Over the past four years, sports betting has become a major part of American popular culture. As a result, millions of fans have started wagering on their favorite teams and events. But with so many different bet types, payouts and rules to know, it can be tough for newcomers to get started. Whether you’re betting on March Madness or a NBA game, there are some basic rules to follow that will help you maximize your chances of winning.
Sports betting is all about finding value. The odds or prices of a market are always changing, so savvy bettors try to find opportunities to bet on the optimal side at the best price. This can be done by studying the lines at multiple sportsbooks and comparing them to one another. The goal is to find the best price on a team total, player prop or other type of proposition bet.
The most common type of bet is the straight bet, which is a wager on the outcome of a specific event. The payout for a straight bet is determined by the odds and the amount you wager. The potential payout is always listed on the bet slip, whether you’re placing a wager online or in person. Sometimes the payout will include the money you wagered, and other times it won’t. If you’re not sure, it is always safest to assume that the payout will be equal to your wager amount.
A point spread is a type of bet that gives the underdog a chance to win against the favorite. The spread is the difference in points between the two teams and is listed as a positive number for the underdog and negative for the favorite. For example, the Dallas Cowboys are -5 points underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles in a game this weekend. If you bet on the Cowboys to win, your bet will pay out if they win by at least six points or lose by no more than five.
In addition to standard point spreads, there are also moneylines and over/unders. These are similar to straight bets but with different payout structures. The payout for these bets is determined by multiplying the amount you bet by the odds on that bet. These bets are riskier than straight bets because they have a lower chance of winning, but they can provide a larger payout if you hit.
Finally, there are novelty or specialty props. These bets aren’t tied directly to the outcome of a game and can range from how long the national anthem will last to what song the halftime artist will perform. If you’re betting on a big game, this can be a fun way to increase your entertainment value while watching the action on the field.
One of the best ways to make money betting on sports is to understand all the different bet types and their risks. However, it’s important to remember that even a seemingly sure bet can go sideways, so you should never place more than you can afford to lose. To protect yourself, you should start with a small bankroll and increase it as you gain experience. In addition, be sure to research any service you’re thinking of using before making a deposit. Look for reviews on forums and the Better Business Bureau to find out what others have experienced.