Understanding the Basics of Sports Betting

Sports betting is a massive industry with plenty of different bet types. You can wager on a game’s winner or total points, as well as more specific outcomes like the home team’s next goal or the likelihood of a walk-off home run. The most successful sports bettors understand the nuances of betting, and use a variety of strategies to maximize their profits.

A general rule of thumb is to stick with sports that you’re familiar with from a rules perspective, as well as keep track of your bets (preferably on a spreadsheet). This will help you stay disciplined and make smarter wagers. You should also follow teams and players that you know a lot about, as this will allow you to better predict how they’ll perform in certain situations.

One of the most important concepts to understand when it comes to sports betting is the idea of value. In essence, value bets are those that offer a better return on investment than the oddsmakers’ expectations. This can be achieved in a number of ways, but most often by looking for undervalued odds and betting on an outcome that will likely win or cover the spread.

The best way to find value is to analyze the flow of money on a particular outcome, as this will have an effect on the odds that are offered. For example, if a lot of people are placing emotive wagers on their favorite teams, this can result in the most popular sides carrying disproportionately short prices. This can create opportunities for bettors who can identify alternative and higher-priced outcomes.

Another way to identify value bets is by analyzing the underlying odds that are set by the sportsbooks themselves. The higher the odds, the more difficult it is for a bet to win, and thus they’re considered more risky.

As Illinois prepares to launch its new sports betting market in time for March Madness, BetRivers’ Sansone offers a basic overview of the four main types of bets that will be available to residents.

Straight bets are the most straightforward, as they involve simply betting on a single outcome. This is typically a simple wager on the winner of a game, with favored teams having slightly higher payouts than underdogs.

Point spreads are more complex, but still relatively straightforward to understand. A point spread is a number that indicates the margin of victory, with the lower number representing the underdog and the higher number being the favorite. A common practice in point spreads is to ‘buy’ points, which effectively shifts the line and enables bettors to enjoy enhanced odds.

Finally, futures bets are long-term bets that don’t pay out until the outcome of a season or tournament is known. These bets can be placed year-round, but are typically more profitable early in the season when it’s easier to predict a champion. This article has been adapted from a piece written by the team at Sports Betting Blog.