Sports Betting 101

Sports betting is not a get-rich-quick scheme and isn’t for everyone. However, it can be profitable for those who understand the game and practice sound bankroll management. Profitable sports betting requires diligent research and in-depth analysis, a long-term mindset and discipline.

Whether you’re placing a moneyline bet on the Raptors to beat the Celtics or an over/under total for a UFC fight, there are some basic strategies that will help you make informed wagers. Educate yourself on the sport you are betting on, read articles and do your homework on teams, coaching strategies, injuries, player histories and stats. It’s also helpful to follow professional sports handicappers who can provide guidance and advice.

A straight bet is a simple wager on a single outcome. If you believe the Toronto Raptors will defeat Boston, for example, you’d place a bet on them winning the game. You’ll win if your bet is correct, but lose if it isn’t. The sportsbook takes a small percentage of every bet placed (known as the “vig” or “juice”), which is how they make money.

Spread bets, or point-spreads, are wagers that a sportsbook sets to adjust for the expected margin of victory between two teams or individual players. The sportsbook assigns a number to each team that is either a plus or a minus, with the number indicating the team’s odds of winning the game. The higher the number, the more likely a team is to win; thus, it is considered a favorite. A minus sign indicates the underdog.

In order to make a profit on a spread bet, the team must win by more than the amount set by the sportsbook (referred to as “covering” the spread). The underdog must also score more points, goals or runs than its opponent in order to cover the point-spread. If the team wins by less than the stated number, the bet is a push (a tie). Odds boosts are special offers that increase the payout of a bet, often given to entice new customers. If a bet is “off the board” or no longer accepting action, it has been closed and is off the market. This may happen if the betting public is overwhelming one side of the line or a late injury is announced.