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5 Tips on How to Bet on Sports: 2024 Guide for Beginners

February 27, 2024

Written by    |
Bill Harrelson

Sports betting is exciting, thrilling, and, if you play your cards right, profitable. Statistics show that 1 in 5 Americans engage in sports betting, with a staggering 46.6 million people betting on the NFL alone.

Before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, there are a few things you should know to increase your odds of success. The team at ElitePickz has put together this beginner’s guide to walk you through 5 valuable tips on how to bet on sports. But before we get into that, let’s start by outlining sports betting basics.

Intro to Sports Betting: What Are the Prerequisites?

We recommend familiarizing yourself with the following basics in your journey of learning to bet on sports:

  • Choose a reputable book: Do some research to find licensed books with solid reputations and security.
  • Decide how much you want to bet: Only gamble what you can afford to lose. Consider adopting the unit betting strategy, where you bet a fixed amount on each game. Start small, and increase your stakes as you learn.
  • Don’t just pick favorites: Study the matchups and stats to make informed picks. Underdogs sometimes win, so do the math! Follow expert tips from pros like ElitePickz, who have a proven track record of success.
  • Know the rules: Each sport has its own set of rules and betting options. Learn them before you put money down.
  • Manage your money wisely: Win or lose, stick to your budget. Try not to bet with emotions, as this is one of the common betting mistakes — remain analytical in your betting approach.
  • Watch and learn: Tune into games to get a feel for teams and players. Over time, you’ll get better at spotting good betting opportunities.

Once you understand the basics of how to bet games, it becomes easier with practice. With experience, you can turn sports betting into a profitable endeavor. But always gamble responsibly — that’s the only way to become a professional sports bettor. This leads us to the next topic: our recommended sports betting strategies for beginners aiming to become professional bettors.

Picking Winning Bets: 5 Handy Strategy for Beginners

If you’re a newbie, here are some of the best betting strategies for sports:

  • Choosing the right team : Favorite vs. underdogs
  • Point spreads
  • Over/under
  • Money Lines
  • Parlays

1. Favorite Vs. Underdogs

When learning how to gamble on sports, one of the first decisions you’ll make is whether to bet on the favorite or the underdog. The favorite is the team expected to win, while the underdog is the team expected to lose.

Favorites

Betting on favorites is the “safe” choice since they’re more likely to win, but the payout will be smaller. For example, if an NFL team favored by 7 points wins by 10 points, you’ll win your bet, but the payout won’t be huge. Still, favorites do lose from time to time, so there’s some risk.

Underdogs

Underdogs are riskier bets since they’re less likely to win, but the payout can be huge if they do. Using the same NFL example, if you bet on the underdog +7 points and they win outright or lose by 6 points or less, you’ll get paid significantly. The key is finding underdogs with a good chance to cover the spread or win outright. Look for teams on winning streaks with a matchup advantage or who play better at home/on the road.

Favorites or Underdogs?

While there’s no “right” choice, many new sports bettors find success betting underdogs, especially at first. The payouts are bigger, and you can win even if the underdog loses but covers the spread. Just be sure to do your research to find good underdog opportunities. With some experience, you’ll get better at spotting both good favorites and live underdogs — the key to becoming a profitable sports bettor is making informed bets on matchups you understand.

2. Point Spreads

Point spreads are popular strategies to understand when learning how to do sports betting. The point spread, also known as the “line,” is the number of points that the favorite needs to win for the bet to cash. The underdog team is given extra points to make the game seem more even.

For example, if the New York Giants are playing the Washington Redskins, the point spread may look like this:

  • Giants -7
  • Redskins +7

This means that for the Giants to “cover the spread,” they need to win the game by more than 7 points. If you bet on the Redskins +7, they can lose by up to 7 points, and you’ll still win your bet. The point spread evens the game out and makes betting on either team equally attractive.

3. Over/Under

Over/under bets are simple to understand but can be tricky to win. Nonetheless, they are popular betting strategies that you must know when learning how to play sports betting. An over/under bet, also called a total bet, refers to whether the combined total score of a sports match will be over or under a number set by the books.

For example, if the over/under for a football match is 42 points, you bet whether the total points scored by both teams combined will be over or under 42. If the final score is Team A 24, Team B 20 for a total of 44 points, the over bet wins. If the final score is Team A 17, Team B 14 for a total of 31 points, the under bet wins.

4. Money Lines

A money line bet is the simplest type of sports wager that you should understand when learning how to play sports bet. You’re simply betting on who you think will win the game. The favorite will have a minus sign (-) in front of the number, indicating how much you need to bet to win $100. The underdog will have a plus sign (+) showing how much you can win from a $100 bet.

For example, if the money line for an NFL game is:

  • New England Patriots -150
  • Buffalo Bills +130

This means the Patriots are the favorite. You would need to bet $150 on New England to win $100.

On the other hand, the Bills are the underdog. A $100 bet on Buffalo would net you $130 in winnings.

The bigger the number, the bigger the underdog; if you see a team at +300, they’re a bigger dog than a team at +150. The risk is higher, but the potential reward is greater. Upsets happen often in sports, so don’t be afraid to take a chance on an underdog if you think they have a shot to win outright.

Tip: Check out our Free Betting Spread to Money Line Converter.

5. Parlays

Parlay is another strategy to know when learning how to make sports bets. A parlay is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers. To win a parlay, all parts of the bet must win. The benefit of a parlay is that the potential payout is higher than betting each game individually since the odds are multiplied for each added wager.

For example, say you pick 3 teams to win their games at -110 odds. A $10 bet on each game individually would pay out $19 ($10 bet plus $9 profit) if all three win, for a total of $57. But if you group them into a 3-team parlay, the payout jumps to $61.30 ($10 bet with $51.30 profit).

The downside of parlays is that if even one part loses, the entire bet is lost. So, while the payouts are bigger, the risk is higher. For beginners, we recommend sticking to 2–3 team parlays to start so you can get a feel for them without too much risk. Also, consider parlaying money line favorites or over/under totals you feel confident in.

Tip: Check out our Free Parlay Calculator for Sports Betting.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to place bets on sports?

To place bets on sports, navigate to your chosen game and bet type, and click the “bet” cell, which will appear in your bet slip. Then, enter your bet amount and submit.

Which odds are likely to win?

Betting on the favorite, where the first number is smaller than the second, is more likely to win, but the payout is less. On the other hand, betting on the underdog can yield a higher payout, but it’s riskier.

What is the smartest way to bet?

The smartest way to bet is to combine different strategies like over/under bets, handicap victories, and betting on low winning odds. Considering half-time bets and the timing of goals can also be strategic. Always remember, though, that even the best strategy doesn’t guarantee a win.

Conclusion

We’ve outlined the basics of sports betting and profitable strategies to show you how to bet on sports and make some money while enjoying the thrill of the game. The information provided in this guide will get you started on the right track, but remember, it’s all about doing your homework, managing your money wisely, and having fun while at it. Don’t be afraid to start small as you learn the ropes. Also, consider betting following profitable picks from professional sports analysts to increase your winning percentage.

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