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Sports Betting 101

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Sports betting is a fun and exciting way to add a new dimension to the sports you watch. It can also be lucrative, especially if you know how to place smart bets. However, winning big doesn’t come easily—and losing bets can hurt just as bad.

The first step in sports betting is to understand how odds and lines work. Odds are the numbers that specify the expected outcome of a bet, and they can be displayed in American, fractional or decimal formats. They can refer to moneyline, spread or total bets and are usually rounded up to the nearest hundredth. They also include plus (+) and minus (-) signs to indicate whether a team is favored or underdog, respectively.

Moneyline bets are bets on the overall winner of a game. They are usually rounded up to the nearest hundredth and have different payouts depending on how many points the bettors risk. They can be made in-person at land-based sportsbooks or online. The most common type of bet is the spread, which involves handicapping one team over another based on their relative strength and weakness. Oddsmakers create power ratings based on past performance, injuries, home-court advantage, travel schedules and other factors. They are highly secretive about their methods, but it’s safe to say that they are largely based on traditional sports statistics.

Spread bets are made on the margin by which a favored team must win a game to cover their bet. They are also referred to as point-spreads, and they are often quoted at 1 to 10 odds. The higher the odds, the more you have to bet in order to make a profit. If a favored team wins by the required margin, they cover the spread and turn a profit.

Another popular bet is the total, which is a prediction of both teams’ combined score for a game. It is sometimes called an over/under bet because you are betting on whether the combined score will go over or under a number. This type of bet is commonly available for most major sports, including football, basketball and baseball.

A popular way to increase your winnings is by placing a round-robin parlay, which is a combination of two or more bets on individual team outcomes. These bets are often offered at better odds than single bets, and you can even find multiple-team round robins in some markets. However, beware that some sportsbooks charge extra for these types of bets, known as the juice. While you don’t want to bet too much, the juice can quickly eat into your profits. This is why it’s important to keep track of your bets and be aware of the amount you are spending. You can use a standard spreadsheet or a dedicated sports betting app to do this. In addition, it’s a good idea to bet only on teams and events that you are familiar with. This will help you avoid making bad bets and minimize your losses.

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