Mervyn Davids

Mervyn Davids

Posted on 04 March 2020

A Beginners Guide to Wagering

In the gambling world, there’s no doubt the 2000s belonged to poker. Texas Hold ’em was everywhere. Online, in movies, in-person, on television, you name it.

The gambling world had never seen such an explosion in popularity. Fast forward a decade, and that popularity has now shifted to online casino’s offering free spins slotsno deposit codes and sports betting. Ever since the Supreme Court overturned the PASPA, essentially legalizing sports gambling state to state, betting on sports has gathered even more steam as everyone is looking to get a wager down.

However, before you jump in headlong to the first sportsbook you see, there are certain factors you’ll need to know. So, consider this your 101: Intro to Sports Gambling as we walk you through everything you’ll need to know to be a successful sports gambler.

Your Basic Sports Terms and Wagers

To get your sports gambling endeavor off on the right foot, here are the basic terms and wager options you’ll need to know to be successful.

These are the straightforward basics, but still the vocabulary you’ll want to place your wagers as efficiently as possible:

Bankroll: The amount of money used for your sports gambling. Your bankroll is important, so always wager within your means. Start small and work your way up.

Cover: This refers to winning a point spread wager.

Even Odds: Odds for a wager with evenly matched opponents. There is no juice with Even Odds, and this wager will always pay out 1:1.

Favorite: The team or side of any wager the sportsbooks feel will ultimately win. Favorites give points on a Point Spread wager and have lower odds on a Moneyline wager.

Futures: A long-term wager based on a team or player’s future success. For example, placing a wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl Week 1 of the NFL season is a Future wager.

Juice: This is the sportsbook’s commission placed on every wager. The standard juice on any point spread wager is 10% but will vary. This is how sportsbooks make their money. Think of the juice as the price of admission.

Even Odds: Odds for a wager with evenly matched opponents. There is no juice with Even Odds, and this wager will always pay out 1:1.

Line: The odds, point spread, or totals set by sportsbooks to entice wagers.

Live Betting: This refers to wagers available to place even after a game has begun. Live Betting is a rather new innovation in sports gambling and is readily available in online sportsbooks.

Moneyline: The most basic of sports wagers. The Moneyline is the betting without a point spread where the payout is determined by the odds given by the sportsbook. To play the Moneyline is to simply pick the winner of a game.

Odds: The chances of a team to win the game being wagered on.

Over/Under: Often referred to as “Totals,” the Over/Under is a wager on the total number of points scored in a game and whether or not that final score is over or under the total set by the sportsbook.

Parlay: A single wager where two or more individual bets are bundled together into one. The tricky part is that all games in the parlay must win to collect.

Point Spread: A type of wager where points are used by the sportsbook to handicap a game. Favorites will give the points, and underdogs will receive the points. The point spread is added to the final score of the game.

To win the wager, the team you pick needs to cover that point total. The favorite would have to win the game by more than the point spread. Conversely, the underdog can lose the game as long as they don’t lose by more than the point spread.

For instance, if the Chicago Bulls are three-point favorites versus the New York Knicks, the Bulls would have to win the game by four or more to win the bet.

Proposition Bet: Unconventional wagers on certain aspects of a game not dealing with the winner or loser are called proposition bets or props. These wagers are very creative and unique to the sportsbook offering them.

Prop bets can include anything from which team wins the coin toss to how many points a certain player scores.

Push: When a game ends with no winner or loser and all wagers are returned in full.

Underdog: The team or side of any wager the sportsbooks feel will ultimately lose. Underdogs get points on a Point Spread wager and have higher odds on a Moneyline wager.

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Key Sports Betting Factors

To say the least, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to sports betting.

To fully understand it, there are a few key factors to know off the bat:

The Juice: As mentioned, the juice is the price of admission. Since the sportsbook is taking all the wagers, they deserve a little something extra, don’t they? Well, that something extra is the Juice.

This is best explained via point spread wagers. Every point spread wager will payout at certain odds. These odds are usually, but not always, -110. Now, you see that 10? That’s the Juice. It’s 10 percent that will go to the house on all winning wagers.

The house, of course, keeps all of the losing wagers. Because the house is guaranteed this 10 percent on every point spread bet, they do their best to make sure equal money is on both sides of the wager.

This way, they can take all of the losing money and shortchange the winners. They are able to do this via line movement.

