Sports Betting Education 101

Beginner

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re just getting into betting, it’s worth learning all of the lingo, types of bets you can make, and how to read odds. Learn the difference between a favorite and an underdog, what a -110 line means, the difference between a spread and futures bet, and more.

American Odds +/-
American Odds are the default odds at sportsbooks in the US. These odds are based on winning $100 for a given bet.
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Point Spread
A point spread is a bet on the margin of victory in a game, which means a team must win or lose by a specific number of points.
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Over/Under
An over/under is a bet on whether the outcome of a game will be above or below a certain number of points.
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Moneyline
A moneyline bet is a bet on a specific team to win a game, by choosing either the favorite or the underdog. Margin of victory doesn’t matter.
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Juice
Juice, also known as the “vig,” is the amount charged or taxed by a sportsbook for taking a given bet.
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Units
A unit is a standardized way to compare win amounts between bettors while removing money.
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Parlay
A parlay is a wager type in which multiple bets are linked together to create a greater payout. All “legs” of a bet have to win to cash the bet.
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Pick'em
A “pick’em” refers to a game in which neither team is favored on the spread. It also means the spread, or margin of victory, is zero.
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Push
A push is the result of a tie between the bettor and the sportsbook; the bettor is fully refunded.
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Chalk
“Chalk” in sports betting refers to the betting favorite, more often a heavy favorite.
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Backdoor Cover
A backdoor cover occurs when an underdog is trailing by more than the spread but scores points late in the game to cover.
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Hook
The “hook” is the name for the last half-point of a non-whole number spread. For example, 3.5.
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Intermediate

Now that you’ve tackled the basics of betting, let’s move on to more nitty-gritty topics, such as what a round-robin bet is, how to hedge your bets and when you should, how to spot important reverse line movement and more.

What is Hedging
Hedging is a strategy in which a bettor takes the opposite side of their original bet. The goal is often to minimize loss or guarantee profit.
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Decimal Odds
Decimal odds represent the total return for every $1 wagered, including the money you risked.
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Buying Points
Buying points is an option in which a bettor can improve the spread of a bet for a more expensive price or reduced payout.
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Round Robin
A round-robin bet allows you to create a series of smaller parlays from a larger list of teams or players.
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Middle
Middle is a betting strategy in which a bettor places wagers on both sides of the same bet at different lines, attempting to win both.
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Reverse Line Movement
Reverse line movement in sports betting is when a line moves away from the side receiving the majority of bets.
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The Betting Market
A betting market is a type or category of bet on a particular sporting event. Sportsbooks often offer multiple markets on events.
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Betting Exchanges
A betting exchange is a marketplace that allows bettors to wager against each other at lower fees than those offered by a traditional sportsbook.
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What is a sharp
A “sharp” describes a serious, savvy, higher-spend sports bettor--someone who typically wins more than they lose.
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Advanced

Ready to become an advanced bettor? Let’s dive into some serious topics like key numbers in football betting, how to calculate theoretical holds in futures bets to determine your edge on a specific wager, how to de-juice all of your bets, and more.

Key numbers NFL
Key numbers are important in football given the numerical scoring of field goals and touchdowns. These are usually grouped around 3 and 7.
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Calculating Theoretical Hold in Futures
Theoretical hold expresses, in % form, the amount of money a book can expect to keep after paying out winning bets.
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How to Remove Juice
Sportsbooks take a cut of what's wagered, called the juice or vig. To understand removing juice, you first need to calculate it.
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Sports Betting Frequently Asked Questions

Where is sports betting legal?

Mobile and online sports betting is now legal and available in 13 states in the US, including Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For the latest updates, you can reference our legalization tracker.

How much should I bet?

What you should bet is a highly personal decision based on your risk tolerance and financial situation, but we’re advocates of responsible responsible bankroll management.

Is online sports betting safe?

Online sports betting is safe if you’re using legal, trusted sportsbooks and betting responsibly. For more information about the best online sportsbooks and what each has to offer bettors, please check out our sportsbook reviews.