How Does Sports Betting Work?

How Does Sports Betting Work?

Welcome to our complete guide to online sports betting. We’re mostly about casinos, hence the name, but some of the gambling sites we recommend also offer real money sports betting, so we thought we’d cover that topic briefly here.

How Does Betting Work?

Sports betting offers opportunities to profit and lose money from wagering on the outcomes of various sports events. For example, you could bet on who will win a boxing match, which team will win the World Cup, or which athlete will come first in the 100 metre sprint at the Olympics.

Betting works by people making wagers on these and other such events. There are several ways to place sports bets these days:

Directly against friends and people you know. For example, you could offer a friend a wager of $100 that Tyson Fury beats Anthony Joshua in a fight.

On betting platforms such as the Betfair Exchange. These offer punters the opportunity to both take and sell odds. You can bet peer-to-peer against others in the betting markets. The exchange gets a cut of all action.

Through online betting sites. You can bet against bookmakers who set the odds on events. This is the most popular way to make bets online. However, be aware that the bookmaker sets the odds and always gives herself an advantage.

Sports betting works in all of these ways. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on placing bets with online betting sites. All of the examples we use from hereon in will be based on the notion that you’re placing wagers on online sportsbooks.

Understanding Betting Odds – A Beginner’s Guide

Betting odds can be expressed in three main formats: (i) American, (ii) decimal, (iii) fractional. We’ll begin by explaining how sports betting odds work in the American format, and then we’ll explain how this converts to the other formats.

American odds are expressed as a number with a + or – in front of it. For example, it could be that a given outcome has +500 or -500 odds. But, what do these numbers mean and how can you work out what you can win or lose based on them?

Let’s pretend that Tyson Fury is fighting the Bronze Bomb Deontay Wilder in a rematch. Now let’s say the bookmaker is giving odds of -200 for Fury to win. This would indicate that Fury is the favorite with an implied probability of 66.7% of winning. If you wagered $200 on this, you could win $100 back after your stake is returned.

American odds can go as far as +/- 10,000. However, once the +/- 5,000 line is crossed, we’re dealing with virtual certainties. Odds will fluctuate depending on the action in the market. For example, if more players bet on Fury to win, the odds will tilt to reflect this.

Sports betting odds also change within the match as events happen which change the outcomes. For example, if Wilder floors Fury, the odds will change rapidly as players pile into in-play/live bets.

American odds can be converted to fractional or decimal using an odds converter. American odds of +1,000 would look like 10/1 in fractional format and 11 in decimal format. Experienced sports bettors can do these calculations mentally, but there’s no need as lots of reliable and free odds converters are available online.

If you’re still unsure about the potential profits and losses, don’t worry, because most digital betting slips convert them for you automatically and will ask you to confirm you have understood the potential profits/losses before you confirm your bets.

Different Types of Sports Bets

There are lots of different types of sports bets you can make these days. We’ll cover the popular ones here. Remember that these are called different things in different betting markets. We have used the North American betting parlance here.

Win/Moneyline Bets – You bet on the outcome of various events with these bets. For example, if you simply bet that Tyson Fury will defeat Deontay Wilder, that’s a moneyline bet. Other examples would be who will win the Super Bowl or the World Cup.

Total/Over-Under Bets – With this type of bet, the betting site will give a total for a given event, e.g. the number of goals scored by a soccer team, and you’ll bet on whether you think the real total will come in over or under this amount.

Parlays/ACCAs – When you make multiple bet selections, you can place them as individual bets or combine them into one bet. Combining them makes them a parlay/ACCA. For example, you could pick six teams to win outright on game day for American Football. If all six teams win, your parlay bet comes good. The returns on these bets can be astronomical because it’s highly improbable you’ll win all the legs needed to cash out.

Props and Specials – Prop is short for proposition, and as such, prop bets can be on anything within a given match, fight, game, or race. A popular soccer prop bet is which team will score first. Some sportsbooks get really imaginative when it comes to props. This is especially true around big events like the Super Bowl, Olympics, or World Cup.

