the final score was New York 17 Buffalo 13 then that bet on the Bills with +5.5 would make the amended score New York 17 Buffalo 18.5 – and you would be a winner.

As we said, beating the spread can sometimes be confusing at first for anyone who is used to betting on sports in a more traditional manner. But with point spread betting you are not looking at who actually wins a game – but whether the spread is covered.

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Other Ways to Bet on Sports

The three types of wager we have gone through are the main ways to bet on sports – but there are variants and other types that can be made with most bookmakers.

Multiple bets – or parlays – are popular as there is the chance of a bigger payout with lower stakes. This is because you are betting on a number of events as part of one bet – and each of the different legs must be successful for your bet to win.

There are also futures, or outrights markets, where you are predicting who will win a league, tournament or competition before it starts. This is a common way to bet on sports at the start of seasons and, depending on the tournament, there is the possibility of getting very attractive odds.

Prop bets are also common in most sports. These wagers focus on aspects other than the final outcome of an event. A good example would be whether Tom Brady will throw for more than four touchdowns in a game.

A lot of prop bets fall into a ‘yes/no’ category like this. The Super Bowl is the king of prop bets with hundreds of potential markets including how long the national anthem will take to sing!

Betting on Sports Conclusion

As you can see, there are various ways to bet on sports. All have their own pros and cons depending on your view. Many sports bettors will tend to prefer a specific type but there is nothing to say that you cannot mix it up.

The main thing to remember when you come to bet on sports is that you know what you are doing. Whether point spreads, totals, or moneyline betting, research is key. If you don’t have enough information to back up your bet then you probably shouldn’t be making it in the first place.

When you understand how to bet on sports you will realize that it is a great way to make even the worst games exciting.

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