In the past few years, sports betting has gone from being a fringe activity to one of the most popular pastimes in America. Its legalization has removed the stigma associated with gambling and opened up the market for millions of sports fans to place wagers without the risk of arrest or jail time. However, there are many things that bettors should keep in mind before placing a bet. Here are 12 of the most important ones.
1. Don’t Bet More Than You Can Afford to Lose
Betting on sports is fun, but it’s not a sure thing that you will win every bet. The best way to maximize your chances of winning is by limiting the amount you bet and by sticking to teams or markets that you are familiar with. This will help you avoid making bad decisions based on rumors or emotions. Additionally, it’s important to budget for your bets and treat them as entertainment, rather than an investment.
2. Understand How Odds Work
If you’re a newcomer to sports betting, odds can be confusing. They’re written in a different format across the board, but generally the plus and minus signs indicate who is the underdog and favorite, respectively. The size of the odds (e.g. +200 odds means you would need to bet $100 to win $200) determines how much you stand to win if you make a successful bet.
3. Research Teams and Markets Thoroughly
Whether you’re a fan of football, basketball, baseball, hockey, or golf, the sport or league you’re betting on will have an effect on the odds. This is why it’s important to understand the teams, leagues, and players involved in each game, and how they might perform against each other. Additionally, be sure to check out the ballparks where the games are being played. Factors like the number of home runs hit in a stadium with shorter outfield fences, and how wind blowing into or away from a field might affect throwing and batting performance, can have a huge impact on the outcome of a game.
4. Watch Out for Scandals
As sports betting has become more mainstream, so have scandals that have tarnished the integrity of sporting events. These include point shaving, spot-fixing (abetting on individual player action), and overall match-fixing (the entire result of an event is fixed). These types of activities are incredibly hard to police, but it’s important for bettors to be aware of them and take care not to place bets with money that they can’t afford to lose.
5. Learn About Prop Bets
In addition to standard bets on the game’s final score, there are also a variety of prop bets available for sports betting fans. These bets can cover anything from how many touchdown passes a certain quarterback will throw to which color of Gatorade will be used to douse the coach of the winning team. Prop bets are often offered at lower minimum bet sizes than standard bets, and they can have a big impact on the game’s total points total or winner.