Winning at Sports Betting


So, you’ve decided to dip your foot into the waters of sports gambling. In this piece, we’ll go over some of the basics of sports gambling and introduce you to some of the intricacies. After that, we’ll cover some other topics worth understanding.

How to Bet On Sports

Let’s start with the most basic question: How can you bet on sports? First, you’ll need to locate a sportsbook that will take your action. The term “action” is another word for a bet or the money you wager. Countless outlets will take your action. 

Sportsbooks offer numerous ways to bet — such as brick-and-mortar sportsbooks like Caesars in Las Vegas which you visit in-person. In these books, you’ll see tellers behind a kiosk, like a bank. You can place your wagers through them, but some books have electronic options allowing you to skip the line and place the bet yourself.

Moreover, online sportsbooks like DraftKings, BetUS and FanDuel offer everything found in traditional sportsbooks and more. Sure, you can jump into any of them head first, but do your homework on the pros and cons of each book, especially before you begin. Many online books offer first-time deposit bonuses. That means that they’ll match (or sometimes even double) your first deposit into the account you create. (But do be aware of the required rollover — we’ll cover that further in the “Playing with Bonuses” section.)

Betting Types

After figuring out where you can bet, the next most important question is what should you bet Oddsmakers offer numerous types of bets across all sports, but some are universal.


Top Sports for Betting

Understanding Odds and Juice

Understanding the odds is vital to success at sports betting. If you’re looking at bets like the spread and totals, you probably see a number next to it like -110 or +115.

These are US odds and describe how much you can expect to profit from your winning wager. A negative number indicates how much you would have to risk to win $100 in profit. So if the posted odds are -110, a $110 wager would return $220 when you win. ($220 = $110 + $100)

Similarly, a positive number indicates how much you will profit from a winning $100 wager. So at +115 odds, a $100 winning wager would return $215. ($215 = $100 + $115)

These numbers can vary wildly. Odds of +100 (also known as even odds) returns the same amount risked. But other bets can have vastly different payouts. For instance, +2000 odds would pay $2000 on a $100 bet (a huge payout for a winning underdog). On the other hand, a -2000 heavy favorite pays out just $100 profit for risking $2000.

Betting Favorites vs. Underdogs

So with underdogs offering higher payouts than favorites, it’s not uncommon for beginning bettors to lean heavily on betting underdogs because of the high-reward, low-risk. But sports betting isn’t quite that simple.

In reality, these US odds are the same as percentages. They are equivalent to the probability something will happen (like the actual chances of the underdog winning, for instance).

Take for example a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals, in which the Royals were significant underdogs to win. The moneyline odds for the game priced the Blue Jays at -330, and the Royals at +265. This means the Blue Jays had an implied probability of 76.8% to win.

If you, the bettor, believe that Toronto’s chances of winning were higher than that 76.8%, then betting on the Jays would be a good bet at those odds — even though the payout would return only 30 cents on the dollar.

On the other hand, if you think the Royals had better than a 27% chance to pull off the upset, then the correct play would be on Kansas City. (So even though the return on your wager would be 330% of what you risked, it still requires the Royals to beat those odds and win the game.)

There is no correct approach to betting only on favorites or underdogs. It always depends on the matchups and the numbers on the board.

Playing with Bonuses

Depending on which outlet with which you sign up, betting with bonuses can be lucrative. But making the most of your bonuses can take some preparation, and understanding some of the withdrawal restrictions. Here, the term “rollover” is often used and refers to the number of times the deposit has to be wagered in order to qualify for a bonus.

So if you were cashing a $250 bonus with a 6X rollover, you would have to wager $3000 (The bonus is added to the deposit and multiplied by the rollover number — 6 x ($250 + $250) in qualifying bet types.) Bonuses are usually non-transferable and offer no cash value. Those are some of the basic rules, but make sure to read the terms and conditions of any bonus or deposit match prior to opting in, as some special bonuses may have individual requirements. 

Arbitraging / Hedging Bets

More advanced concepts in sports betting involve concepts like arbitrage or hedging.

Arbitrage is wagering on both sides of a bet. Normally, this would lose money, however, in some instances different books post unique odds. For instance, one outlet might have the Tampa Bay Rays as -115 favorites against the Baltimore Orioles, while another book could have the Orioles priced as +120 underdogs. In this case, betting both sides returns a small (but guaranteed) profit.

Similarly, hedging a bet involves betting on the opposite side of a bet you’ve already made. Suppose you made a bet on the Los Angeles Rams to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season at +800 odds. Now, on the day of the Big Game, the Rams are posted as the favorites. Your $100 bet on the Rams will pay out at $8000 if — and that’s a big if — they win.

For those who want to sacrifice some value for guaranteed profit, the hedge is the way to go. In this case, you would bet on the Rams’ opponent in order to lock in an equal profit regardless of the outcome.

Bankroll Management

While this may be the last topic on the list, bankroll management is probably the most important thing when it comes to being a responsible and successful bettor. A common mistake is betting more than what should typically be wagered on a certain game or situation. 

The method of flat betting is a common system of bankroll management. With flat betting, you’re essentially betting the same amount (a unit) on every game. This is often one-percent of your bankroll. While you may not get rich quick with this method, it avoids those high-paying parlays seen all over social media — and can also minimize bankroll-crushing losses this way.

Once you have a better understanding of your expected return from winning, you can begin to increase your wager sizes based on the confidence of your prediction.

BetUS Banner IBD

BetUS Banner IBD