Placing a Sports Bet: What’s Involved?

How to place a sports betTo those who have never bet on sports before, walking into a sportsbook and going to the window or opening an online betting account can be intimidating. It’s understandable. Sports gambling to someone with no experience can be like trying to read a different language with no training.

The good news is, once you understand the basics, placing a sports bet is extremely simple. In fact, once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes second nature. In this article, we will go over the basics of sports betting and the options available for bettors when it comes to placing bets.

The Bookmaker’s Vigorish

Unlike poker, sports bettors won’t be playing against other players. Instead, they will be forced to take on the house. To garner their edge, the bookmakers charge what is known as a vigorish or vig on each bet.

What is Vigorish?

Also known as the “juice,” is ten percent. Meaning, if you wish to bet $100 on a selection – you must wager $110 to win $100. This means that if you bet $110 and win, you will get $100, plus the $110 you originally wagered (and, of course, if you lose, you lose the full $110). This 10 percent is how the sportsbooks make their money.

Before examining sports betting more closely, many might be saying to themselves, “The bookies only have a 10% advantage? I can beat that with my sports knowledge!” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sportsbooks spend a great deal of effort in setting their betting lines and will adjust the lines based on bettor behavior.

What You Should Do :

Work hard and do your research

While it’s perfectly possible to win at sports betting, it takes a lot of hard work and knowledge. The breakeven percentage is 52.38% at a ten percent vigorish, but even that is something that few sports gamblers worldwide ever attain.

What You Should Not Do :

Pay for picks

Those that shop for picks using paid handicappers (something I don’t recommend) will often hear claims from these guys that they win 60–70% of their wagers. These are almost always lies.

A sports bettor who wins 55% is above average and is doing an excellent job. Those that win closer to 60% of their wagers are in the elite category.

Placing a Bet

For those from the US, they will most likely be offered up American odds at their sportsbook of choice. They are also known as “moneyline odds.” American odds are simple to understand: each number is based on how much a bettor must wager to win $100.

Here’s a basic example of an NFL game’s betting odds with 10% vigorish:

Example 1The +3 and -3 are the point spread for this game. This means Pittsburgh must win the game by more than three points for bettors to cash with a Steelers’ wager. Cleveland must win the game outright or lose by less than three points for Browns backers to win their bets.

Example of a traditional point spread table

Example 2

(+) = Underdog      (-) = Favored

When it comes to traditional point spreads, there will always be a favorite and an underdog, unless the game is listed as pk. Also, listed odds for most American sportsbooks will always have the home team on the bottom and the away team on the top. In the above example, the Steelers are road favorites against the underdog Browns, who are at home.

Of course, if the game ends with Pittsburgh winning by a three-point margin, neither bet wins. This is what is known as a “push.” In this case, both sides will have their original stakes returned to them as if the bet never happened.

It’s important to remember that pushes are not possible if the spread or total has a half point or what is known colloquially in the betting world as a “hook.” For instance, if the spread in the above contest were 3.5 – there could be no push.

Additional Rules

Before you place a wager, it’s important to remember that there are rules surrounding the contest for the wager to be valid. These are imposed by the sportsbook and usually don’t change much between different betting shops.

This is simple stuff, like an NFL game must go 55 minutes to be official or an NBA game must go 43 minutes for wagers to be valid. For baseball, games must typically go 5 innings to be official in the eyes of a sportsbook. Many also have the caveat that both listed pitchers must start for wagers to have action. If any of these conditions fail to be met, the bet will result in a push, and again, wagers will be returned.

Overtime Counts

Unlike European soccer wagers, which separate regulation time and extra-time scoring – all US-based sports include any overtime scoring as part of the spread or total. If a football or basketball game goes to overtime, these points will count towards both the side and total. It’s the same when a baseball game goes to extra innings.

Placing A Bet

In today’s market, logging in to your account and placing a bet can be done in a matter of seconds. Sites want a strong betting interface that is simple and user-friendly. They easily spend hundreds of thousands on their site design and their back-end options for bettors.

Loggin in

Login to your account

After logging in, bettors are presented with a list of betting odds listed by sport, which are usually listed on the left or right side of the page. Another click will generally break down the betting markets for each night.

Choose your sport

Choose your sport

From there, it’s as simple as choosing your selections and adding them to your betting ticket. Just about every sportsbook online makes this a two-step or two-click process.

Submit your section

Submit your section

Once players submit their selections, they will go to a review page where they will have one final chance to look over their potential wagers before confirming their bets.

Once a player confirms their selections, the bets are locked in and are final.

Other Betting Options

Most bettors will likely be placing their bets from their desktop computer, but just about every sportsbook online offers a mobile website or mobile app for betting on the go. These mobile options are designed to be scaled-down versions of the desktop sites. Bettors will follow the same protocol for placing bets when betting via mobile.

One choice for wagering that many have forgotten about is betting via phone. Online bookmakers offer toll-free wagering lines, which allow customers to call in their wagers instead of betting online.

Some may choose to bet over the phone instead of online, and this allows them to do so easily. For some bettors this might be an attractive option since some sportsbooks also offer higher limits via phone wagers compared to a maximum amount set for online wagering.