Are you looking to dive into the world of sports betting but aren't sure how to begin? Check out this quick guide on the basics of sports betting for beginners.

A Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting

Are you planning to win big in your sports bet?

Sports betting existed ever since humans engaged in sporting activities. In ancient Rome, for example, the audience placed bets on gladiator battles, chariot races, and more. It’s a good way for the spectators to have more stakes in a game as well.

If you’re new to sports betting, you might feel surprised that it’s not as simple as betting on who wins or loses. Keep on reading to learn some sports betting basics.

1. Favorite or Underdog

First, learn the difference between favorites and underdogs. The bookmakers decide which team is which when releasing a betting line on a game. 

The favorite is the team most likely to win while the underdog is the team most likely to lose. You can bet on either the spreads and Moneyline.


You can see which is which by the Moneyline. The favorite uses the “–” Moneyline to represent the odds. Meanwhile, the underdog uses the “+” Moneyline.

For example, if you bet between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors, the money line might read like this:

Golden State Warriors – 200
Houston Rockets +150

Based on this, the Warriors are the favorite. The negative number indicates how much you need to bet to win $100. In this case, you must wager $200 to win $100.

The Houston Rockets are the underdog. The positive number indicates the amount of money you win if you bet $100. In this case, you get $150 for $100.

The winnings are always larger when betting on the underdog. That’s the risk you might not be willing to take if the bookmaker thinks they’ll lose. However, the favorite doesn’t always win the game.

Point Spread

Moneyline bets focus on the winner and loser to determine the outcome of the bet. On the other hand, the point spread is a bet on the margin of victory. A spread bet might look like this:

Golden State Warriors -10
Houston Rockets +10

In the example above, the Rockets are the 10-point underdogs against the Warriors. Betting on the Rockets means you have two ways to win. The team must win or they must lose by fewer than 10 points.

If you bet on the Warriors, they must win the game by more than 10 points for you to win as well. It’s a “cover,” and if they win by exactly 10 points, it’s a “push.” The latter means you get your bet back.

That said, you lose if they don’t win the game. You also lose if they win the game by fewer than 10 points. 

2. Other Types of Bets

Other than betting on the favorite or the underdog, you can also make other bets. We’ll only cover two here, which are as follows:

Over/Under Bets

It’s another way of making bets on the outcome of the sports. It’s pretty simple: the oddsmaker estimates how many total points both teams combined will score in a game. 

If the oddsmaker determines that the Lakers and Rockets game will have a total of 210 points scored, you can bet if the actual outcome will go over or under that. If the total comes up to 211, bets on “Over” win. Otherwise, bets on “Under” win.

Prop Bets

Prop bets, or proposition bets, are secondary to the main event. These are wagers on individual players and not the entire team. The latter is another kind of bet called futures bets.

In this type of sports betting, you wager whether a certain player passes a certain condition. Will an NFL player throw a touchdown pass in the game? Will the previous NBA MVP score above his seasonal point average?

Prop bets are a good way to enjoy a wager even for an inexperienced player. Still, better focus on Moneyline and spread bets if you want to win money.

3. How to Place a Bet

Placing bets depends on whether you’re doing it in a physical location or online. Here are some sports betting basics guide for both.

Brick-and-Mortar Sportsbook

Look for the odds board in a physical sportsbook to see all the betting lines in real-time. Decide on a bet and take note of the team’s rotation number.

Go to the betting counter to place your bets. State the type of bet you’re making and the team you want to bet on. It’s easier for the ticket writers if you state the rotation number, but the team name is enough.

That’s it – when you get the ticket, make sure the information is correct. Afterward, wait for the result of the game and your bet.

Online Sports Betting

When betting online, register to a sports betting website like Bovada. Federal and state laws apply – you must be in a state that allows online sports betting. You must be within that state while placing a bet.

To sign up for an account, you must also be of the legal minimum age. It varies by state, but it’s usually 21 years old. You then have to set up a payment method. 

Once you have an account, it’s pretty easy to place a bet. You only have to navigate to the game you wish to bet on and enter your wager amount. The sportsbook will usually tell you how much you can win, so there’s no need to guess.

The website will deduct your bet amount from your account balance. If you win, they will then automatically add your winnings to your account.

Learn More About Sports Betting

If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to delve deep into the more complex types of sports betting right away. Get a feel for it first. Once you’re more confident, play at higher levels.

Still, remember not to bet more than what you can lose. If you want to learn more, feel free to visit our website today.

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