Your First Steps Into The World of Successful Betting
One of the biggest mistakes bettors can make is skipping the sports betting basics. This is why I have created this page, where you can find important basics, that should be clear from the start. These first steps will help you better understand the sports betting world, betting odds, and how to become successful.
Based on my conversations with bettors for more than 20 years, there are common mistakes they make from the start and there are some sports betting basics things they don’t understand from the beginning. This is why I filtered and pointed out some valuable bet basics that are IMO very important to understand.
Here’s an introduction to sports betting basics and your first steps into how to bet on sports.
Valuable Sports Betting Basics for Beginners:
Table of contents – Just click the links below to jump to each section:
If you are looking to find what are the most popular bet types, you are in the right place, because I have created this page to explain this here.
This guide will explain and provide examples of how these bet types work.
Moneyline is one of the most popular bet types out there. Often called also a straight bet, where. You’re betting on one team, one player, or in general on one side to win a game or contest.
Example: We have a game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
Bookmakers offered odds:
If you decide to bet on Steelers (in this example), then your bet $100 to win $130.
If you decide to bet on Ravens (in this example), then you must bet $150 to win $100.
Plus sign (Steelers +130) always shows an underdog. The underdog in betting is a team, that has been given less chance than the other side. In an event with two possible outcomes, this refers to a winning percentage of less than 50%.
The minus sign (Ravens -150) always shows a favourite. The favourite is aside, that has been given a better chance to win. In an event with two possible outcomes, this refers to a winning percentage of less than 50%.
What if both teams have a 50% chance of winning?
In this case, the Moneyline would look like this:
Both numbers are the same. The bigger deviation from the number 100, the bigger betting margin (juice, vig, vigorish) bookmaker take.
Point Spread Betting
Point spread betting is very popular in sports with more points scored. Like NBA, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, and all other basketball leagues.
In some cases, we have huge favorites and because there are many points scored, where the point spread difference can be much bigger (for example 10 points or more), bookmakers offer us point spread betting.
That means, that they add intentionally points to the weaker team.
STEELERS +7.5 (-110)
RAVENS -7.5 (-110)
Points spread explained in a real-life example
Imagine that you play basketball with your son or younger brother. And because he is still a kid and you want that the game is more interesting (read: the possible outcome = close to 50-50) you give him 10 points before you start. And let’s say you play basketball until you reach 21 points. And from the start, he was added by 10 points to make the game more interesting. Or if you like more interesting = balancing the chances of the outcome that can be close to 50% vs 50%.
Points spread bet type is a new subject
Once we add these points to one team, we have completely new “sides”. We don’t have anymore Steelers vs Ravens, but we have everything that you see in the brackets. You can imagine as we have two completely new subjects. We are not interested anymore if Ravens or Steelers win, but by how many they win (or lose) with added points.
The bookmakers always tend to balance and set these points spreads so, that is close to the outcomes with 50% vs 50% chance.
[Steelers +7.5 ]
[Ravens -7.5 ]
We have now uniqe new sides. From now on we focus on everything that is in .
Point spreads and the odds
With every point spread, we also must see the following odds. This is what we pay and this is what we can potentially win.
[Steelers +7.5 ] -110
[Ravens -7.5 ] -110
Points Spread Betting Example Explained
STEELERS +7.5 (-110)
RAVENS -7.5 (-110)
If you bet on Steelers +7.5, your $110 bet will be a success and you make s profit of $100 if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points.
If you bet on Ravens -7.5, your $110 bet will be a success and you make a profit of $100 if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points.
Other variations of point spread betting
STEELERS +7 (-110) – you win if Steelers win or lose by less than 7 points. If they lose by exactly 7 points, your money will be returned to your account (bet void, push)
Red Sox -1.5 (-110) – In MLB and NHL most of the point spreads are around 1.5 point (run/goal) difference. We call them puck lines and run lines. The odds that come with the represent the probability for -1.5 and +1.5 to cover.
