A Beginners Guide To Online Sports Betting

Quick — what makes your heart pound faster: The thought of making bucks on the big game or the possibility of catching a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple? If it’s the cold, hard cash that gets you going, you may be ready to join the massive ranks of fans who bet on Super Bowl Sunday.

Every year, the Super Bowl brings excitement for many reasons: The much-hyped commercials — who could forget the Budweiser bullfrogs or Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi ad? — the sometimes-controversial halftime show — from Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen, U2 to Nipplegate — and the online sports betting. More than 110 million fans tune in every year, making the Super Bowl the second-most-watched sporting event in the world — and creating a major buildup of hype in the gambling world.

Every Super Bowl Sunday, more than 100 million people place billions of dollars in bets. Most of these are placed through online sports betting sites.

If you’re considering placing your first online bet, whether on the big game or another sporting event, learn the basics first.

You’ll place your bet at a sportsbook, or betting parlor. Online sportsbooks tend to cost less.

The main object of online sports betting is to beat the odds-maker. Gambling or Vegas odds are often expressed in terms such as odds of 3 to 1 — or three chances to win vs. one chance to lose — or chances of 3 in 4 — or three chances to win out of four total chances.

Though there are many different variations and configurations of sports bets, basic types include:

  • Straight
  • Money Line
  • Over/Under Totals (O/U)
  • Parlay

In a straight bet, one team — the favorite — is favored over the other — the underdog. Underdogs are indicated by a plus sign and favorites by a minus sign.

In order for you make money on your wager, your team must win — or lose, if you bet on the underdog — by more than a certain number of points, or the point spread. If your team wins or loses by the exact point spread, it’s a push and you get your wager back. If your team wins or loses for less than the point spread, your wager is gone.

To win a money line bet, your team just has to win the game. Odds-makers determine a favorite and an underdog; the amount you bet and win is set by these odds. For instance, if Dallas is favored at -150 and Miami is the underdog at +120, the odds would be 10:15 for Dallas and 12:10 for Miami. You’d pay $150 to bet on Dallas and win $100. If you bet on Miami, you’d pay $100 to win $120.

In an O/U bet, odds-makers set a total; you bet that the combined score of both teams will be over or under that total. In most O/U bets, you must wager $1.10 in order to win $1. For instance, you’d bet $110 on OVER in the Dallas/Miami game, in which the odds-maker set a total of 40. If the teams’ combined total score was 50, you’d win $100. If the total was 40, you’d get your wager back — a “no action” result. If the total was 30, you lose your wager.

Parlay bets can lead to bigger payouts — and more risk. Parleys let you choose up to 10 teams and wager on the results of all their games. Bets can be straight, money line or O/U. For you to win your wager, all teams must win their games; if even one team loses or the point spread isn’t covered, you’ll lose your entire wager.

Though there’s no magic bullet to help you win every time, several strategies may help:

  • Only bet with a “bankroll,” or set-aside money you can afford to lose
  • Limit single bets to 2-5% of your bankroll
  • Don’t follow losses with bigger wagers in an attempt to make up the difference
  • Only bet while sober 😉
  • Don’t just go with your gut — research statistics, trends and past games before placing bets

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