Being the new guy in the office can sometimes be hard. You don’t know where the bathroom is, can’t find the coffee or vending machines, and your work seems to take you hours longer than your more experienced colleagues. Just like when you are in the office, being a sports betting rookie can be just as annoying. Thankfully, we’re here to take you under our wing, and show you the ropes. On this page, you’ll find all the sports betting tips you’ll need to begin your sports betting career—including some approaches for future betting lines. Finding the bathroom? That part is up to you.
Online Betting: Getting Started
So, you’re ready to begin. Now what? Well, luckily for you we’ve created a “roadmap” below. We answer the most frequent concerns bettors have as they begin. After reading each page you’ll be ready to choose your sportsbook, identify the best incentives and avoid the dreaded pitfalls. Let’s get started!
Picking a Sportsbook
Your first major decision regards where you will be doing your sports betting. Unfortunately, no matter how pleasing on the eye a site is, it really comes down to what is underneath that counts. By that we mean there are dozens of factors that come in to making a good match between sportsbook and bettor including reliability, betting odds, bonuses, loyalty programs, your betting experience, customer service, and more.
Our team of industry experts, professional handicappers, former Vegas sportsbook managers and professional reviewers have narrowed down the most important factors for choosing the right sportsbook to the list below.
While by no means the only factors that you will need to consider, they are some of the primary concerns that new and professional gamers always have. Always remember that online gaming can be fun, but never forget that you’re in it to make money.
Reputation in the online gaming industry is key. Differentiating between sportsbooks that will be around in the future and those who simply want you to give them money before they close can be the difference between a successful wagering career and a lost deposit. We have evaluated the leading list of sportsbooks based on client feedback and employee feedback for several years.
Industry insiders, such as those on our research team, know how a sportsbook treats its customers – if they go out of their way to pay quickly, if they’ll always have your back with good account management, if they answer their phones, etc. More importantly, they have let us know which sportsbooks to avoid and which may not be around this time next year.
Deposit and Payout Options
There are two times you don’t want to stress as a sports bettor: when you want to deposit before the big game, and when you want to take your winnings out. Reputable sportsbooks will offer members a variety of handy methods to fund and make withdrawals. When it comes to making a deposit, the preferred method is always credit cards.
While not a common option for taking money out, almost every sportsbook will offer credit cards as a way to get money in. Other common methods include person-to-person money transfers such as Western Union or MoneyGram, which is often the favorite method to receive a payout. Toss in other methods such as Moneybookers and e-wallets, and you’ve got flexibility when it comes to game day.
Bonus Offers and Promotions
When it comes time to promotions and bonuses, bigger isn’t always better. Bonuses carry terms and conditions that can make getting something “free” not free at all. Why? Every bonus features a rollover and max cashout.
A rollover is basically the number of times you must bet before you will be eligible to take any money out. For example, let's say you sign up with a website that's offering a 100 percent first-time deposit bonus, but it has a 15-times rollover. If you invest $100 to secure an extra $100, you will need to bet that bonus across 15 separate bets, for a total of $1,500, before you are allowed to withdraw it.
Resist the urge to use this bonus money in parlays. Yes, the potential return will be greater, but you still won't be able to cash out your winnings until you bet that initial $100 15 times. If you're really worried about turning that bonus into your own, consider putting that $100 on heavy-favorite moneylines in college football or college basketball. This plan isn't foolproof—not when you still need to place 15 bets. But there are fewer upsets of heavy-favorite moneylines in amateur sports than in professional leagues.
Managing Your Sports Betting Bankroll
Once you have chosen your sportsbook and made a deposit, choosing the right betting strategy can literally make or break your gambling career. While there is no perfect betting strategy, knowing how you like to wager will help protect, and grow, your funds from the minute you begin betting.
Let's get down to accounting. Believe it or not, account management is a big part of sports betting. It seems every year some website wise-guy says he has a “no lose” betting plan that can make you millions. There is no magic-pill strategy when it comes to gambling, but some of the tactics below should help preserve your precious betting bankroll.
Bet in Units
Unit betting is a mathematical way of managing your bankroll. Think of your betting bankroll as units. One percent of your balance is one unit; five percent of your balance is 5 units; and so on. By choosing this strategy, you are applying a set variable to a changing number (i.e. your balance).
If you say “I will always bet two units on Monday Night Football,” then you may bet different amounts. One week this may equate to $10; the next week you may bet the same two units, but this might mean you're wagering $20. The amount you bet is dictated by the size of your bankroll. This method helps you to ride out losing streaks, allowing you to continue betting for longer.