STEELERS pk – is basically bet on STEELERS. If they win, you win.
STEELERS +0 – is basically a bet on STEELERS +0. If they win, you win
There are other variations of point spreads that we call Asian handicaps, that is very popular in the Soccer market. Check them below.
Asian Handicaps Explained
Asian handicaps are very similar to point spreads, where we don’t bet exactly on the side, but on the side with some added points and some rules.
There are many variations of Asian Handicaps and it is very popular especially among soccer bettors.
Every Asian handicap comes with the odds – example:
[Barcelona -0.25 ] -110
[Real Madrid +0.25] -110
Here is the table of Asian handicap variations from 0 to 1.
Over/Under Bet Types
Over / Under bets also called total points betting is not betting on the outcome of the game or any spread variations, but focusing on points that will be scored in that game.
Example: We have a game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Instead of focusing on which team will win (or cover the spread), we simply focus on what is happening with the points in this game.
Bookmakers over/under offer example
[Over 45.5 ]
We are betting on the total points, where we “try to predict” if in this game will be scored more than 45 points or less.
If you bet Over 45.5, then the total of all points must be more than 45. in our case (you bet OVER 45.5):
[Ravens vs Steelers – result: 27-24] BET WIN
[Ravens vs Steelers – result: 17-19] BET LOSE
If the final result of the game is 27-24, the total points in this game is 27+24=51. This is how many points both teams have scored. And because you bet Over 45.5, you won, because it happened more (over) then 45.5 points. It “happened” exactly 51 points which is more than 45.5.
The same logic is used for UNDER BETTING.
Every under/over bet type comes with the odds
Of course, the most important part of the bet is again the price that you pay – the odds. Bookmakers will always offer such bets with the odds.
[Over 45.5] -110
[Under 45.5] -110
They can also change the odds and adjust the total number:
[Over 50.5] +135
[Under 50.5] -150
This is why it is always important to see the whole picture.
Live In-Game Bet Types
Live betting allows sports bettors to wager on the games, while they are in play. There is many variations of bets that are offered by bookmakers. Betting on the outcome of the game, where odds change quickly based on the current result when the game is in progress. it can be betting on totals or any other outcome.
The concept is the same. They will offer bet type when the game is live and you are betting on that possible outcome (whatever is offered). All these offers come with following odds and this is the price that you pay.
[Bet on the outcome A] +200
[Bet on the outcome B] -175
This is a very popular bet type among bettors, who try to predict the outcome that will happen in the future. This is long-term betting and among the most popular are betting on who will win the Super Bowl, World Series, etc…
All bets will come with the following odds, which are the prices that every bettor should focus. Example:
[Steelers to win Super Bowl] +300
[Browns to win Super Bowl] +450
[Chiefs to win Super Bowl] +700
[Ravens to win Super Bowl] +1000
So, let’s say that those are the odds in Week 13 of NFL and you decide to bet on the Steelers to win Super Bowl. Your $100 bet will be profitable if the Steelers win Super Bowl at the end. Your bet and potential profit will be paid after the final game in Super Bowl will be played and only if Steelers (in this case) win Super Bowl.
Futures bets can be for players, teams, politics,… the key is again the price, that will be changing.
Parlay bets are very popular among bettors and unfortunately one of the big reasons, why so many bettors lose. Anyway, if you decide to bet parlays and try luck, parlay betting is betting on 2 or more bet selections. All selections must win :
[Steelers -7.5] +120
[Red Sox ML] +115
[NYY vs Giants Over 9.5] +105
[Barcelona +0.5] -125
In this case, all selections must win. If only one bet is lost, your parlay is lost. You can combine any bets, teams, over/under bets or anything that bookmakers will allow you to bet and combine. It depends from Sportsbook to Sportsbook, what kind of parlay bets will they offer and how much money they allow you to bet on such parlays.
Other Bet Types
The most important thing we must understand is that bet type always comes with the information what this bet type is [EXPLANATION] and following odds.
