Sports betting is a popular pastime and there are many ways to wager on sporting events. But making money on sports bets is not always easy. It takes time, dedication and knowledge of how odds are calculated. The best way to make consistent profits is by making a series of small, smart bets that add up over the season to an overall profit. There are several different types of bets to choose from, including moneylines, spreads and parlays. And, if you want to bet on multiple outcomes, you can also place a multi-team or prop bet.
Spread bets are based on the perceived relative strength of two teams and their ability to score points against each other. The sportsbook sets the point spread by adding or subtracting points from a team’s win/loss record. The goal is to level the playing field by giving the underdog a chance to win against the favorite. This is why the odds are often displayed in increments of a half-point (.5), even though only a few sports have scoring systems that use this format.
A good rule of thumb is to track the initial lines on a game and then check again as kickoff nears. Odds can change quickly, and sometimes dramatically. This can be due to injuries, a dramatic shift in public support for one team or a sportsbook trying to hedge their exposure by raising the line on both sides of the bet.
While the odds will not always be spot on, they do provide a good indication of the type of game to expect: low- or high-scoring or somewhere in between. The size of the total line can also indicate how much a sportsbook expects one team to score in relation to their opponent. For example, a game with a total of 7.5 points might be expected to be a defensive slugfest.
Sportsbooks calculate their odds in the same manner as bookmakers in other parts of the world. They display them as American odds, British or European (decimal) odds and they can be plus (+), minus (-) or equal (+/-).
Beyond straight bets, the most common sports bet is the total. Also referred to as the Over/Under, totals are bets on whether or not the combined score of a game will finish over or under a predetermined number set by the sportsbook. This number can include the combined final score of a game, as well as individual or team scores, rebounds, wins, saves, birdies, hits and other statistics, depending on the sport.