How to Bet Sports

Best Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

With the legalization of sports betting in June of 2018, new and curious first-time bettors are flocking to the internet to get a piece of the action but there is one huge problem. It was illegal before so many don’t know how to bet sports. Sports betting with a game plan is always advised, and while our professional handicappers providing picks takes most of the work out of sports betting, you should still educate yourself on basic sports betting language.

Popular Sports Betting Terminology

It always helps to start new bettors off with introducing them to The Juice. No – not OJ Simpson. It’s that number in the parenthesis next to your moneyline, point spread or total – it is the odds. It is key in knowing how to bet sports.

You might see (-110) more commonly than not, next to the team you’re planning to place a bet on. This is called the juice or vig as some may call it. This number will determine how much money you’d win off of a $100 bet.

In the case of the magical (-110), you’d have to bet $110 to win $100. If the odds were (+200), you’d win $200 from betting $100, and so on and so forth.

To most easily explain this, we are going to use NFL examples:

Moneyline Betting

The Moneyline is the most popular way to bet on a variety of popular professional sports including NFL, NHL and NBA. When betting the moneyline, you’re betting on which team will outright win the game or matchup. If you want to bet on the Green Bay Packers to win over the Dallas Cowboys, all you have to do is select Green Bay.

Where the odds come in for Moneyline betting, and where it can get a little confusing, is that you might not really make any money if you’re betting the Packers as a favorite. If the line looks something like:

Green Bay Packers (-350)

Dallas Cowboys (+500)

You will need to wager $350 to make $100 in profit on the Packers – is that worth it? Not usually. But if you decided to wager on the Cowboys and they ended up winning, you’d make a pretty penny ($500 plus your $100 bet back) by betting on the underdog.

Point Spreads

The second most popular NFL betting type is the point spread. This one can be a little more complicated but still relatively easy to understand. In addition to the juice or vig, you’re going to see another number next to each team that usually ranges from 1 to 15 in the NFL, respectively. For example, if the lines look like this:

Seattle Seahawks (+3)

Atlanta Falcons (-3)

In this situation, the Falcons are the favorite, and they’re projected to win the game. If you bet on the Falcons, they will have to win by more than three points for your bet to cash. If you bet on the Seahawks, who are the underdog in this situation, they will have to win by three points OR lose by less than three points. If the final score ended up being a spread of exactly three points, which will be a push and you would get your initial bet back.

*In the case of betting on the NHL this is called the puckline

*In the case of MLB this is called the runline and is a -1.5 point spread added to the favorite.


When it comes to NFL betting, there can be instances where you can’t quite risk your betting dollars by picking a team to win. Whether you’re looking at a close or unpredictable game, you can usually rely on the totals to still get your bet in. Betting the total is also known as the Over/Under, which is exactly how it sounds – you bet whether the total score for both teams will be over the oddsmaker’s predicted score, or under.

If you’re betting on the NFL, and your preferred sportsbook posted a total of 47 on a Houston vs.Jacksonville game, you have to determine whether you think both teams will score more than 47 points combined. If you choose the over, the teams must have a combined score of 48 or more, and for the under you will need the score to be 46 or less.

This one is easy to understand and great for first time bettors looking to get their feet wet.


If you want to up the ante and are feeling good about a few different games, you can combine the odds  for 2+ games to make a parlay wager. Select a few games, any odds, you can mix moneylines, totals and point spreads and it will combine all the odds to create a nice payout given you select a few underdogs. The catch with parlays, is that all of your bets have to cash. If you have a four-game parlay, and only 3 of your bets cash, you lose all of it.


Futures are another easy and fun betting option, where you can bet on the outcome of a certain event or season, months in advance. Usually the day after the Super Bowl, sportsbooks release odds for the following season, with each team’s odds to win the next year’s Super Bowl. There are plenty of futures available on any given day, but there is a surplus of futures wagers around big events or marquee events.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are gaining popularity year after year and sportsbooks are taking notice. They usually only occurred around big events like the Super Bowl, but now there are prop bets for almost every preseason, regular season or playoff NFL game, college football game, NHL game or MLB game. Prop bets are meant to be fun and you are never inclined to place huge bets on them, so naturally, there are tons of options available, and you can usually bet on a few different props at once.

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