Sports Betting 101

The landscape of sports betting changed dramatically in 2018 with the Supreme Court overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), allowing states to decide for themselves whether to legalize sports gambling.1 Since then, a number of states and territories have opened up their doors to the practice, making it easier than ever to place a wager on your favorite team or game.2 Whether you’re looking to place a bet on your team to win or the total points scored in a match, there are many different types of bets to choose from.

The most basic form of sports betting is the moneyline bet, where you place your bet on which team will emerge victorious. Moneyline bets are easy to understand and a great starting point for newcomers to the sport. They are straightforward bets that pay out if your pick wins or loses, and are offered at equal odds to each other.

Spread bets are more complex, as they involve a margin of victory. They are based on the amount of points, goals or runs that must be made in order for the bet to win. A spread bet is essentially a handicap where one team is “giving away” or “taking” points from another to level the playing field. The higher the spread, the larger the payout if your pick wins.

Another popular type of bet is the Over/Under, where you place a bet on the total number of points that will be scored in a given game. The Over/Under number is calculated by adding the individual scores of each team, then dividing by two to arrive at the combined score. If you expect a defensive slugfest, then placing a bet on the Under is a good idea.

Correlated parlays are a type of bet where you combine two bets that are closely related to each other. For example, if you believe that a team will dominate a game, then you can make a bet on them winning and also place a bet on the Over/Under for total points.

While there are countless ways to bet on sports, the most successful bettors are math freaks with a keen understanding of statistics. They know that they can use the odds against a bookmaker by finding vulnerabilities and opportunities where the line a sportsbook is offering is wrong. They also set their bankroll to survive a losing streak and avoid chasing bad bets by betting more in an attempt to recoup their losses. They also avoid emotion, which can lead to mistakes like “going on tilt,” a term used to describe a bettor’s emotions leading them into bad decisions.

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