2 Mar

Tips for First Time Sports Bettors

Ten Educational Tips for Beginner Sports Bettors

Ten Educational Tips for Beginner Sports BettorsIf you’re new to the world of sports betting, it’s definitely a good idea to learn the ropes before you jump in. After all, betting on sports is a form of gambling. You wouldn’t sit down at a blackjack table if you had no idea how to play, would you? And trust me, blackjack is far easier to grasp than sports betting.

Now that it’s legal in Indiana and a growing number of other US states, more and more people are getting into the regulated side of betting. It’s nothing like a friendly wager with your buddy. There’s no such thing as a straight bet, your team versus mine, winner takes all? Not anymore. Retail and online sports books offer so much more, but charge a commission for the service. As such, we thought it appropriate to write a quick guide, detailing the top ten tips for novice and first-time sports bettors.

10 Tips for Beginner Sports Bettors

Learning how to bet on sports is not difficult. The key is to understand the most important factors and features of commercial betting. If you walk into (or log onto) a sportsbook and you don’t understand what you’re looking at, the last thing you should do is risk money on it. The following topics should bring everything into focus so that you can make smart, educated decisions.

  1. Wager What You Know
  2. Favorites and Underdogs
  3. Understanding Moneylines
  4. Spread Betting
  5. Over/Under Totals
  6. What Does -110 Mean?
  7. Shifting Odds
  8. Where to Place Your Bets
  9. Shop Around for Lines
  10. How Much to Bet

1. Only Wager on What You Know

You turn on the television and there’s a commercial for a golf tournament starting in a couple of hours. You know nothing about golf. Should you bet on it? Absolutely not. You don’t know the players, the course, the standings, or how the day’s weather might impact the results.

You flip channels and there’s a Formula 1 race slated for the afternoon. You’re a big racing fan. You know the top racers, their current rankings, and are familiar with the track. This is a good option for you, because you have a better understanding of the sport and the risk involved with betting on it.

The point is, don’t bet on stuff you don’t understand. Bet what you know. You’ll have better odds of making the right decisions, and a far more entertaining experience watching the action take place. If you want to bet on a sport you aren’t already familiar with, take the time to learn about it first.

2. Understanding Moneylines

The term “Moneyline” can mean two things in sports betting. First and foremost, it’s what sportsbooks call a straight bet. To place a moneyline bet is to pick one team to beat another team outright. We’ll talk more about this in the next section – Favorites and Underdogs.

Moneyline also refers to the way American sportsbooks display their odds.

Every sportsbook from Gary, Indiana to Sydney, Australia displays their odds in one of three formats – Moneyline Odds (US), Decimal Odds (EU), or Fractional Odds (UK). As an American bettor, you need to know how to read moneyline odds.

Note: If you’re familiar with the EU or UK odds formats, online sportsbooks give you an option of what odds you prefer to view. If you plan to bet in a retail setting, you’ll need to understand US odds.

Moneyline refers to the odds being displayed as a positive or negative integer. Most often, you’ll be dealing with a three-digit number. If the number is negative, such as -150, it means you would have to bet $150 to win $100. If the odds are positive, such as +150, you would need to bet $100 to win $150. You aren’t obligated to bet/win in $100 increments. It’s just a point of reference. To simplify:

  • Negative Odds = Bet more to win less.

  • Positive Odds = Bet less to win more.

3. Favorites and Underdogs

Were you expecting me to say, “don’t just bet on your favorite team?” Although that’s a smart suggestion, that’s not what this section is about. The concept of favorites and underdogs is something every sports bettor should understand the moment they view the sports lines. The numbers next to each team’s name will immediately tell you which one is the favorite, and which is the underdog.

The favorite is the team that the almighty oddsmakers are projecting to win. In moneylines (straight bets to win), this team will have a minus (-) next to their odds, such as -140. The underdog is the team expected to lose the match up, and will have a plus (+) next to their odds. The farther the number is from 100, the more favored/unfavored the team is.

When we combine this knowledge with what you just learned about moneylines, we find that:

  • If you bet the favorite, you’ll need to risk more to win less.

  • If you bet the underdog, you’ll get to bet less to win more.

In rare cases when the oddsmakers feel the two teams are an even match up, the odds will be the same, and they’ll call it a “pick” or “pick’em” match. These games will have equal odds on each side, with no point spread. That’s not to say they’ll be listed at 100/100, though. Bookies have to make their commission, so equal odds will almost always come in at -110/-10 (which we discuss later in section section 6).

4. Point Spread Betting

The more popular way to bet these days is to “bet the spread”. The spread is the amount of points the favorite is expected to win by. If the Bears are expected to beat the Browns 24-21, the sportsbook might offer a 3.5-point spread (half points avoid ties). The spread bet should looks something like this:

Bears -3.5 @ -110 vs. Browns +3.5 @ -110

This means you can bet on the Bears, giving up 3.5 points, at odds of -110 (bet $110 to win $100). Or, you can bet on the Browns, getting an extra 3.5 points, also at odds of -110.

