Sports Betting 101

sports betting

Sports and gambling have long been linked, but until fairly recently the intersection of those two activities was limited to a small number of states. Today, sports betting is far more accessible, thanks to myriad online and mobile options and a Supreme Court decision that allowed legalization nationwide in 2018.

There are numerous ways to bet on sports, but the most common is against the spread. Bettor chooses a team or individual to win and then wagers on whether that team will win by more points than a certain number, commonly called the “spread.” It’s important to remember that sportsbooks have an edge over bettors through the “vig,” which is essentially a commission for taking your money. That’s why the most successful “experts” only win about 52.4% of their bets – and even then, they’re losing some money most of the time.

Another way to bet is on a total, which refers to the combined score of a game or other event. This can include team points, goals, rebounds, wins, saves, birdies, rounds and aces, depending on the sport. A bettor can bet over or under the sportsbook’s listed total.

Regardless of what bet type you’re making, the first step is to establish a bankroll, which is an amount that you’re willing to invest in any given contest. It’s also important to make your bets with a clear head, as emotions can sometimes cloud your best judgments. You should also avoid chasing your losses with more bets, which is known as going on tilt.