The “explanation” is basically a bet type, that is offered. The following odds are implied probabilities of its outcome, which represent the price that you will pay.
It can be anything.
[Steelers will play today with blue jerseys] +120
[There will be more than 35.530 fans today] +115
[It will be at least 30 minutes of rain in this game] +105
[Mike Trout will score 3 home runs] -125
Betting teasers refers to parlays, where the spread or total has been adjusted in that way that is beneficial for you. Teasers are types of parlays, that allow you take multiple bet selections as a single stake, but are focused on spreads and totals.
Proposition bets (or prop bets) are popular bets especially in big events and give bettors more fun. Most of the times they are two-sided bets with YES/NO.
[Will Yankees score a home run – YES] +105
[Will Yankees score a home run – NO] -120
PLAYER PROPOSITION BETS
Players’ prop bets are bet types, where you can bet on individual statistical categories and players’ individual performances. It can be referred to yards per play, TD, strikeouts, goals scored, points, penalty minutes,… whatever Sportsbooks are willing to offer. The concept is the same again. Bet type with the following price.
The difference between Sports, Sports Betting, and Successful Sports Betting
Most people who start betting see the game and try to predict who will win. But there is a big difference between sports, sports betting and the next level, which we all want to reach – successful sports betting.
I will try to explain these three different things here so that every new sports bettor will understand and never mix those three things.
If this is not clear there is very little chance you will ever see success in Sports Betting.
When we talk about the sport in a sports betting world, we think about the competition, about the teams and players who compete against each other.
If we talk about the game, players and if we talk about the results this is just a sport. Nothing else nothing more.
If we try to predict a winner without including the odds and probabilities, this is just a sport and has very little to do with sports betting.
Sports are used as a pool if information and events because it is very popular. Events are every day and this is an opportunity for bookmakers to create liquidity. They need a lot of people to bet and then they can win because of margins.
This is basically the basic business model from them.
The problem is that most sports bettors think that sports betting is about searching for the winners, while in a reality this has nothing to do with the betting.
Sport without probabilities included is just a sport. Nothing else.
Examples of sports (not betting) talk in the sports betting world:
“I have a winner”
“Ravens are lock”
“I know the sport, they will win”
This is all just sports talk.
Once we add probabilities and the odds, we start talking about sports betting. The odds and finding a value is a key.
If there is one thing that can be learned from bookmakers is that they pay huge attention to the odds. They move them, they change them, they even lock bets because of the price. This is so important that they developed the whole system so, that the odds are properly moved and very fast.
It is not about Ravens or about the Pirates or any other team. The focus is on the numbers.
The numbers that you see above are the difference between sports and sports betting.
Many people consider themselves as bettors, but they are just sports fans, who talk about players, about the teams, about the winners, about how the sport is rigged,… I would not even put them into the sports betting category. Most betting groups on Facebook or any other social media are in fact not sports betting groups, but more like sports fan groups.
The Sports betting category starts when we start talking about the odds.
“When talking about the numbers, the odds and the price that you pay is much more important than talking about who will win, only then sports betting starts. “
Sports bettors focus on the price. It can even happen that the same bettor wants to bet on one team, but the price has changed and he will bet on another team.
Such action is almost not possible for sports fans, who pick a winner without even considering what is the price they are paying.
Understanding this difference between sports and sports betting is a very very good start.
The only problem is that even if we understand that the odds are important, not just picking a winner, this still doesn’t make us winning bettors.
Only around 3% of all bettors make a profit in the World. And the question is here how many win because of luck and how many are really skilled bettors.
What makes them different?
Successful Sports Betting
Successful betting is much more complex and it requires a lot of knowledge, experience, patience, and a lot of sacrifices, whether we like it or not.
But we can start with three simple things:
Finding a value (the difference between your discovered price and bookmakers price)
Beating the closing line and their margins
Building/Having a bankroll (most sports fans and most bettors don’t have one)
Flexibility and process of learning, adjusting and improving
Successful sports betting has much more with the math, investing, the right mindset, than about the knowledge or love for sports.