Flat Betting Strategy
Closely related to Unit betting is Flat Betting. You set your bet amounts for the season and that risk amount does not change, no matter what your account balance is.
Let’s say you decide to you will bet $10 on the spread in Week 1 of Monday Night Football. Then, Week 2 comes along and, following this same flat-betting strategy, you once again bet $10 on the point spread of that game. Your balance could be different or the point spread could pay out half of what it did week-over-week, but with a flat-betting strategy it doesn’t matter. The amount is the amount, no matter the odds.
Betting Systems: To Use or Not to Use
Unit and flat-betting strategies are two of the most common used approaches out there, but there are countless others. Some customers will go for “home runs” and use their entire balances to fund wild parlays.
The odds are stacked against those players, but sometimes the stars align and a player strikes it rich. Other players will use their balances to back heavy favorites. They won’t win large amounts, but the odds are in their favor. Find a system that suits your betting style, your available funds, your betting goals and how risk averse you are.
Chasing Lost Bets
While experts are split on the effectiveness of different betting strategies, almost every professional handicapper agrees that chasing lost bets is a terrible idea. Never heard the term? Say on Sunday morning you bet half your balance on an early NFL game. The game starts and after 10 minutes you’ve already lost, so you decide that you can’t lose the day and bet your balance on afternoon NFL games, even though you haven’t done any research and there aren’t any favorable odds.
You’ve just chased a lost bet. Successful betting requires patience and research on your part. Losses are part of gambling. If a bet loses, forget about it and move onto the next bet. But make sure that you are betting because you think you have an edge or the bookies have the odds set wrong. Don't go chasing those losses because you could end up going broke.
How to Pick Sportsbook Bonuses
Try walking into a Las Vegas casino and telling them you’ll give them $100, but in return you want $200 to bet with. Think it’ll work? Of course not! With online sportsbooks, you can make money before you even place your first bet thanks to the various bonuses they offer their customers.
One of the biggest perks of online gambling, sportsbook bonuses, give you money or free bets when you make a qualifying deposit. Almost every online sportsbook, including the ones on our list of recommended websites, offer them. On this page we’ve got all the information you need for selecting a winning sportsbook bonus, from the different bonus types, through to what you’ll need to look out for in the fine print.
Types of Sportsbook Bonuses
While no two bonuses are the same, they do carry similar terms and conditions. One of the biggest misconceptions among new online bettors is that you should look for the biggest, baddest, boldest sign-up bonus possible and jump on it. While this may work for some, it may be a big mistake for others.
- Sign-Up Bonuses: The most common bonus is a sign-up bonus for new customers. Ranging from 10 percent to 100 percent of the amount of your first deposit, sign-up bonuses are a great way to start your betting career!
- Match Bonuses: One of the most popular bonus options are match bonuses. Simply put, a match bonus matches your deposit amount with an equal amount in bonuses. So if you deposit $100, you’ll receive an extra $100 in your account.
- Deposit Bonuses: As the name suggests, a deposit bonus is a bonus tied to a deposit to your sportsbook account. While some sportsbooks offer different deposit bonuses depending upon the deposit method used (credit card, wire transfer, etc.) all will require proof of a successful financial transaction before you receive the bonus credit.
- Reload Bonuses: Just like the name implies, a reload bonus is credited to your sportsbook account once you have made at least one deposit prior to this one. Reloading (or refilling) your account proves to a sportsbook that you are not just testing the waters and are here to stay, and that you have a history of successful financial transactions.
- Free-Bet Bonuses: Considered one of the least risky bonuses for a sportsbook, a free-bet bonus is not a bonus amount credited to your account, but rather a risk-free wager. If you win, you get to keep the cash (depending upon the terms, of course). If your bet loses, it doesn't matter because the bet was free anyway. Some sites will ask you to make a bet with your own money first, and if it loses they refund your account with cash or a free bet of the same value.
- No-Deposit Bonuses: By far the rarest of sportsbook bonuses, no deposit bonuses are usually offered when you are a customer a sportsbook wants back badly. How badly? They offer you free cash to play without the need to fund your account. Be careful, however. No-deposit bonuses can carry heavy terms.
Terms & Conditions: Read the Fine Print
We always suggest that before you take a bonus, or make a deposit, you read the fine print. Each website is required to say exactly what the terms and conditions are of any bonus. The main caveats that you, as a bettor, may encounter are rollover, hold and max release.
