Sports betting in the United States continues to thrive as state after state passes legislation allowing the pastime to their residents.
This has led to a marked increase in interest in sports betting, both online and in brick-and-mortar establishments, and greatly benefits the local economy and, of course, provides a massive increase to the relevant region’s tax income, so in many ways, it’s a win/win thing.
What are Sports Betting Odds?
In simple terms, sports betting odds are effectively the mechanism used by sportsbooks to provide the basis of the probability of a specific prediction (bet) you plan to make.
Odds are offered by the relevant bookmaker, and the variety and scale of what’s offered on any specific match or game outcome (or all other types of sports bets) are vast. In other words, the odds that one brand offers won’t necessarily be the same as the other.
What are the Different Types of Sports Betting Odds?
The odds that are displayed and used by bookies in the United States are, unsurprisingly, titled American odds. Other types include British (fractional) and European (decimal).
The differences here are chiefly to do with the way the odds are presented, but the purpose of the odds themselves is pretty much the same.
In American odds, the use of plus (+) and minus (-) are employed. In this instance, the (-) odds will relate to the favorite and the (+) the underdog.
British odds are presented in decimal, so it might read something like this soccer-related example.
- Arsenal 1.40
- Tottenham 2.90
The numbers, in this case, refer to the amount you’d win on, for example, a $10 bet.
Fractional odds (European) are displayed in fractions, so this would look a little like this.
- Packers 10/1 to win the Super Bowl
This essentially means your bet will earn you ten times the amount you bet.
For the purpose of this explainer, the betting odds we are mainly referring to are with the use of American odds.
What are the most popular sports to bet on?
In the United States, it is, without a doubt, American Football that is the most popular sport to bet on. Some stats show that as much as half of all sports betting that takes place, both online and off, is on the NFL, and of course, the Super Bowl is the giant of all events to back with a bet.
The 2023 Super Bowl saw an estimated $16 billion worth of bets placed, which is astonishing given we are talking about a single game.
This isn’t to suggest that the likes of the NBA and MLB aren’t also massive, and it’s also worth recognizing the ongoing growth, in betting terms as well as general viewership, of the March Madness event in college basketball.
Other team sports and leagues of note come in the form of NHL ice Hockey and PGA golf, and there is also the emergence of UFC as a sports betting force to be reckoned with.
Types of Betting Markets
Sports betting in the US is a very varied market, but the most common types of bet are outlined below.
Moneyline betting, by some distance the most popular form of sports bet, is basically predicated on the basis of an individual backing a team or individual in action against another and backing them to win.
This is how a moneyline might look on your sportsbook site
- Los Angeles Lakers +105
- Phoenix Suns -125
So in this hypothetical NBA scenario, the team in plus, the Lakers, are the underdogs, and the favorites, the Suns, are represented with a plus.
What this means is that a $100 bet on the Lakers would earn you an additional $105, and you’d have to bet $125 on the Phoenix Suns in order to win another $100 on your bet.
These bets are accessible and enticing and are great for backing your favorite team or chasing a payout by backing the underdog. They don’t require a great deal of thought, and the rules stay the same regardless of the sport involved.
Totals betting is also known as over/under betting. Here your bet is basically on the total points scored in a specific game. This total is set by a sportsbook, and the numbers they choose are not universal. In other words, some brands and providers are far more generous than others, so shop around.
An example might be as follows. The Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the Philadelphia Eagles, and you may be presented with odds that look a little like this.
- Over 52 (-110)
- Under 52 (-110)
You then back whether you think the total points in the game will be higher or lower than the number that is set. So, for instance, if you backed OVER and the final score was Chiefs 33-24 Eagles, then you’d have won because the total is 57.
This type of betting is good for those who have some grounding of knowledge in the specific sport as you’d then know whether the total selected by the brand is generous or not.
A parlay, which is known as an accumulator in some other parts of the world, is effectively the act of placing a succession of bets together, with the relevant odds multiplying as a result of the correct bets.
Here you might back the following
- Brooklyn Nets +130
- Boston Celtics -205
- LA Clippers -265
And if you placed a $100 bet and all three results came out in your favor, you’d win a total payout of $471.32. That sounds pretty good, right? There is, of course, one major catch. If any of your selections fail to come to fruition, then the parlay has failed.
