When you follow a sporting event, the equation is rather simple, because all that really matters is who won and who lost. But when it comes to betting on sports, there are some additional factors to consider. Though sports betting is not something that is especially complicated, there are some basic things that the bettor needs to know.
Point spreads are assigned to games in some sports as a way of evening out the advantage that a better team has over an inferior opponent. In American sports books, football and basketball are usually wagered upon using points spreads. The stronger team “gives points” to their opponent for the purposes of the wager. A seven-point favorite would have to win by at least eight for their backers to collect; if the team won by exactly seven points, it would be considered a “push” and their original wager would be refunded.
There is another way to account for the difference in strength between opponents that is called the money line. This type of bet entails a ratio of wager to possible return. For instance, if a team was +200 on the money line, one would receive a two to one return on their bet–someone who bet $100 on this side would win twice what they bet.
The simplest and most straightforward sports bet is the “straight bet.” When you make this type of bet you are wagering on the team or interest that you think is going to win. But because the relative strength of any two teams, or number of individual competitors, is usually not equal, the sports books have developed ways of leveling the playing field. The way that they do this is through points spreads in some instances, and the money line in others. When there are more than just two possible sides to wager on, they create odds for each possible entrant.
Another type of bet that is popular in the sports books is called a parlay. This is when you wager on two or more different betting interests in one bet. In other words, in NFL football, rather than placing a straight bet on say, the Packers, a fan might bet a parlay that included the Packers and Bears. Both the Packers and Bears would have to cover the spread if the wager was made against the spread, or win outright if the parlay was placed using the money line. If one of the games was a push, the bet would revert to being a straight bet on the other game. This is an example of a two-team parlay, but many sports books will accept parlay bets involving as many as twelve different teams, and one can play parlays that mix different sports.
There are a number of additional types of wagers, including teasers and futures bets, but this is a brief overview of the basics of sports betting. Like anything else, you learn more as you become more experienced. Sports betting is a great way to take your love of the game to another level, and it makes something that is a lot of fun even more interesting and potentially rewarding.