Understanding Sports Betting

Understanding Sports Betting

It’s easier than ever to bet on the big game with today’s technology.

You don’t have to plan a trip to Las Vegas and pay all those resort fees and tourist taxes. And there’s no need to be waiting in lengthy sports book lineups anymore.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act recently and paved the road for states to legalize sports gambling, there will be more and more brick and mortar options across the United States. But you can take your game online and wager at your convenience no matter where you are.

The industry offers a staggering number of bets on all sports. The number one selection which draws the majority of wagers is football. It’s America’s game — by far. Almost 60 per cent of all bets made are on the touchdown makers. Basketball draws about 30 per cent of the sports betting pool, while all other sports make up the final 10 per cent.

Before you jump into the game, it’s best to gain an understanding of all the terms and numbers in Sports Betting 101.

Two Types Of Sports Bettors

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One of the reasons sports betting is so popular is all the wagering choices. There’s something for everyone — be it the recreational player who just wants to bet on his favorite team or the professional looking for that added edge in a sea of statistics.

The same options are available for all players. Sports books, online gaming sites and casino apps offer odds on all the major sporting events, even though the payoffs may vary a bit depending on the venue.

Recreational players can find sites that offer $5 and $10 bets. The pros will have their spots where they can risk thousands. The riskier the play — parlays and teasers — the higher the payoffs.

Betting Terms And Payoffs

Betting odds and their respective payoffs will change as the event approaches. These numbers are dependent on how much money is being wagered on both sides of the bet. Remember, though, that when you make a bet at a specific point in time, your odds and payoffs are fixed and will not change.


Money line

Everyone likes to pick a winner, and that’s all you have to do to score on the money line.

This is the most common bet, and it applies to every sport. There is no point spread linked to the money line, there is just a favorite and an underdog. So the team you bet on only has to win the game, not win by a certain number of points.

Let’s say, for example, Team A (favorite) is -140 to win the game. Team B (underdog) is +120 to take it all. To win the money line, all you have to do is pick the winner, but the payout is linked to the betting line (-140 and +120).

If there is a minus sign in front of the betting line (-140), that is how much money a bettor has to wager to win $100. In our example, you would have to wager $140 to make a profit of $100 for a total return of $240.

If there is a plus sign in front of the betting line (+120), that is how much profit a bettor makes for a $100 bet. In our example, you would have to wager $100 to make a profit of $120 for a total return of $220.

So, a $140 bet on the favorite (-140) earns a total return of $240. A $100 bet on the underdog (+120) earns a total return of $220.


Point spread

Commonly called the line or spread, it is the number chosen by Las Vegas and other oddsmakers that they feel will get an equal amount of money wagered on the underdog as on the favorite.

The negative value (-3.5) means the team is favored by 3.5 points. The positive value (+3.5) indicates an underdog of 3.5 points.

In this instance, the favored team must win by at least four points to cover the spread. The underdog team can win outright or lose by three points and still cover the spread.

The return or profit on a winning bet on the point spread is often around -110. That means, from our money line example, that a bettor would have to wager $110 to earn a profit of $100 for a total return of $210.


Run line

The run line replaces the point spread and is only used in baseball. Here, the run line is fixed at -1.5 runs on the favored team in every game. The line is also fixed at +1.5 runs for the underdog. A bettor must decide whether the favored team will win by two runs or more. If the favorite loses the game or wins by one run, the underdog takes the bet.

If, for example, Team A is the favorite, it is pegged at -1.5 in the run line. If Team A beats Teams B 5-3, Team A wins the run line since it won by two runs. If Team A edges Team B 5-4, Team B wins the run line since it lost by one run.

The payout varies according to the money line odds assigned to each outcome in the run line.


Puck line

The puck line replaces the point spread and is only used in hockey. Here, the puck line is fixed at -1.5 goals on the favored team in every game. The line is also fixed at +1.5 goals for the underdog. A bettor must decide whether the favored team will win by two goals or more. If the favorite loses the game or wins by one goal, the underdog takes the bet.

