Sports Betting 101

sports betting

Sports betting has become more accessible as states legalize it, but wagering on sporting events is still a risky proposition. As such, it is important to know what you’re getting into before making any wagers. The following article will help you understand the different types of sports bets and how they work.

Point spreads

Sportsbooks determine the likelihood of a team winning by comparing its odds to those of its competitors, which are displayed as positive and negative numbers. If a team is the underdog and its odds are lower than those of the favorite, bettors should place a bet on that team. Conversely, if a team is the favorite and its odds are higher than those of the underdog, bettors should place a bet against that team.

Straight bets

Straight bets are the most straightforward form of sports betting. A bettor simply predicts the winner of an event or game, and if they win, they will receive their initial stake plus their winnings. This bet type is based on a pari-mutuel system of wagering, which is used in horse racing and some motorsports.

Over/Under totals

Over/Under totals are an excellent way for a bettor to increase the variety of their bets during a game. These wagers are based on the combined number of runs, goals or points scored by both teams in a game. They can be placed on individual players, team totals, half-time scores and more. As a general rule, the Over is won when the final combined score ends up higher than the sportsbook’s listed total.

While it is impossible to guarantee a profit when placing a bet, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success. The most obvious is to never bet more than you can afford to lose. This will prevent you from chasing bad bets with even worse bets in the hope of recovering your losses. Another good tip is to separate your emotions from your betting decisions. It is also important to do your research and learn everything you can about both teams.


Props, or player-specific bets, offer a greater degree of variation than team totals and other bets. They can be extremely profitable if you know what you’re doing. For example, some players struggle against left-handed pitchers while others have a knack for hitting home runs. Prop bets are usually offered during the summer, when sportsbooks aren’t as sharp.


Sportsbook futures bets are wagers on the outcome of a specific event in the future, such as a championship or the next Super Bowl. They are typically offered at both retail locations that accept bets in person and online and mobile platforms, depending on state law. These bets are available for a wide variety of sports and can be very lucrative if you’re knowledgeable about the sport in question. They can be very easy to win, but they’re not without risk and should only be made with money you can afford to lose.