Sports betting can be a fun and profitable way to wager on the games you love. Whether you bet on NFL games, MLB baseball, NHL hockey or NBA basketball, the more research you do beforehand, the better your chances of making smart bets. Here are some tips to help you get started.
A good place to start is with the game’s total, which is a bet on how many points both teams will score. This number is calculated by adding the team’s win-loss record to their opponents’ win-loss record. A winning bet would return the amount of your bet plus the over/under’s payout. A losing bet would return just the over/under’s payout.
Another important aspect of a bet is the spread, which is the number of points added or subtracted from a team’s actual win-loss record to determine their relative strength against the spread. The number is then adjusted to account for things like home-field advantage, weather conditions and player injuries. A team that is expected to win by a large margin will be listed as the favorite, while the underdog will have a minus sign (-) in front of its odds.
The sportsbooks are aware of which way public sentiment is leaning and will often shade their lines toward the popular side. For example, if the Seattle Seahawks open as 7-point favorites against the Detroit Lions, ESPN will pump the tires of the Seahawks all week with show after show featuring highlights and commentators touting the juggernaut Seahawks. As a result, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of bettors will jump on the Seattle bandwagon and make their bets, giving the Seahawks a huge edge over the sportsbooks.
In addition to spreads, bettors can also place money lines on individual players or teams. This bet type is more popular in baseball and hockey, where one run or goal can make all the difference. The bettor is betting on the player or team to win the game, rather than the outcome of the entire contest. Moneylines are typically shown with a plus sign (+) or a minus sign (-).
Some bettors choose to wager on every game in a given week, hoping that they can find some mispriced underdogs along the way. While this can be lucrative in some weeks, it’s important to remember that the more bets you place, the more juice the sportsbooks will take from your bankroll. As such, it’s best to stick with the games that you know and understand. This will minimize your losses and increase your potential for winning bets. Keeping up with injury reports, weather forecasts and other pertinent information is key to success. Also, taking the time to study up on obscure or lesser-known markets can lead to big payoffs down the road. For example, many sharp bettors have found success betting on college football power ratings. Alabama and Clemson have been among the most dominant teams in recent years. However, it’s not uncommon for a team to surprise and win the National Championship.