Parlays are best left to the experts, and it’s not a form of betting we’d recommend to novices, but you can get parlay insurance with most brands; this might mean that one or two of your parlays could fail, and you’d still win a payout of some kind.
Now, if previously we expressed parlay bets as an option that should really be reserved for experienced players in the market, prop bets are perhaps the other end of the spectrum.
Generally speaking, prop bets are considering individual bets that may, in some cases, have little or no bearing on the result of the specific sporting event they relate to, making them more of a fun aside to consider.
For the Super Bowl, as an example, there are hundreds of types of prop bets, and these may relate to the number of adverts shown during the half-time break; another bet could be on how many songs the half-time musical act will play or could be on the toss of a coin before a match.
They are usually light-hearted in nature and won’t, on the whole, require you to know a great deal about the event in question. These are generally known as novelty prop bets.
A prop bet can also be relevant to a game but might be reserved for a very specific incident or market. A common one is which player will score first in an NBA game or might relate to how many yards a quarterback might throw during a game, usually in the form of an over/under bet assigned to just one player.
In golf, you might bet on whether any player might make a hole-in-one during the Masters in a UFC contest; in soccer, it could be on whether a player will be shown a red card. The basic premise with any novelty bet is that it’s a specific act you are backing or betting against.
The point spread is an interesting betting type and one that is very popular among sports betting enthusiasts in the US market.
Here a sports betting brand will attach a handicap option to help even the playing field, this is to tempt you potentially to back the underdog, or if you feel confident of the favorite’s superiority, it will work in your favor.
Here’s how it might look;
- Tampa Bay Rays +1.5 (+140)
- New York Yankees -1.5 (-110)
The run line here is set at 1.5. So now, in an attempt to lure you into betting on the Tampa Bay Rays, the underdog, the provider is offering the team a 1.5-run head start, and a $100 bet will land you $140.
However, a bet on the New York Yankees, the favored team, of $110 would win you $100, and therefore you won’t win as much, but you may be confident that the Yankees will win by a distance of more than 1.5 runs, in other words, two or more.
Spreads work well in all major sports and can give you a more interesting bet, especially on games that are a little one-sided. Here you need to do your research; otherwise, you might back an underdog who is so severely outmatched that even with a boost of points, they don’t stand a chance.
Tips for Successful Betting
Anyone with an interest in sports betting knows there is no such thing as a sure thing; however, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success; here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction.
Stick to What You Know
If American Football is your thing or the NBA is more your wheelhouse, then stick to what you know, and stay in your lane.
There are some sports bettors who venture into other markets, but they tend to be those with more experience in how things work. If this isn’t you, then there is not much to be gained by throwing out a $20 bet on an NHL game that you know next to nothing about.
Betting is already a risk-based activity; why make it even harder on yourself?
Stay Up to Date, Check New Updates, Injury Reports, and Form Guides
In 2023 it is easier than ever to make sure you have all the inside information needed to help give you an edge when you place a bet.
This means that ahead of a potential match-up that you wish to bet on, you might want to read up on the latest injury updates or perhaps key data on previous matchups between the two teams or individuals involved. Form is also a key indicator that needs to shape the way you bet.
All of this information is available at your fingertips, and not using this to your advantage is an opportunity missed.
Never Bet More Than You Can Afford to Lose
There is a saying, and it’s known worldwide, you’ll never see a broke bookie. Sports betting is a fun pastime, and you should look at the whole activity as a form of entertainment as opposed to a chance to make a large amount of money.
Obviously, the aim of any bet is for it to win, but what separates, to some extent, sports betting and casino activity is that people often place sports bets to add an additional layer of enjoyment to something they already enjoy, namely watching a specific sports game or match.
Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose, and if you are new to sports betting, take your time and place smaller wagers to get an idea of how it all works.
In-Play Betting is Fun, But Be Mindful of Racking Up Losses
One of the fastest growing sectors within the sports betting field is in-play betting, and simply put, this is betting that takes place as the game is being played. The act of in-play betting is obviously far more straightforward in 2023, given that most of us do our sports betting via our mobile devices.
The leading sportsbook brands have apps that are geared to make the in-play live betting as quick and immersive as possible, but the potential downside here is that you can place a bet within a heartbeat, and those losses can really start to rack up.
Once again, if you are relatively new to sports betting or if you can’t afford to lose large sums, try to avoid this form of sports betting until you can make more efficient use of this form of sports betting.