Here is one great video to start from Captain Jack Andrews (if you like the video, support him, like the video and subscribe to the channel):
Different locations, different methods, similar concepts
Successful betting in the final stage is how you can beat the line and where and how you can bet. We live in different locations, we can use different bookmakers, sportsbooks, betting exchanges, etc.. In some countries betting is prohibited, in some countries the government has a monopoly over gambling and they offer awful odds and big margins,…
Successful betting doesn’t necessarily mean, that you must make 6 figures betting, it can be just a side hustle.
But the concept is pretty the same.
Sports betting is a market, where you must be better than others. You are not really betting against bookmakers, but against other bettors as well. And this requires a lot of skills based on your location and abilities.
It requires personal development skills, mathematical skills, investment skills, sports betting models and algorithms, flexibility in the market and ability to adjust, ability to recognize if you lose your edge and adjusting the method, tracking your bets, building a bankroll, re-investing profits, and many other things.
To be among 3% in the World that win requires a lot of work and a lot of effort. Sports betting is a (learning) process, that never ends.
Some of my tips on how to be successful in sports betting
I learn about money and investments
I learn math and statistics
I build betting models and always look for value
I try to beat the closing line
I try to recognize new markets and opportunities
I also try to recognize if I am losing my edge in the market and adjust accordingly
I meditate to stay calm and make better decisions
I re-invest my profits and never rely only on one income stream.
Parlays are very popular among bettors. It is a bet type, where you can put more selections on one bet ticket and with one stake these odds multiply.
On the first look, it looks great, because you can win a lot of money if you bet only $10 or even less. Players love it and bookmakers love parlays even more. The winner in the race between them is obvious.
I want to explain here, why you should never play parlays and why professional bettors don’t rely on parlays.
Why bookmakers make money – what is their model?
To understand parlays, we must first understand why bookmakers win. They win because they create the edge with the margins.
Let’s take an example:
We have Team A and Team B and let’s say we have an equal game (50% vs 50% chance)
What would be the fair odds?
Team A fair odds = 1/0.5 = 2.00 (American odds = +100)
Team A fair odds = 1/0.5 = 2.00 (American odds = +100)
Bookmakers will lower the odds
But we will never get these odds, because bookmakers will add some margins or their commission if you like.
They will offer us something like:
Team A fair odds = 1.91 (American odds = -110)
Team A fair odds = 1.91 (American odds = -110)
The odds of 2.00 (+100) would pay you $100 for every $100, but because they lowered them (added margins), your $100 invested will return only $91.
With this single bet, you lose $9, which is 9% less than you should normally get if the odds would be fair.
Let’s see what happens if you bet single, double (two bet elections), treble (three-bet selections),… 10 bet selections. And how much money you lose.
If you bet for fun, parlays are amazing, because you can watch games and have fun with your friends while waiting for the last game.
But if you want to make the next step in sports betting and if you want to improve your chances you must stick to single bets.
Here I want to give you practical sports betting tips you can use right away and you don’t make the same mistakes many bettors make when they start losing.
I don’t want to talk about how betting is a marathon, not a sprint, or how you should not celebrate when you win and not panic when you lose, because their phrases are old.
I want to give you the things you should definitely avoid and some tips on what you should focus on.
Practical tips on what to do and what to avoid in sports betting
Never pay for the picks. Most bettors don’t have the edge against the market and most sports handicappers make money by selling picks, not by actual betting. If you just start betting, you don’t have the knowledge and ability to identify them. And no, it is not profit or ROI. It is much more complex.
Never follow picks. The logic is the same as above. I will just add here, that in a dynamic betting world, where the price and the timing is very important following is worthless. professional bettors don’t follow. They connect and share valuable information and bet the right price at the right time. No one seriously looks for some sports handicappers on Twitter and followed them.
