Sports Betting 101

Sports betting is a type of gambling where players place wagers on athletic events. Depending on the state, sports bettors can place bets online or at retail sportsbooks. There are many different types of bets, including spreads, money lines, totals and props.

Spreads (also known as point spreads)

The most common bets on a sports game are spreads, also called points or “spreads.” They are a way for sportsbooks to level the playing field and make it easier for a bettor to win big. Bettors choose whether they want to take (or “lay”) the spread or to give it.

Oddsmakers set the spread to account for how much public sentiment affects the outcome of a game. For example, if hundreds of thousands of Seahawks fans are watching the ESPN pump-up show, the oddsmakers will shade their lines toward Seattle more than usual.

They also consider the weather. If the wind is blowing in from the north, they’ll set a higher total because the ball could get caught in the wind.

Favorites and underdogs

A team that is favored in a football game has a better record, more experience, superior players and is generally a better matchup against their opponents than an underdog. Teams that are underdogs have a worse record, less talent and generally a poorer matchup against their opponents.

Money lines

Money lines are a type of betting that is more popular in baseball and hockey than in other sports. In most other sports, the team that is expected to win a game has a plus line, while the underdog has a minus line.


The juice, or vig, is an extra amount of money that oddsmakers must pay to accept your bet. It appears as a three-digit number to the right of the spread or total and is usually in parentheses.


Arbitrage is a betting strategy where you take advantage of situations where oddsmakers have set different lines for the same game. It is a great way to generate guaranteed profits, but it does take time and is not for everyone.

If you are a beginner at sports betting, it is important to understand the basics of betting before you start placing bets. The best way to do this is to read up on the basics of a particular sport, and then to go over the different types of bets available.

How to Win at Sports Betting

A lot of people think that betting on sports is easy, but that is simply not true. To be successful at sports betting, you must make 52.4% of your bets correct and account for the vig. In addition, you must keep in mind that everyone will hit a cold streak at some point, and your luck can change from day to day.

How to Choose the Best Sportsbook

The first step to becoming a successful sports bettor is to find a sportsbook that offers good odds and offers a variety of betting options. You can do this by reading reviews of sportsbooks or looking at their customer service ratings. You can also find out about special promotions, such as welcome bonuses, that you can take advantage of when you sign up for an account.