Sports Betting

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Sports Betting

It’s never too late to learn about how sports books work. We have all the basics about sports betting here, along with some in depth and useful information.

Note: we are not a betting website; this information is for educational purposes.

Auto racing

Auto racing was not a popular betting sport a few years ago, but it is definitely in vogue now and growing every day.

In a way it is handled similar to betting on golf. The simplest bet is to just pick the winner of a particular race.

Sports books (also just called “books”) usually post about twenty major drivers and others listed as a field option, odds will vary for each driver.

Consider the following listing:

Driver Odds
Kevin Harvick 4-1
Jimmie Johnson 15-1
Austin Dillon 100-1

If you bet $10 on Jimmie Johnson 15-1 and he wins the race, you win $150 plus your $10 back, for a total of $160.

There are also matchup propositions, here two drivers will race against each other (defined by the oddsmaker) and each will have a betting line. The matchup is won by whoever finishes first. Note that to be valid both drivers have to compete.

Here’s another example. A matchup between Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte is set with these odds:

Driver Money Line
Kevin Harvick -145
Jimmie Johnson +125

A $145 bet on Kevin Harvick will pay $100 plus your initial $145 back, for a total of $245. A $100 bet on the Jimmie Johnson (the underdog on this example), will pay $125 plus your $100 back, for a total of $225.

Now and then certain sports books will include unusual propositions, like the car brand that will win the race, or the amount of caution flags in a race and so on, only limited by imagination.

Not only can you bet on famous races such as the NASCAR ones, but there are also some other race circuits covered.

Baseball

The easiest way to bet on baseball is to pick your favourite team and to place the amount you want to wager on it. If your selection is the winner, you win. The amount you get depends on the odds of the game, they are previously posted.

One key item to understand about betting on baseball is the “Money Line”. See the example below.
A minus sign (-) on the odds section indicates that the team is the favourite, a plus (+) indicates that it is the underdog. The odds are based on $1. The pitcher shown is the starting pitcher.

The home team is usually listed as the bottom one, if this is reversed it will be noted.

Example:

Team Odds Total
Dodgers +110 7.5
Braves -120

Note: The odds for the Dodgers are +110, meaning a $10 bet would win $11, for a return of $21. The odds for the Braves are -120, meaning a $12 bet would win $10, for a return of $22.

Today’s Line has the same concept, but a different format is used. There are no odds for the Underdog, they are based around what the casino sets for its line. Usually it will be something close to a “Dime Line”.

The previous example shows a dime line:
Braves -120
Dodgers +110

A 20-cent line would be:
Braves -130
Dodgers +110

Time to practice, see below two examples, one is a dime line and the other a 20-cent line, can you tell which one is which?

Braves -105
Dodgers -105

Braves -120
Dodgers Even

The favorite’s line will allow you to determine the underdog’s price. During the slowest betting season sportsbooks have been using less and less the Dime lines, this is because they want to make a larger profit during that time, and although they are not as common anymore there are books that still have them.

One thing to consider about the Money line is that it is constantly changing. There can be one set days before the game, it may change hours before the game and a new money line can be set when the game begins. Your ticket will show your odds listing the money line chosen, it remains as listed unless the starting pitches is changed. We will go over this later.

The Total field refers to the amount of runs scored in the game, sportsbooks will also call this the over/under.

A popular bet is related to the total, you can wager if this will be higher or lower than the number listed. Regardless of who wins the game. The outcome is determined by the sum of the scores of each team. Unless otherwise stated the payout is calculated at odds of 10/11. (-110)

These are the rules for bets on the total:

-All nine innings have to be played (8 ½ if the home team wins)
-A bet is refunded if the listed pitches to start the game are changed.
-Runs scored in extra innings will also count

Baseball Run Lines

On baseball bets these are a point spread of 1 ½ given to a game

The favorite team must win by at least 2 runs, or the underdog team must lose by only one run or win the game.

The money line odds for each outcome will determine the payout.
For Example:

Bet Num. Team Money Line
301 Dodgers +110
302 Braves -120

Here the Dodgers must not lose by 2 runs; an $18 bet would win $10, and return $28 and the Braves must win by 2 runs; a $10 bet would win $16, and return $26.

Run line bets as totals adhere to the same rules, that is:
-All nine innings have to be played (8 ½ if the home team wins)
-A bet is refunded if the listed pitches to start the game are changed.

Baseball Parlays

In a parlay you can make one wager by combining several teams. To win the bet all of the selected must win.