Don’t focus on a short period of time. You either go seriously into betting and have long term focus. Take the first year just to learn. Bet small and invest the rest of the resources (time, money effort) for your knowledge. This will save you a lot of time later.
Don’t skip basics and the numbers. Focus on the value and betting models. If you don’t use numbers, find a way how to use them. Either you start with free sites, where you can learn about statistics like edx.org or you can check betting courses that specialize in this. No matter how you decide to start, you will need to start using the numbers. This also takes a lot of time and effort. So better start early.
Don’t be illusional. Self-awareness is very important. Sports betting is not for everyone. sports betting has much more to do with math and statistics than sports alone. We know that most people in the world don’t love numbers and math. But in this case, we must see this and don’t live in the illusion, that we will be successful in the area, where the numbers are almost everything. It won’t happen. No need to be a math genius, but you should definitely not hate math and numbers. If you decide to bet, the numbers will be in your head 24/7.
Don’s skip basic education about money and investments. I see constantly people who struggle with money and they bet. The first thing before we start betting is that we set our personal finance strategy and investments. It is recommended, that you also have other investments and sports betting is just one of many. But definitely, we are working in the space of money and investment and you should get the basic knowledge about this too. One very basic book, that helped many to change their perspective about money is Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki. You can start with this one and it will lead you to other great books.
Don’t watch games. It is a very practical and also provocative sports betting tip that I like to give to new bettors. Unless you bet live watching games is waste of time for you. Watching games is basically only one way how to collect the data, but you can find the data on the internet anyway and better spend this time learning about betting. Imagine that we have 2 bettors. One bettor spends 10 hours per week watching games and the other bettor spends this time on sports betting education. In one year this is 520 hours of difference and 520 hours of difference in betting skill. This is a huge difference.
Don’t wait until kick-off. The odds just before the games will start are called closing odds. In theory, you can not beat them and you will lose because of margins. Try to bet early and catch the lines if they go with you. Example: You bet Lakers +7, the closing spread is Lakers +4. You did a good job.
Don’t ignore the tracking of bets. If you want to take sports betting seriously, you must track your performance. Every serious business tracks performance and we should start looking at our betting as a business.
Don’t attack big markets like NFL or NBA if you are in the process of learning sports betting basics. in sports betting you are not trying to beat (only) bookmakers, but also other sports bettors. In markets like the NFL, where the liquidity is big and where there is a lot of money involved you are going directly against the big players. Don’t do it. Try to find weaker betting markets and try to bet there. Make a profit, grow, learn and you can move there later. This is one of the big mistakes new rookie sports bettors make because they want to bet what they love, nowhere they could have intentionally the advantage.
Don’t ignore the importance of personal development and meditation. You are going into the World of betting, where you will need to make daily decisions and risk money, that can be lost even if you will have the edge. There will be bad days, months, and even seasons. It is very important to stay calm in these days and take rational decisions. Personal development and meditation will give you an edge against others. You can start with the book – Eckhart Tole (The Power of Now)
Don’t ignore the reading, betting education, and constantly improving. Successful sports betting is not something you will learn today and you will know forever. Sports betting is changing all the time. The market is sharper and smarter, the technology and algorithms are better. You must love the betting process and grow with it.
Don’t focus on winners and don’t bet based on emotions. No matter how sure you are always remember that every time you bet, bookmakers are betting against you, but with better odds. Because they are betting against you the bet will happen. Don’t be overconfident and think you have a winner based on your feeling. Because you don’t have it. Maybe it will work sometimes, but you will lose almost for sure on the long run. This is definitely not an optimal way and this is definitely something you should not ignore in the fundamentals of betting.
Bookie killers, the World’s best Handicappers who take money from sportsbooks, Bookie Hunters, Bookie Bashers,.. all kind of crazy things we can hear.
But the reality is that you are not fighting bookmakers, but other bettors or the market if you like.
