Sports Betting Basics – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Sports Betting Basics – Avoid These Common Mistakes

what not to do when betting on sport

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The repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has made sports betting more mainstream now. It seems everywhere one turns, there is an advertisement for a sportsbook. With popularity on the rise, more people are getting involved in betting. They should do so cautiously and make sure they understand the basics so they can avoid these common mistakes.

The Basics

There are numerous ways to bet, but the most popular are going to be moneyline, spread, and totals bets. When lines are released for a game, there is a moneyline favorite and underdog as well as a point spread favorite and underdog.

The favorite is always indicated by a minus “-“ sign. The underdog is identified by a plus “+” sign. When betting on the moneyline, bettors are simply betting on which team will win the game. A typical NFL moneyline bet might look like this:

Dallas -260

Washington +275

Dallas is the favorite and a $260 bet will win $100. Betting on the underdog, you would wager $100 and win $275 if Washington pulled the upset. You would also find a point spread bet for this game. It might look like this:

Dallas -7 (-110)

Washington +7 (-110)

Here, Dallas is a 7-point favorite over Washington. The Cowboys must win by eight or more points. On the other end, underdog Washington must either lose by six points or less or win outright. The -110 here indicates the odds. For every $1.10 wagered, the bettor wins $1. 



Bettors can also wager on game totals, or the final combined score. This has nothing to do with which team wins the game. Bettors simply wager on whether a final score goes Over or Under a set total. 

In our example, a totals bet might look like this:

Dallas O 47.5 (-110)

Washington U 47.5 (-110)

The set total here is 47.5. If the final score is 28-20, the total would be Over. Again, the -110 is the odds on the bet. If you wager $1.10 on the Over and 48 points are scored, you’re a winner.


Common Mistakes

As a beginning bettor, there are a number of things to avoid. One is your bet size. One of the most important things you can do as a bettor is manage your money. Too often, players change their bet size based on how well or how poorly they are doing. Hot bettors get overconfident and double down. Bettors in a slump try to win it all back at once with a huge bet. Avoid the temptation to do so.

Many beginning bettors also have unrealistic expectations. Sure, there are bettors that hit some pretty big wins. Those same bettors take some large losses too. The best of the best in the industry will win 55, maybe 60 percent of their bets. Keep that in mind. Check out to learn how to bet on sports online.

Just because you like betting doesn’t mean you have to bet on everything. Too often, novice bettors make too many bets. This can crush a bankroll. Make plays on the games you are most confident. Remember, you can’t lose a bet that you don’t make.

One of the best things any bettor can do to improve his winning percentage and overall profit is to shop. That’s right, bettors should shop for the best lines and odds. A half-point here or there could be the difference between a winner and a loser. Shop around and take advantage of the best lines.