The first thing to realize is that turning a profit betting sports, like making money trading stocks, isn’t easy. In fact, most bettors lose over the long term. But if you’re patient and willing to invest the time and effort, there is a path to profitability. And it begins with learning about the different types of bets that are available and how they work.
The most common way to bet on sports is to place a bet against the spread. The point spread is a number that handicaps one team and favors another when two teams play each other. The oddsmakers adjust the line to make it more difficult for the favorite to win and easier for the underdog to win. The lines can be in increments of half-a-point (although very few sports have a 0.5 point scoring system). The line will include a plus or minus sign to indicate whether the favorite is getting points or giving them up.
In addition to the traditional moneyline, over/under and spread bets, there are a variety of other specialty wagers called prop bets. Prop bets often relate to individual players and things that aren’t reflected in the box score. They can be as simple as a player’s total touchdown passes in a game or as complicated as predicting the color of Gatorade that douses a coach after his team wins a championship. The key to becoming a profitable sports bettor is finding advantages, which can be as subtle as a line a book offers that has been adjusted slightly in your favor.
Another form of sports wagering is the futures market, which allows you to bet on events that will occur in the future. These bets aren’t placed until a week or two before the event takes place. They can be as simple as a team winning the Super Bowl or as complex as a specific player winning the MVP award. There are also bets that predict the winner of a particular competition, such as the World Series or the Olympic Games.
The integrity of sporting events has been tarnished by a number of scandals related to gambling, including point shaving (players intentionally miss shots), spot-fixing (fixing individual plays) and overall match-fixing (the whole outcome of an event is fixed). These scandals have led many people to avoid placing bets on sports. However, if you do your research and avoid high minimum bet limits, it is possible to make money betting on sports. Just be sure to stay away from sites that require you to give up your credit card number upfront. Also, never trust a service that promises guaranteed wins. Read reviews on forums and investigate Better Business Bureau complaints before you put any money down.