Sports Betting 101

Millions of sports fans around the world place bets on their favorite teams and events. Those who bet smartly and wisely can make money, but it is not easy. In fact, even the most successful “experts” only break even after accounting for the sportsbooks’ commission, known as the vig or juice. The best way to maximize your chances of winning is by doing adequate research (e.g., studying a team’s past results and staying current with injury reports) and by betting with discipline. Ideally, you should only bet with money you can afford to lose, and set up a unit size that you will use to determine how much to bet per play.

Sportsbooks set their odds based on many different factors, including home-field advantage, injuries and other statistical data. But the most important factor is how the public views a particular game. If thousands of people scream at ESPN that they are all backing the Seattle Seahawks, it will likely cause the sportsbook to shade the line in their favor.

Another key aspect of sports betting is to understand the concept of over/under bets, which are based on total points scored in a game and don’t include any margin of victory. For example, if you bet on the over for a baseball game, the total will only be higher if the teams score more than 8.5 runs combined. There are also player prop bets, which focus on an individual’s performance and don’t show up in the boxscore.

Posted in: Gambling