Rollover deserves its own section, but the term “hold” means that you may encounter a time restriction before you can withdraw either your winnings or any of your balance, while max release means the sportsbook may put a “cap” on your winnings, limiting it to a certain amount. While not universal, always compare these conditions before joining a sportsbook.
One of most misunderstood bonus conditions is the rollover. They have caused more angry online gamblers than any other attached string. Why? Because some customers neglect to read about the rollover requirements before they take a bonus.
A Rollover means you have to bet your deposit and/or bonus amount a certain number of times before you are entitled to receive any winnings or be able to withdraw your money. Think of it as their way of minimizing risk and ensuring that unscrupulous bettors are not taking advantage of the site's bonuses.
While rollover requirements do vary, expect at least a five to 10 times rollover in most cases. Not all books are equal, so make sure to read that “Bonus Terms” section carefully.
Why the Maximum Bonus Amount Matters
One of the principal considerations when taking a bonus is the “max amount” declaration. While not explicitly tied to percentage, it does place a ceiling on the amount you can receive.
Say you deposit $1,000 and take a 100% bonus. This means you get an extra $1,000! Well, just say that the sportsbook imposes a max bonus amount of $500. This means that for your $1,000 bonus, you only receive $500 free!
Now, we’re no math experts but that doesn’t seem like 100% to us. For this reason, we always advise maximizing your return by never depositing above a max bonus amount—not for your first transaction anyway. For the above situation, with that $500 ceiling, any deposit worth more than $500 is just a wasted opportunity to make more cash.
Comparing Sports Betting Odds
In online sports betting there are lines “leaders” and “followers”. The actual nuts and bolts of a sportsbook are the betting odds a site offers its clients. All major online sportsbooks will offer many bet types, ranging from Straight wagers to exotics and futures. Learning to master different betting types and taking advantage of favorable odds can be the difference between winning money and losing money.
Depending upon the event, there could be dozens of potential wagers to make, but if you don’t understand what you’re betting on, or how to take advantage of a favorable line, you might as well be handing your money over the bookmaker.
How To Compare
In the world of online sports betting odds, there are leaders and there are followers. Certain sportsbooks post their odds based on their own formulas and research, just like the master Las Vegas oddsmakers.
However, some sportsbooks follow those books who post their own odds, and adjust them based on the action they receive. Regardless of the differences between how sportsbook set their odds, the odds work the same way on every site.
Moneyline vs Pointspread
By far the two most popular wager types, moneylines and point spreads, are closely related. A monely wager is a bet on who will win any given event, while a point spread wager is a bet on the margin of victory. Say there is a game featuring Team A and Team B. If you make a moneyline wager on Team A, you are saying “I think Team A will win."
But if you see that point spread of this same game is Team A +/- “X points”, you are betting that Team A will either win or lose by at least X points. Since a Point Spread is harder to predict, the payouts for Point Spreads are usually higher than Moneylines—unless you're betting on the underdog.
The third wheel of straight-wager betting types, over/under wagers (or “totals”), doesn't involve who wins a game. Instead, they are concerned with the points put on the board. There are two possibilities. Game/event totals or team/player totals. When you choose an over/under, you are wagering on whether the entire number of points for the game will be more or less the number the bookmaker predicts.
For example, if you choose a game to go “over” 50 points, and the final score is 33-20 (33 + 20 = 53), you win this wager. If the final score is 33-10 (33+10 = 43), then you lose. Similarly, if you choose a team total, you are saying “Team X will score at least this many points."
Parlays are the riskiest bet you can make as you need several results to go your way. They are also the most potentially profitable. By choosing a parlay you pick a combination of straight wagers together as one bet. Instead of betting on one moneyline/point spread or over/under, you add many together.
Now since winning one wager is tough, winning many together is even harder. For this reason, Parlays are harder to win, and the more events you add to one lowers your chances of winning.
At most major Sportsbooks, you can make a parlay span between two to 17 events. Most will offer a parlay payout board so you can see how much you’ll win as the events pile up. If you have a good feeling about several events, parlays could be your ticket to a big payday.
Futures betting is the most popular form of sports gambling when it comes to wagering on a player or team just before the start of the season. These bets can of course be made during the season, but most like to get in their futures transactions at the beginning of the year. That's when it's easiest to spot lucrative opportunities. It's also the time when even the heaviest favorites will lay their most bettor-friendly odds.
When tackling futures, you're gambling on the outcome of an event that hasn't happened yet. Most of these wagers come in the form of division, conference and championship odds. Will Team X win the championship this year? Will Team Y win Conference Z? And so on and so forth.
