People bet on sports for a variety of reasons. Some do it just for fun and to make a particular game more exciting. Some like to bet on their favorite teams, no matter what the point spread may be. Others, however, bet on sports for one simple reason: to make money. Although this last segment of the betting population is the smallest (at least the ones who are successful at it), there are many who make money consistently and even a few who make a nice living by regularly beating the house.
Sports betting is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands visitors to Las Vegas each year. If you’ve never tried your hand at sports betting before, we hope that this introduction will help you get started in this unique and exciting gaming opportunities – sports wagering.
A wide array of betting propositions are available to players. They vary from two dollar parlay cards to the legendary $100,000 bets accepted at some sports books under special arrangements. (The standard maximum bet limit is $5,000 at most books).
Sports betting, race wagering, and poker are the only venues of chance open to the gaming public in which the player is not in direct competition with the casinos (the house). In all other casino games (such as craps, keno, slot machines, baccarat, blackjack and roulette), the house has a statistical advantage. In sports wagering, however, players can gain an edge on the house when they can identify games where the posted line does not accurately reflect the true odds for the game’s outcome. For more information on how to take advantage of this wagering opportunity, see Section IV – Introduction to Handicapping for Beginners.
Many people find that placing bets on the outcome of a game greatly enhances their enjoyment in watching the game on television or listening to it on the radio. Most Las Vegas sports books have satellite hook-ups and big-screen TV’s broadcasting the numerous college and pro games being played across the country and they post frequent scoring updates on the progress of all games on which they are taking action.
Nevada is the only state in which general sports betting is legal. State laws and the gaming control board provide regulations to insure the integrity of all sports book activities. The gaming control board is always open to referee disputes and uphold honest gaming.
When you walk into a sports book, you will see a large “Board” listing all of the games available for betting, along with the lines and odds for each game. In some books this board is a huge electronic marvel, rivalling the most sophisticated reporting system of a large brokerage house. Other books maintain the board by hand, with displays that are similar to the ones seen in old movies involving “bookies.”
Sports books will only accept bets on those games which have been posted on their board. These games are known as “board games.” Generally, all major league baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL games are “on the board,” whereas college games are limited to football and basketball match-ups being played by major Division I schools. Limited betting is available at some books on golf, tennis, car racing, and other miscellaneous sports.
Most sports books use the Official Nevada Rotation, supplied by the Official Nevada Sports Schedule. This rotation is a list of all the board games being played on a particular date along with starting times.
Point Spread Wagering In Football And Basketball
Perhaps the most important advance in sports wagering occurred in the 1930’s and 40’s, when the “point spread” became popular. Prior to the invention of the point spread, sports wagering was similar to horse racing, in which complicated odds were posted on the basis of a particular team winning the game outright, (or, in betting parlance, “straight-up”.) While this method of betting works fairly well on evenly matched teams, it is less than satisfactory when one team is clearly superior to the other.
For example, over the last 10 years or so, Notre Dame has clearly outclassed Navy in college football. Without a point spread, to bet on Notre Dame might have required betting $5, $10 or even $15 just to win $1. Betting on Navy might offer more attractive odds (betting only $1 to win $10), but the fact is that Navy has not defeated Notre Dame once in the last 10 years. Therefore, betting on games that were not evenly matched held limited appeal for the public.
With a point spread, winning the bet is not determined by which team actually wins the game, but rather by the final score of the game. Here’s how to do it: Take the score of the team favored to win and subtract the number of points posted on the board (ie., the point spread). The team with the most points after this subtraction is the team that wins for betting purposes. (You can get the same results by adding the point spread to the score of the underdog.)
Let’s use the 1993 Notre Dame/Navy game as an example. Because the bookmakers knew that Notre Dame was clearly the superior team, and they posted a point spread of “Notre Dame -34” (or “Notre Dame minus 34 points.”) Using betting parlance, if you bet on Notre Dame you were betting “the favorite at minus 34,” or “laying 34 points.” If you bet on Navy, you were betting “the underdog at plus 34 points” or “taking 34 points.”