If, for example, Team A is the favorite, it is pegged at -1.5 in the puck line. If Team A beats Teams B 3-1, Team A wins the puck line since it won by two goals. If Team A edges Team B 3-2, the underdog wins the puck line since it lost by one goal.

The payout varies according to the money line odds assigned to each outcome in the puck line.


Over/under totals

Second only to the money line bet in popularity are totals and over/under bets. Totals and over/under bets are the exact same thing; these are just two different names for the same bet.

Over/under bets are the only wager in all of sports that allow you to cheer for or against both teams that are playing. This is a bet where you predict that the total of the final score will be over or under a certain betting line.

For example, the over/under betting line for Super Bowl LII was set at 48.5. The final score was 41-33 for a total of 74 points. It does not matter which team wins the game in this bet.

As you can see, this allows you to cheer for both teams in the Super Bowl to score a ton of points or against both teams to keep it a low-scoring contest.

The totals bet is offered in all four major sports — football, baseball, basketball and hockey.

The payoffs on either the over or the under are usually around -110. That means, from our money line example, that a bettor would have to wager $110 to earn a profit of $100 for a total return of $210.

If the end result of the game is the same as the betting line, that’s called a push and bettors on both sides of the bet get their money back.


Futures

Futures wagering is simply betting on an event or championship which will be decided sometime in the future, such as picking the winner of the Super Bowl during the NFL preseason or any week of the regular season or playoffs.

Oddsmakers will update future odds during the year, shortening the odds for good teams on hot streaks and lengthening odds for slumping teams with injury problems.

For example, the Philadelphia Eagles could be +800 or 8-1 to win it all again this year. This translates to a $100 wager paying out a $800 profit and a total return of $900 if the Eagles repeat as champs.

A lousy team, like the Cleveland Browns, might be +10000 or 100-1, making a $100 wager pay out a whopping $10,000 as a Super Bowl longshot for a total return of $10,100.

Your odds are fixed at the time of your bet. If the Eagles got off to a slow start in the regular season, their future odds would likely climb to say 10-1 or 12-1. Just because they started the season at 8-1 doesn’t mean they will stay at that level. But your odds are fixed whenever you bet them.


Parlays

A parlay is a single bet that links two or more individual wagers and is dependent on all of those wagers winning together. The benefit of the parlay is that there are much higher payoffs than placing each individual bet separately since the difficulty of hitting it is much higher.

A parlay is one of the riskier plays in this game. Perfection is required. Lose one game and your ticket is dead.

Here is an example of a traditional Las Vegas parlay card at William Hill Sports Book, which shows the typical payouts for an up to 11-team parlay bet (amount won is based on a $100 bet):

  • Two-team Parlay, odds 13-5 pays $260 for a total return of $360.
  • Three-team parlay, odds of 13-2 pays $650 for a total return of $750.
  • Four-team parlay, odds of 13-1 pays $1,300 for a total return of $1,400.
  • Five-team parlay, odds of 25-1 pays $2,500 for a total return of $2,600.
  • Six-team parlay, odds of 50-1 pays $5,000 for a total return of $5,100.
  • Seven-team parlay, odds of 100-1 pays $10,000 for a total return of $10,100.
  • Eight-team parlay, odds at 180-1 pays $18,000 for a total return of $18,100.
  • Nine-team parlay, odds of 400-1 pays $40,000 for a total return of $40,100.
  • Ten-team parlay, odds of 825-1 pays $82,500 for a total return of $82,600.
  • Eleven-team parlay, odds of 1500-1 pays $150,000 for a total return of $150,100.

Teasers

A teaser, used most commonly in football and basketball, is a wager where a bettor gets to adjust the point spread in their favor on two or more games. With this “advantage” there is a lower return on the bets in the event of a win.

