US Legal Sites
reviewed by experts

How to Bet on Sports

Sports betting strategy is essential if you want to improve your long-term profits. You can now legally bet on hundreds of sports and markets in the US. But without a few tips and hints, you could be throwing your bankroll away. On this page, you will discover the perfect online sports betting guide to get you started. Choose the right sports, markets and find top sportsbooks where you can earn free cash.

The Best Sports Betting Strategies

If you want to know how to bet on sports, you’re in the right place. We have an unrivaled selection of guides to get you started. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll show you how to understand odds, place bets and how to choose the right sport for you. Then, we’ll show you the best places to put your sports betting strategy into practice.

How to Bet on Sports – The Basics

Our job is to help you find out how to bet on sports and make money. Online sportsbooks can be confusing to newcomers. Homepages of sports betting sites are filled with numbers, signs and strange words. But, with our simple online sports betting guide, you can place wagers in confidence.

Understanding Odds
Good sports betting strategy begins with understanding how markets are priced. At most US online sportsbooks, they will be displayed in one of three formats.

US/American Odds: This is the most common format for sportsbook odds. The favorite is displayed as a negative number, while the underdog has a positive number.

Example:
In an NHL game, the odds on an NHL game are priced up like this:
Detroit Red Wings: +155
New Jersey Devils: -190

The Devils are favorites. You would have to bet $190 in order to win $100. The Red Wings are underdogs. If you bet $100 and they won, you would win $155.

Decimal Odds: Decimal odds show the amount you can win back, including your stake. If you bet $100 on a team to win at 2.15, you would get 2.15 x $100 = $215.

Fractional Odds: Fractional odds are commonly used at bookmakers in the UK and Europe. The price is presented as a fraction that is multiplied by your stake.

If you bet $100 on a team priced at 2/1, you would win $200/1. The fractional odds don’t include the value of your original stake. 

Choosing the Correct Bet Type

If you want to know how to bet on sports online legally, you’ll need to get an understanding of these types of bets. 

Different Bet Types

Moneyline: The moneyline is a straight bet on the winner of a game. In a game with two teams or players, there will usually be a favorite and underdog. The moneyline is the easiest bet to understand.

A good sports betting strategy is hunting out moneyline value. Some bookies will over-price the underdog or under-value the favorite. Look for trends like home form or player injuries that can affect the outcome.

Point Spread: In a spread, the underdog is given a points advantage or the favorite receives a points handicap. The odds are adjusted accordingly.

You can bet the spread in a range of sports like football, baseball, and basketball. In hockey, the spread is called the puck line, and the run line in baseball.

The point spread is good to learn if you want to understand how to bet on sports. It requires some research into whether the underdog has been over-priced. Strong underdogs might be worth a spread bet if the bookie has given them too much of a points advantage.

Teasers: A teaser is an extension to the point spread. Rather than taking the spread set out by the bookmaker, you can adjust it up or down. If you fancy a hot favorite, for example, you might adjust the spread even further in the underdog’s favor and bet on the increased odds.

Total Points Over/Under: This is a fun market that lets you bet on whether the total points will be over or under the set mark.

In a game of basketball, for example, there will be two sets of odds: one for over 144.5 and one for under 144.5. If the total points are 144 or lower, the under bet wins. The over bet wins if the total is 145 or higher.

Other Markets: Knowing how to bet on sports is about understanding a range of different markets. A typical soccer game in Europe may have over 100 different markets, like first goalscorer, correct score, or Half-Time/Full-Time winner.

Betting the moneyline in basketball is easy, but you might find more value betting the winning margin for the favorites or total team points.

Betting at the Right Time

Our online sports betting guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning in-play or live betting. All good sportsbooks in the US offer in-play markets. These let you place bets on a game as it’s happening. The odds change in real time as the game progresses.

Smart gamblers can take advantage of in-play markets if they’re watching the game live. They might spot trends in the game that makes it easier to judge their next bet.

You can also follow many in-play games via a graphic visualizer or match tracker. This displays the current state of the game, complete with up-to-date statistics.

Good sports betting strategy is also about hunting value months before an event takes place. Outrights, or futures, let you place bets on the winner of the next MLB or Superbowl many months ahead of time.

The odds are always higher for outrights as there is such a long lead time to the start of the competition. This is where you can find value and lock in a profit.

American Odds

The common version of odds used at US sportsbooks. Negative odds denote a favorite, while positive odds indicate an underdog.