The actual final score of this game was Notre Dame 58, Navy 27. However, if you bet on Notre Dame you would have lost the bet. Since the point spread was “-34,” we would subtract 34 points from the 58 points Notre Dame actually scored and come up with 24. Since Navy actually scored 27 points, Navy was the point-spread winner, 27 to 24. Betting parlance would say the Navy “failed to cover the spread”. In fact, over the past 10 years, although Navy lost all their games “straight-up” verses Notre dame, by betting on Navy and “taking the points,” you would have won your point spread bet 7 out of 10 times!
Another name for the point spread is “the line”. If the score of a game comes out to be a tie (after the subtraction of points), the game is said to be “a push”, and all players get their money back.
A sports bettor needs to realize that the point spread on a game is NOT a prediction by an oddsmaker on the outcome of a game. Rather, the odds are designed so that equal money is bet on both sides of the game. If more money is bet on one of the teams, the sports book runs the risk of losing money if that team were to win. Bookmakers are not gamblers–they want to make money on every bet regardless of the outcome of the game.
Here’s how the sports book makes money out of the deal. When placing a bet, a player pays a fee called the “vigorish” or “vig”, which is usually 10% of the wager. Whether you bet on the favorite or the underdog, you would bet $11 to win $10, or $110 to win $100 and so on. In our example, a person who bet $11 to win $10 on Navy would collect $21 on his winning ticket, while the bettor who bet $11 to win $10 on Notre Dame would collect nothing, losing his $11 bet.
Remember, the bookmaker is trying to get almost exactly the same amount of money bet on both sides to assure he makes a profit. To understand how this works, let’s assume that the bookmaker accepted only two $10 bets on the Notre Dame-Navy game, one bet on the favorite and one on the underdog. Since he charged $11 to both bettors, he collected a total of $22. After paying the underdog better $21, the bookmaker has made $1 “profit” on the whole deal. This “$1 profit” represents one of the lowest wagering margins of all betting propositions available in Las Vegas. If you do the arithmetic, you would discover that the winning percentage you need to break even is 52.38%.
You can also bet on the total points that were scored during the game. To bet on a total, the player examines the number of “total points” posted on the board. This can also be called the “totals line” or the “over/under line”. If the player thinks that the actual total points to be scored by both teams (added together) will be MORE than the posted “total points”, the player bets the “over”. Otherwise, the player bets the “under”.
It is possible to bet two or three games as part of the same bet. This is called a “parlay” bet. In order to win a parlay bet, all of the items must win. The attraction of the parlay bet is that the amount to be won is much higher than that for playing a single game. To bet on more games as a single bet, players can bet a “parlay card”. Parlay cards have big payoffs for selecting several winners. Many parlay cards also have winning payoffs for “almost wins”, such as 9 out of 10 winners. Be sure to read the information printed on the parlay cards for payoff rates and rules for handling ties, etc.
A special type of point spread bet is a “teaser” bet. A teaser bet offers the player a more advantageous point spread in exchange for a lower payoff. Many books offer “teaser cards” for betting combinations of teaser bets.
Many sports books run contests in which gamblers compete with other players for prizes.
Baseball And Hockey Lines
Baseball, Hockey and Basketball are sports where not enough points are scored to make the point spread wager feasible. Hockey has the additional complication of frequent ties. In baseball, the starting pitchers are so important in predicting the outcome of a game that baseball odds are posted with the starting pitchers specified. In cases when either starting pitcher is different from the one specified on the betting ticket, the bet is off and the amount of the bet is refunded to the player.
In baseball, a player backing the favored team will need to risk more money than will be returned, while the player backing the underdog side will receive more money back than was wagered. Here’s an example. Assume that the Braves are playing the Dodgers. The Braves starting pitcher is three-time Cy Young award winner Greg Maddox, and the Dodgers are starting their third or fourth starter, Kevin Gross. The line might be “Maddox minus $1.90, Gross plus $1.70.” This type of line is called “a 20-cent line”. The slanted edge in numbers gives the casino its necessary advantage.
Casinos compete with each other for a player’s action by offering 15-cent, 10-cent and even 5-cent lines. The difference in these lines is seen in the “comeback.” In the above 20-cent line the comeback on the underdog is a 20-cent difference. If the Braves were favored by $1.90 and the casino was using a 10-cent line the comeback on the Dodgers would be $1.80. Once again it is to the players advantage to shop around to see what the various books offer. In the above scenario if you like the Braves and Maddox you must put up $190 to win $100, and if the Braves win you get your $190 back plus the $100. If you like the Dodgers and Gross you put up $100 and if this side wins you get back your $100 plus $170, almost doubling your wager. Combinations and variables are often offered here too.
