By Max Hapwell
November 1, 2012, Las Vegas – Here in America, we love sports. We love putting on crazy-colored wigs for game day, screaming at the TV until our throats go hoarse and glaring down strangers in the supermarket simply because they’re wearing a rival jersey. When our team wins, we’re on cloud nine. When our team loses…well, there’s always the next game.
More and more, though, love of sport has inspired the epic coupling of game day and gambling, in the pastime known as sports betting. For most bettors, it’s an exciting way to increase the thrill of victory while turning a bit of a profit – hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.
But many shy away simply because they don’t know where to start and there’s no denying the books can be intimidating. If you’ve been interested in sports betting but want a solid understanding of the process before you go slapping down your hard-earned cash, take a look at our beginner’s guide.
Where to Bet
Keep in mind that sports betting through a physical bookmaker is illegal in most states, so choosing where to place your bets is crucial. The exceptions to this include: Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware (the most recent state to allow sports betting, in 2009). For example, if you’re in Las Vegas during any sporting season, chances are good you can find a nice spot in a casino with a bunch of big screen TVs, where you can place a bet and watch your little fortune grow (or shrink).
Nowhere near Las Vegas or the other betting-friendly states? Thank Al Gore for the internet then, because there are plenty of online sports betting sites and online betting sites reviews where you can make your wager and revel in the same thrill from wherever you watch the game.
Sports Betting Lingo
When you join a new community or group, you have to learn the language; sports betting is no different. The person who accepts and records wagers and maintains a “spread” is known as a “bookmaker” or “bookie.” The “spread,” which is used in high-scoring sports like football and basketball, assigns extra points to a specific team to keep all games competitive and attractive for bettors by way of a “handicap” (the word for extra points).
In low-scoring sports, like baseball or hockey, a money line is used instead; it’s also known as a “straight-up wager,” since the bet is placed on who the outright winner of the game will be, without regard to the final score.
“Handle” refers to the total dollar amount of the bets, so you might hear someone say, “The handle for the Super Bowl this year was twice as big as last year!” Another word commonly used is “action,” which simply refers to betting itself, as in “Let me in on that action” or “Where’s the action at?”
Types of Bets
You’ve already learned about straight bets—made with a money line—and spreads, which give one team a handicap to keep the betting competitive. Proposition bets are very specific, and bettors can guess the correct number of goals or touchdowns by a specific team or the number of homeruns hit by a specific baseball player. Parlays allow bettors to place multiple bets, which can mean bigger payouts in the event they win, but the odds obviously aren’t in their favor. There are other kinds of bets, of course, with increasingly complicated rules, but since you’re just starting off, it’s best to keep things simple.
Reading the Betting Odds
This is one of the most important parts of placing bets and perhaps the most intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Know that most bets are won in increments of $100, and you will see bets written out with a minus symbol before a number, say -150—that’s the amount you have to bet to win $100. (You get back what you put down as well, so if you win a -150 betting line, you get $250.)
On the other hand, if there is a plus sign in front of the number (for example: +200) that is the amount you will win if you bet $100. However, you don’t have to bet $100 every time; you can bet less and receive lesser winnings.
Want to learn more? Go to this website for betting site information, reviews and the latest excitement .
Max Hapwell is a contributing writer and sports blogger who looks forward to his annual Las Vegas trek with his college buddies during the Final Four. He also enjoys trips abroad to European and Asian casino-resorts.