Live/In-Play Bets – These bets are placed within games, matches, fights, races, and other events. For example, a bet might pop up on whether a player will score a penalty kick or who will take a free kick. These bets open and close rapidly, so you’ll need to play on a betting site with a reliable app to be able to make them in a timely manner.

How to Place Bets Online

Now that you know more about betting online, we’ll talk you through the process of getting your first real money bets live. Even if you’ve never placed a wager before, this is all you need to do to get started.

  1. Select one of our real money sports betting sites from our list of approved sites. These have all been audited and verified safe and fair by our review team.
  2. Make a deposit and be sure to collect any free bets or other welcome bonuses you’re entitled to. If you do so, make sure to read the terms and conditions to be sure what events you can bet on.
  3. Navigate to the list of possible bets and make your picks. For example, bet on the outcome of a football match between the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys.
  4. When you’ve made your picks, they’ll appear on the digital bet slip. Enter the amount you want to wager on each pick.
  5. Your potential wins and losses will be calculated for you automatically. The only thing left to do is confirm your bets.

What to Look For in Top Betting Sites

Before you bet online, you’ll want to find the best possible betting site to place your wagers on. Here’s a list of the things we look for before recommending a betting website.

User Experience – There’s nothing worse than betting on a sportsbook that has a sucky user interface or app. Sticky menus, bet slips that require multiple verifications before the bets go live, and lame outlays can make the betting experience more stressful than it needs to be. We look for smooth, sleak, and user-friendly interfaces on both betting apps and websites.

Bonuses & Promos – You can see the various free bets and welcome bonuses at the top of this page. All new users are entitled to claim these. We also look for plenty of gratis bets and other bonuses around big events and matches. The top sports betting sites will always offer generous bonuses with fair terms and conditions.

Betting Markets – The depth of the betting markets and the types of bets the site supports is also a huge thing. This can make or break a site. For example, when you look at in-play soccer markets, some sites offer hundreds of wagers on about every proposition you can imagine, while others only offer a handful. As well as the betting markets, we look at the odds to make sure they’re competitive.

Extra Features – Small things can make a big difference. Betting websites that offer their own stats/analysis, commentary with special guests, VIP extras such as invitations to matches and games, and features like early cashouts or best odds guaranteed will always score better with our reviewers than those that don’t offer them.

Fair Policies – Of course, all of the rest is pointless if the site operator is dishonest, won’t pay your winnings, or has terms of use that don’t favor players. We won’t recommend sites such as this. We want to see fair odds, fast payouts, and fair terms of use.

Betting Online – Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it legal to bet on sports online in the USA?

Sports betting has been formally legalized in various U.S. states such as Nevada and New Jersey. It remains prohibited in the vast majority of states. However, betting itself is not illegal in most states, so American players just use offshore sportsbooks in the Caribbean and elsewhere to place their wagers.

Q. What is an early cashout? What does it mean?

Early cashouts are an innovative feature that have become commonplace in the last few years. You’ll be offered the chance to cash out wins or accept smaller losses before the event is finished. For example, if you bet on a fighter to win, and it looks like they have it in the bag after three or four rounds, the bookmaker might make you a tempting offer to take your winnings now. This gives you a guaranteed win in case things change, and limits the losses the betting site will incur.

Q. How do free bets work? What’s the catch?

Free bets are promo offers made by sports betting sites to attract new punters. Most of the time they require a deposit. For example, you deposit $20 and get a free bet worth the same. They always have terms and conditions such as the events and odds you can bet on. Make sure to read the small print before you accept any free bets online.

Q. What’s the best payment method to use when betting online?

There are pros and cons to all payment methods. We’ve reviewed many of them on this site. You need to account for what’s available in your country, fees, deposit and withdrawal limits, and many other factors. If you know how to use it, Bitcoin is always a great method. It has virtually no restrictions and is essentially online cash. You can use it privately from anywhere in the world.

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