Hockey is the most complicated of the major sports to wager on and it also has the most variables. A puck and a money line are the two options used by casinos when taking hockey bets. The books generally use the money line. For example the line “Buffalo minus 1/2, minus $1.65 over Quebec” would translate into Buffalo being the favorite giving 1/2 goal and a player would need to bet $165 to win $100. If a player wanted Quebec the line would be “plus 1/2 plus $1.45” and if they bet $100 they would get 1/2 goal and win $145 (plus the return of the original $100). The available difference in the amount of goals and money in hockey is quite diverse and different from casino to casino which is yet another boon to the shopping wagerer. The other choice in hockey betting is the puck line.
In the above example using the puck line, the line on Buffalo would be “minus 1 1/2, even.” To back Buffalo you must give up 1 1/2 goals and the wager is in even money, meaning you risk $100 to win $100. To play Quebec the line would read “plus 1 1/2 goals, even” meaning that you would receive 1 1/2 goals in backing Quebec while risking even money ($100 to win $100). Hockey’s built in danger for the player to be aware of is the problem of an open net goal at the game’s end drastically altering the outcome on any type of 1/2-goal, 1- goal, 1 1/2-goal, or 2-goal wager.
Opportunities are also available on all sports in the field of the total amount of points scored in the game. These bets are termed “over or unders or totals.” For instance, in an NBA Celtics-Lakers clash the “posted total” is 207 1/2. A player can bet either over or under the total of 207 1/2 (overtimes included) risking the uniform vig of $11 to win $10.
How To Place A Bet
It is an easy process to make a bet in the books and the clerks or ticket writers are more than willing to assist you. The best way to make a wager is to use the numbers assigned to each team on the betting boards which are provided world wide by the Nevada Sports Schedule. This numbering system is the Official Nevada Rotation for the state and is used for the convenience of both the house and players. When a player goes into a sports book and studies the betting board, the team’s assigned number is the number to the left of each team. The number to the right of the team is the odds for that team. The home team is always listed on the bottom unless a neutral site is noted. For example the betting board in a casino will list:
8 Green Bay -3
This game will be referred to as game “7/8” with Detroit being team number seven and Green Bay being team number eight. The number on the right indicates that Green Bay is a three-point favorite over Detroit. If a player decides to bet on Green Bay they can go to the window and state “I would like $11 to win $10 on team eight, Green Bay minus the three” and sound like a pro!
If you would like to bet a parlay or teaser you need to have the numbers available for all the teams you wish to back. When choosing multiple teams you will look to the betting board for the numbers of the teams you need, for instance:
- Dallas -7
- NY Giants
- Chicago -8
- New England
- Miami -3
- Green Bay -3
After deciding which teams you want to back in your parlay or teaser you can then approach the window and state “I would like a $10, four-team parlay (or teaser) on team one Philadelphia, team four Chicago, team six Miami, and team eight Green Bay.”
Again shopping for numbers relevant to your games of interest is very important because you may have to lay 3 1/2 points at one sports book while another house offers your team at minus three, which can make a big difference.
Introduction To Handicapping For Beginners
After reviewing sections one and two of this guide you should have a basic understanding of how the line (odds/spread) is determined. We cannot stress enough that the goal of the spread in each gaming contest is to equalize betting on both sides and it is NOT a prediction of the score differential between two teams. The casino wants to have equal action on both sides so they have no risk regardless of the actual outcome. It is because of this fact that players receive their biggest advantage–their ability to shop. When casinos begin to receive more money on one side over another they will adjust the line in order to create interest on the other team. If you like that “other” team, it is in your interest to wait until the line moves before placing a bet, thereby receiving the best value. But, if you are backing the team in which most of the money is going to, it is in your interest to wager before the line moves. Because there are so many casinos, some books may not have received as lopsided money as others and thus put a slightly different line on a game. A good shopper will eventually find the best value for his side, and over the long haul a 1/2-point here, and a point there can translate into significantly greater profits.
