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How Does Sports Betting Work? Tips and Fundamentals Explained

If you’re considering exploring the world of sports betting, this is a good place to start. You need to have a good understanding of how sports betting works before getting into it. There is a wide variety of games, markets, and many different ways to gamble, and we explained everything you need to know to get started placing bets.

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Key Takeaways

  • There are countless markets to bet on sports, not only who is going to win.
  • Odds can be shown in varied ways and are always changing.
  • Bettors can have a thrilling experience with live sports betting.
  • Choosing a reliable sports betting site is essential to avoid trouble.
  • Balance your bets and never wager too much of your bankroll at once.

What Is Sports Betting?

Sports betting is an activity that involves placing a stake, usually known as a bet, on the outcome of a particular sporting event. For some fans, betting on sports is a means to make money, while most people simply enjoy watching a game more. While only a few experts can make money from sports betting in the long run, millions of people still do it every year. The global sports betting business, according to the Daily Mail, could be worth up to three trillion dollars every year.

With the increasing number of online bookmakers, placing a wager on your favorite sport is now easier than ever. Bets can be placed on several sports, such as football, basketball, and a host of other sports and activities. While it is illegal to bet in some countries, it is still regarded as a legal form of gambling in most nations, with separate bodies licensing and regulating it.

Sports Betting for Beginners: Tips and Terminologies

Anyone with proper knowledge of the variety of sports bets available and the various applications of betting terminologies has the potential to become a sharp sports bettor. Simply understanding the following terminologies will help you read odds and manage your bankroll to get the most out of your bets.

Sports Betting for Beginners Tips and Terminologies

Favorites Vs. Underdogs

The first step in creating a betting line for a game is determining which team should be the favorite and which should be the underdog.

Simply put, the favorite is the team that is predicted to win the game, while the underdog is the team that is likely to lose.

Favorites Vs. Underdogs

Credit: 20Bet

One look at the favorite/underdog bet and you could already be sure that the team you want to put your money on is the favorite, which is the safer option, but they don’t necessarily always win the game and most of the time have very low odds because of their low risk. On the other hand, the underdogs which are potential wildcards have conversely higher odds because they offer the riskier odds.

Having a good favorite or underdog betting strategy drawn from learning facts about each team will help you get the most out of your bet. When deciding which team to pick, consider factors like their recent performance, availability of key players, strengths and weaknesses, past surprising victories (for the underdogs), better offence, or defense lineup. This analysis will help you make decisions and indicate possibilities.


A point spread, or simply “the spread,” is a sports betting number calculated by the oddsmakers to be used as a handicap between two opponents. Oddsmakers employ spread betting to level the playing field because not all teams are equally skilled. Therefore, the spread is an amount that is added or subtracted from the final result to define the outcome of the wager.

You’ll need to analyze the playing teams to decide on who you think would cover or maintain the spread. It’s all about the numbers with this type of betting and not the victory.

Moneyline or Straight Bets

Moneyline or straight bets are simply bets that involve betting on who you predict will win the competition or a draw. It does not depend on points or runs accumulated by a team. You just have to wager a certain amount of money on the final result.


An Over/Under bet involves a combination of scores from both playing teams. In this case, you’re betting on whether both teams’ total score will be over or under your selection. If you predict that the two teams will score more combined points than a specific amount, you should bet on the over; if you believe the final score will be less than the line, bet on the under. While Over/Under bets are a simple way to begin betting on sports, sportsbooks are skilled at generating these lines, and you may find that choosing profitable lines is more difficult than it seems. Therefore, you still have to do your research on both playing teams before placing your bet.


Futures, sometimes known as outright winners, are bets made early in a competition on your desired team which must win the sporting event you are betting on in order to receive your money. For example, at the start of the UEFA Championship, you can bet on the UEFA Cup winner. Sportbooks usually provide a list of potential winners, and the odds may vary slightly from one operator to the next. Therefore, you should look for the most promising markets and odds by comparing betting lines because some bookmakers will provide slightly better odds for a specific event.

Futures or outright winners

Credit: 22Bet


A parlay, also known as an “accumulator”, is a bet made of multiple bets. It is a fun form of bet that can get you more earnings if you make the right choices and every game you select turns out successful. While the risk is higher, the possible gain is also better. A parlay is a more advanced form of betting, so bear in mind that while the payout is significantly higher, you will need a much better understanding of the industry and sport, in general, to be successful.