They are determined by calculating (based on the money line) the payout of the first game; this is applied to the next game, and so on.

A parlay is reduced by one team if a game is cancelled for any reason. In this case the bet is considered the same as if the postponed game was never in the ticket.

This example can you help you figure out a baseball parlay:

Amount
wagered
Odds for
Team 1
Odds for
Team 2
Odds for
Team 3
$10 +120 -130 -150
$10 x 2.20 x 1.77 x 1.67 = $65.03

If you find hard to do the math for the payout don’t worry (we are not mathematicians either), there is an easier way, just ask the agent taking your bet what is the payout of your parlay before placing the bet.

Listed pitcher(s) option

When betting on baseball you are going for a team against another. But you also have the option to indicate that either or both of the listed pitchers will start the game.

The odds could be adjusted if there is a late pitcher change, recall that odds are based on the starting pitchers. Such change in odds will decrease or increase the payout. A bet will be refunded if you list the starting pitches and for whatever reason the ones you selected don’t start.

Basketball

Straight bets on basketball are easy to place. You need to provide the bet number (this corresponds to a team name), the point spread and the amount you want to wager. Under normal circumstances the payout is calculated at odds of 10/11. This means that an $11 wager would win $10 and return $21.

The Point Spread: Your selected team must “cover the spread”, this is typical of baseball bets. The spread is a predetermined margin of points, your team must win (or not lose) by that margin.

Here’s an example (bottom team is the home team unless noted):

Bet No. Team Line Total
201 Bulls -3
202 Lakers 198

The favorite team will show the point spread. The chart above indicates that if you bet the Bulls they must win by 4 points. If you choose the Lakers you win if they win the game or if they lose the game but by no more than 3 points.

Bets are refunded if they “push”, in this case that will happen if the Bulls win by exactly 3 points.

It is normal for a point spread to change; it can have one value prior to the start and another one when it does. Regardless of this your point spread will remain the one you selected and is listed in your ticket.

The Total field is also called the over/under. It simply means the total points scored in a game.

To bet on the total just indicate if the total final score will be higher or lower than the one listed, for this add the final score of both teams. It does not matter which team covers the spread. Normally the payout is figured at odds of 10/11. (-110).

Basketball Parlays: Here you can combine several teams in one bet.

For you to win all the teams and/or totals must cover the point spread. Below is an example but consider that the odds and the number of teams you can select vary from sportsbook to sportsbook.

2 teams 13-5
3 teams 6-1
4 teams 11-1
5 teams 22-1
6 teams 44-1
7 teams 90-1

When a game ends in a push it is reduced from the parlay by one team, in the case of a 2 team parlay if one ends in a push the bet becomes a straight bet.

Basketball Teasers: This is a special type of bet, it improves the point spread but reduces the odds.

“Teasing” –as it is called- the point spread means that points will be added to the underdog team or the other way around if points are subtracted from the favorite team. The downside is that it lowers the odds of the parlay but the good thing is that it increases the chances of winning the bet. The amount of points available to “tease” and the odds will change from sportsbook to sportsbook (or between different casinos).

This chart shows approximate odds:

Number of teams 4 points 4.5 points 5 points
2 teams 10-12 10-13 10-14
3 teams 8.5-5 7.5-5 7-5
4 teams 3-1 5-2 2-1
5 teams 9-2 4-1 7-2
6 teams 7-1 6-1 5-1
7 teams 10-1 9-1 8-1

Boxing

A “money line” is used to bet in boxing. A simple bet is to select the boxer you want to bet on (using the bet number) and indicate the amount you want to wager.

The Money Line: Odds for a game based on $1.00. A “plus” sign (+) preceding the number indicates an underdog boxer, hence a “minus” sign (-) indicates the favorite.

For example:

Bet No. Boxer Odds
2001 Floyd Mayweather -260
2002 Manny Pacquiao +220

Mayweather is the favorite. If he wins the fight, a $26 bet would win $10 and return $36. On the contrary, if Pacquiao wins, a $10 bet would win $22 and return $32.

For straight bets on boxing if the fight ends in a draw the bet is refunded.

Aside from picking the winner there are other options to bet on boxing, there could be line propositions for knockouts, draws, rounds and the duration of the fight.

Football

Straight bets are the most common types on football, to place one indicate the team you want (using the listed bet number), the point spread and the amount of your bet. The payout is figured at odds of 10/11 (if this is not the case it will be noted), which means that a wager of $11 would win $10 and return $21.

