There are a lot more methods available than just betting on who will win or lose a game; you can also predict how much a team will win or lose by and whether it will be more or less than the number the odds-makers give you. This is called the spread. In a game, the odds-makers will give a number that the favorite has to win by to cover the spread. Inversely, the underdog would win the bet by not losing by more than that amount. So in a game of A vs B, if the spread is 7, and the final score is A wins 59-51, A has covered the spread. And a bet on A against the spread would be a winner. A bet on B against the spread has lost if this is the final score. If the final score was A wins 59-54, though A has won the game in real life, a bet on A against the spread (which was 7 in this case or A -7) has lost because they did not win by 7 or more points. A bet on B against the spread has won, despite their losing the game because you had an additional 7 points. So betting a team plus or minus the points is called betting against the spread and betting on a team to win the actually game with no point spread is called betting the moneyline.
You can also bet on the combined or individual teams’ scores from a game and whether they will go over or under a certain number. These are called totals. If they are for one specific team and not the other, then they are team totals. So if the final score is 59-54, the final total is 113. If they gave you a total of 105 and you bet on the over, you won. If a team is good at offense or bad at defense, this should often raise the total. If a team is bad at offense and/or good at defense, this should lower it. If both teams are good at offense and bad at defense, these should raise it. Though the teams’ abilities to score or prevent scoring are already factored into the total or number they give you to predict over or under, there are sometimes factors beyond what they have given you that you can apply or use to take a side in predicting what the score will look like at the end of the game. The odds-makers have so many games and sports to attend to that there often are inefficiencies in some markets even beyond the fact that a lot of times totals, props and spreads are heavily influenced by teams’ averages.
A great way to bet on sports is called a prop bet. This is where you make a wager on a specialized or focused outcome within the game. Proposition bets can involve the whole team, both teams or just a single player. You can bet on a team to make over or under a given number of field goals or for both teams combined to do so or for a specific player to score over or under a given number of points. With prop bets, the upper limit on how much you can bet is often much lower than how much you can bet on a spread, total or game winner, likely because you can get a huge edge by knowing a little bit of information instead of a small edge by knowing a lot of information. The number they give you for which you can bet over or under on a player prop bet is usually base on and very close to the player’s season average. If you know of some abnormality of either why the season average is so low or higher or why they should likely out-perform that season average that night, that is your advantage. Often, when there are factors like this, the odds-makers will still leave the number close to the season average but just adjust the payout odds so the same thing applies for all wagers with determining what a good bet is. This is comparing and contrasting your perceived true odds of an event occurring to the implied percent chance or given odds of the event occurring.
Another betting method that may interest some of the more patient people out there is called a future bet. You can place a bet on who will win a league or a division and the earlier you make this bet before it becomes apparent that they will succeed at this, the more it will pay. Sometimes outlandish odds are offered on some teams or players to entice action on them because there’s such a low chance of them actually accomplishing this goal, it’s almost like free money for them. But if they give odds that imply that they have a 5% chance to win and you think they actually have a 15% chance to win, even though you expect them to lose and expect them to do so in this situation 85/100 times, it is still a good bet because your true or perceived odds are higher than the given odds.
One very interesting way to bet sports is via live bets. These sometimes offer the best chance to hedge your bet. You can, in a lot of places, bet on games that are already in progress with live and constantly updating odds. If a team was suppose to, according to the spread, win by 10 points but now in the middle of the game are losing by 10 points, the new spread given during the game might be for that original 10-point favorite to win by 1 point or to not lose by more than 3 points or whatever else they want to offer. So if you bet an underdog that is a 2 to 1 underdog (a +200) but during the game, that underdog takes a bit of a lead and now the new live odds are the other team that they’re playing against +200, you can buy out of your original bet and guarantee a profit. Some people advise against doing this too often because you’re going to lose one side of your bet in this and other scenarios so if you would’ve just bet on the winning side (though you don’t know which side that will be when you bet on it) then you get everything that wins without having to subtract whatever you bet on the other side. If you are in the US, then most sites other than 5dimes will have very very limited live bet options but if you’re not then there are many sites available where you can bet this way.