Props, Teasers, and Pleasers

Props bets are an exotic form of betting that involves placing a bet on a very specific condition defined independently by each operator. For example, you can bet on the number of points a predetermined player will score by halftime. Props come in an almost infinite variety of conditions, so you should try any of these that catch your interest.

A teaser is similar to a parlay in that it lets you choose from several games. You can, however, change the point spreads and over/under (totals) of the bet between 4 and 10 points, thereby making it easier and changing the odds and potential payouts. A teaser is an interesting bet that should only be played by experienced sports gamblers.

Pleasers are also an advanced form of betting that only experienced gamers should explore as they involve giving the sportsbook a better chance of winning while giving you significantly better odds and, as a result, higher payouts.

Rotation Numbers

Rotation numbers, sometimes known as bet numbers, are numerical identifiers assigned to every bet in a sportsbook. They are used to quickly identify a wager and submit your bets without confusion. Rotation numbers can be found on the odds boards. It’s commonly a three-digit number that appears next to the team or wager you’re considering.

Line Moves

The odds in sports betting are just like stocks on Wall Street, as they’re very fluid. Bookmakers adjust the odds throughout the day depending on various factors such as their decision, player injury, or weather. For example, a team could start out at line -7 and move to -8 by the end of the day. To be safe, you should monitor betting data for every game in real time.


There are betting promos and bonuses for players at most online bookmakers. Every betting site (or app) you join will usually offer you promos such as sign-up bonuses, free bets, rebates, and other promotions. However, not every betting opportunity is worthwhile. Some deals are more advantageous than others. Some programs provide more money, lower rollovers, and more favorable terms and conditions.

betting promos and bonuses

Credit: 22Bet

Sport Betting Odds

The odds are just the probability, and they are used to determine how much money you will earn if your wager wins.

When looking for the best betting odds, you should simply choose a line – spread, total, or Moneyline, for example – and compare it across two or more sites to get the best possible payout deal for yourself, which means higher odds. As you check every site, you will find that many bookmakers provide a dropdown menu with various types of odds to choose from. Decimal, American, and fractional odds are the three most common types of odds. Each of the three displays the same probability of an event going one way or the other without changing the payout figures but in a slightly different fashion.

American Odds

This is a type of odds mainly used in the United States. They are returns expressed as a percentage of a base figure of 100 units. When betting with money odds for a favorite, if there is a minus (-), that is the amount necessary to win a hundred dollars; and for underdogs, if there is a plus (+), you would win that amount for every hundred dollars wagered. You get your initial stake refunded in addition to the amount earned in both circumstances. As the favorite’s chances of winning improve, the gap between the odds for the favorite and the underdog widens.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are mainly used in continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They’re a little easier to comprehend and use. By simply looking at the data, you can see who the favorites and underdogs are right away. For every $1 wagered, the decimal odds number reflects the amount won. The amount in decimal odds shows the total payment rather than the profit. In other words, your stake is already included in the decimal amount (you don’t have to add it back in), making calculating the entire payoff easy.

Decimal Odds

Credit: 22Bet

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds (also known as British odds) are the ratio of the amount (profit) won to the stake. They are typically written with a “slash (/)” or a “hyphen (-),” e.g., 6/1 or 6-1, and announced as “six-to-one.” There are several ways to understand them, but the simplest explanation is that 6/1 means “how much you will win”/”how much you stake.” So, if you bet £1 at 10/1, you’ll win £10, which is your profit, and you also get your wager (the one pound) back. Fractional odds are used by some of the world’s largest bookmakers, making them the most preferred odds across the globe.

How Does Live Betting Work?

Live sports betting, also known as in-play or in-running betting, is the process of making a bet on a sports event after it has started. It is past the phase of studying statistics and puts you in the middle of the action, allowing you to place a new wager at any time throughout the game.

How Does Live Betting Work

The odds set by the sportsbook before the match change several times as the match goes on, depending on various actions and events during the game. The odds are set using a computer algorithm that is updated regularly. The probabilities are then adjusted based on what is happening in the event as well as previous outcomes of similar situations.

When something noteworthy happens during the game, the bookmaker will normally pause betting for a few moments while the computer calculates the new odds. The betting will then resume. That happens numerous times during an event, providing you with the most up-to-date odds available.

Where to Place Bets?

