How to Bet on Sports
Sports gambling is here, and there’s a lot you need to know. According to SportsBusiness Journal, "The American Sports Gambler" was the most influential person in sports business in 2018.
"We made [sports bettors] No. 1 on our most influential list, and we also think it's the biggest story of the year," SportsBusiness Journal senior writer Bill King told ESPN.com. "I'm sure we're not alone in that."
Wagering on games now is legal in many parts of the United States, with as many as 30 states likely to pass ordinances in the next four years.
Gambling adds drama and excitement to games. But it’s hard to learn if you don’t understand the basics. We’re here to help with everything you need to know about sports betting but were too scared to ask.
Where in-person, legal betting takes place.
Before 2018, sports books in the United States were typically confined to Las Vegas. But a recent Supreme Court ruling has given states the go-ahead to open sports books, and New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and Pennsylvania are among the states who have already begun doing so.
Sports gambling has taken off largely thanks to online bookmakers. Through apps and websites on smartphones, fans can wager on games online.
A Forbes report found that New Jersey made an extra $100 million thanks to online betting in August, a typically light sports month on the calendar, betting-wise.
The basics of sports gambling revolve around odds for each team to win.
The favorite is the team that oddsmakers believe should win.
The underdog, or dog sometimes for short, is more likely to lose.
Betting against the spread is the crux of sports gambling.
The favorite, or team expected to win, has to defeat the underdog by more than the spread in order to "cover."
So if a team is a seven-point favorite, it has to win by more than seven to win against the spread. Often in football and basketball, if all things are deemed equal, the home team is favored by three points.
If you hear a pundit refer to laying or giving points, it means he is choosing the favorite against the spread.
By the same token, if the line shows a team -7, it means it is favored by seven points.
The opposite of laying or giving points.
Essentially, betting on the underdog against the spread.
A money line bet is made without the consideration of spreads, and generally is a more lucrative way for people to pick underdogs they think will win outright.
To win the bet, your team just has to win the game.
A type of betting line for all major sports. Most bookmakers in the United States use the plus/minus format, also known as the money line format, American odds, or U.S. odds.
The favorite will be listed as the money needed to bet to win $100. If a team is listed as -110, that means a person must bet that amount ($110) to win $100. If an underdog has a plus (or nothing) in front of its number (+120, or 120, for instance), that is the money won ($120) if a bettor wagers $100.
While money line bets are expressed in units of $100, you can make bets of any size. Say the Cubs are a -170 favorite, a $17 bet would win $10 for a return of $27.
If you prefer decimals, the -170 odds would be converted to 1.5882. Just multiply the bet amount with your bet, and you will find your winnings.
If math isn't your strong suit, enjoy this odds converter.
Gambling on the total statistics in a game, season or sports events.
The over/under (or O/U) could be the total points both teams will score in a game, the number of games a baseball team wins in a season or just about any stat.
The O/U usually will be listed near the spread of a game on a betting board.
The likelihood of an outcome. In horse racing, it could mean the likelihood of a horse winning a race. In team sports, it’s the likelihood a team will win. The lower the odds, the more likely the outcome, and therefore the lower amount an individual better wins.
For example, 3-1 odds mean you will get three for every one that you bet. If you bet $10, you will win $30.
To calculate the probability of 3-1 odds, divide the denominator (1 here) by the numerator and denominator (3+1), and you get 1/4. So the probability of 3-1 odds is 25 percent.
Even money, also known as 50-50, or 1-1 odds, often is listed as "even" and means you have a 50-50 shot of winning. If you bet $1, you win $1.
Longshots, or higher odds, have less chance of winning but can have unintended consequences. Leicester City was listed as 5,000-1 odds of winning the English Premier League in 2015-16, and still did. British bookmakers lost more than 25 million euro ($28,438,975 in today's dollars) because of Leicester’s success.
Wagering on something in the future.
This typically involves betting the odds that a team wins a championship, though it can also reference single-season win totals (mostly in football, baseball or basketball).
A gambling strategy to protect existing bets from potential losses.
For instance, if you wager $30 on the favorite to win, you might put $30 on the underdog to cover the spread to hedge your bet.
Hedging is a way to minimize risk and can guarantee profit, depending on the odds and how much you wager.
Betting multiple events in one wager. Parlays are where the real money in sports gambling gets won because the odds get longer with more events involved.
In parlays, every individual bet wagered must be successful to win. Betting on two events generally pays out 13-5. A three-event parlay will pay at 6-1. A four-event parlay will pay around 12-1 and so on.
Perhaps you pick the Chiefs, Saints and Browns all to win their games one NFL Sunday. If all three win, you get a larger payout than if you bet on each game by itself. But if any of those teams lose in your parlay, you lose.
A prop (short for proposition) bet is a wager that does not involve the final score.
Typically, the Super Bowl is most notable for its prop bets. Fans can wager on everything from the first-quarter score or halftime spread to things like the length of the national anthem or coin-toss winner.
A push is when a favorite wins by the margin deemed in the betting line, meaning neither side wins or loses.
In the result of a push, all bets are returned.
It beats the house winning.