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Sports Betting Explained: How To Bet on Sports In 2024

19.04.2024, 13:18

Sports betting is one of the hardest hobbies to get into, despite the industry's successful efforts to make it more accessible and popular. No wonder - there are so many aspects to betting on sports as there are sports disciplines themselves (actually, there are more). In this article, we aim to explain the basics.

TIPS.GG Sports Betting Guide

Risking money to turn a profit is the simplest way of explaining sports bets. But sports fans know that it's not simply a chance and dumb luck—using online sportsbooks is an endlessly deep skill. There's a lot to take in: different sports disciplines and their rules, which online sportsbooks are good or bad, which betting markets are best, what sports betting odds are, and how they change. We'll be answering these questions below!

What is a Bookmaker?

Sports betting is a planet-wide hobby with billions of participants. No wonder it needs something more sophisticated to run all the bets than a simple bet between friends. Bookmakers are organizations that provide all these bet opportunities. In the case of the simplest bet on the football match winner, bookmakers provide the betting odds of each outcome. Punters’ winnings depend solely on these bookmaker odds.

Understanding Bookmaker Odds

As with every event, every outcome has a probability of happening. The best way to demonstrate it is with a coin toss - yes, it is very beaten down and overused, but still, also very effective.

Bookmaker Odds

Imagine a coin toss - a 50/50 chance, or 2.0/2.0, if represented in the decimal odds system. If two bettors bet $100 on each outcome, then, regardless of what turns up, the bookmaker will have to pay the winner $200. That's the simplest way of imagining bookmaker odds with moneyline bets.

But, if that's the case, how can bookmakers turn any profit? After all, they're not a charity - quite the opposite! Sports betting bookmakers are massive businesses that grow in revenue by orders of magnitude every year. There are server fees (or other organizational fees) to pay, analysts to employ, and sports teams to sponsor. How do they get the money?

What is a Bookmaker Margin?

Since sports bettors don't pay any fees when placing bets, bookmakers use another system. If we take the odds on that coin toss from before and take a bit from the top to make it into something like this: 1.9/1.9, we get the actual odds bookmakers post. Now, each of the bettors would take back just $180 in case of a winning bet. These $20 that are missing are what's called the "bookmaker margin," "vigorish," "wig," or "juice," depending on your regional slang.

This is what people mean when they say that the odds are always in the bookmaker's favor.

The absence of a bookmaker margin is called a "fair market". Practically, this seldom happens, but sometimes bookmakers tend to spice up public interest around certain important events or matches by lowering or outright removing the margin.

The Most Important Part Of Sports Betting

The first reaction to discovering bookmaker margins is deciding to find the betting platform with the lowest vig. While it is indeed a very important factor when choosing an online sportsbook or other sports betting options, it's by far not the only one! Betting sites need all of these:

  • competitive odds;
  • solid reputation and safety;
  • lots of bet types and covered sports;

Let's start our bet guide with, by far, the most important thing when picking a bookie - its reputation and security.

Bookmaker License

The best way to understand sports betting bookmakers' reliability is by looking at their licenses.

If a sports betting site has no license, obscures its number, or makes it hard to find on its website - that's a massive red flag! If so, immediately close their website and don't look back!

Malta Gaming Authority

Malta Gaming Authority is one of the leading gambling regulators.

In case we find an active and correct license number on a sports betting site, it's still too early to celebrate - not all licenses are created equal, and some are better than others. Let's briefly talk about the top three most common licenses we can spot when trying to begin our sports betting journey.

Curacao eGaming License Malta Gaming Authority License United Kingdom Gambling Commission License
This is the most common license among online sportsbooks. Usually, we see these on up-and-coming projects since it's perhaps the easiest and the cheapest license to get. That doesn't mean that it's only used by new and unknown operators - some popular and reputable sports betting sites like Stake use it, as well. Still, it's best to err on the side of caution when trying to make sports betting work with Curacao-licensed bookies. Additionally, although the Curacao license has a decent regional reach, many countries with heavily regulated online wagering industries deem it unsatisfactory. This license is widely respected in the sports betting world. Sports bet sites that hold it are sure to be adequately regulated and safe to use. Additionally, this license opens the door to a big portion of European countries, unlike the Curacao license. Massive names like GG.BET (if you're a sports fan, you've definitely heard of it by now) and William Hill are holders of an MGA license. This is the pinnacle of all gambling licenses. After all, Brits are known for their love of sports betting, so it makes sense they'd be on the top of it. The United Kingdom license ensures the fairest betting experience on the market with customer-favorable regulations and practices, and massive regional reach. A bookie that holds such a license can operate pretty much everywhere where sports betting itself is allowed. Massive names such as Bet365, BetUK, vbet, and Betfair are great examples of bookmakers with a UK GC license.

