Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

Gone are the days where it was only in Nevada you could gamble. Over the past few years, sports betting fever has swept across the country, driven by its legalization in several states. In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 ruling that made state-sponsored sports gambling illegal. This has caused a domino effect that gamblers have celebrated across the country. From the state’s side, the huge tax revenues are a juicy reward for legalization. This money is often used to drive positive change in other aspects of government.

Because of the ability to do so from home, online gambling has gained popularity across the country. New York has not taken this leap yet, though they have started by opening a few brick-and-mortar locations. Because of their inability to gamble online in their home state, New Yorkers often travel to place bets. New Jersey is a popular destination due to its location and legalization of online gambling.

Guide to sports betting basics

The stigma around sports betting is gone and professional leagues are starting to incorporate it into their product. Because of this, it’s important to understand how sports betting works. For every game, there are odds set, and these odds fluctuate in real-time much as you might see stocks move on wall street. These odds move as sportsbooks look to encourage equal betting on each side. There are plenty of different oddsmakers across the country and the odds are not always the same across different books. Your goal is to find odds that you think have been mispriced and then take advantage of that.

Sports betting odds explained

There are three main ways that odds are displayed, with the most common in the United States being “American Odds”. The way that American Odds work is that the favorite for the game is the outcome that the oddsmaker has determined to have a better chance of winning. They will have their odds shown with a minus sign (-) in front of a number. This number represents how much you would have to gamble to win $100, not including your original bet. So if a team had odds of -250, you would have to wager $250 to make $100 in winnings, which would be returned to you as $350. The underdog for the game is the outcome which the oddsmakers have determined to have the lesser chance of occurring. They will have their odds shown with a plus sign (+) in front of them. This represents how much you would make if you wagered $100, which would then return on top of your original bet. So if a team has odds of +200 and you bet $100 on them and they won, you would receive $300 which includes your original wager.

The other two common ways to display odds are “European Odds” and “British Odds”. European Odds are displayed in decimal format and the number represents how much you can win for every $1 wagered. Thus a $1 successful bet on European Odds of 2.25 would return $2.25, $1 as your original wager and $1.25 in winnings. British Odds are displayed as fractions and thus a wager of $1 on a contest with British Odds 2/1 would return $3, $2 in winnings, and $1 of your original stake.

Key sports betting terms to know

When first entering the world of sports betting there is a lot of jargon that can be difficult to understand but we’re here to help out.

  • Total and Over/Under: An over/under bet is one that predicts whether the combined points of both teams will go above or below the number listed by the sportsbook. That listed number is the total.
  • Point spread: The point spread is an equalizer that oddsmakers apply to teams, subtracting, or adding points to even the field. The favorite is the outcome that the oddsmakers believe will win, and the favored team will have a minus (-) listed next to their spread and they must win the game by at least that many points. The underdog is the outcome that the oddsmakers believe has the lesser chance of occurring, and that team will have a (+) listed next to their point spread and they must come within that many points for that bet to cash.
  • Parlay and teaser: A parlay is a type of bet which combines many wagers into one. The advantage of doing this is that the odds multiply together and it can lead to some large payouts. The disadvantage is the fact that if even one of those bets is a loser your entire parlay has lost. A teaser is like a parlay in the fact that it combines many bets into one, but in a teaser, you’re afforded extra points on the point spreads of your selections. This makes it more probable to win but lowers the potential return.
  • Sucker bet: A sucker bet is one where the odds are much worse than the probability of the event occurring. All odds inherently reflect a probability of an event and in some cases, oddsmakers will have the odds extremely set to favor themselves.
  • Pari-mutuel betting: Pari-mutuel betting is a type of wagering where anyone with a winning ticket splits the total amount bet in proportion to their amount wagered. Fees and taxes are taken out of the winning money pool. This is especially popular in horse racing.

What are betting syndicates?

Betting syndicates involve many people pooling together their money and resources in an attempt to make larger profits. Most of the time when this term is used it’s about large groups, but smaller groups of even two people can be referred to as a betting syndicate as well.

Fading the public & other sports betting systems

A betting system involves using a mathematical model or some other predictive measures in an attempt to find smart bets and turn a profit. These can involve altering bet sizes among many other things. Fading the public is a popular strategy involved in some of these systems which involves betting against popular public choices.

How sportsbooks make money

While it may seem as if you only need to win a touch over 50% of your bets to make a profit, sportsbooks add a fee known as “vigorish”. Also known as “the vig”, or a variety of other terms it is a house advantage placed into every bet. As a good example, many games will have odds listed at -110 on each side so whichever team you pick a bet $110 to win $100. Imagine that both sides were bet on completely evenly, after the game the oddsmaker takes $100 from all the losing bets and pays out the winners. They are left with $10 from every losing bet and that’s what is called the vigorish and how bookmakers make their money.

Can you make money betting on sports?

You may think of yourself as a sports connoisseur that’s ready to jump in headfirst and eager to make some cash. But did you know it’s generally accepted that less than 5% of sports gamblers will make money in the long run? Going up against the sportsbooks is tough work and they use some of the best statisticians in the world to help mitigate their risk. While you may only have $10 at stake, these companies have millions at stake. They need to be right as if they’re wrong a few times too many times they will go out of business.