The most common teasers in the NFL are a six-point teaser and 10-point teaser. In the NBA, a five-point teaser is used most often.

Here’s how it works: Team A is favored (-2.5 points) over Team B. In the six-point NFL teaser, if one bets on Team A, they are now +3.5 underdogs (-2.5 + 6 = +3.5). If one bets on Team B, they are now +8.5 underdogs (+2.5 + 6 = +8.5).

The over/under line can also be adjusted. The betting line on the totals is 45.5. In a teaser, the new over betting line now becomes 39.5 (45.5 – 6 = 39.5). The under becomes 51.5 (45.5 + 6 = 51.5).

Normally, if these bets are played together as a parlay, a bettor will win $260 on a $100 bet. However, with a teaser, the bettor will win $100 on a $110 bet, 10-11 odds, for a total return of $210. The reasoning is that the bettor gets six points to adjust the spread.

Here are the common odds for an NFL six-point teaser:

Two teams (-110), which means a bettor has to correctly choose two games. A $110 winning bet earns a total return of $210 ($110 bet + $100 profit = $210 return).

Three teams (+160), which means a bettor has to correctly choose three games. A $100 winning bet earns a total return of $260 ($100 bet + $160 profit = $260 return).

Four teams (+260), which means a bettor has to correctly choose four games. A $100 winning bet earns a total return of $360 ($100 bet + $260 profit = $360 return).

In Play/Live Betting

In-play or live betting is the fastest growing betting medium in the country. It allows bettors to place wagers after the event has already started — hence the term “in play.” It means a bettor can react to the action as you watch a live event.

The odds will change constantly on the straight bets during the game — money line, point spread and over/under totals.


Propositions

Proposition bets in sports are differentiated from general bets for or against a particular team or regarding the total number of points scored.

Traditionally, proposition bets can be made on outcomes such as the number of strikeouts a pitcher will accumulate in a baseball game, whether a non-offensive player will score in an NFL game, which team will score the first points of the game, the timing of certain events or the number of specific events per team or in an entire match. The list is endless.

The odds connected to prop bets are based on the risk of the outcome of the proposed event.

For example, in Super Bowl LII, one prop bet challenged the bettor to pick whether either team would score in the final three minutes of regulation time. The “yes” side of the bet was the favorite at -130. The “no” side was the underdog at +110.

The yes option won the bet since there were two scoring plays in the final three minutes of Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over New England. A bettor who wagered $130 on “yes” in this prop bet earned a total return of $230 ($130 bet + $100 profit = $230 total return).


Make Your Bets On These Sports

Auto racing

Betting on auto racing is similar to golf. The bettor must select the winner of the race, either in the week leading up to the event or in a futures bet.

A sports book will typically list 20 or more individual drivers along with a field (all others) option at various odds.

For example, here are some of the drivers listed to win the series championship: Kevin Harvick (+250), Kyle Busch (+300), Martin Truex Jr. (+350), Kyle Larson (+700), Brad Keselowski (+1000), and so on.

If Harvick wins the championship, a winning ticket would return $350 ($100 bet + $250 profit = $350 return).

Auto racing matchup props also are available in which two drivers are paired against each other in a head-to-head wager, with a betting line on each driver set by the oddsmaker. The driver with the better finish in the race wins the matchup.

Baseball

To wager on baseball, a bettor has the option of choosing a straight bet, parlay, prop bets or in-play betting.

Just pick a winner to collect on the money line. Choose correctly on the game being a high- or low-scoring affair to win the over/under totals. The run line, where the favorite must win by two or more runs, replaces the point spread.

You may combine several teams into one wager in a parlay. All teams must win to collect on the bet.

Baseball prop bets include a pitcher’s strikeout total, which team will be leading after five innings, which team will score first, and so on.

Basketball

To wager on basketball, a bettor has the option of choosing a straight bet, parlay, teasers, prop bets or in-play betting.