Discover Different Types Of Sports Betting Markets

When we know where we'll be betting, now we need to know what bets are! There are way more ways to bet on sports than a simple "bet on match winner". But, if that's all you need, there's nothing wrong with that, either.

Moneyline Bets

This is the simplest bet we just mentioned. The moneyline bet is wagering on a single outcome, usually win, loss, or draw (in sports that allow it). It's most common among beginners thanks to its simplicity, but experienced bettors bet on Moneyline all the time, too. There's still a lot to it - so even though it's the simplest form of betting, many inexperienced bettors make mistakes betting moneyline.

Two-Way Moneyline

Sports where ties are either rare (like American football) or impossible (most esports titles) use two-way moneyline. It's basically as easy for sports bettors here as it gets.

Three-Way Moneyline

But in some sports, like soccer betting, draws are extremely common. As the name explains, there's a triple choice when betting this Moneyline - home win, away win, draw. If a bettor wagers on the home team in three-way and the game ends in a draw, the bet loses.

Double Chance

However, most bookmakers have a more beginner-friendly version of it: double-chance, where your bet wins even in case of a draw. If you're just learning to bet on sports, double chance (or 1x2) is the recommended bet type - but be aware that betting odds will be lower in this case.

Draw No Bet

This bet type is extremely similar to Double Chance, except instead of having reduced odds, punters' bets are instead simply refunded in case of a draw. It's as if they never happened!

Spread Bets

A spread bet is an umbrella term that encapsulates any kind of accuracy-based betting, as opposed to the simple binary "win-or-lose" betting we just discussed with Moneyline. You might be more familiar with it as the handicap betting market, although it is just one of the forms of spread bets where the point spreads are created to correct the skill disparity between the favourite and the underdog.

For instance, a Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal FC has odds of 14.72/7.54/1.18 in a three-way moneyline on Bitsler. The winning chance is so low in this case that almost no punter would dare bet on Sheffield United or even draw. With spread bets, bookmakers bridge this skill gap, bringing more interest and potential profit to the match.

Over/Under Bets

Its name is self-explanatory - when betting on over/under, bettors are trying to predict if the final score will go over or under an arbitrary point selected by the sportsbook. The most common way of over/under betting is Totals (guessing combined points scored by each team), to the point where most people consider these two to be synonyms - although they're technically different.

Proposition Bets

With prop bets, you're allowed to go crazy. The most common type of proposition bet is betting on an individual player's performance, but sometimes, this betting market has punters wager on aspects that don't even influence the game's outcome. A prop bet can even look like the number of yellow cards during a game or something even sillier.

In-Play Betting

In-play, or live betting, is an interesting way to place bets since, unlike the traditional ways of betting, which are pre-match, live betting is real-time. Instead of closing down betting on the match when it begins, betting sites post up different betting opportunities during the match.

Parlay Bets/Accumulator Bets/Multiple Bets

Parlay bets are a fancy name for two or more bets combined into a single wager. They are also called accumulator bets or multis, depending on the region of the sportsbook you're using. Their catch is they all need to be winning to win the sports wager. While it is harder, the odds are all multiplied together, massively increasing the payout.

A common example of a parlay bet is betting on multiple games within a single event. However, in recent years, same-game parlay bets have become available on many bookies.

Getting Better At Sports Betting

After familiarizing yourself with the basics, don't stagnate! Sports betting is a massive hobby, and not even the best punters in the world can say they've fully mastered it. Many more factors come into sports betting.

Differences In Sports Betting Disciplines

Being good at understanding the sports discipline you'd like to bet on is a no-brainer when it comes to increasing bet accuracy. Besides that, different sports disciplines might have different betting markets - just like we've discussed before in the Moneylines section. We're not saying that you should be a professional jockey when betting on horse racing (although that would undoubtedly help), but a strong grasp of the sport, its terminology, and rules is a must for accurate sports betting.

Favorites vs. Underdogs Betting

These two concepts are everywhere in sports, but they're even more important in sports betting. In the context of sports betting, the underdog is the team facing longer odds, and the favorite is a team with shorter odds. The underdog is less likely to win, and the favorite is more likely to win - in the eyes of a bookmaker, at least. It's key to remember that sometimes sports analysts can make mistakes, too - the odds are, in fact, not perfect mathematical representations of match outcomes. Since bets on underdogs net much higher winnings, those who do their homework can turn a massive profit.

Manage Budget Better

Knowing your limits is the key aspect of learning how to bet on sports. Since wagering is inherently risky, you can sometimes win and lose money with bet losses. Blowing through an entire bankroll in one day is not a great experience, so it's best to learn about budgeting concepts such as betting units, line shopping, and advanced betting strategies. Avoid chasing losses at all costs, and keep records of your betting journey to stay on track.

Monitor The News

Always stay on top of all the sports news! Whether it's about the football matches you've missed, roster changes, or historical statistics, it's important to absorb as much information as possible since past performances affect your future bets.

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