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Sportsbetting Basics for Squares

Unlike poker and various casino games, which require at least a knack and a little bit of knowhow to play, sports betting is universally available. The beauty of the whole thing is that everyone who has ever watched a game in his life thinks he’d make a decent bettor. The appeal comes from the fascination that mankind has always felt towards everything involving some degree of future-prediction, and that is what most squares believe sports betting to be about. Sharps on the other hand know too well that playing the oracle is childish and that predicting the eventual winner of a game has little to do with long-term sports betting success. While at its core sports betting is indeed gambling, being successful at it is about skill as well. Understanding the exact mechanisms at work behind the scenes will help a lot too.

Most rookies think that in sports betting, there are only two players: the actual players involved in the action on the basketball court or football field, and those who wager money on the outcome of the various games. This approach is fundamentally wrong. There’s one more player involved in the equation, one that is at least as important as the two teams playing: the bookmaker. Failing to take the bookmaker’s goals and objectives into account is a big mistake, one that will prevent you from being able to properly handicap games from the perspective of the sports bettor.

The first and most basic thing you need to understand about the bookmaker is that he strives for balance. He always sets his line in a way that allows him to receive comparable amounts of wagers on both sides. The reason he needs to do that is simple: only when there are approximately similar numbers of players can he make money risk-free. An ideal bet for the bookie would go like this: get 5 people on one side of the bet, 5 on the other, then no matter who wins, pay the winners from the losers’ money and keep the vig. Because of the margin that his vig gives him, the bookmaker doesn’t have to set a perfect balance.

If there are 4 people on one side for instance and 5 on the other, he can still afford to pay the winners while generating some profit too. If one side becomes too popular for comfort though then he’s put in a delicate position which forces him to make a move. He can either opt to cover the bets left uncovered himself (an option which is obviously not a particularly popular one) or he can move his lines a little, to make the other side of the bet look more attractive and to lure more bettors onto the lacking side, thus re-establishing the balance. This is exactly why the lines are often influenced by factors which have nothing to do with either of the teams involved in the game or with any other factual data concerning the match-up. In order to take the bookie’s moves into account, skilled bettors reverse-handicap games, which means that they always keep an eye on the lines as well as on the reasons behind their movements.

If you’re a square sports bettor yourself, here’s another thing you should consider: signing up to an online bookmaking operation instead of using the services provided by your local bookmaker makes more sense than ever these days. These online operators will give you various bonuses and rewards based on the amount of money you wager.



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Last Updated 31 July 2016
Sportsbetting Basics