How to Bet on Sports

A crash course in sports betting is not enough to turn you into a betting guru overnight, but it is a good idea to start your career as an online bettor with some basic information on how to bet on sports. Learning sports betting practices requires time, research, and experience, none of which you’ll get by reading a single article on sports betting basics. However, starting your sports wagering education by reading a few tips and learning the basics of the hobby is a good way to avoid feeling like a total novice.

Learn the Sports Betting Language

The first thing you’ll need is a detailed list of sports betting terms. Learning the jargon used by sportsbooks like Bovada and bettors is akin to learning how to crawl before you learn to walk.

Understanding the terminology behind placing sports bets is as important as any other feature of learning how to wager on sporting events.

Understand How to Handicap Games

Gathering as much information as you can about a game you want to wager on is a major part of smart betting strategy, though it is not the only thing that will turn you into a good sports bettor. Handicapping games means looking into the players on each team, the statistics of both teams, and the prior performance of each team this season. You’ll also get a leg up on other bettors if you understand things like the impact of home field advantage, downtime, injuries, and emotional factors.

Because handicapping takes time to learn, betting on sports is better compared to a marathon than a 100-yard dash. The truth is, it is very difficult to win consistently enough to earn a profit; one reason for this is the juice sportsbooks require on every bet placed, and another reason is the large amount of parity in today’s professional and collegiate leagues. The more you know about a sport, and the better you manage your bankroll using patience and discipline, the better your chances of placing successful sports bets. Learning to handicap games means watching the news for changes in team personnel due to injuries, suspensions, and shifts in the coaching lineup as well as weather, the way a line moves throughout a given week, and any factor that can affect the outcome of a contest.

Learn How to Shop for Lines

More important than properly handicapping games is the ability to shop for the best possible line. Opening accounts at multiple sportsbooks allows you to find the cheapest wager; if you only have one sportsbook account, you’ll only have one set of lines to pick from. Many sports betting strategists will tell you that finding the cheapest line is far more important that handicapping a game in detail.

Dos and Don’t of Sports Betting

DON’T put too much value in team trends and angles handed out by touts. In sports, what happened last week often has little to do with what happened this week, and the advice of sports betting touts, whether free or by subscription, is rarely better than the information you can gather yourself with a little research.

DO be willing to wager on a so-called bad team. Sports gamblers should be looking for the bets that give them the best value, and sometimes that comes by betting against a point spread that involves one really good team and one really bad one. Huge point spreads are often high-value bets, especially if an unbeaten team is playing a struggling squad and the spread is unrealistic. If you go against conventional wisdom and bet on a bad team to beat a point spread that’s set too wide, you’ve often found the best value bet on the board.

DON’T be afraid to pass up on a wager. Sports bettors who have success in the long-term know how to pass up on a wager that may seem like a smart pick at first blush. Most of the games listed on a sportsbook’s card have no value for the bettor, and to succeed in sports gambling you need to learn how to say “No.”

DO avoid betting with your heart. Sometimes that means avoiding placing wagers on teams you have loved since you were a kid. In the world of placing wagers on sporting events, a bettor’s heart often gets him in trouble, clouding his judgment and convincing him to follow his bias towards a particular team. Since you’re supposed to be looking for high-value wagers, avoiding bets on teams you like probably means you’re doing the right thing.

DON’T fall behind on your sports knowledge. Do whatever you have to do to keep a team’s current starting lineup, including injury reports, in the back of your mind. A gamble that looks like a high-value bet could turn out to be a bust due to the broken arm of a Heisman Trophy-candidate starting QB. Watch sports news, read sports betting forums, and follow as many teams as you can in the sport you like to wager on.

DO shy away from nationally-televised games. The best sports bettors in the world look for value rather than hype. Bookmakers know when a game is getting national attention and they almost always clean up by taking advantage of bettors who lay money on the clear favorite. Generally speaking, nationally-televised games have inflated lines for the favorite and the over line, so if you do choose to bet a high-profile game, you will probably be better off wagering on the underdogs and under lines.

DON’T ignore advice from other bettors at online gambling forums. These totally-free message boards and social media sites where bettors gather to talk about upcoming games and wagers can be your best friend, especially if you meet people from other parts of the world that have some insight into a contest that can help you find high value. Free information on regional games is some of the best info you can find online, so join as many forums and sports betting discussions as you can keep up with.

DO take ESPN and other sports news with a Titanic-sized grain of salt. Channels like ESPN that report on sports news 24-7 are designed to be entertaining, not informative for people laying bets on sports. All you have to do to understand why the wisdom handed out at ESPN is look at the records of their sports reporters, which rarely (if ever) breech the 50% mark in terms of successful picks.