Updated: September 5, 2022
How to Get Started If Your State Offers Legal Sports Betting
How to start sports betting if your state passes legislation is a stimulating process for beginners. I remember the first time I walked into a Las Vegas Sportsbook (1975) and was fully engaged. The team names were the only thing I understood. The big boards, guys erasing numbers and writing down new numbers was interesting. What did it all mean and where to start. I was overwhelmed but thoroughly engrossed. Today, the numbers are posted on large digital displays with the latest odds and large HD viewing screens. Now that any state can pass their own legal sports betting platform, residents can bet casually or seriously without looking over their shoulder. Sports betting has progressed to being legally accepted outside of Nevada. The biggest advancement for sports betting is the online technology that has surpassed the Vegas sportsbooks. New global sports betting markets are being legally accepted and growing every year.
Each sport has its own set of wagering options. The basics for the major betting sports are the point spread, the moneyline and the over/under referred to as a totals bet. Once you understand the basics, you will encounter other wagering options called teasers, parlays and proposition bets (props). Placing two or more teams together in parlays or teasers will produce larger payouts but is more difficult to win. Prop bets give you odds on what could happen during a game such as total number of field goals, total number of passing touchdowns or the over/under number of turnovers. The list goes on and is used mostly on the big games —- playoffs and Super Bowl.
How to bet on NFL football games
The main betting format is the point spread or the line. Each game matchup has a favorite listed as a minus number and the underdog has a plus number. A point spread of -7 points on team A (favorite) means team B is the underdog with a +7 point handicap before the game starts. Team A has to win first and by more than the -7 point spread to win your bet. Team B can lose the game but win the bet (cover) if it loses by less than 7 points. Team B can win the game outright and the points do not matter. If the favorite wins by exactly 7 points, it is called a push and all money is returned.
Your NFL picks, NBA picks and NCAA picks are based on a $100 wager but can be any mount. Invest $110 to win $100 or $11 to win $10. You can bet any amount and the computer will show your risk and reward. The standard commission or vigorish (vig for short) is 10% of your bet. Most bettors like to add the 10% on their bet amount. Risking 55 to win 50 or 22 to win 20 is a common practice. Some online books offer a lower commission called “reduced juice” to get your business. A -105 to win 100 is reduced juice. These money numbers are many times the difference between profit or loss in the long run. When you win your bet, the house returns your 105 bet with your winning of 100 for a total of 205. NFL betting, NBA betting and betting trends are where to start your sports betting experience.
Betting the point spread is the most popular form of sports betting. A point spread is a number calculated by a consultant group and sold to the sportsbooks who offer this point spread number to their bettors. The number is created with the purpose of dividing the betting public to bet equally on both sides. Games usually end up close to the spread about 70% of the time. Sportsbooks do lose money on certain weeks but usually make it back over the course of a season.
How to bet on the moneyline
Betting NFL moneylines is an alternative option bet to the point spread. The moneyline eliminates the spread number and you bet who will win the game. You just have to win the game as the spread has been eliminated. A moneyline bet looks easy without the point spread, but you have to risk more to win less on the favorite. Risking -330 (3.3 to 1) to win 100 on a team is an example of moneyline odds. This type of bet is best done in selective spots and not an everyday bet. It is based on a 100 bet and posted as -110, -120 or higher for the favorite and +110 or higher on underdog. Your NFL picks should be a mix of favorites and underdogs. Betting the NFL underdog moneyline is a value bet and pays more than your risk. There is no commission when betting the underdog. You can win less than 50% of these bets and still turn a profit, which is the ideal situation for any sharp sports bettor.
How to bet the total or the over/under
The most important reason to bet the total number is you do not have to choose a team. If you feel your NFL pick is over-valued, but you love the over total, skip the team bet and pick the over. It does not matter who wins but the total number of points scored by both teams is the deciding factor. Your option is to bet over the total number or under the number. NFL betting is a good totals bet but NBA betting totals is a fast paced wager with unpredictable scoring in each quarter. The bookies put low limits on totals wagers. They need to limit their exposure and liability to sharp bettors who study the necessary stats and betting trends, injuries, weather reports and all the variables that produce a winning totals bettor.
Many gamblers are fixated on the point spread and need to pick a team to win or cover the spread number. Totals betting is a different format based on scoring or lack of scoring without favoring a team. A totals number in the NFL is usually between 39 and 51 depending on team matchups and offense and defense statistics. A computer analysis database is an important handicapping tool to keep track of these numbers and betting trends.
Betting differences between NCAA college and professional sports
How to bet on NCAA college football or basketball is very similar to betting on professional sports. The same betting options apply to college sports with betting the point spread, moneyline and totals (over/under). However, the big difference is the huge college schedule with all the different division conferences (ACC,SEC,PAC10) and the enormous gap of talent.
Point spreads can go as high as -48 points when there are total mismatches on the schedule. The totals bet can be up to 82 points with final scores of 48 to 35 a common offensive game. The betting numbers depend on which teams are playing each other and how coaches are looking for a higher rank position. College football and basketball betting is a very big part of the sports betting industry. Bettors usually bet college and professional sports on an equal footing. Bettors will find better opportunities with NCAA college football with all the selections available. NCAA college basketball has many selections and tournaments for bettors to watch and bet. The tournament known as “March Madness” is the most bet sporting event in the world.
How to bet on baseball
Moneylines: Since there is no point spread in baseball, each team has odds that correspond to what percentage the bookie thinks the team has to win. A typical baseball moneyline wager will look like this:
Tampa Bay Devil Rays +150
New York Yankees -170
The top team is always the road team. The bottom team is always the home team. Anytime a team has a + in front of their odds means the amount you stand to profit based on a wager of 100. Anytime you see a minus sign (-) in front of a teams odds, you are risking that amount to profit 100.
When you place your place your MLB pick on the game, you will have the option of betting listed pitchers or “action.” If you select listed pitchers, both pitchers must start and throw at least one pitch for the bet to be considered official. If you select action, it does not matter what pitchers start, your bet is recorded at whatever odds the sportsbook listed when the pitching change happened. Baseball betting is considered the most favorable sport to bet on by many sharp bettors. A big difference is no point spread and no time clock and extra innings. Baseball is a game of streaks and slumps that can last 2 to 4 weeks. Betting with a hot team and against a slumping team can be very profitable.
What are the runlines and totals in baseball
The baseball runline is a good alternative to betting the moneyline to reduce your odds. The runline is similar to a spread handicap where you need to win a game by more than 1.5 runs (one and a half runs) which means 2 runs or more. The odds are usually posted as a plus number. If you bet your team to win by 2 or more runs (laying -1.5 runs), you get favorable plus odds of +120, +130 or higher.
Risking 100 to win 120 or higher is a common betting strategy. You can also bet the reverse by adding the 1.5 runs to your bet but at higher odds of -150 up to -250. You can lose a one run game but win the bet by half run.
The totals bet is the same as other sports but is listed as a run number and not points. You bet the over or under total runs scored by both teams. A potential low scoring game will list the total runs at 6 to 7 runs. The average run total is usually 8 to 9 runs. A run total of 12 runs is the highest you will see when high scoring teams are facing weak pitching with the wind blowing out.