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How to Wager on Sports

How to Wager on Sports: How to Bet on Games

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

Note: If you came to this article already knowing how sports betting works and are just looking for a good/safe/trustworthy place to bet on games online, the answer you're looking for is ---> Bovada Sportsbook.

How To Bet Sides: “Sides” in sports betting are like when you pick sides in any aspect of life. If two people are feuding, people will take “sides,” where they choose one over the other. Same thing in sports betting. There are two teams or two fighters and you pick a side. It’s the most common form of sports wagering. In essence, when betting sides, you are picking one of two things--whether it be a football or baseball team, or a fighter in a UFC fight.

Generally, when betting sides, there are two types of bets you can make--bets against-the-spread or money line bets. A point-spread is a number evenly applied to two teams. One is the favorite and one is the underdog. So you’ll see a game like Raiders +4/Chargers -4, which means the Raiders are a 4-point underdog, with the Chargers being a 4-point favorite. To win a bet on the Raiders, they can either win the game outright or lose by less than 4 points. The Chargers need to win by an amount more than 4 for you to win a bet. Point-spreads are found in basketball and football.

A money line bet on a side works a little differently and is seen in sports like baseball, boxing, and MMA. You have two choices and each have a different set of odds--expressed by the money line. You’ll see a baseball game and it will be, for example, Cincinnati -160/San Diego +140. For all bets, the plus-sign indicates an underdog, with the minus-sign representing a favorite.

Whenever you see a number with a plus-sign in front of it, that means you win that number for every $100 you bet. A minus-sign indicates you must bet that number for every $100 you hope to win. That’s just to make it easy to understand, hence the fact that money lines revolve around the imaginary $100 level. But you can bet any amount. To win $20 on Cincinnati at -160, you must bet $32. Meanwhile, a $20 bet on San Diego at +140 would win $28.

How to Bet Totals: These over/under bets are as basic as it gets. The bookie puts a total on a game and you just have to predict if the total combined score will either surpass or not equal that number. Example time:

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Over 42 (-110)
Under 42 (-110)

In the above example, you are trying to determine if Dallas and Philly will score over or under 42 points. Naturally, if the score landed right on 42, you would have your bet money returned. You see that -110 line, which is a standard price you have to pay to bet on sports where either side has a theoretically-equal chance of winning. So whether taking the over or under, you are betting $11 for every $10 you are trying to win. That’s called “vig” or “juice.” It’s basically a bookie commission you pay for the privilege of betting. You owe it to yourself to seek out a better price than -110 and some books will allow you to cut that “juice” in half by betting on a -105 money line.

How to Bet Parlays: With the parlay, you are putting multiple bets on the same ticket. You pick at least two sides or totals and parlay them. You can pick between 2-15 sides and totals, but regardless of how many you choose, they all have to win for a parlay to be successful. In return for such a demanding bet, the payouts are big and get gigantic with the more teams you choose.

Let’s say you make a three-team parlay for $100. It would look like this:

Cleveland Browns +7
Houston Texans -5.5
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets, Under 45

In the above parlay, you picked two sides and one total. It’s called a three-team parlay. If all three aspects of the parlay come through, you would win $600 on a $100 wager. If any of them lose, the parlay is a loser. Let’s say, for example, that Cleveland and Houston cover the spread, but the Dolphins-Jets game ends 28-17, meaning it is a “push.” The bet would then be paid off as a 2-team parlay and instead of winning $600, you would win $260.

How to Bet Teasers: Understanding parlays will have you well on your way to fathoming teasers. They have a lot in common, with one major exception. Like a parlay, a teaser is a bet with multiple sides or totals and they all have to win for the bet to be successful. The one major exception is that a teaser bet enables you to move the point-spread in your favor.

Let’s say, for example, you are making a three-team/7-point teaser in NFL football. You look at the spreads and see three teams you want to put on your teaser. It goes like this: you identify three teams or totals you like and “tease” it. The 3 legs you want to put on your teaser are...

St. Louis Rams +5
San Francisco 49ers -4
San Diego Chargers +6

With a 3-team/7-point teaser, you pick these three teams and move each one 7 points in your favor. So now, it looks like this:

St. Louis Rams +12
San Francisco 49ers +3
San Diego Chargers +13

Naturally, having the ability to move the point-spread 7 points in your favor comes at a steep price. You’ll remember that a 3-team parlay pays 6/1. A 3-team/7-point teaser, meanwhile, pays only 7/5. Keep in mind that the payouts vary with the kind of teaser you make. With all the different books, there are a mind-numbing of teasers you can make, all with different payouts. The one rule-of-thumb is that they don’t pay nearly as well as parlays and the more points you receive in your favor, the less attractive the payout. For those of you in love with moving the line, you can find 20 POINT teasers at 5Dimes!

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