A land-based sportsbook or an online betting site are the two most common places to place bets, while using a neighborhood bookie or placing bets with individuals you know are some other alternatives. Although sports betting is prohibited in some countries like China, online sports betting platforms are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Before betting on sports, you should always read about the sports betting rules in your area.

Choosing the best online gambling site can be difficult sometimes, especially because while you’re searching for a betting site, you will see a list of sites with promos and bonuses to persuade you to make a quick selection. However, you shouldn’t rush this process because you want to select the most suitable website for you.

If you want to get the most out of a betting site, it’s critical that you pick the one that best suits your needs. Here are a few good features to help you make your decision when comparing sites:

  • Wide range of markets
  • Most profitable odds available for you
  • Realistic and sensible bonuses, promos, and campaigns
  • Both PC and mobile-friendly
  • Excellent reputation
  • Licensed company
  • Overall range – apps, live streaming, and other technical details

How to Place Bets?

First, take a good look at the posted lines and determine which team you want to wager on, as well as whether you want to wager on the plus and minus line, the point spread, the money line, or the over/underline, among others.

How to Place Bets

Credit: 22Bet

If you’re placing your bet on an online betting site:

  • You need to first sign up and input all required details, including your bank information, for confirmation.
  • You choose the game you want to bet on and either click the bet or check the box next to it, then enter the amount you wish to wager.
  • The majority of online sites then direct you to a confirmation screen where you can confirm your wager.
  • You get your winnings as soon as the game is over. The funds are debited from your gaming account, and if you win, your earnings are deposited into your account.

How Much to Bet on Sports?

When sports betting, you should bear in mind that your bankroll and bet sizes are inextricably linked, and you should always be betting in units proportional to your bankroll. You should never bet above your means. Here are three top tips for sizing your bets:

  • Do not always bet the same amount because not all bets are equal.
  • Assign values to your bets and alter the bet sizes accordingly.
  • As the available funds in your account change, adjust your minimum and maximum bet capabilities.

How Much to Bet

When your judgment is clouded, gambling is a surefire way to deplete your wallet or bank account. Remember that focusing on losing less is a wise technique.

So, set a limit for yourself and have a good time. Gambling is, after all, a form of entertainment.

How Do Sport Betting Platforms and Bookmakers Make Money?

Sportbooks mainly make their money from the fee you pay to place bets, and it is called a “ vig”. The vig is integrated into money line bets and is represented by the difference in the lines.

The gap between what you can win and what you have to wager provides a profit for the bookmaker. For example, imagine the sportsbook takes $21,000 to win $20,000 on team A and $21,000 to win $20,000 on team B. If team A wins, the book gives the winners back their 21,000 and 20,000 from the losers. This leaves a profit of 1,000 for the book. The same thing happens if team B wins.

The most profitable vigs for sportsbooks are when you bet on point spreads because, in these instances, you usually have to risk more than you can win.

Basically, higher risk equals more profit for the bookmakers.

How to Win More in Sports Betting?

It is very important to be very conscious and aware of your strengths and weaknesses when betting on sports and this requires brutal honesty to yourself. Here are a few tips to help you test your decisions and wager when betting:

  • Keep records of your bets: this will help you analyze your past choices for mistakes and make better choices.
  • Get more information on whatever sports you would be betting on. Be well-versed in the details of the game to help you analyze the winning team properly.
  • Develop a good accounting and capital management strategy.
  • Control the number of bets you do at once.

There are lots of other things you could do to improve your team choosing skills for great payouts. Just keep doing more research and analysis.

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Is Sports betting profitable?

Yes, it can be. Its accessibility and user-friendly characteristics have made online betting a way to try luck and win some money. However, there are no guarantees, and risks are always involved.

Can the odds offered by a bookmaker vary?

Yes, the odds for a particular match may change due to match events. However, once you place a bet, you cannot change them, regardless of what happens.

How does the bookmaker pay me or receive payment when I win or lose a bet?

The bookmaker simply credits or debits the account you established with them, usually immediately after the results are announced. Then, you can arrange for your profits to be transferred from your betting account to your bank account.

What events can I bet on?

You can bet on almost anything! However, not all bookmakers provide the same wagers. There are several bets available on football, tennis, rugby, and American sports at all bookmakers. If you like less media-friendly sports, you may still be able to find a bookmaker that will allow you to wager on them.

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