How to Bet on Sports The Basics by Chuck Greene Updated 20 Jan 2001
Sports betting is the ultimate money game for the sports fan. Through any of a number of online sportsbooks you can bet on the outcome of baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer games, car races, boxing matches and other popular sporting events. If you know your favorite sport inside and out, you can overcome "the juice", beat the oddsmakers and fatten your wallet. Also, placing a sports bet makes the outcome of the game more meaningful and the game itself more enjoyable and thrilling.
The sportsbook and the oddsmaker
To place a sports bet, simply go to a sportsbook -- a place that accepts sports bets. VIP Sports and Interwetten are examples of online sportsbooks. Many sportsbooks also accept bets by telephone. You may sometimes hear sportsbooks referred to as bookmakers or bookies. These terms are generally reserved for disreputable or illegal operations -- the leg-breaker variety.
Note that a sportsbook is not the same as an oddsmaker. The sportsbook simply accepts sports bets. An oddsmaker is a person who sets the betting odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas oddsmakers. These oddsmakers typically work for major hotel sportsbooks.
Most online sportsbooks are located in the Caribbean and Europe.
Types of bets You can place a number of different bets including straight bets, parlays, teasers and over/unders. Click on the following links for details.
Straight bets and the point spread Straight bets are the most common sports bets. When you place a straight bet, you simply pick the team that will win or lose the game. Read more
The moneyline Oddsmakers don't set a point spread for baseball games. Instead, they set a moneyline, which gives odds that one team will beat another. Read more
Total or over/under bets A total wager is a bet on the combined number of points scored in the game by both teams. Bettors can also wager on whether the teams will score more or less points than the line.
Parlays A parlay is a combined bet on two, three, four or more games. Read more
Teasers A teaser is like a parlay, but you can add or subtract points from the spread to make your bets stronger. Read more
Future bets Bettors lay odds on a team's chance of winning the championship - at the start of a season. Read more
Exotic bets Sportsbooks often post odds and accept wagers on a variety of other activities, just to keep things interesting. Bet on a presidential race or who wins the Oscar. Read more
Payoffs and odds The payoff for football, basketball, and hockey is $100 for every $110 wagered, unless otherwise noted. Read more
If-win bets Bettors wager a fixed amount on one team, and if that team wins, bet another fixed amount on a different team. Read more
Sports Betting Glossary Learn the difference between a parlay and a teaser, or what the moneyline is. Read more