An infinite variety of activities play into each line. The weather in baseball and football are big factors. Injuries to star or integral players make having the latest information on a team vital. Such considerations as who is the home team and what’s the history behind a match up are very important. Historical results which show tradition and revenge situations are very crucial in determining how a game will play out. Equally essential is the upcoming schedules of the teams, their starting participants and who’s in the coach’s doghouse. Feist Sports is the leader in sports handicapping and sports information because of its ability to stay on top of and disseminate all of these crucial factors. Many casinos hire experts and consultants to help them with the odds because there are too many of the above factors, along with current power statistics and trends, for a busy casino to follow them all accurately.
Who will win the game? That’s the answer all handicappers are searching for and since the sports books conveniently place numbers on a game in order to equalize betting on both sides, the numbers make your job of selecting the winning team more difficult. With all of the factors available to you as a handicapper and also available to the oddsmakers and bookmakers the difference between winning and losing comes down to the practical application of that information. Common sense, hunches, TV games and personal loyalties are nice instruments to keep a player interested, but over the long run they are also a nice way to keep you broke!
The best and most successful handicappers are money managers looking for ideal situations which are defined as games with only a high percentage of return. In individual situations dumb luck will play into the outcome of games which no amount of handicapping can overcome, but in the long run a disciplined handicapper will win more of those lucky games than they lose, because they aren’t depending on the luck-factor for winners. Experts will gather as much information that’s available through the latest in available statistics, trends, weather, home field and team histories. One well known example of a historical trend is that NFL teams which play on the road three weeks in a row have been strong go-against plays. This trend has been a winning play for a decade.
Computer programs are also being written daily to review, analyze and predict how each team does against the point spread. These programs reflect the opinions of each individual because some handicappers give more value to some factors over others. For instance one handicapper may determine home field to be the most important issue in each game, while another believes that the coach is the most important component in a game. It is important to note that there is no “right” way to pick a game. The emphasis of a handicapper needs to be on disciplining themselves to a system that has produced winners for them and never varying from it.
The information available to a player can be found in daily publications, news services, computer services or specific detailed programs for this purpose. The goal of a handicapper is to study as much information as you can, for as far back as you can, in order to find the necessary trends which fit your handicapping needs. You will find that the more time and work you put into your task the more you will learn and more successful your handicapping will be.
Seven Key Factors For Sports Wagering
Both amateur and professional gamblers know that successful Sports Wagering is dependent on the law of probability. When doing any Sports Gambling there are seven key ideas that pertain to successful sports wagering:
- For successful Sports Gambling the first thing you must do is completely forget luck. Counting on the
fact that you will have good luck when doing your Betting is a good way to not be successful in Sports Wagering.
- Always remember that your Sports Gambling has a better than break-even percentage, the more Sports Wagering you do, the more winnings you will have.
- Even the most successful gamblers have losing streaks. All plan for this when Sports Gambling.
- Don’t overcompensate when you experience a losing streak or switch sports services. The length of Winning or losing streaks varies when doing long term Sports Wagering and the serious Gambler should not get discouraged.
- In Sports Gambling, you cannot expect a trend to continue when the changes occur that can affect that trend.
- Winning at Sports Wagering depends on successful money management. Keep all of your Bets within a certain money range.
- Look for Games where the Sportsbook has posted incorrect Odds to avoid lop-sided Sports Wagering.
Sports Gambling can be a successful enterprise. Once you are secure in these ideas, you can take your bet to the Sportsbook or Bookmaker. The Sportsbook is a legal Sports Gambling establishment.] Most of the Casinos of Las Vegas contain a Sportsbook. A Bookmaker, of Bookie, is someone who can accept a Sports Wagering proposition. When you go to do your Sports Gambling, you may be offered a Parlay or Teaser bet. Both a Parlay and Teaser bet tie the outcome of two or more Bets together. Although both these Bets may offer a high Payout, they do not fall under the successful Sports Wagering strategy. Another way to be successful at Sports Gambling is to find a good Handicapping company. A Handicapping company can provide Picks for Football, Baseball, Racing, or most other sports. Getting Picks for Games from a Handicapper is a good start to successful Sports Wagering if you are new to the Sports Wagering world.