The purpose of setting a spread is to eliminate the concept of “favorite vs. underdog”. Giving the Browns 3.5 points evens up the match so that there is no favorite. Now, the odds are equal on both sides.

5. Over / Under Totals

If you’re not sure who you think will win, but you’re certain it’s going to be a high scoring match-up (or a low-scoring one), over/under totals are for you. The oddsmkaer will predict how many points both teams combined will score in a game, giving bettors the chance to place wagers on whether the total will be higher (over) or lower (under)..

Maybe the sportsbook is predicting the Bears/Browns game to end at a total of 45 points (overtime doesn’t count, btw). If you bet the Under, you’re betting the two teams will score 44 or less combined points. Bet the Over, and the teams must score 46 or more points. If the game ends at exactly 45 points scored, it’s a tie.

To avoid ties, sportsbooks often set the Total with a half point, such as 45.5. In this case, the Under wins at 45 and below, and the Over wins at 46 and above.

6. What Does -110 Mean?

If a point spread evens up the match so that there is no favorite or underdog, why are the odds set at “-110” on both sites? That’s a good question, and one with a simple answer. Sportsbooks have to make money. That extra -10 is the commission (a.k.a. juice, vigorish, or vig) the sportsbook makes on all winning bets.

7. Why do the Odds Keep Shifting?

Sportsbooks regularly shift the odds in one direction or another. Or, they might adjust the spread to keep the lines equal in point spreads. The reason they do this is to ensure they always stand to make a profit.

Let’s say 100 people place a spread bet bet of $50 on “Bears -3.5 @ -110”, and another 100 people bet $50 on “Browns +3.5 @ -110”. Without the juice, bookie would break even. But with it, the sportsbook is guaranteed to make a profit, due to the even betting on both sides.

Now what if 150 people bet the Bears, and only 50 bet the Browns? If the Bears win, the sportsbook stands to lose a lot of money. To prevent this from happening, they will shift the odds so that bets on the Bears look less attractive, and the Browns more appealing.

Attracting more bettors is as simple as shifting the lines – in this case, giving the Browns more points. For moneyline wagers, the odds will shift. Maybe a Bears -140 / Browns +120 will slide to Bears -150, Browns +130.

8. Where to Place Your Bets

The state of Indiana has 11 retail sportsbooks and 10 online sportsbooks to choose from. If you prefer to do your betting in person, you’re probably going to choose the casino closest to you. Choosing an online sportsbook, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to hand-select the features you desire most.

Here are some things to consider. Maybe you want to have the option of downloading an app to your Android or iOS device. Think about what sports you know the most about, and therefore might want to bet on. How do you intend to get money in and out of your online betting account? What promotional offers are out there? These are all questions you’ll need to answer to help you pick the most suitable sportsbook that meets your needs. To help make that decision easier, we’ve put together a few feature comparisons of Indiana online sportsbooks.

9. Shop Around for the Best Lines

If you’re serious about wanting to make money betting on sports, you have to shop around. This means signing up an account with each of Indiana’s sportsbooks and taking the time to review the odds at each operator, for each event you’re interested in. The closer it comes to crunch time, the more diligent you need to be in line shopping. As you just learned, the lines shift when more bettors lean towards a favorite or underdog. With enough diligent research, you’ll sometimes get lucky enough to find opportunities for arbitrage or hedge betting.

Arbitrage is when you can bet two sides of the same match for a guaranteed profit. Hedging is similar, except your bets aren’t placed at the same time. You make one bet, then as the lines shift, place another on the other side, either guaranteeing a small win, or reducing the risk when you no longer trust the first bet.

10. Know How Much to Bet

They say you should save the best for last, so I did. This is perhaps the most critical aspect of any good sports betting strategy. I’ll be brief.

The simplified version: Never bet more than you can afford to lose.

The elongated version: Create a separate betting bankroll using extra cash that has no other purpose (bills, food, gas, etc.). Absolutely never spend more than 10% of your bankroll on a single wager; 2% is far better. Each time you win, pocket the profit and return the original bet amount back to your bankroll. This way you’re getting to enjoy your winnings, and sustaining your betting entertainment at the same time. If your bankroll runs dry, wait until you can restock it with extra cash before you start betting again.

Legal Indiana Sports Betting in 2021

BetRivers is licensed and regulated on a state level by Indiana to operate legally. It offers a wide range of sport betting options – every popular game is covered. Mobile options are also covered for an “on-the-go” experience. Our editor pick for safe and legal betting in 2021.

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