Placing Bets 101: The Basics of Betting on Sports

New to placing bets on sports? This guide goes over all the basics you need to know to jump into the action of sports betting.

The Supreme Court has given the okay to sports betting, so if you live in states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, or Oregon (among others), you no longer have to make the trek to Las Vegas to place bets. 

If you want to learn the ins and outs of placing bets on sports, you’re in the right place. This guide will get you started with the basics and have you on your way to hopefully making some cash! 

Keep reading to learn more. 

Favorites vs. Underdogs 

Every game will have a favorite and an underdog. Oddsmakers (the people who decide on the favorites and underdogs, point spread, etc.) will make this determination based on who is expected to win the game (the favorite) and who is expected to lose (the underdog). 

The favorite has a minus sign next to their name when the point spread is written out. For example: 

  • Houston Texans +7.5
  • San Francisco 49ers -7.5

In this example, the favorite is the San Francisco 49ers and they are expected to win by 7.5 points (which is explained below). 

Spread vs. Moneyline

A moneyline bet is a simple pick of who you think is going to win the game. You don’t have to pay attention to the point spread or any other factors. You can look at the point spread to see who is the favorite and the underdog, but otherwise, you don’t need any other information.

If you bet on the favorite, and they win, you generally don’t win as much money as you would if you bet on the spread or bet on an underdog who ends up winning. 

Betting on the spread is a bit more complicated. Instead of just picking the winner, you have to pay attention to the point spread. In the spread, the favorite “gives” points and the underdog “gets” points. 

In our above example, the 49ers are a 7.5 point favorite. This means that if you bet on them, they need to win the game by 7.5 points or more in order for you to collect on your bet. If they win, but only win by 7 points, for example, you lose your bet because they didn’t cover the spread. 

If you bet on the Texans, who are the underdog, you need them to either win the game or lose by less than 7.5 points.

If you want to make a little money betting on sports, you might consider installment loans, if you are certain you’ll be able to pay it back.

Over/Under

You can also bet the over/under, which is based on the point total. For each game, oddsmakers will release a projected total number of points that the teams will score combined. For example, in our Texans vs. 49ers example, the over/under (or total) might be set at 52. 

If you bet the over, you’re betting that the teams will score more than 52 points combined. If you bet the under, you’re betting that the teams score less than 52 points combined. If they score exactly 52 points, it’s a push. You don’t win any money, but you don’t lose any either. 

Placing Bets on Sports: Start Small 

This guide to placing bets should get you started in your new betting adventure. The more you bet, the more you learn. As you become more confident, you can branch out to different types of bets, like parlays, and increase the amount you are betting. 

If you found this information helpful, be sure to check back often for new and informative content.