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Bookie Tips: Sports Betting for Beginners

You may be a big sports fan that feels like you’re getting good at picking the winners and want to do something with that. Online sports betting is an easy and fun way to test your skills at picking winners, and today we will look at sports betting for beginners.

There are three essential parts to any sports bet:

  • Selection. This lays out who you are betting on and what you’re betting on them to do. For example, you can’t just say that you’re betting on the championship game. That doesn’t give enough information to the person you’re placing the bet with. You have to say something like you’re betting on the championship game between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. You’re betting on the Raptors to win the game.
  • Stake. This is straight from the term, “What you have at stake.” It’s the amount you are risking when you bet. It’s the amount you can potentially lose. High-stakes means that there’s a lot of money at risk. For some, that could be $50. For others, it could be $10,000. Most places you will be betting at will have a minimum amount you’re required to bet. If that minimum feels like high-stakes, you are probably not ready to place any bets. As a beginner, you should only be betting money that you can afford to lose. 
  • Odds. This has to do with the likelihood that you can win your bet. If it’s considered an easy bet, that means that your odds are good that you will win. If it’s unlikely that you’ll win, your odds aren’t good. This relates indirectly to the amount of money you can potentially win. If the odds are good, you probably won’t make much money if you win. 

Sports Betting Market

With legalized online sports betting, there’s no longer a reason to go to an illegal site. There are plenty of legal sports betting sites to choose from. 

The first thing you should probably do is get to know all the lingo. Sports betting has a language all its own and is something beginners need to learn. Once you get a feel for the terms bettors use, you’re halfway there to understanding and being more comfortable with sports bets and online sportsbooks. 


This is a strategy betters use to guarantee some winnings regardless of the outcome. It is usually done across multiple sportsbooks. As a beginner, this isn’t something you should be attempting as it can be complicated. Just know that it is a strategy some more advanced bettors use.


Against The Spread odds. When betting on a game using the point spread (see Point Spread), if you bet on the underdog to win (or lose by less than the spread), you are betting against the spread. (If you are betting on the favorite to win by more than the spread, you are betting with the spread). It’s a stat most sports teams post to show their underdog record against the spread.


This is the total amount of money a bettor has to play with. You should know this ahead of time so you don’t bet money you can’t lose. Bankroll management is an essential part of betting ‘safely’ to avoid having a gambling problem in the future.


This is a term to describe the favorite team or player in a matchup. Denver is on the chalk side if they are 5-point favorites over Chicago. 

Closing Line

This is simply the point spread at the time that a game begins. It’s the final line. (See also Opening Line.)


This is another term for vigorish (vig) or juice. (See Juice). It is the amount of money a bookie takes on a winning bet.

Even Money

This is a bet that pays out the same amount of money that was wagered. In other words, if you bet $100 and win, you get $100 in winnings. That means there’s no vigorish paid to the sportsbook. Traditionally, you would bet $110 to win $100, and the sportsbook would receive $10 vigorish, juice, or commission.

Exotic Wager

Exotic wagers are prop bets or other unusual or complicated wagers. Traditional bets include point spread, moneyline, or futures bets. As a beginner, you’ll want to stick with easier ways to win your bets. But it won’t be long before you can jump to exotic wagers.

Fixed Odds

Once you place a bet, the odds are set and don’t change for you. You might see changes, but they won’t affect you once you’ve wagered. This is true in every sport except horse racing. Those odds can continue to change up until a race starts. 

Futures bet

This is a bet that is made in the future, such as for the winner of the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, or World Series. Futures are also offered in other major sports such as soccer, major horse races, golf, and even tennis tournaments.


Also known as vigorish or commission, is the earnings that bookmakers add to the spread and betting options. If it costs you $110 to win $100, but you end up losing, the extra $10 goes to the bookmaker. It’s the cost of doing business with a bookie or a sportsbook at a casino.


When a bookie has a lopsided bet or is given a wager that is too big for him to handle, he will place a bet with a different sportsbook. This bet balances his book and reduces his risk of potential losses. 


Betting odds posted by a bookmaker is called a line. This is another word for odds (see Odds at the beginning of the article) and tells you the amount of money you can win on a bet.

