SPORTS BETTING 101Perspective: it is what many sports bettors lack when placing bets with their hard earned money. There is no surefire way to beat the bookies every day, but this section will help you approach sports betting in a different light.
Section 1: Understanding Sports BooksKnowing the business model behind the books is important in making picks and placing bets. One important point to note is that bookies make money when there is equal action on both sides of an event. A heavy Vegas favorite does not necessarily translate to a wide margin of victory. Point spreads and moneylines are calculated in hopes of having as close to 50% of bettors bet on the underdog and 50% of the action towards the favorite. Bookies will adjust lines appropriately if there is heavy action on one side. Although opening and closing lines will be similar from book to book, a half point difference can mean the difference in a big payout or a big loss for bookmakers and bettors alike. The best example of this is Superbowl XLII: Patriots vs. Giants. The opening line had the Pats favored by 13.5 points. For most of the season, New England was blowing out all opponents. Soon, the Pats became weekly double-digit favorites. However, near the end of the season and into the playoffs, the Pats couldnít cover. The public responded by betting heavily on the Giants. By game time, the line had New England favored by only around 11 pointsÖa huge swing in Vegasí terms. It is also important to note that the public is not always right. Knowing this is key so when bookies adjust lines, it could be in YOUR favor.
Section 2: Money managementAKA bankroll management, knowing how to manage your money is an important consideration in sports betting. The most important key is to keep your sports betting money separate from the money you NEED. Never bet with money that you need to pay the bills. Keep a separate betting bankroll. Equally important is to be just as responsible with your betting bankroll. Understand that you will not win every play, and when you DO lose a play, do not give in to the urge to chase the loss with a bigger bet on the next play. Often, the big bets made on a whim are the ones that hurt the most when you lose. Designate an amount, 5-10% of your bankroll to bet on your picks. If you find yourself taking a couple hits to your bankroll, adjust your amounts down accordingly. When you win, make sure you keep some for yourself, and pad your bankroll equally. When the math is right, up your stake amounts! Remember, discipline is the key.
Section 3: Stats
This section is kind of an addendum to section 1. Now that you know how Vegas calculates point spreads and moneylines, you should know which stats to look at, and which stats to ignore. Matchup stats are always key. For football, NFL in particular, look at average scores for and against, offensive/defensive passing/rushing yards, and turnovers. Basketball, look at points allowed and points for, offensive/defensive rebounds, FT/FG percent, and turnovers. Similarly, for NHL, look at PK/PP percent, GAA, and points scored. Baseball numbers are dependent on offensive output and individual pitching matchups. Some sites and sports books offer trends and records against the spread. Be careful when analyzing these stats, as they can be a little tricky. In the NBA, NHL, and college sports, the 10 recent against the spread records may go back several years when player personnel has likely changed. Also, the against the spread record is limited to the sourcesí particular closing lines. A different sourcesí lines may have been different, resulting in a different outcome.
Section 4: Avoiding ScamsWith the age of the Internet, it is easy for eager sports bettors to fall victim to unscrupulous scammers. Some involve scam sportsbooks, and some involve vast pay per picks services. There are a handful of reliable sportsbooks serving customers worldwide. It is important to weed out the junk and find the sites based on good customer service and fast/free payouts. You cannot go wrong with any of these sites: As far as pay per picks services are concerned, they are usually one of two schemes. The first is the advertised free pick service. Once youíve received your first pick, you will be hounded by the servicesí aggressive sales team until you agree to pay for their picks. The offer is usually accompanied by a seasonís worth of free picks if you get a loser. The problem with this is, half of the customers will get one pick, and the other half will get the other pick for the same event. That way, the handicapper will be guaranteed to get half of their customer basesí business. The second is a complicated chase scheme. Sites that boast a 97% win percentage often involve this. A chase scheme usually have you bet on a series of games. If you lose the first bet in the series, you are advised to double your bet amount until the series is over, or until you lose the bet. The problem is, when you lose the bet, you lose a LOT of money! The bottom line, DO NOT PAY FOR PICKS!
Section 5: Parlays, Teasers, Round Robins, etcThe allure to turn a $50 bet into a $1000 payday has crossed all of our minds at some point in our sports betting days. However, parlays are an easy way to lose a lot of money, as well. You are much better off playing at a 55% win rate for single bets than waiting for your 5 game parlay to pay off. You will save more money in losses and build your bankroll a bit quicker if you avoid parlays. Occasional parlays and/or teasers may be beneficial, but usually when you limit the bet to two or three plays. Conclusion Whatever your stakes level, itís important to understand the role that sports betting plays in your life. If you are a casual $50, minimum deposit bettor, donít expect to move mountains of cash unless you are building that bankroll up with consistent, disciplined play. Success in betting comes with learning from past failures and learning from them. And most importantly: DONíT play with money that you canít afford to lose!