The Top 7 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

As sports betting continues to grow in popularity and is increasingly becoming legal in jurisdictions across the world, there are many bettors who are looking to sports bet for perhaps the first time. To help, we created this short how-to guide to help you get started with sports betting.

1. How to read the odds

When looking at sporting events to wager on, you will see a set of odds. Most sportsbooks allow you to toggle between the different styles of how odds are presented, which are usually shown in either what is called Decimal odds, or in American odds. As an example, a Decimal odd of 3.00 would be shown as +200 in American formatting. For this article, odds will be displayed in American odds. As an example, if a bet selection has a +200 payout, a $10 bet would have a payout of $30 ($20 profit), implying a ⅓ chance of winning the wager.

2. Moneyline bets

One of the most popular ways to wager on sporting events is through what is called a moneyline bet. A moneyline wager is one of the simplest bets possible – you are wagering on which team or player you believe is going to win the event. The favored team for the event will offer a lower payout, while the underdog will have a higher payout (i.e. +200 odds). As an example, if you believe Team A will defeat Team B, you simply wager the moneyline on Team A, and if Team A wins, you win your wager.

3. Spread bets

Unlike moneyline bets, with a spread bet you can still win even if your chosen team loses their event, as a spread bet is a wager based on the margin of victory. Spread bets are a great choice for bettors if they believe one of the competing teams will either underperform, or over perform their expectations.

As an example, if Team A is expected to win by 9 points, the spread would be -9, meaning that someone selecting a spread bet on Team A would need Team A to win by 10 or more points in order to win their wager. In the event Team A wins by 9, it would be a push – meaning the bet was not a win or loss, and the original wager is returned to the bettor.

If a bettor is expecting an underdog to perform better than expected, a spread bet is a way for them to capitalize on that. In the example above, it is implied that Team B is expected to lose by 9 points, meaning that the spread bet for Team B would be +9. If Team B wins, or loses by 8 or less points, the bettor would win their wager.

4. Over / Under bets

Another popular form of wagering is on the Over / Under of an event, this type of bet is based on the combined total number of points scored in an event. As an example, Team A and Team B are expected to cumulatively score 30 points in a game. A bet on the Over would win if the combined score exceeds 30 points, and a bet on the Under would win if the two teams fail to score more than 30 points.

5. Pre-match vs. live bets

Every sportsbook and sportsbook solutions provider offers what is known as pre-match betting, which is placing a wager on an event at some point in advance of the start of the match. Most sportsbooks also offer what is known as live betting (sometimes called in-game), which is when a bettor places a wager after the match has started.

The primary difference between the two is that pre-match odds are relatively stable. For example, if a bettor placed a wager on Team A a week in advance of the match, the odds line is unlikely to move much during that week, whereas the odds line during live betting is constantly moving based on what is happening during the event.

6. Bonuses

There are a wide variety of bonuses many sportsbooks offer to bettors. Some types of common bonuses include first time deposits, special events, and loyalty bonuses. For first time deposits, a sportsbook usually offers a bettor a “risk-free” bet, where their first bet is returned (up to a certain dollar value) if the bettor loses their bet. Special event bonuses are tied to unique events, and are usually used for major events such as betting on the World Cup or Super Bowl. Loyalty bonuses are a way some sportsbooks reward their regular customers, by giving a bettor money back that is typically based on wagered volume.

Many, but not all, bonus offers also feature terms and conditions, so bettors should carefully review the bonuses before accepting them. A common example for instance is what is known as a rollover (sometimes called “play-through”) requirement. A rollover requirement means that a bettor has to wager a certain amount of volume before they are eligible to cash out any of their bonus money.

Here is an example of what a rollover requirement looks like. If a bettor receives a $100 bonus with a 10x rollover, that means they need to place $1,000 of wagers before they are able to cash out their $100 bonus.

7. Selecting a betting platform

Before placing a wager, bettors should carefully consider which platform they decide to wager on. While many iGaming operators utilize similar white label sportsbook technology or similar sportsbook solutions and source their odds from the same data feed providers, the differences are still substantial from operator to operator.

Here is a quick checklist you can use to help identify if a sportsbook solution is a good fit for you:

  • Does the operator you are considering have a valid license for your jurisdiction?
  • If you are planning to bet on mobile devices, is their service accessible and easy to use on mobile devices?
  • Do they offer other products, such as casino games in addition to a sportsbook, or just a sportsbook?
  • Does the platform support live betting, or only pre-match?
  • Are the odd lines competitive for the sport leagues you intend on wagering on? Many operators adjust their lines to offer more competitive odds for specific leagues, depending on their target geographical market.
  • Do their payment rails support the type of currencies you wish to deposit and withdraw in? Many operators do not accept cryptocurrencies for instance, or have a very limited number of accepted cryptocurrencies.

The preceding information should be helpful for those who are looking for high-level information around common sports betting terminology. Always remember that if you do choose to gamble, always play responsibly.

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