How to Bet 101: Sports Betting Guides for Beginners

How Does Sports Betting Work?

Sports betting is a type of gambling where you place a bet on a specific outcome, aiming to win a certain amount of money if your prediction turns out to be correct. When you place a bet, the bookmaker provides you with odds or expected probabilities for the event, determining the potential cash prize for a successful prediction.

The predicted outcome that aligns with your bet is known as a market. You can bet on various aspects such as the winning team, goals, scorers, goal differences, and more. Each market has its own set of odds, which may change during both pre-match and in-play betting in the sportsbook.

For instance, in a match between France and Spain, you might predict that France will win and bet on the winner market. Alternatively, you could predict that Spain won’t lose by more than two goals and place a bet on the handicap market.

If the actual outcome matches your prediction, you receive the amount specified by the bookmaker when you placed the sports bet, and the bet is considered settled. Otherwise, if the result is different, you lose the entire amount you wagered.

How to Bet on Sports: Basic Concepts You Should Know

Before placing a bet, it’s important to grasp several key aspects of betting. These are fundamental procedures and principles that can enhance your chances of winning. A solid understanding of each aspect not only guides your decision-making but also boosts your likelihood of making successful bets.

As mentioned earlier, betting odds indicate the potential payout if you win. Events with a higher probability of occurring usually have lower odds. Let’s illustrate this with an example: in a match between France and Spain, if France is expected to win, the odds might be presented as follows:

  • France to win at 1.44
  • Spain to win at 2.46

Three Main Types of Odds

Odds are commonly presented in three formats: fractional odds (British), decimal odds (European), and American odds. Many betting sites allow you to switch between these formats

Decimal Odds

Presented as a single decimal number like 1.50, this type of odds is widely used in European countries. To calculate your potential return, multiply your stake by the decimal odds. For instance, a $10 bet at 1.50 odds would return $15 ($10 x 1.50).

Fractional Odds

Predominantly used in the United Kingdom, these are expressed as fractions like 1/2. The fraction signifies how much profit you can make on your bet. If you bet $10 at odds of 1/2, you’d make $5 profit, receiving back $15 in total ($10 stake + $5 profit).

American Odds

Common in the United States, these odds are expressed as positive or negative. Positive numbers (e.g., +200) indicate your profit on a $100 bet. Negative numbers (e.g., -150) reveal how much you need to bet to win $100.

Making Sense of It All

Think of odds as a mirror of probability and an indicator of your potential reward. Higher odds suggest an event is less likely to occur but carries the promise of a hefty payout if it does happen. Conversely, lower odds indicate something is more likely to occur but will yield a smaller payout.

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How bookmakers work?

Bookmakers are companies responsible for curating and managing sportsbooks, ensuring a diverse range of games and markets for betting. They utilize software tools and databases to calculate the odds of one team triumphing over another. These odds may change both before and during the game.

Furthermore, bookmakers actively seek out games globally to add to the sportsbook, providing bettors with a broad selection of sporting activities to wager on.

The basic principle of bookmaking is straightforward and pretty obvious. A bookmaker takes money in whenever they lay a bet to a customer, and they pay money out every time one of their customers wins a bet. The idea is to take more money in than pay out. The art of bookmaking is in making sure this happens.

Bookmakers can’t control the outcome of sports events, but they can control how much they stand to win or lose on any particular result. They set the odds for all the wagers they lay, which ultimately enables them to ensure a profit.

How do Bookmakers earn?

Bookmakers earn a profit by offering odds on different outcomes of an event and ensuring that the total amount of money wagered on all outcomes is greater than the amount they will have to pay out to the winners.

When a bookmaker sets odds, they try to reflect the true probability of each outcome. However, they also factor in their own profit margin, which is referred to as the “margin” in the UK and the “vig” or “juice” in the US. This margin ensures that the bookmaker will make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event.

The best way to understand their process is to use the example of a coin toss, which we all know has a 50% true probability of heads or a tails.

Coin toss example:

To keep it simple let’s take the classic coin toss example: heads or tails. In reality the chance is 50% for both outcomes. Therefore the fair odds for both heads and tails is 2.0

However, the Bookmaker would aim to reduce those odds down to a lower value in order to gain an edge over the market. This is how they create their margin.

Let’s suppose the Bookmaker offers 1.98 for both heads and tails and accepts a $100 stake on heads and $100 stake on tails; a balanced book with $200 total stake. This situation is perfect for the Bookmaker as one of the following two outcomes occurs:

Outcome 1: Heads

                         -$98 loss (paid to bettors that bet on Heads)
                         +$100 win (received from bettors that bet on Tails)

                         Net Result = +$2 for the Bookmaker

Outcome 2: Tails

                         -$98 loss (paid to bettors that bet on Tails)
                         +$100 win (received from bettors that bet on Heads)

                         Net Result = +$2 for the Bookmaker

No matter what result, the bookmaker is +$2 profit. This exact same principle translates over to sports events, whereby the fair odds are reduced down in order to generate a margin. This is the simplest representation of bookmaking — but it relies on balanced books to ensure that profit is absolutely guaranteed. I’ll get onto this later on.

Sports Betting Payouts

Payouts in sports betting are determined by the odds associated with your bet and the amount you wagered. The potential payout is always indicated on your betting slip, whether you place your bet online or at a retail location.

In some cases, the displayed payout already includes the amount you wagered. For example, if you bet $10 to win $50, the payout would be shown as $60. If not, simply add the amount you bet to the potential winnings to calculate the total payout.

Before making a bet, you can also calculate potential odds and payouts. This can be achieved by familiarizing yourself with various odds and payout formulas or by using a betting odds calculator.

Certain online sportsbooks offer payout bonuses, providing an extra boost to your winnings. If these bonuses are available, you’ll be notified upon logging into your online betting account.

Bettors have the flexibility to withdraw funds from their betting accounts at any time. The duration for the money to reach your bank account varies depending on the sportsbook and withdrawal method, but it typically takes 2-5 days.

Can You Make Money Betting Sports?

Making a profit in sports betting is tough, especially in the long run. It’s important not to expect to win every bet and strike it rich (as very few actually do).

Keep a record of your bets, even a simple spreadsheet will do, to track your results. It’s advisable to bet on sports you know well and understand the rules. Stick to sports you follow closely for news updates.

Some sportsbooks are slow to adjust their lines, especially on specific aspects like player news. This can be a good way to find favorable bets.

Discipline is crucial—only bet what you can afford to lose. Researching statistics and trends can also enhance your chances of making money.

While there’s no magic formula for guaranteed wins in sports betting, you can explore different strategies to improve your chances.

Now you have a glimpse of how betting sites work, but you’ll need a bit more information to get started. Here are some helpful links below that will guide you to more information until you become a pro.

  1. How to read Odds?
  2. Betting Terms
  3. Sports Bet Types
  4. Finding an online sportsbook