In the same spirit as this hedging method, some people like to find sports betting arbitrage opportunities. This is where you find different sports books offering different odds on the same event at the same time and use it to bet both ways on each, thereby guaranteeing a small profit no matter who wins. It is often not truly a guarantee only because most online gambling establishments have rules preventing professional moves like this and they will either stop taking your action completely or limit your bet size. Some of these books don’t even honor such a bet when they know they were offering odds that day that were different or softer than the rest of the industry. If this was the only bet you placed at this book in months or ever, they have good reason to believe you are not a recreational bettor but a professional and can on occasion take this type of action. If you feel you are treated unfairly or stolen from or this is not explicitly against the rules there, you can contact an online gambling watchdog site to help recover your money. Even if you are successful at this, they will usually still keep you at a small limit or close your account. Another way it is not a true guarantee is if the odds change in the time between you placing one bet on one site and placing the other on the other site.
A very risky and often ill-advised betting method that is, to a lot of people: the most fun, is called parlaying. A parlay, or accumulator as it’s known in England and some other places, is when you bet on multiple events or games all within the same bets and they all have to win for your bet to win. It is actually the same as just betting one game then putting all your winnings and original state on the second game, then putting everything you get back on the third game etc. A smarter way to bet simultaneous games with the same original stake is to do a rolling IF-bet. With these you can place your original bet on a game, then put another game behind it as a rolling if-bet. That way instead of being forced to put everything on the second game as you would be in a 2-team parlay, you can put whatever portion of the first bet you want on the second game up to 100% which would be the exact same as doing a parlay. Then in some sportsbooks, you can place a third rolling-if bet behind that second bet and so-on as many times as you want for whatever portion of the previous bet’s returns you want to risk each time. The reason why a parlay is so difficult or ill-advised is that it is much more difficult for all the events you select to go the way you predict than for each of them do do so individually. Counter-intuitively, if you have 3 predictions that you accurately judge to have a 75% chance of occurring, the chances of them all going your way is far less than 75%. The real odds of all 3 hitting is .75*.75*.75 or 0.422 (about 42%.) Technically it can still be a good bet if the parlay pays better than the odds of a bet with an implied odds of 42% but it is difficult to judge and far more difficult than just hitting some of your bets or more (instead of needing them all, all the time.) . One very cool and fun way to bet parlays is to bet an open parlay where you pick 1 or more games and how many empty spots you want then over time you fill in other games. It is bad because the chances of all those picks or predictions winning is very slim but it is good because if by chance you can compound 100% of the winnings of each pick onto the next, the prospective or possible returns add up very fast. The hard part is not having one or more loss and that is very hard.
One other fun and newish way people are betting sports is called daily fantasy sports or DFS. This is not offered by traditional sports books most of the times and is usually found on their own individual DFS website. This is basically where you make a fantasy team or a team of players from a given sport comprised of real life players on various teams. Then your team that you created accrues points based on their performances within the game for just that day or weekend or whatever length of time the game covers. This is difficult for the same reasons a parlay is, that when you’re forced to make so many predictions, it’s easy for 1 or more of them to go wrong. But it’s also fun for the same reasons a parlay is, that you can make a lot of money from just a very small amount of money. The information for who is starting that day for an injured player or who should be getting extra minutes or who has a favorable defensive match-up is so prevalent these days, that many people who you are playing against also know these things and it is difficult to make a team that is better than everyone elses’ without making a lot of teams that cover various possible scenarios. But there are tools and methods to knowing which players will excel and it is an extremely fun game to play. It is very difficult to gauge an edge in these games so it is difficult to know how much you should bet if at all, but you should always practice good bankroll management and caution in any gambling endeavor that you decide to take on.
It is better to stick to the bet types with which you don’t have merely a 2 or 3 or 5% low chance to win, even if the payout is higher than what it should be for those chances because you usually need to play the game a lot of times before some profit is realized and this could be very frustrating. If you can find the balance of what is profitable and what is fun for you as an individual, you will likely have a much better time in the long run, playing these types of games.