Banker Bet

A selection in your parlay bet that MUST win for your parlay to win.

Bankroll

Amount set aside to gamble online.

Bet

Wager staked on a game or match.

Betslip

Area of the sports betting site where your wagers are kept and calculated.

Bonus

A promotional offer given by the sportsbook. Bonuses can relate to free bets or other offers like a deposit match.

Cash Out

To settle a wager early and take a smaller payout.

Contrarian

To bet against the weight of money. A contrarian bet might be to gamble heavily on a rank outsider who represents value.

Decimal Odds

A standard odds format used at US sportsbooks. The decimal odds displays the amount you can win for a 1.00 unit stake.

Enhanced Odds

A promotional offer made on some soccer and horse racing markets. Enhanced odds are higher than the normal odds but are usually reserved for new customers.

Fixed Odds

Set odds on a moneyline market between two or more players or teams.

Fractional Odds

Format of odds common at UK and US bookmakers. Fractional odds are multiplied by the stake to calculate a payout.

Graphic Visualizer

A match tracker used by sportsbooks so that customers can follow a live game or match. The visualizer displays the current score and key stats like possession and shots on target.

Handicap

The points disadvantage of one team in a spread. The team must overcome the handicap in order to win the bet.

Handle

The amount taken from wagers on a particular market.

Hedge

A strategy used by experienced gamblers looking for value across multiple sportsbooks. By hedging your bets across several betting sites, you can help to guarantee a profit.

In-Play Betting

Wagers made on games as they happen in real-time. Odds change as the game progresses.

Moneyline

A straight bet on the winner of a game or match. Odds will reflect the favorite and the underdog.

Monster Teaser

A type of teaser bet which allows for a wider point spread.

Odds

The price given by the bookmaker on a game or match. To calculate a payout, multiply your stake by the odds.

Odds-on

Denotes a heavy favorite in a match or game. In an odds-on bet, the payout is smaller than the original stake.

Over/Under

A bet on whether the total points will be over or under the set point. Over/Under bets are popular in high-scoring games like basketball and football.

Parlay

A combined bet or ‘accumulator’ made up of several individual bets. Every bet must win in order for your parlay to win.

Place

A horse that finishes 2nd-4th in a race. Bookmakers will pay shortened odds on placed horses.

Point Spread

A handicap bet between two teams. Prior to the game, the favorite will be given a handicap, while the underdog is given a points advantage. Also called spread.

Puck Line

The point spread in a hockey game. Typically, the favorite will be given a -1.5 goal handicap, and the underdog a +1.5 goal advantage before the game starts.

Push

A spread bet that ends in a tie. The stake is sometimes returned but it can be classed as a losing bet in some parlays.

Round Robin

A type of parlay covering multiple bets on several different outcomes.

Run Line

A point spread bet found in baseball.

Super Teaser

A type of teaser bet where teams are given an increased advantage or handicap.

System

Bet combinations including parlays and round robins.

Teaser

A type of point spread which gives the player control over the spread.

Winning Margin

Bet commonly found in basketball, football, and hockey. Odds are given on the size of the winning team margin.

Sports Betting Strategy FAQ

It’s good to understand a range of markets if you want to know how to bet on sports. Familiarize yourself with moneyline, point spread, and totals as these are the most popular markets.

Popular sports like football, baseball and basketball are easiest to bet on and offer the biggest range of markets. Look for sports that have in-play betting where you can gamble on games as they happen.

The moneyline is a market on the winner of a single contest. In a match, one team will usually be favorite and the other the underdog.

A parlay is a combination of individual bets. Every leg of your parlay must win for you to get a payout.

Yes. In-play betting is hugely popular as it allows you to make wagers as a game happens. You can judge the outcome better if you are following the game on TV or via the match tracker.

Experienced gamblers hedge bets by comparing odds at different bookmakers for the same game. It’s possible to lower your risk by covering all outcomes.

A free bet is offered to new players at many US sportsbooks. You can earn free money as long as you meet the sportsbook’s wagering requirements.

Yes. Now you know how to bet on sports legally, we recommend you open multiple betting accounts to find the best odds and deals.

Author

Mark Jones

Mark hails from across the pond and worked as a sports journalist for the BBC before moving stateside with his wife, Angela, a native New Yorker. Mark has covered sporting events from around the world and was even part of the BBC team that covered the 2012 London Olympics. He brings his insight and a wealth of knowledge to help improve your sports betting. If there is information worth knowing, Mark is across it.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more