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Wagering Tips

What Types of Bets Can Be Made?

Making a bet at a sports book is a lot like ordering food at a restaurant. As a patron, you're given a list of what's available and how much it costs. In Las Vegas, your "menu" is often displayed in lights on a façade somewhere toward the back of a casino. Sports betting on the Internet is a bit more intimate, but the processes are similar. Examine, for example, the way a straight bet - one in which you bet on one of two opponents in an athletic competition - is listed. Each event is listed with either a money line or a spread, and the task at hand is to simply select which item of the menu (team A or team B) you would like to select. You do this by either clicking the team name, a check box, or an icon indicating your choice, and the site generates a form explaining how much you're wagering and how much you can win. All of your bets are kept in password-protected online databases with which you can closely monitor how much money is in your account, how much money is currently in action, which teams or players you've selected, and how your bets have resulted in the past.

Following is a rundown of bets that can be made at online sports books:


A money line is a straight wager in which the better gives odds when betting the favorite and takes odds when betting the underdog. If the money line for the Detroit Redwings versus the Chicago Blackhawks game is 9 to 5, with Detroit favored, you place $9 to win $5 on Detroit or $5 to win $9 on Chicago. Of course, keep in mind that the sports book takes a cut of winning bets for itself.
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Reading money lines seems confusing at first, but it's fairly easy after you get the hang of it. In North America, money lines are listed using positive and negative numbers. Let's say the money line for the Yankees versus the Red Sox game is: NY Yankees (-145) versus Boston Red Sox (+125). If you pick the Yankees, a winning $145 bet earns $100. If you pick the Red Sox, a winning $100 bet earns $125. Sports books in other regions, such as Europe and Australia, use a fraction system. The same bet would be listed in a book that caters to Europeans and Australians as New York Yankees (20/29) versus Boston Red Sox (5/4).
When you're betting against the spread, the underdog is given extra points. For example, "Pittsburgh (-5 1z�2 ) versus Seattle" means that Pittsburgh is a five-point favorite, and bets on Pittsburgh only pay if Pittsburgh wins by six or more points. On the flip side, if you select Seattle, and Seattle loses by five or fewer points, you still win the bet. Against-the-spread bets are common wagers for football and basketball games because both are high scoring sports.

The Over/Under
Bet the over/under when you've got good reason to believe that the final score will be higher or lower than what the odds makers predict. The only thing that matters in the outcome is the total number of points scored. Let's say the over/under for the New England versus Denver game is 45, and you pick the under. As long as 44 or fewer total points are scored, whether its 44-0 Denver or 23-21 New England, you win the bet.

The Parlay
Here's where the odds get tougher and the payouts get bigger. A parlay is a combination of bets in which you win only if every one of your selections is a winner. The parlay is the perfect play for the all-or-nothing type of sports bettor.

The Proposition Bet

A proposition is a wager on a particular aspect of an event such as how many strike-outs a pitcher will get or how many completions a quarterback will make.

This is a bet, taken well in advance, in which a sports book gives odds on a certain team or player accomplishing a particular feat, such as winning a championship. You can pick a football team in August, for example, to win the Super Bowl in January.

A teaser is a type of parlay in which you increase your chances of winning by moving the point spread in your favor. For example if you want the Jets (-3), the Falcons (+2), and the Bears (+5) with 4 teaser points, your point spreads are adjusted to Jets (+1), Falcons (+6), and Bears (=5). The tradeoff is that the bets pay off at significantly lower odds.

The Place Only Bet
Place only bets, more popular with horse racing, are bets in which you select a team or player to finish among the nominated placings of an event. Typically, winning place bets must finish first, second, or third.

The Each Way Bet
An each way bet is when you bet on a team or player to win or place in an event. Such a bet requires that you put money up for each outcome. Obviously, the payout is much greater if the team or player you select comes in first.

Don't fall into the trap of being sentimental when betting on sports. Always distinguish between being a fan and being a bettor. Betting the team that you want to win rather than logically analyzing match-ups and trends usually leads to large amounts of money exiting your wallet.

