How to Bet on Sports

How to Bet on Sports

Gambling on sports and competitions has been around since the earliest days of recorded history. The ancient Greeks bet on the Olympic Games, and Romans were well-known for having a punt on chariot races and duels to the death in the Colosseum. In later centuries, jousting contents and horse racing have all seen money change hands via bets. Humans just love to bet on sports. If you have not done so yet, you may not know what you are missing. Allow GambleHero to showcase what sports betting is all about. If you are considering having a punt on the nags or fancy backing your favourite side to cup glory, here is what you need to know to get started betting on sports today.

Is It Legal to Bet on Sports?

The legality of sports betting depends entirely on where you live. Far more countries have approved sports betting than casino gambling. Even so, wagering on sports has proven a contentious topic in many areas. Some countries prohibit it, believing that it leads to corruption. However, in most Western and modern countries, sports betting is not only legal but hugely popular.

Where to Bet on Sports

If you do not fancy legging it down to the local high street bookmaker in the rain or cannot be trackside for the big event, then you are not out of luck. Most bookmakers now have online websites where you can play all manner of bets – often far more than a land-based outlet would take. Known as online sportsbooks, these can often deliver tens of thousands of selections spanning thirty, forty or even fifty-plus markets. Many now run mobile sports betting apps to boot, meaning you do not even need a computer to wager on the big match.

Top Sports Betting Markets

When it comes to sports betting markets, the general rule is this: if it is a sport, you can wager money on it. While smaller sportsbooks are more selective about the markets they offer, a leading bookmaker will typically offer you over fifty sports betting options. These can include major sports such as:

  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Horse Racing
  • Boxing
  • Motor Racing
  • Cricket
  • Rugby
  • American sports such as Basketball, Baseball, American Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • esports
  • and many more

Alongside conventional sports betting options, many leading bookmakers also offer one-off bets. These include events that do not take place regularly, like the FIFA World Cup or Olympic Games. Moreover, they carry far-flung options for those who do not like sports. These oddities can include bets on television shows, politics and more.

Types of Common Sports Bets

Once you know what you want to bet on, the next question rears its head: how will you bet? You will have an array of options open to you, and these will vary depending on the type of major sport you want to bet on. For instance, a football match may have a First Team to Score bet, but you will not find that option in a Formula One race. What you might have there is a Pole Position bet. Both types of wagers can be known as Props, as they are statistical bets on specific competitors. Other types of bets are grouped into categories, too. Let us look at those next. They include:

  • Outright: A straightforward bet on which competitor will win an event.
  • Outcome/Money-Line: A bet that a competitor will win, lose, or draw an event.
  • Correct Score: This type of bet only appears in sports where there are scores, but it is essentially a wager on the correct score.
  • Over/Under: When placing Over/Under bets, you are giving a margin to a team. For instance, you are betting that Team A will beat Team B by at least X goals. Conversely, Team B will lose by no more than X goals.
  • Handicap: This is used to balance out the difference between a favourite and an underdog. This works in the same way as an Over/Under bet. So, in football, for instance, the favourite must win by more than X goals to win the bet, or an underdog can win a bet if they do not lose by more than X goals.
  • Futures: Any bet on the winner of a competition or tournament can be deemed a future bet. Future bets can have long odds because the outcome will not be determined for quite some time.
  • Spread Betting: Known as Point Spread Betting and popular in the US, this type of bet is another type of handicap option, whereby a team must win or can lose by the number of points that appear within the spread (for instance, +3/-3). It is similar to the explanation given above for Over/Under, and Handicap betting, except the bookmaker often sets the spread.
  • Props: These are bets (often on single players) that are based on the stats in a match. Examples include the number of goals a player will score, the number of fouls, etc.

Ways to Bet on Sports Online

Some of the other major ways you can bet on sports include the following:

  • Accumulators: Also known as ACCAs, accumulator bets are a series of individual bets on the same ticket. The winnings from one bet are used as the stake for the next. For this reason, you can pocket massive sums with successful accumulators. However, just one wrong result (sometimes bookmakers are more flexible here) can effectively ruin your accumulator.
  • Live In-Play Betting: Live in-play betting involves wagering on a game that has already started. This way, you can place a bet in real-time according to the action as it unfolds. Odds will move during this match, so this can be favourable or disadvantageous depending on when you bet. Some bookmakers even allow you to cash out a live bet early for a reduced prize.
  • Exchange Bets: These are not the same as sportsbook wagers. Instead, exchanges allow you to be the bookmaker. You can choose to back or lay any bets as you see fit where there is money in a market, but the risk is a lot greater if you do not know what you are doing.
  • Handicap: As touched on above, a handicap is a type of bet that allows you to increase the winning terms for a favourite and lower the winning conditions for an underdog. This is done to balance out the discrepancies and edge between a favourite and an underdog. Again, see our section on Over/Under, Spread Betting and Handicaps for an example.
  • Each-Way: Each-Way bets are most common in horse racing. They consist of two bets. The first is a bet on a horse to win; the second is on a horse to place (finish in the top three, four, five or sometimes six). You can win both bets, one bet or neither, with these bets. In terms of football, an each-way bet is a wager on a team to win and draw, win, and lose, or draw and lose. Provided your team does not go on to do the one thing (out of the three outcomes) that you did not wager on, you are guaranteed to win at least one out of your two bets. The trick is coming out with more than you bet.

There are many other types of bets that you can make out there, such as Arbitrage, Heinz, and Patent bets, but we strongly suggest that you learn the basics before tackling these. These types of bets are designed for skilled punters and are a story for another day.

Know Your Odds

It is hugely important that you understand how odds work. Odds are best described as the probability that an event will happen. For instance, the odds of Team X winning at 2/1 are better than the odds of Team Y winning at 5/1. The longer (big number) the odds, the more you can win, but the less chance of that happening there is. The shorter (smaller number) the odds, the less you will win in terms of prize, but the more likely you are to pull off a win.

Odds are often displayed in three formats, and you can choose how you prefer to see them. They include:

  • Decimal: For example, 2.00, where the figure displayed is the amount you can win for every £1 you bet. Ideal for most sports, especially football.
  • Fractional: For example, 5/2, where the left-hand figure is the amount that you can win when you wager the amount on the right. Ideal for horse racing.
  • American: For example, -135 or +135. The minus figure is what you must stake to win £100, and the positive figure is what you can win with a £100 bet – ideal for US sports and Point Spread Betting.

Top Tips for Sports Betting

Before you get started, allow us to share a few top sports betting tips with you. They include:

  • Always be sure to understand the games, teams, and players you are wagering on before risking your cash.
  • Never wager large sums on underdogs. It is okay to have a cheap £1 punt on something, but do not go overboard. They are underdogs for a reason.
  • If you advance to using strategic bets such as Heinz, Reverse Bets, Patent Bets, or Arbitrage Betting, be sure you understand how these bets work. Moreover, always use a bet calculator before backing and laying odds with Arbitrage bets.
  • When betting with accumulators, always stick to the matches that yield decent results but that are the most likely to occur.
  • Feel free to sign up for multiple bookmakers. By doing so, you can scope out various odds on the same market, ensuring that you see the value in the odds.

Get Started with Sports Betting Today

We hope that this GambleHero guide has whetted your whistle for sports betting. If you are ready to take off your tracksuit, get off the bench and start playing, we are here to help. Do not hesitate to check out our recommended online sportsbooks to find ideal places to start betting on sports today.