|Sports betting is the
ultimate money game for the sports fan. Through any of a number of online sportsbooks you
can bet on the outcome of baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer games, car
races, boxing matches and other popular sporting events. If you know your favorite sport
inside and out, you can overcome "the juice", beat the oddsmakers and fatten
your wallet. Also, placing a sports bet makes the outcome of the game more meaningful and
the game itself more thrilling.The sportsbook and the
To place a
sports bet, simply go to a sportsbook -- a place that accepts sports bets. Many
sportsbooks also accept bets by telephone. You may sometimes hear sportsbooks referred to
as bookmakers or bookies.
Note that a sportsbook is not the same as an oddsmaker. The
sportsbook simply accepts sports bets. An oddsmaker is a person who sets the betting odds.
Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas oddsmakers. These oddsmakers typically
work for major hotel sportsbooks.
Most online sportsbooks are located in the Caribbean and
Types of bets
You can place a number of different bets including straight
bets, parlays, teasers and over/unders. Read on for details.Straight bets and the point spread
Straight bets are the most common sports bets. When you
place a straight bet, you simply pick the team that will win or lose the game. But of
course you'll also need to consider the point spread or moneyline.
The oddsmaker sets a point spread for football, basketball
and hockey games. The point spread is the number of points that the favored team is
expected to win by. For example, say the New York Knicks are favored to beat the LA
Clippers by a point spread of 7. That means that if you pick the Knicks to win, they have
to win by more than 7 points for you to win your bet. If they win by fewer than 7 points
or lose the game, you lose your bet. If they win by exactly 7 points (the point spread),
the result is a push or tie. That means that you don't win or lose, your original bet is
The favorite is always indicated by a minus sign and the
underdog by a plus sign. For betting purposes, the result of the game is determined by
taking the actual score and subtracting points from the favorite's score or adding points
to the underdog's score. In our example, we could say that the Knicks are -7 or that the
Clippers are +7. In other words, we subtract 7 points from the Knicks final score or add 7
to the Clippers score to determine the winner.
If the teams are evenly matched and there is no spread, the
sportsbook will display PK or PICK, which means the spread is zero.
Sometimes the points spread is not an even number but a
half point. For example, 5 ½. By setting the spread at a half point the oddsmakers ensure
there will not be a push because a team can't actually win a game by 5 ½ points.
So, a favorite can win the game but lose it for betting
purposes and an underdog can lose the game but win it for betting purposes. If you wager
on an underdog your selection can lose the game and you still can win if they do not lose
by more than the point spread.
Straight bets pay $100 for every $110 wagered.
All selections must be played on the scheduled date or
there is no action on these selections. Make up games or games that have been rescheduled
will have no action. The moneyline
Baseball games and some other sports events are handled a
little differently than football, basketball and hockey. Oddsmakers don't set a point
spread for baseball games, instead they set a moneyline. The moneyline gives the odds that
one team will beat another.
There is a different moneyline total for either side on a
money line bet, a negative side (the favorite) and a positive side (the underdog): Chicago
-170 LA +150 What this means is that Chicago is the favorite and for every $170 you bet on
Chicago, you win $100 if they win. For every $100 you bet on LA, the underdog, you win
$150 if they win. By offering different odds for each team the sportsbook is able to
balance action on both teams.Total or over/under bets
A total wager is a bet on the number of points scored in
the game by both teams combined. You can bet on whether the actual number of total points
scored is over or under the line posted. The total points scored includes points scored in
You can also bet whether the combined number of points or
goals scored by the two teams in the game will be over or under the total set by the
oddsmaker. For example, if the total is 32 and you believe that the combined points scored
by the two teams will exceed that number, you would bet over 32.
This is really another form of straight bet and the payoff
is also $10 for every $11 bet. Again, if the total is exactly on the line, it is a push or
tie and your original bet is refunded. Parlays
A parlay is a combined bet on two, three, four or more
games. You have to win all of your picks to win your parlay. If one of your picks loses
then your whole wager is lost.
If a game is a tie, postponed, incomplete, cancelled, or
rescheduled for another date, your parlay is reduced to the next lowest level. That means
that a three team parlay with a tie becomes a two team parlay, or a two team parlay with a
tie becomes a straight bet that is calculated at $10 to win $9.