Line Movement: Once a point spread is set in a sportsbook, the wagers start coming in. If the money from these wagers starts to favor one side of this wager, the sportsbook is then exposed and at risk of losing on the wager just as if they were sports gambler.
So, to entice more money to the other side of the bet, they will move the line. What was once a -7 point spread, becomes a -6.5, then -6, then -5.5. Anything to get even money on both sides of the wager.

This way, they can collect their 10 percent Juice and move on to the next day of sports betting.

Sports to Wager

Before we dive into here, let it be known you are able to bet on any and every sport, league, match, or event anywhere in the world, depending on the sportsbook you use. If there is a sport that piques your interest, you’ll have no problem finding a sportsbook to take your action.

That said, here we will cover the unique aspects of the most popular sports in North America for betting


Leagues: NFL, NCAA, CFL, XFL, Arena Football League.

Wagers: Moneyline, Point Spread, Totals, Futures, Props, Parlays, Teasers, Pleasers.

Football is by far the most popular sport for wagering. Whether it is college or pro, football has a fanbase that is the envy of every other sport. Point spread wagers are very popular, but every wager is used when gambling on football.

Weekly lines are released Tuesday mornings, and the betting starts immediately. Because of this, the lines and odds tend to move quite a bit in that time before kickoff. Be sure you gather as much information (injury reports, weather) as possible before laying a bet.


Leagues: NBA, NCAA, WNBA, G League, ABA

Wagers: Moneyline, Point Spread, Totals, Futures, Props, Parlays, Teasers, Pleasers.

Basketball also enjoys plenty of popularity and has been rivaling football in recent years in the sportsbooks. There is not as much time between games as with football, so the lines don’t move as much with basketball.

Gathering intel is still at a premium, though, so research accordingly.


Leagues: MLB, NCAA

Wagers: Moneyline, Runline, Totals, Futures, Props

Baseball betting is actually much different than football or basketball. Look no further than the “runline” for proof. Baseball is a low scoring game, so point spread bets in the traditional sense are not available. In its place is the “Runline.”

The runline is similar to a point spread wager in that points are used to determine the winner. However, because of its low scoring nature, the runline is always 1.5.

Also, the runline does not even up the odds like a point spread. The runline can actually turn favorites into underdogs according to payout and vice versa.


Leagues: NHL, NCAA

Wagers: Moneyline, Puckline, Totals, Futures, Props

Just like baseball, hockey is another low scoring affair, so instead of a point spread or a runline, gamblers get a “puckline.” The puckline is just like the runline as it is always 1.5 and will turn the odds on their head.


Leagues: MLS, Premier League, NCAA

Wagers: Moneyline, Goalline, Totals, Futures, Props

If you think baseball and hockey are low-scoring, allow me to introduce you to soccer. Despite the low scoring nature of the game, soccer is the most popular sport in the world.

This may not be true in North America outside of Mexico, but worldwide, there is nothing like soccer fandom. An interesting wrinkle in soccer betting is the tie.

Many soccer matches will end in a tie, and, of course, you can wager accordingly. Moneyline options will include a winner of the match or a tied match, both at different odds.


Wagers: Moneyline, Totals, Props

The recent success of UFC has been well documented and is very impressive. Of course, it didn’t take long for the sportsbooks to notice as well.

When it comes to UFC/MMA/Boxing wagers, there are basically different versions of the moneyline, totals, and props. You can pick the winner of the bout. The winner of the round. How the fight was decided, such as TKO or Decision. You have many options.


Wagers: Moneyline, Props, Futures

If the UFC is the next big thing in sports gambling, then Esports is the future. Yes, there are professional video game players. Yes, there are professional video game teams. And, yes, there are professional video game leagues. Many of them actually and there is a whole generation of players and fans following along as if it was a pennant race in the 1950s.

It hasn’t taken long for sportsbooks to join the trend by offering wagers in this space, and you can now find Esports odds everywhere. These are pretty basic wagers as there are many leagues, teams, players, tournaments, and games to negotiate.

That said, we’ve seen moneyline-esque bets as well as props and futures in sportsbooks as of late. It is an interesting sport to wager on with plenty to research. Better be a gamer.

Horse Racing

Pardon the terrible pun, but betting on horse racing is a totally different animal than every other sport. There is nothing like a day at the track, and being successful gambling on horse racing takes a lot of time and experience.

Unfortunately, it is much too complicated to even scratch the surface here. Just know there are plenty of articles around the internet dedicated solely to playing the ponies, and that is where you should begin.

Published on: 2020/03/04