There are millions of sports fans who watch their favorite games and likely think to themselves “betting on sports must be easy.” The truth is, it’s not. In fact, a good percentage of professional sports bettors actually make this their life’s work, though they do it by finding advantages in the lines that the books offer. This requires a good understanding of statistics (though some higher math is helpful) and the discipline to place only bets that can be afforded to lose. In order to break even with the vig/juice, a sports bettor must win 52.4% of their bets.
The basics of sports betting involve predicting the outcome of a game and placing a wager on that outcome. Depending on the sport, you may be betting on a team to win, a team to cover a spread, or on a total score or result. Odds are calculated based on the probability of each event happening, which allows you to place a bet that either wins or loses.
Moneyline bets are a great way to get in on the action without putting much thought into the specifics of a game. These bets are placed on a particular team and are paid out if that team wins the game. Adding a – or a plus sign to the front of a team’s odds indicates whether that team is the underdog or the favorite.
Point spreads, also called handicaps, are designed to make uneven games more fair for bettors. They work by adjusting a team’s odds to reflect their expected performance, forcing the favorites to cover a certain number of points in order for bettors to win their bets. The oddsmakers determine how many points are needed to cover the spread by analyzing the past performances of the teams and their opponents.
Over/under bets, which focus on the overall score of a game, are a popular type of sports betting. These bets are placed on whether a team will score more (over) or less (under) than the total amount posted by the oddsmakers. For example, if a game’s over/under total is 42.5 and you expect a defensive slugfest, you would bet on the over.
Futures bets, on the other hand, are bets that are made on events taking place in the future. These bets often come with higher odds and can pay out larger amounts of money than standard bets, as they are based on the chances that an event will occur. These bets can range from a player winning the World Series to a team winning its next championship. However, it’s important to note that futures bets are not as common as they are with regular bets, as they require more advanced knowledge of a sport than simply knowing who will win a given game. For this reason, they are often reserved for bigger events such as the Super Bowl.