At some sportsbooks, ties are considered losing bets, not
The appeal of parlay bets is obvious -- a ten team parlay
pays off at 400 to 1. Typical payoffs for winning parlays are shown below:
# of games Payout
2 2.6 to 1
3 6 to 1
4 11 to 1
5 20 to 1
6 40 to 1
7 80 to 1
8 150 to 1
Professional sports bettors never bet parlays -- there's
too much juice in it for the sportsbook.Teasers
A teaser is like a parlay, but you can add or subtract
points from the spread to make your bets stronger. This is called moving the line. When
betting a teaser additional points are either added to the underdog or subtracted from the
favorite. The odds change according to the number of points the spread is moved and the
number of teams combined to form the teaser.
For example New York might be favored by 9 points in one
game and Chicago might be favored by 12 points in a second game. A 6 point teaser would
adjust the Chicago point spread 6 points in the customer's favor; i.e. Chicago would now
be favored by 6 points (12-6=6). The customer might make a bet on a 6 point teaser with
Chicago and New York. In this example the customer is betting that Chicago will win by 6
points and New York will win by 3 points (9-6=3). As in the parlay, all teams must win.
At many sportsbooks, ties are often considered losing bets,
Teaser bets may sound good but the payout odds are even
worse than parlays. Like parlays, teaser bets are to be avoided.Future bets
At the start of a season, the sportsbook will give odds for
each team winning the championship (World Series, Stanley Cup, etc.). For example, you
might bet at the start of the season that the Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup.
Although futures bets have considerable juice, occasionally a savvy (or lucky) sports
bettor manages to win big with a longshot.
The odds change as the season goes on but you get the odds
that were in effect at the time you placed your bet.Exotic
To keep life interesting, sportsbooks often post odds and
accept wagers on a variety of other sports-related activities. For example, you may be
able to place a bet on who will win the Presidential race or the Best Actor award at the
Oscars. The oddsmaker sets the conditions and odds for these bets.
Many exotic bets are offered at 110 to 100 odds, but some
will be offered at better or worse odds, depending on the bet.Payoffs and odds
For football, basketball, and hockey the payoff is $100 for
every $110 wagered, unless otherwise noted. Therefore, $110 will be wagered if you specify
a $100 straight bet.
At odds of 100/110 only 52.5 percent of your bets have to
win for you to overcome the bookmaker's profit and break even, so you only need a very
small edge to become a winner. Some sports bettors win 55 or even 60% or their bets.
Parlay bets are another story. The actual odds of picking
two winners is 3 to 1. But a typical payout is 2.6 to 1. This gives the sportsbook a 10%
advantage. The odds usually get even worse the more games you add to your parlay. In a
nutshell, parlay bets are best avoided.If-win bets
For an If Win wager you wager a fixed amount on one team if
that team wins or the game is tied, then another fixed amount - up to the original amount
- on a different team. Your first wager must win in order for you to have action on the
remaining wagers. If the first wager loses, there is No Action thereafter. You cannot have
duplicate teams in the same If Win wager.
Glossary of sportsbetting terms
Circled Game: A game where the maximum bet is
restricted, often due to injuries.
Futures: Bets placed on the outcome of a future
event, for example betting during the NHL season on the Stanley Cup champion.
Lines: Another word for odds.
Money Line: The amount you must bet to win $100, or
the amount you win if you bet $100.
Over/Under: A bet on whether the total points/goals
scored by the two teams will exceed or be less than a specified number.
Parlay: A bet on 2 or more games. All selections
must be correct for the parlay to win.
Pick: A game where no team or betting option is
favored, the teams are evenly matched.
Point spread: The handicap that the favorite gives
to the underdog to make the bet fair.
Push: A game that is tied when the point spread is
Single: A bet on a single game or event.
Spread: Another way to say point spread.
Teaser: A bet on 2 or more teams where the bettor
can add or subtract points from the spread to make their bets stronger. All selections
must be correct for the teaser to win.
Total: The combined number of points or goals scored
by the two teams.