Spread Betting

Spread betting, also known as index betting, is an exciting form of wagering that can be applied to any event as long as it has a final result. The hotbed for spread betting is the United Kingdom, so the most popular sports for spread betting are soccer, rugby, and cricket. It's a thrilling way to bet because the odds change throughout the event and you can bet even after the event has begun. You win or lose an amount calculated by the difference between the sports book's prediction and the final result, multiplied by you stake. A $5 bet could win you $5 if your prediction is right or $50 if you prediction is extremely right. By the same token, you can lose $5 for being wrong and $50 for being extremely wrong.

Following are the three basic types of index bets:

* Total Numbers - The combined score of a sporting event. Most index bets revolve around totals.
* Match Bets - You try to predict the superiority of one team, horse, or individual over another.
* Performance Bets - An artificial point scale is used to measure the outcome of a sporting event.

Here's an example of how spread betting works: Let's say you want to make a bet on the total number of points scored for the Lions/Packers game, and the sports book thinks the total will be between 42 and 45. The spread is thus 42-45. If you believe the final score will be less than 42, you choose to sell. This is also known as a down sake of keeping things easy, let's say that the stake is $10. If the final score is below 42, you win. To find out how much you make, subtract the actual total points from 42 and multiply the difference by the stake (which, in your case, is $10). So, if the total points scored is 30, you win $120. (42-30 = 12 x $10 = $120). The payout for this particular outcome is 12 to 1. If you lose, however, the same formula applies toward your total loss. So, if the total points scored is 57, you lose $120 (45-57=-12x$10=-$120). In such a case, you would have won money if you chose to buy instead of sell. Buying is when you bet that the score will be higher than the spread. It's also known as an up bet.


(All legal British spread-betting firms are regulated by the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA). The SFA was set up in 1986 to regulate U.K. financial markets, including spread-betting companies. It's basically the British version of the American Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission rolled into one. Do not, under any circumstances, open an account with a British spread-betting site that isn't licensed by the SFA.

It gets even better (or worse depending on how you look at it). Bets can be made throughout the event, and the spread changes accordingly. Let's say you knew it would be a low scoring game, so you sold at 42.45, and the total points at halftime is only 10. The price changes from 42-45 to 27-30. You can either let your bet ride by doing nothing or close the bet at the new price. You close a bet by wagering the same amount in the opposite direction of your original bet. You originally sold for $10, so now you buy for $10. No matter how the game turns out, you've just won $150! Let's say the final total turns out to be 20. That means you win $220 (42-20=22x$10-$220) on the first bet and you lose $70 (20-27=-7x$10=-$70) on the second bet. Now let's say the final total turns out to be 50. That means you lose $50 (45-50=-5x$10=-$50) on the first bet and win $200 (50-30=20x$10=$200) on the second bet. Likewise, if you originally bought at 42-45, you could cut your losses to $150 by closing the bet at 27-30.

To Keep things from getting completely out of hand, spread-betting sites enable you to control your risk by using stop losses. A stop loss is a limit placed at the time of opening a bet on how many times the stake can be multiplied. Of course, an equivalent stop win is applied, as well. The stop loss comes in handy in games where one team runs up the score. For example, if you sell for $20 at 24-27 and the final total ends up being 67, without a stop loss, you'd owe the bookmaker $800.

Is Spread Betting for You?
At a glimpse, spread betting appears to be one heck of a lot of fun - and it is - but be mindful of the rish before trying it. Despite all the excitement it generates, spread betting has earned a reputation for being a very dangerous activity because it's been known to ruin people financially. For this reason, SFA-regulated sites are required to post risk warning statements. The common mistake made by spread bettors is not realizing how much they're wagering. Consider the previous example in which you sell for $20 at 24-27. Let's say the stop loss/win is set at $200. The temptation of winning as much as $200 when laying out only $20 is exciting, but the truth is you're not making a $20 bet.

You're really making a $200 bet because that's how much you can lose. The dynamics of spread betting are inviting, but it's also the dynamics that make it so dangerous. If you want to bet $20, that's find, but you have to either set the stop loss at $20 or close the bet as soon as the spread moves far enough to put you down by $20. Spread betting is only for bettors who are excellent with money management. If you don't pay attention to your limits at all times, you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. On the other hand, if you're a disciplined bettor and you understand your personal limits, spread betting can be very enjoyable and very lucrative.

How to Be a Savvy Sports Bettor on the Web
One of the reasons sports are so exciting is that they're unpredictable. If you're a big sports fan, you've certainly heard the phrase "That's why they play the games." Tons of physical and mental factors come into play. And of course, there's also the ever-evasive element of pure luck. You never know which way the ball's going to bounce.