If you made all your bets at -110 odds you would not need to win 50.1% of your bets to make money as many believe. Instead, you would need to win 52.4% of your bets to break even because of the vigorish. While that may not seem very hard, considering that the best professional gamblers have a win percentage under 60% over the long run. You can start to get an idea of how difficult it is. Also, consider that -110 odds are standard for NBA and NFL games.

The importance of bankroll management

When gambling it’s important to have a strong grasp of your money and be able to understand risk management. To begin, you should always have a set amount of money set aside for gambling, which is known as a bankroll. Because everybody’s bankroll is different bet sizing is often talked about in units. One unit would be your typical bet size, no matter if that equates to $1 or $10,000. This facilitates conversations between gamblers much easier as someone may say they’re gambling $50. Some people will take away that they’re confident with a bet that large, while others will think it’s a small bet depending on their bankroll.

It’s recommended that one unit be somewhere around one percent of your total bankroll. For wagers that you are more confident in, you could wager many units and for smaller plays, you could wager a part of one unit. Like how you would not want to put your life savings all into one stock, it’s not recommended to put large percentages of your bankroll into one wager. A loss would then be devastating. Slow and steady wins the race.

Emotions play a large role in everything we do in life and sports gambling is no different. Betting tends to invoke intense emotions. Whether it’s a feeling of invincibility while on a winning streak, or a feeling of despair after losing a few in a row. Learning to control them will make you a much stronger gambler. Chasing, a term used to describe when one makes consecutively larger bets in an attempt to regain losses, almost always ends badly. It usually only serves to dig gamblers into deeper holes. Sticking to a strict unit system will ensure that you have a better chance of profiting and making each dollar go further.

What sports can you bet on in New York?

In New York, you can only currently bet on most professional and collegiate sporting events. Wagers on pop culture events such as awards shows and elections are not yet legal in the state. One rule to note is that there is to be no gambling on any collegiate events that happen in the state of New York, or that involve any New York-based colleges. One of the larger reasons for this rule is that collegiate athletes are more prone to actions that could undermine the integrity of the athletic competition.

There is also no wagering on eSports allowed in the state of New York. These events have garnered plenty of attention in other states and countries for the high amount of money wagered on them. At the moment in New York, they are not a part of the sports gambling offerings at the brick-and-mortar casinos available.

Sports betting mistakes you need to avoid

For those that are ready to get started betting, here are five beginner mistakes that we have outlined that you can learn from and thus avoid:

  • Gambling with your heart: Every sports fan has a favorite team but when it comes to putting your hard-earned dollars on the line you must go with what your head says and not your heart. Overestimating the strength of your favorite teams and players will lead to gambling losses. It’s much better to try to keep a clear head and look at things from an outside point-of-view.
  • Too many parlays: Parlays are exciting and offer the largest potential return, but they offer these enormous returns for a reason. The reason is that the odds of actually winning one are so low. Any advantage that the sportsbook has over you is multiplied with every selection that you add to your bet, making them very hard to cash. Also, some sportsbooks charge more vigorish on parlays, taking a larger cut of your potential winnings.
  • Making a bet because the line “seems wrong”: Sometimes on a sportsbook, there will be a total that is much higher or lower than usual or a team that is favored by much more than the public expected them to be. Beginners often will bet on these lines that seem wrong but let it be known that these lines are priced very carefully and there are no mistakes. If a line seems very out of whack then it’s for a good reason and gamblers should proceed with caution.
  • Not keeping track of your sports gambling history: Another issue that beginner sports gamblers often run into is not knowing your history. Keeping track of how your bets have gone will let you see in which areas you have performed well and which ones you have not done well in. This allows you to hone your strategy and profit more.
  • Falling into the hands of fake sports handicappers: The sports gambling world has always had some of these fake experts but the internet has allowed them to multiply. It’s a bad idea to pay for gambling advice. A common red flag win percentages that are above 60%, as not even professionals reach those levels. Ask yourself why someone would give you their picks if they were making money with them?

Live betting at New York sportsbooks

The act of betting on a game in real-time is known as live betting. This has become popular across the country and it is legal to do in New York as long as you’re at one of the licensed locations. Live betting has seen a drastic rise in popularity as it’s a fun and exciting way to add some excitement to the games you’re watching.

It’s a great thing that sports betting has been legalized in the state of New York. Yet, the industry is still in its infancy and there’s a way to go before New Yorkers receive all the features and functions that are in other states. Offering online gambling is the sensible next step to take and it would allow for an explosion of gambling across the state. This would help people everywhere have a little more fun and allow the state to collect some pretty hefty paychecks.

If you’re planning to take the plunge into the world of legalized sports betting remember to keep your emotions intact. Make sure to read some of the sports betting tips outlined above as they will help you maximize your profits. With plenty of professional sports on the go all year-round, it’s another way to add a layer of excitement to the great world of sports.