Football bets also require that your selected team has to “cover the spread”, meaning that it must win (or not lose) by the determined margin of points.

For example:

Bet No. Team Line
101 Titans
102 Patriots -6

The home team is usually listed on the bottom field and the point spread is placed to the right of the favorite team.

If you bet the Patriots for you to win they must win by 7 points. If the Titans were selected you need them to either:
-Tie the game
-Win the game
-Lose the game by no more than 6 points

A bet is refunded if the bet is declared a push, in this case that will happen if the Patriots win by exactly 6 points.

Just like in basketball, it is normal for a point spread to change; it can have one value prior to the start and another one when it does. Regardless of this, your point spread will remain the one you selected as listed in your ticket.

Bet No. Team Line Total Money Line
101 Titans 40 +160
102 Patriots -6 -180

Total points scored in a game are shown in the Total field. They are also called the over/under.

You can bet It is normal for a point spread to change; it can have one value prior to the start and another one when it does. Regardless of this your point spread will remain the one you selected and is listed in your ticket.

To bet on the total select if the final score of both teams added together will be greater or lower than the number listed. This is regardless of what team covers the spread. The payout is figured at odds of 10/11 (unless otherwise stated).

There are cases where you can bet on what is called the “money line”, here you are betting on who will win the game regardless of the point spread.

Consider the chart below, the money line shows the odds based on $1. You can tell which one is the favorite team as it has a minus sign, hence the underdog team is the one with the plus (+) sign.

Bet No. Team Line Total Money Line
101 Titans 40 +160
102 Patriots -6 -180

In this example the Titans’ odds are +160, a $10 bet would win $16 for a return of $26. The Patriots’ odds are -180, so a $18 bet wins $10 for a return of $28.

Football Parlays: Several teams in one bet.

You can also create a parlay bet by combining your favorite teams in one single wager. The rule is that all teams and/or totals must cover the point spread to win the bet. The amount of teams you can select and the odds will vary from casino to casino.

A typical chart for parlays is like this:

2 teams 13-5
3 teams 6-1
4 teams 11-1
5 teams 22-1
6 teams 44-1
7 teams 90-1

Games that end in a tie will be taken off the parlay, if this were a 2 two-team parlay and one is a tie then it becomes a straight bet.

Parlay Cards: The great thing about this type of bet is that they could provide a large profit with a small bet, as low as $2.

The rules for the cards are not always the same; they can change from sportsbook to sportsbook. The rules are written on the back of each card so make sure to read them thoroughly before placing a bet. Once you have made your mind, to create the parlay just select the teams (usually by writing down on the card or circling the options) and the amount you want to bet.

Football Teasers: This type of bet will improve the point spread at the cost of reducing the overall odds. Also, these teasers cannot become straight bets.

The spread point can be “teased” by subtracting points from the favorite team or adding points to the underdog team. This in turn will decrease the odds of the parlay but increase your probabilities of winning the bet. It is worth mentioning that the specifics about the points that could be “teased” depend on the sportsbook or casino you are playing at.

To illustrate teasers consider the following are approximate odds:

Number of teams 6 points 6.5 points 7 points
2 teams 10-12 10-13 10-14
3 teams 8.5-5 7.5-5 7-5
4 teams 3-1 5-2 2-1
5 teams 9-2 4-1 7-2
6 teams 7-1 6-1 5-1
7 teams 10-1 9-1 8-1

Futures

In what is called a “future book” betting (or just “futures”) sportsbooks allow bettors to bet on the future outcome of a season (i.e. who will win the Stanley Cup, the American League East pennant or the Super Bowl).

For now let us consider the case of Super Bowl futures. The one requirement is that the team you pick has to win the Super Bowl (even if it loses a game). The listed odds are odds to win the cup. For example, the Ravens may be 5-1, the Cardinals 100-1, the Redskins 12-1, , etc. If you place $10 on the Redskins and they happen to win the Super Bowl, you collect $120 plus your $10 back for a total payoff of $130. It is irrelevant what team covers the spread.

All future bets are “locked in” and final, you keep the odds at which you placed the bet even if the sportsbook later changes them. That means if you bet the Redskins at 12-1, you will get paid off at 12-1 odds, even if they become 6-1 later on.

Horse racing is another event you can bet on “futures”, such as in who will win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup, for instance. All bets in horse racing are final, if your horse does not race for whatever reason the bet is lost. On the flip side once you place the bet the odds for the overall winner stay the same even if the ones for the specific horse change during races.

