This explainer is aimed at you, the novice sports gambler. Here is a list of sports gambling basics.
Where can you legally bet on sports in the USA?
Sports gambling operates and is legal in 31 states and the District of Columbia, but not yet in five other states (Maine, Ohio, Florida, Nebraska and Kansas).
Is there a difference between online sports gambling and real life betting?
The difference between betting on a brick and mortar sportsbook and betting on a mobile device or computer is minimal, especially considering that the same company operates both. At sportsbooks, you line up to place bets at human tellers or automated kiosks, pay in cash, and receive paper tickets that record your wager. Online betting allows you to bet anywhere legal and fund your account using a credit card or online money transfer.
Another difference: live betting (betting after the game has started) is much easier online.
What are the important terms to know?
Moneyline bets: The most basic bet to pick the winner of the game. Your final score doesn’t matter. It’s just who wins and who loses. If your chosen team wins, you win the bet.
This series examines the impact of legalized gambling on sports through news reporting, accountable journalism, and advice for navigating this new situation. read more.
Point spread bet: A type of bet in which a team wins by a certain number of points or loses within a certain number of points. For example, in Week 1 of the NFL season, the Washington Commanders are the 4-point favorites beating the Jacksonville Jaguars. When betting on the commander, he must win at least 5 points for the bet to pay off. If they win he wins by 3 points or less or doesn’t win at all, you lose. Instead, bettors on Jaguars must either win outright or lose by 3 points or less.
If the Commanders trail the Jaguars by exactly 4 points, everyone’s wager will be refunded. This is called push.
A look at the Commanders-Jaguars game at the DraftKings sportsbook. Favorites are indicated by negative numbers. Underdogs are indicated by a number preceded by a plus sign. (Numbers after -4/+4 will be explained next time).
juice: Juice affects moneyline bets, point spread bets and bets on Over Under Totals, and determines the amount paid out if the bet wins. In the example above, indicated by the numbers -115 and -105 listed after the point spread.
Moneyline bets award negative numbers to the favorites and positive numbers to the underdogs. For a Commanders-Jaguars game, Washington could win the game at -180. This means that if you choose Commander to win, you must bet $180 to win $100 (or $18 to win $10, or $1.80 to win $1). you have to bet). Similarly, Jaguars are +155 underdogs. This means that if you bet $100 on Jacksonville to win, you will be paid $155 (or $10 to win $15.50, or $1 to win $1.55).
Multiples of 100 and 10 are the easiest to understand, but stakes can be of any amount. Possible payouts are calculated regardless of wager.
With point spread bets, juice is allocated to each team to help the sportsbook secure profits. Essentially, think of it as a tax on your bets. Usually each side of a point spread bet is assigned odds of -110, but as you can see here this is not always the case.
Another important thing to remember: In sports betting, you receive payouts based on odds. Your original bet is back. So if you bet $105 on Washington to cover a 4 point spread, you get back $205 (original $105 stake plus $100 winning stake paid out at odds of -105). amount).
total: When betting on totals, also known as an over/under bet, you are betting that one or both teams will win more or less points than the number allotted by the sportsbook. Totals are usually displayed after point spreads, with an ‘o’ or ‘u’ before the number.
The Commanders-Jaguars game totals 43.5 points. If overs are wagered, the combined teams are expected to score at least 44 points. If you bet on Under, we believe that the team total will be 43 points or less.
There are numerous total bets you can make. You can bet on the team points total for the half or quarter. You can also bet on the total points for each team.
Parley: A single bet containing two or more bets with higher payoffs depending on the number of bets (also called legs) involved. You can combine money lines, points he spreads and totals in almost any combination. All bets on the parlay must win for the bet to be successful.
For example, parlay the Commanders moneyline to -180 and the Chiefs moneyline to -155. This means that both Washington and Kansas City think they will win. If you win a bet of $100, you will be paid $155.56. Let’s say you want to parlay Commanders (-180), Chiefs (-155) and Cowboys (moneyline underdogs at +110). If you win the $100 bet because you added another leg to the parlay and launched the underdog, you will be paid $437.43.
As The Post’s Neil Greenberg points out, parlays in general are not recommended for gamblers, especially beginners.
Teaser: A teaser is essentially a parlay. Two or more bets he combines into one bet, and all legs must win for the bet to pay off. But in the teaser, points he can “buy” points in spreads or totals. Usually 6 points for football games and 4 points for basketball games.
As an example, let’s go back to Week 1 of the NFL. The Bills are the 1-point underdog to the Rams, and the Patriots are the 2.5-point underdog to the Dolphins. In the teaser, both points he adds 6 points to the spread, parlaying the Bills as a 7-point underdog and the Patriots as an 8.5-point underdog.
Sportsbook typically charges around -120 juice for teasers with two teams.
As with regular parlays, novice gamblers can get into trouble at NFL teasers, but there are ways to get out of trouble by using the best strategy.
Prop bet: Prop bets are mostly bets on the performance of one player. In soccer, it can mean betting on how many yards a player will gain (usually divided into rushing, receiving or passing by position) or betting on whether a player will score a touchdown .
Futures bet: A futures bet is a bet on whether a team will win the season title (league, conference or division) or win more or less than the total number of wins in the season set by the bookmaker. You can also place futures bets on players to win post-season prizes or reach certain statistical benchmarks. However, some states (such as Virginia) do not allow betting on “subjective trophy awards,” such as the league MVP or college football’s Heisman Trophy, which are voter-selected winners.
To be a successful sports gambler, you need at least a rudimentary knowledge of sports statistics. Sites like Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus are great NFL references (although you’ll need to subscribe to get all of their content). Bill Connelly’s ESPN’s breakdown of statistics is good for college football. For college basketball, sites run by Ken Pomeroy, Erik Haslam, and Bart Torvik provide a variety of advanced statistics. FanGraphs is a great reference for baseball, and MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick get the job done for hockey.
Greenberg’s Fancy Stats column in The Post is also a good resource.
Any final advice for newbies?
The sports gambling industry is full of scammers, so don’t pay someone to choose for you. You are almost certainly exaggerating your own prowess, and at worst, a blunt lie. If you somehow came up with a way to beat the system, would you promote it?
If the pitch wins 63% of the bets and you can get $300-500 per bet, why are they selling you picks?
Want to improve your bottom line? Forget touting. Price shop like it’s your job. Compare the price to sharp books like Pinnacle and Circa. Bet when you can get great prices.
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) August 1, 2022
Considering there are quite a few online sportsbooks available in many states, it’s also worth shopping around to find the best odds for your bets.
Illustration by Lily LK for The Washington Post.