Sports betting is finally bursting out of the shadows and into the mainstream. The anti-gambling stigma that plagued it for decades is disappearing, and millions of fans are eager to get in on the action with legal wagers. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or a newbie, there are some things to keep in mind to make the best bets possible.
Bet with your head, not your heart
One of the biggest mistakes a sports bettor can make is placing bets out of emotion. It’s tempting to place a bet on your favorite team because they’re your favorite, or you’ve been rooting for them since you were a kid. But betting with your heart rather than your brain will almost always result in a loss. Instead, focus on the unique circumstances of each game and use statistics to guide your decisions.
Understand the different bet types
There are a few main types of sports bets you’ll see at any online bookie: Straight bets – These are wagers on individual games or events. They are usually based on the point spread, which represents the margin of victory that a favored team must win by in order to cover the bet. The point spread can vary from game to game, depending on a variety of factors, including the weather, the teams’ past performance against each other, and player injuries.
Teaser bets – These are parlays that involve more than two teams and offer lower payouts. They can be an excellent way to boost your winnings on a game you’re confident in, but they shouldn’t form the foundation of your betting strategy. Parlays are riskier than straight bets, and they can easily ruin your day if you don’t manage your bankroll carefully.
Total bets – Also known as over/under bets, these are wagers on the total number of points scored in a game, including overtime and extra innings. The oddsmakers take into account all kinds of information when setting these lines, from historical data to weather conditions to player and team injury reports. Keep in mind that, as with point spreads, the higher the total bet line, the less likely it is to hit.
Understand the juice – aka “vig” –
Vig is the fee charged by sportsbooks to cover their fixed costs and profit. It’s similar to a tax, and it’s an important part of understanding how to bet smartly. If you don’t factor in the vig when making your bets, you’re throwing money away on every bet you place. It’s why savvy bettors never bet more than they can afford to lose.