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Understanding Sports Betting and How to Reliably Predict Winners

To the untrained eye, sports betting might seem like a relatively simple endeavor. Just place money on the winning team and then you win money, right? Well, not quite, since the reality of sports betting is far more complex and varies from sport to sport.

In football, for example, something called spread betting is very popular. A spread is a handicap of sorts, instituted to make a mismatched game, where one team is clearly favored, still attractive to gamble on. To demonstrate, say the Browns were playing the Patriots. Clearly the Patriots are favored to win the game, and they’ve been given an 8 point spread as a result. What this means is that a bet placed on the Patriots to win, will only pay money if New England manages to defeat Cleveland by a total of more than 8 points, simply winning by a 7 point touchdown won’t cut it. Thanks to the spread, sports betting on what would otherwise be a blowout, becomes more of a 50-50 contest from the bettors perspective.

Sports gambling has also evolved to the point where gamblers do not even place money on the final outcome of the game, instead they wager what the score will be at half time, or after a quarter. This type of sports betting is especially popular in NBA basketball, where the wager can be placed on who is leading after half time, or the first or third quarter, rather than the game’s eventual victor. In fact, a sports bet on the straight up winner of a game, without any spread involved, is sometimes somewhat rare.

Baseball is one sport where a spread, frequently the runline in MLB, is less common than betting on your traditional winner or loser. In baseball sports betting, a wager on the favored team in the moneyline, will always pay up if that team wins, no matter how favored they are. So, if for arguments sake the Yankees of 2009 were facing a minor league triple AAA, a bet on the Yankees to win would still pay off money, without any spread involved. Of course, how much money you would win is dependent on the money line and, in the case of two mismatched teams facing each other, a winning bit on the favored team will usually yield very little. If the Yankees were favored -900, for example, you would have to bet $900 on them simply to win $100 – clearly those aren’t very attractive terms.