Sports betting has emerged from the darkness and into the mainstream with online sportsbooks standing at the ready to take your wagers. Many people are new to the scene but curious as to what it’s all about. If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the sports betting waters then don’t be shy, the water has never been warmer or more welcoming. Let’s discuss some rudimentary betting strategies and highlight some of the most important things any bettor should know, whether you are a neophyte or a seasoned pro.
Point Spread, Moneyline, Totals
We’ve all heard about point spreads but what does that really mean? Essentially, it’s a way that the oddsmakers level the playing field. If you were playing golf with Tiger Woods and people were allowed to place bets on you or Tiger, where do you think all of the money would go? On Tiger, of course. He would win, the bookies would pay out oodles upon oodles of money to the bettors, then they would immediately close up shop because they had no more money and betting would cease to exist as we know it.
So, in order to prevent that, the oddsmakers at the best betting sites came up with a way to make it as even as possible. In this case, Tiger might be handicapped with 40 strokes against a novice golfer who shoots about 110 for 18 holes. Tiger routinely shoots 70, so if we do the math, we can see that Tiger -40 strokes, evens the playing field.
And that’s all the bookies want to do, is make it so ideally half the bettors choose one side and the other half chooses the other. The sportsbooks do not want to have a vested interest in the outcome of any event, if they can help it, as their aim is to collect the commission that they take on each bet, commonly referred to as the vigorish, or vig, in the sports betting parlance.
Therefore, when you see the point spreads on football or basketball games you will notice the favored team has a minus sign next to a number like Chiefs -7 vs. Browns. This means the Chiefs are giving up seven points or, to look at it from the underdog’s perspective, the Browns are +7 but it’s the same thing either way. So, if the Chiefs win the game 35-30 it would be those betting the Browns that won their bets (30+7=37, and we know 37 is greater than 35) because the Browns didn’t win outright but they did cover the point spread.
Moneylines replace point spreads but the greater the favorite the more money you have to risk. In the example above, instead of the Chiefs-7, they would be -320/+260, which means you would have to risk $320 to win $100 on the Chiefs or $100 to win $260 on the Browns.
Totals on games are simply based on what the oddsmakers believe will be the combined score of the two teams at the end of the game. Let’s use the same example with the Chiefs versus the Browns, and let’s assume the oddsmakers post a total of 54. The bettor can bet over or under 54, which is why totals are commonly referred to as over/unders. If the combined score is over 54 then all those who bet “over” will win. Conversely, if the combined score is under 54, all those who bet “under” will win. Totals, they are as simple as that!
Basic Sports Betting Strategies
Okay, now that we know a little bit about point spreads, moneylines, and totals, let’s talk about the rudimentary betting strategies that will allow even a beginner a chance to have fun and make some money all at the same time.
The first thing you need to decide is how much money you can afford to lose during the course of a season. We must hope for the best but plan for the worst so that we are prepared and not shaken if we have an extremely disappointing betting year. If you decide at the beginning of the NFL season to set aside $1000 for betting purposes then know that if you lose that amount there is no replenishing your bankroll. Call it a season, learn from your mistakes, and come back next year to fight again.
The second thing you should know is to limit the number of wagers you make. More is not better because the standard bookie’s commission, the vig, is 10 percent which means you need to win 52.4 percent of your bets just to break even. And the more you bet, the more those commissions mount when you lose.
Finally, your bets should equal one percent of your bankroll. Therefore, if you have a $1000 bankroll for the season then your bets will only be $10 per wager. It sounds small, and it is small, but it will allow you to stay in the action for the entire season unless the roof caves in and you go on a stunning losing streak, referred to as a “cooler” in sports betting lingo.
And that’s it. But one of the most important topics we’ve saved for last. Make sure you are doing business with a reputable online sportsbook. Check them out at an independent site that assigns letter grades to all of the sportsbooks out there. Some will be of the A+ variety while others will be labeled as an F and on the dreaded black list. Do your homework and be informed, it will only enhance your sports betting experience because it’s one thing to sweat the game but never the payout.