This article also appears on AllSunDevils.com
If you’re reading this: Congratulations! Arizona has now given the green light to sports gambling, just in time for the start of the 2021 NFL season.
That means a few things: You’ll see a lot more advertisements for sportsbooks across the state (Jamie Foxx is on TV everywhere), and you can now wager your hard-earned cash on sporting events, an event once only reserved for trips to Las Vegas.
When it comes to the world of sports gambling, there’s a lot to know about the sport, odds, terminology and more. If you’re new to the game, all the above can be quite daunting.
That’s why we’re here to take your hand and guide you on your quest to becoming an incredibly successful bettor, and that’s where we’ll start.
Two Rules to Sports Gambling
Rule 1: Vegas (physically or virtually) wasn’t built on winners: The people who set the lines on all the betting apps are very good at what they do. Please do not expect to win significant amounts of cash. There’s a reason why sports betting is a billion-dollar business, and it’s not because people like us continually take money from the books.
Rule 2: Don’t wager more than you can afford to lose: For very few, this is a career. For the other 99% of people, sports gambling should be viewed as a hobby. Betting insane amounts of money can cause great stress, and as a reminder, the money you are wagering with is real money that can (and most likely will) be lost.
Keep your bets fun and to a dollar amount that you are OK with losing, and you’ll be fine.
Also, gambling addictions are incredibly serious. If you find yourself or a loved one falling in too deep, the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) is available 24/7 and is 100% confidential.
How Are Odds/Lines Manufactured?
Typically, sportsbooks will use a formula to generate an initial line/odds for the public, and will adjust accordingly after.
For example, let’s say the Arizona Cardinals open up as 10-point favorites over Seattle, thanks to whatever (super secret) computer simulations believe will happen.
If the public really likes the Cardinals to win by more than 10 and there’s an overwhelming amount of bets on Arizona, sportsbooks will increase the spread in an attempt to level out the playing field. A huge amount of bets may move the line from 30 to 35 in that example.
Or, if Arizona has significant starters missing on its roster for the game, the lines may drop to 20 or 21 points for them to cover.
Anything can happen leading up to the game, so sportsbooks typically do a good job of changing their odds to reflect recent trends or developments.
There’s a bunch of sports betting verbiage and slang used, and we’ll break down even the most basic of terms here.
Favorite: The team that is likely to win, whether it be due to public betting on them heavily or oddsmakers believing they are the better team.
Favored teams will have a (-) next to their name in matchups. The (-) number states how much you would need to wager to win $100. In example, if you take the Titans (-130), you would have to wager $130 to win $100, $65 would win $50, etc.
Underdog: The team that is not likely to win, for similar reasons stated above. Underdog teams will have a (+) attached to their names in matchups. For example, if you take the Cardinals (+190), a $100 bet will earn you $190, $50 would win $95, etc.
Odds: The probability of an event happening, assigned by sportsbooks. For example, if Trevor Lawrence winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has -200 odds, he would be considered a favorite. A Local community college quarterback being +100000 indicates he is an extreme longshot to win.
Spread: A point spread is the allotted amount of points a team must win by in order for your bet to cash, should you take the favored team with the spread. If the Packers are favored by 6.5 points and you take them with the spread, they must win by seven or more points for your bet to win. ATS=Against The Spread.
Over/Under: It’s as simple as it seems: You bet whether or not a certain predetermined total of a thing such as points scored will exceed or fall short. If a point total is 54.5 and you bet the over, 55 points would need to be scored for your bet to cash. If you bet the under, 54 points would be needed for your bet to succeed.
Push: Essentially a tie, where sportsbooks where just give the amount you wagered back. For example, if you bet on the Chiefs with the spread (-7) and that’s the exact total they won by, that would be considered a push.
Cover: A team covers if they win by more than their point spread. For example, the Buccaneers covered in their 20-point preseason victory when they were favored by 8.5 points. This can also work for losing teams. If the Giants only lose by 3 when they were 7-point underdogs, they technically covered as well.
Moneyline: Instead of betting on a point spread, you can simply bet the moneyline, which is essentially just picking the winner of the game. While this is more likely to win than a point spread, the odds will be less appealing to bet on the moneyline.
Futures: Future bets are, as the name suggests, bets that are able to be made for future events. Things such as Super Bowl winner, MVP, and over/under wins for the year. These are made in advance of the event and tickets are collected after the outcome is determined.
Live betting: Live betting allows people to bet within games through moderated odds that are updated as the game continues. Let’s say an over for a football game started at 62, but only one field goal has been scored at halftime. Sportsbooks will drop the over/under to a more updated/reasonable figure to entice more people to wager.
Prop: A prop bet is a wager you can make that doesn’t necessarily reflect the outcome of a game. Things such as points/yards a player will score, how many minutes a player plays and things of that nature are considered prop bets. Think of them as the more “fun” bets. One popular prop bet each year for the Super Bowl is an over/under on the length of the singing of the national anthem.
Field: This is popular in individual sports, where a field bet is basically any pool of players against a selected person by the sportsbooks. For example, it might be wise to take the field (the rest of the golfers) in a bet for the U.S. Open, where the winners are projected to be Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods.
Unit: A typical dollar amount one places on a bet. This varies on your bankroll, as most bets should be consistent with how much money you have to play with. A unit could be $10 for one person, or $50 for another depending on what their typical wager is.
Parlay: If you feel really confident in multiple events falling in your favor, stroll on over to parlays. A parlay consists of multiple bets grouped into one big ticket/wager, and if all of your bets are successful, then your payout will be bigger since you took a risk by grouping them together.
For example, if you do a three-team parlay of the Steelers, Browns and Ravens winning with all three teams emerging victorious, your parlay just hit! However, all it takes is one wrong bet and the entire parlay is shot, making it a risky move.
Where Should I Bet?
That’s a matter of personal preference. There are plenty of apps to download, and a handful of sportsbooks are expected to be in the stadiums/arenas of the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns.
The best piece of advice is to monitor a handful of sportsbooks and see where you can get any better odds on something you like if possible.
What Should I Bet on?
It’s important to understand that as a bettor, you don’t control a single outcome. With that being said, you should stick to sports or teams that you like to follow. If you’re looking to get into an unfamiliar sport, $5 invested into a game or match could make it more interesting for you.
General Sports Betting Tips
- Sports betting is for fun; never let yourself get too stressed over it.
- Parlays are fun, but if you’re confident in all of those bets, you may want to take each bet individually.
- Long odds (+1000 for example) typically don’t win, although the payouts are enticing.
- On the flip side, heavy favorites (-800) do sometimes slip up, so don’t believe there’s such a thing as easy money.
- It’s typically recommended that you don’t bet more than 5% of your funds. If you have $200 in your account, $10 bets are what’s suggested for you.
- With sports betting, you will undoubtedly go through hot and cold streaks. Chasing your bets (betting money to catch up or even out your losses) will land you in hot water early, so even in a losing streak, keep your bets smart.
What Else is There?
As previously stated, the world of sports gambling is huge. There are sportsbooks that will let you purchase extra points for spreads, boost odds, and more.
For now, however, this is a solid guide to get yourself started.