Depending on the Wise Guys
Before you put on your thinking cap in an attempt to conquer the many ins and outs of sports handicapping, you might want to consider that loads of people out there who are already wearing their thinking caps want to share their vast knowledge with you. Naturally, this usually costs you money. These are individuals who analyze (or claim to analyze) sporting events and have a knack (or claim to have a knack) for beating the odds makers. The way it works is very simple. You send the handicappers money, either by check, money order, bank wire, or online credit card processing, and they deliver their winning selections to you. They give you access to the picks by either emailing them to you or allowing you access to password-protected pages on their Web sites. There are more sports handicappers offering their services on the World Wide Web than there are drops of water in the ocean. (Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there are a heck of a lot.) Incidentally, most stake claims that they're "the best handicapping service on the Web" and most also stake claims that they're "the only honest handicapping service on the Web."

So, who do you trust? Who's really the best? How do you go about sifting through all the hype? These are tough questions. Anyone can claim to be a sports guru who prognosticates at a success rate of 80 percent. But you must ask yourself, "Why would a handicapping genius waste his time selling advice on the Internet when he could be out somewhere enjoying the millions of dollars he's made by wagering at sports books?" With that in mind, it's extremely difficult to determine which services are legitimately dependable. One way is to start your guru search with online monitoring services. These are Web sites that monitor the picks of online handicappers to assure that their claims are legitimate. Of course, one trip to any sports handicapping forum or newsgroup reveals that many theorize that handicappers are in cahoots with the monitoring services and that the whole monitoring thing is a sham. But gambling is all about taking risks, right?

You can find sports handicapping monitoring services on the Web:

The following are a few things to keep in mind while searching for a sports handicapping service:

* Beware outrageous claims. A good handicapper will be in the neighborhood of 60 percent. Anyone who says he picks 'em with a 75 percent rate is either lying or has only been handicapping for a few weeks and managed to start hot.

* Numbers can be manipulated. Handicappers often find creative ways of making their numbers seem impressive. Don't go gaga when a handicapper says, "I'm undefeated this year in games in which the road favorite is coming off a bye week that followed a night game on grass."

* Money-back guarantees are worthless. Sometimes handicappers will promise to refund your money if they give you losing picks, so you can say, "Gee, I just blew $5000 laying money on teams that Lucky Larry called 'locks,' but at least I get back the $35 I spent to purchase his advice." That's hardly consolation.

* Claims of having "insider information" are usually hype. Handicappers who say they have access to privileged information are usually either lying or using a very loose definition of the term "privileged."

Overall, you have to keep in mind that all handicappers go through hot streaks and cold streaks. When they're hot, you hear all about it. When they're not, they seem to maintain a low profile. Go figure. A great place to follow handicappers who are hot is Predict It Sports at Predict It is a dynamic site in which several handicappers regularly enter their picks into a database. Customers come to the site and view lists of which handicappers in the database are hot, based on their recent success rate. You can view all of the handicappers' past and pending picks and then purchase future picks if you like what you see. Or you can sign up as a handicapper and submit your picks into the database. You then receive a penny for each time a customer pays to see your picks.

Being your Own Wise Guy

If purchasing the advice of sports betting consultants isn't for you, you could always be your own wise guy. It's doable, but you have to do your homework to be successful. Research is the name of the game, and once again, the Internet is your friend. It's always nice to have luck on your side, but picking winners with consistency ultimately depends on your ability to stay on top of the many factors contributing to the outcome of a game. The following bases need to be covered: How does a team or player perform on a particular surface? How will the weather affect the event? How have the teams or players matched up against each other in the past? How does a team or player perform at home or on the road? How does a team or player perform after a long layoff? How does a team or player fare as a favorite or an underdog? Are any key players injured? Does the event have post-season implications? How well did a team or player practice prior to the event? How well does a team or player perform at night? How has a team or player performed in recent games? Will intangibles such as heated rivalries, personal crises, and vendettas come into play?

Much of this information is available on the World Wide Web. Some Web sites compile trends and contributing factors and publish them for your viewing pleasure. It also does you good to follow stuff in the news like injury and weather reports. If you've got the time and patience, you can help yourself make smart bets by keeping up with news and statistics on the Web.


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