Sports betting has been around since dinosaurs ruled the earth, but it really took off when states started legalizing gambling in 2018. The Supreme Court opened the floodgates, and it now allows people to place bets on almost every sport with their phones and computers. While the ability to make a bet from anywhere at any time adds an extra layer of excitement to watching your favorite team play, there are some things you should know before placing your first wager.
Understand the odds system
The most common bets are win/loss, over/under and moneyline bets. All of them have their own unique odds format. Money lines, for example, are based on the number of runs or goals scored in a game, so it’s important to know how the numbers work when placing these types of bets. In addition to the traditional full-game odds, many sportsbooks also offer first-half and halftime lines, as well as a variety of live betting options during the game.
Before you start making bets, make sure you’ve set aside a specific amount of money that you can afford to lose. It’s best to use an online calculator to determine your base bet size, and then multiply that number by the odds of winning and losing to get your maximum loss. Creating this budget is important, because it’s easy to let your emotions and ego get the better of you when betting on sports.
The best bettors know how to remove their personal biases from their analysis. It’s a big part of what separates the professional bettors from the average Joe. One way to do this is by covering up the names of teams and their players on your betting slip. This forces you to diagnose a matchup based on its merits, not on who the media is cheering for.
It’s also a good idea to open a special bank account that’s only used for sports betting. This will help you keep track of your losses and gains, as well as set a minimum withdrawal amount if you want to stop betting. You should also never gamble more than you can afford to lose, because it’s not worth the risk of going into debt over a few bets.
A pro tip: When placing a bet, always look for a seat in the “book.” The more room you have to study your bets and the odds, the better. If you can’t find a seat, move to another section of the sportsbook.
When betting on NFL games, the best bets are against the public. The public is influenced by the media, and when ESPN pumps up Seattle all week, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of bettors will jump on the bandwagon. This will skew the line in favor of the Seahawks, and it’s up to you to stay objective and find the value. To do this, be sure to track initial lines and then watch how they shift as the game approaches.