Just pick a winner to collect on the money line. The point spread is a number of points oddsmakers set to try and make the betting action even. Choose correctly on the game being a high- or low-scoring affair to win the over/under totals.

You may combine several teams into one wager in a parlay. All teams must win to collect on the bet.

Basketball prop bets include point totals for certain players, which team will be leading at halftime, which team will be the first to score 10 points, and so on.

Boxing

The money line is the only straight bet offered on prize fights, but the real fun begins trying to pick one of the many prop bets.

Boxer A holds the belt and is favored to retain his title at -200. Boxer B is a serious challenger and the underdog at +170.

A bettor has to wager $200 to earn a $100 profit on the champ ($200 bet + $100 profit = $300 total return). A bettor has to wager $100 to earn a profit of $170 on the contender ($100 bet + $170 profit = $270 total return).

Boxing matches often feature money line prop wagers on knockouts, draws, rounds and the duration of the fight. Odds vary on each fight.

Football

More than half of every sports betting dollar is wagered on football.

To score on the gridiron, a bettor has the option of choosing a straight bet, parlay, teasers, prop bets or in-play betting.

Just pick a winner to collect on the money line. The point spread is a number of points oddsmakers set to try and make the betting action even. Choose correctly on the game being a high- or low-scoring affair to win the over/under totals.

You may combine several teams into one wager in a parlay. All teams must win to collect on the bet.

Football prop bets include scoring by certain players, which team will be leading at halftime, which team will be the first to score, and so on.

Golf

There are no point spreads or over/under totals in golf. It’s all based on the money line.

A sports book will typically list 40 or more individual players along with a field (all others) option at various odds.

For example, here are some of the players listed to win the PGA Championship: Dustin Johnson (+1000), Rory McIlroy (+1100), Jordan Spieth (+1200), Justin Thomas (+1600), Tiger Woods (+2000), and so on.

If Tiger wins his 15th major, the winning ticket would return $2,100 ($100 bet + $2,000 profit = $2,100 return).

Golf props bets also are available, including head-to-head matchups, will a certain player make the cut, will the winner come from a certain group of players, and so on.

Hockey

To wager on hockey, a bettor has the option of choosing a straight bet, parlay, prop bets or in-play betting.

Just pick a winner to collect on the money line. Choose correctly on the game being a high- or low-scoring affair to win the over/under totals. The puck line, where the favorite must win by two or more goals, replaces the point spread.

You may combine several teams into one wager in a parlay. All teams must win to collect on the bet.

Hockey prop bets include which team will score first, which team will be leading after the first period, will certain players score a goal, and so on.

Horse racing

People have been wagering on horse racing for more than 100 years. And little has changed when it comes to the types of bets available to play.

For you to collect on a “win” bet your horse must win the race, to collect on a “place” bet he must finish first or second, and to collect on a “show” bet he must finish first, second or third. Odds and payouts will vary depending on how much money has been bet on your horse in the respective pool.

Hitting an “exacta” entails picking the first two finishers in a race in the correct order; a “quinella” is the first two finishers in either order. A “trifecta” is the first three finishers in exact order; a “trifecta box” is the first three in any order. A “superfecta” is the first four finishers in exact order.

A “daily double” is a wager that calls for picking the winners of two consecutive races. A “daily triple” entails picking the winners of three consecutive races. And a “Pick Six” calls for picking the winners of six consecutive races — an extremely difficult feat that is usually rewarded with an enormous payout.

Future betting is available on all the Triple Crown races — Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — and the Super Bowl of thoroughbred racing, the Breeder’s Cup.

Prop bets keep the races interesting as well, including the question of will there be another Triple Crown winner in 2019?

Currently, the “no” option is favored at -850. The “yes” option is +450, which means a bettor would have to wager $100 for a $450 profit and $550 total return on a second consecutive champion and third in five years along with American Pharoah and Justify.

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