Other futures are usually an extension of the over/under. You're betting on a team's total number of wins. Let's say an NFL squad enters the upcoming season with a win-total over/under of 9.5. If you bet the over, you are banking on them winning 10 or more games. If you bet the under, you're saying they will win no more than nine games that season.
Future bets can also sometimes be made in the form of prop wagers. These can vary from which NFL player will win this year's MVP, to the over/under total on how many yards Quarterback Y will throw for during the regular season. Not as many sportsbooks offer these types of futures, but they are out there—particularly when it comes to looking at major year-end awards.
The appeal on futures is, without question, the possible payout. Because you're trying to predict something so far off into the distance, sportsbooks are going to give you a higher return. It is not uncommon to see league-championship favorites offer a payout of +300 or greater, depending on the sport.
This all sounds great—and it is. But you have to remember that there is real difficulty involved. You're not just picking the winner of a game that has two participants. On the championship-betting front specifically, you're often dealing with a pool that includes dozens of candidates.
That's why it is so important not to be seduced by the raw odds. It's great if a team is paying out +15,000 to win the next championship. It also probably means they have little to no shot of winning said title. So make sure you're doing your research before funneling any chunk of your bankroll into futures wagers.
For the record, we highly recommend not placing large amounts on one team. If you want to divvy up championship bets across a handful of teams at smaller sums to increase your chances of success, that's perfectly fine. But in the futures game, putting all your eggs in one basket is a great way to end the season empty-handed and immensely disappointed.
Pleasers vs Teasers
Pleasers and Teasers are exciting options for sports bettors, if you’re lucky enough to wager at a sportsbook that offers this bet type. A “please” is a point spread parlay where you change the odds in the House’s favor, in return for a bigger potential winning amount. Basically, you are making your wager riskier, and as a trade the House will give you more if you should win.
A “teaser” is the exact opposite: a point spread parlay where you get better odds of winning, but also will receive less money if you win. While not as common as the above methods, pleasers and teasers can be a lifesaver if you are looking to change the point spread.
Drinking and Betting
Drinking while betting is a common mistake amongst sports gamblers, and doing so can be a disastrous decision. Online gambling can be a thrilling endeavor; putting up your money on the chance of doubling, tripling or even quadrupling it is risky. That risk creates the release of adrenaline. Essentially, betting amps you up, and if you’ve previously had a big win, then the excitement usually increases.
You may be thinking "What better way to enjoy that feeling of euphoria than with a few cocktails?", or conversely, "What better way to steady the nerves while I wait for the results of the final game of that 14-team parlay?" But you should avoid drinking and betting.
Bet Before You Party
It is a Friday night, and you’re getting ready to have yourself a little party. You’ve got your drinks, you’ve got your iPad, and you’ve got the recipe for one heck of a losing streak. We asked our team of former industry employees what the number one regret big players had when it came to betting on sports, and they agreed that betting after drinking was what they would hear time and time again.
Whether it’s a matter of forgetting to place a wager then making up for it by making too many bets, or whether it’s just acting on a whim and deciding “You know what, I like that Dallas Quarterback, he’s got a funny name, bet it all!” our experts agreed that if you’re going to drink alcohol and place some bets, make sure you handle the sportsbook business part first.
Medical studies have shown that one of the first things affected when you drink is the judgment part of your brain—the one that prevents you from making stupid decisions, such as jumping over that fence, or making that 14-team parlay with your total sportsbook balance.
Add in the effect of memory loss and you’ve got a potentially damaging combination. Do yourself a favor: Even if you don’t get your wager in before the big game, there will always be something else to bet on. Take a couple of asprin, eat a piece of toast and sleep it off. Your account balance will thank you in the morning.
Live Betting: Especially Bad When Drinking
Live Betting is a platform offered by most major sportsbooks whereby you wager on an event as it takes place; odds change in real time depending upon the action. While the options vary per book, the risk you undertake by live betting while drunk remains the same. Smart bettors know to do their research before betting on a game.
As the game progresses, a sharp eye can spot trends or developments and then capitalize on a favorable line. Unfortunately, when you’re drunk your mind works a lot slower, and sometimes you don't see the full picture. This means your ability to predict trends or react quickly to a live wager substantially diminishes.
You are therefore more likely to miss a good bet or lock in a bad bet that goes off the board before you even realize what has happened. Live betting requires your full brainpower, so stay away from mind-numbing drinks before you dive into this field.Related articles