Live Betting

While most betting stops once the game starts, live betting is done during the game. Bets are made while the game is progressing on such things as the next goalscorer, spreads, and final score. This is also known as In-Play wagering. Live Betting can be a little tricky and stressful for beginners to keep up with, so you may want to leave that till you’re more experienced with betting online.


It is similar to saying that a team or player is a sure thing or an easy winner. Upsets still occur, which is what keeps betting interesting.


Also known as a straight-up bet, without any point spread. The wager is to determine which team wins outright. Favorite teams have a smaller payout, with their odds being posted with a negative sign (-160), while the underdogs pay out more and are marked with a positive sign (+140). 

In the example above, you would have to pay $160 to bet on the favorite to win. If they do win, you get paid $100 in winnings. If you were betting on the underdog above, you would win $140 for every $100 you wager. 

Opening Line

This is the first point spread available for a game. Point spreads can change after the opening line due to injuries or scratches, or if too much betting is done on one side of the line. But that’s nothing to worry about. Once you’ve placed your bet, your odds are locked in. (See Fixed Odds. See also Closing Line.)


This bet has to do with the total number of points scored in a game (the combined score of both teams). In other words, if Tampa Bay beats San Francisco by a score of 24 to 17, the total number is 41. If the original number posted was 35, everyone that bet Over won. Everyone that bet Under lost. Bettors are simply wagering whether the total score at the end of the game will be Over or Under the number posted prior to the game starting.

Bookie Tips: Sports Betting for Beginners


This is a combination of more than one wager into one bet. And each bet has to win in order to win the parlay. It’s a single bet with two or more sides. It’s definitely something to be left to the more skilled sports bettor.

Point spread

This is the number of points the favorite (chalk) team is expected to win by. Favorites are listed with a negative (-5.5) spread, while the underdog team is given a positive (+5.5) point spread. In this example, if you bet on the favorite, they have to win by 6 points or more for you to win your bet. If they lose or win by 5 points or less, you lose your bet. The point spread is a way to even the odds against two teams.


Short for Proposition betting. These are exotic wagers on individual players to do something during a game. For example, which player will score first in a football game? Most sporting events offer many prop bets per game. If you study a player and his stats, this is a great way to use your expertise to win with sports bets.


Any bet where the final result is a tie is called a Push. If a football game has a spread of 10 points and the score ends up being 21 to 31, it’s a push. The spread is 10 points, and the bet is considered a tie. In this case, all bettors have their wagers returned.


This is someone who is considered a professional sports gambler. They use a lot of resources to figure out their wagers and shop around to different sportsbooks to get the best prices. As a beginner, you could learn a lot from them.


This refers to casual bettors, novices, or recreational sports bettors. These are people who bet on sports for fun or as a hobby, or they are just starting out. They aren’t looking to quit their day job.


This is when odds on a game or player change quickly because of a large amount of betting action taking place (usually by sharp bettors). Some bettors will “chase steam” trying to follow the sharp bettor action. When learning about sports betting, it might be best to recognize this when it happens but steer clear of it as volatility is added risk.


Another term for juice or commission.

Understanding makes you a Better Bettor

If beginners want to learn how to do better at the blackjack tables, as well as sports betting, you study blackjack from a book or instructor. You learn the rules of the game in order to be able to play it, but it’s the strategies and tricks of the game that help you win. 

When you’re playing any sport, you can learn the rules to play, but the more advanced players learn about the nuances of the game. They learn to read the plays and the other team’s strategies in order to beat them.

The same is true when you are betting on a game. Knowing the rules allows you to play. You can have a lot of fun just by knowing the rules. But when you’ve had some practice and know your way around a sportsbook, you’re ready to take the next step and start winning more. 

But before you get carried away, get a good understanding of the terminology used in sports betting first, which are basically the rules. Get comfortable placing different types of bets and learn from them. 

Where to Start Betting?

Beginners can do a search for online sports betting sites and find the one that best fits your comfort zone. The top ones like Fanduel, Draftkings, and BetMGM offer signing bonuses like free bets when bettors sign up. If you like the personal touch, you can look for bookies that have their own sites for online betting. Your best bet is to find a good bookie through your friends. 

Betting on sports can be a fun hobby or a way to add to the excitement of the games you love to watch. You can become a profitable sports bettor if you spend the time to improve your skill. But learn the rules first, and remember to have fun!

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