Sports betting is always a relative skill against the competition. Bookmakers create the edge with the margins and they move the lines because they balance the money involved. They simply want to balance bets on both sides.
A very simple example:
$1 million bets on Patriots -7.5 (-110)
$1 million bets on Steelers +7.5 (-110)
Patriots -7.5 cover, bookmakers must pay $910,000 to Patriots bettors, but they take $1 million from Steelers bettors. They don’t care if the Patriots win or the Steelers win. They care much more about balancing the money, how to identify sharp sports bettors and move the line properly. They will make money either way.
We are not really fighting against them, but we try to be better than other bettors. It is a relative skill against the betting competition.
If you are going to start betting, gambling at a casino, playing Black Jack, poker, sports betting, or any other type, it’s important to understand the basics of odds. In our case, we will focus on sports betting fundamentals and a quick guide to different odds.
If you can not read the betting odds, you can not expect to win long term.
The concept of betting odds is pretty simple
The concept of betting odds is the same for all kinds of different types of odds. They all represent the price on the market that you will pay. They also represent the implied probabilities of possible outcomes.
If you bet on an outcome, where the chance is more likely to happen your invested money will return less profit (less risk – less profit, makes sense). And vice versa.
We have different odds formats and here are the most popular. You can decide which one you like and you can also easily turn one decimal format into another.
It is up to every bettor which betting odds format will use, most bookmakers and sportsbooks offer at least 3 betting odds formats (American odds, Decimal odds, and Fractional odds). I personally use decimal odds, because they are for me most simple. But this is not the rule or recommendation of what you should use. You can use the format that you like the most. What is more important is that you understand how they work and how you can calculate probabilities from them.
Decimal Betting Odds
Decimal odds are very popular in Europe and Australia. You can easily identify favorites and underdogs.
[favourites] the smaller number
[underdogs] bigger number
Total return calculation of your wager if very simple:
[Total Payout = Stake x Decimal Odds]
Example: Let’s say we have Red Sox that have 60% of chance and Yankees that have 40% to with this particular game in our example.
First, we can calculate the odds from probabilities:
[Red Sox 60%] -> 1/0.6 = 1.67
[Yankees 40%] -> 1/0.4 = 2.50
1.67 and 2.50 represent the odds. Bookmakers will lower these odds a little bit because of their margins (vig, juice) and it will more likely look something like 1.60 for Red Sox and 2.40 for Yankees.
[Red Sox 60%] -> turns into (example) = 1.60
[Yankees 40%] -> turns into (example) = 2.40
And these are the prices that you will pay.
If you decide to bet $100 on Red Sox, simply multiply $100 with 1.60.
[Total Payout] $100*1.60 = $160
[Profit] $100*1.60 -$100 = $60
American Betting Odds
American odds are very popular in the USA and the odds with minus (-) sign are favorites, where it tells you how much you must bet to win $100. Plus (+) odds are underdogs, where it will tell you how much you win for every $100 bet.
[Red Sox +130] – bet $100 to win $130
[Red Sox -130] – bet $130 to win $100
You can use these formulas in a betting spreadsheet or in excel to turn American odds to decimal:
Fractional odds are very popular among UK bettors and their bookmakers. They come with (/) sign or (-) sign, where they represent the ratio of the amount won to the initial wager.
[5/1] – five to one means, that you win $5 against every your $1 bet.
Total Payout in our case = [Stake * (5/1)] + Stake
Which odds format is the best for you?
It is up to you which odds format will you use. I personally prefer decimal, but this is not a rule and if you like some other format simply use it. It is much more important that you learn the differences and how they work.
There are also some less known odds formats like Hong Kong odds, Indo odds, and Malay odds formats, but the basic concept is the same.
They all represent the probabilities and the prices on the market. The most important question is how to find the value, which is the difference between your discovered price (estimated, projected odds) compared to bookies implied probabilities. Please check A Journey Betting Course, where you can learn more about the topic and get real betting spreadsheet examples.
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