Some sportsbooks and casinos are famous for having very unusual propositions for future betting, like who will hit the most home runs during the regular season. The rules will vary according to the book but in general the one rule that is always set is that all bets are “action” regardless of unforeseen events or injuries.

Another particular bet is related to pro football and major league baseball (sometimes NBA as well), it is about the over/under odds of number of games that a team will win during the regular season. For example, the over/under on the Yankees may be 93 wins. If they win 92 or fewer games, the “under” is a winner , and if the Yankees go on to win 94 or more games, the “over” is a winner. If they happen to win exactly 93 games, the bet is a push and refunded.

Golf

Betting on Golf and Auto Racing is becoming very popular in Las Vegas.

A straight bet is to pick the winner of a tournament. Most books will have 30 or even more golfers listed, each has its own odds, there is also an “all others” category that includes the golfers not listed.

For example, Tiger Woods may be listed at 2-1, Bob May at 100-1, Tom Lehman at 25-1,  etc. If you bet $10 on Lehman and he wins the tournament, you win $250 plus your $10 back, for a total payoff of $260.

Matchup propositions are another type of bet than be done in golf, here two golfers are competing against each other, each with their own odds set before hand by the book. The matchup’s winner is the player with the better (lower) score. Note that if a golfer misses the cut and leaves the tournament the one that continues to play is the matchup’s winner).

For example, a matchup may pit Lehman (minus 125) against Jim Furyk (plus 105). If you bet $125 on the favored Lehman, the payoff would be $100 plus your $125 back, for a total of $225. If you bet $100 on the underdog Furyk, the payoff would be $105 plus your $100 back, for a total of $205.

An outstanding golfer could even be matched up against two or more golfers. For example, Woods may be pitted against Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Ernie Els. The winner is declared by taking Woods’ score and compare it the best (lowest) score achieved by the other three.

Some unusual propositions are offered by the sports books during major golf tournaments. One is the over/under on either the winning score, the lowest round (any golfer) or the finishing position by a particular player.

For instance, the over/under on Woods’ finishing position may be 3 1/2. If he finishes first, second or third place in the tournament, the “under” wins; if he finishes fourth and down, the “over” tickets are winners.

Although not the same for all casinos, usually there is the rule that your selected golfer must tee off in the tournament for “action” (once he tees off, you will either win or lose your bet). If for unforeseen reasons he does not tee off, a “no action” is usually declared and all corresponding tickets are refunded.

Both selected golfers in a head-to-head matchup proposition must tee off for action.

Hockey

When it comes to hockey payouts are based on a “Money Line”. Once you have selected the team (bet # on the chart) and the amount to wager, all you need is for your tem to cover the goal spread, this means that it must win (or not lose) by the defined margin of goals.

Consider the chart below, the money line shows the odds based on $1. You can tell which one is the favorite team as it has a minus sign, hence the underdog team is the one with the plus (+) sign.

Bet No. Team Line Money Line Total
401 Sharks +1.5 +130
402 Red Wings -1.5 -150 5

Note: unless otherwise noted as usual the home team is listed in the bottom field

The Red Wings are favorites to win by 1 1/2-goal, which means that they must win by at least two goals for the bet to be a winner. If the Sharks is your option you win if:
-They tie
-They win the game
-The Sharks lose by no more than 1 goal
The money line has to account for the point spread. For example, if the Red Wings win by 2 goals then a $15 bet would win $10 and return $25. If the Sharks win, tie or lose by one goal; a $10 bet would win $13 and return $23.

You will see many times a team listed as a 1/2-goal favorite with a +120 price. By giving up 1/2 goal, a $10 bet would win $12 for a return of $22.

Total: Also known as the “over/under” refers to the total points that are scored during a game.

This is another bet you can do by selecting if the total final score will be more or less than the one listed (regardless of what team covers the spread). To calculate the total outcome, add the final scores of each team. The payout is set as odds of 10/11 (-110), if different than that it will be noted.

Hockey Parlays: This is a custom bet with all your favorite teams in a single wager, to win it all of them have to win. They are figured out by taking into account the payout for game 1, based on the money line, the result is applied to the next game and so on.

Horse racing

What was once restricted to racetrack betting windows is not all over Las Vegas thanks to live feeds of popular horse race tracks around the country. “Horseplayers” as horse racing betters are sometimes called just found a paradise to bet on horses through sportsbooks and casinos.

To bet in Las Vegas race books you will have to indicate the specific track you want, not that this is any surprising as there are many tracks to choose from. An example of what you would tell the ticket writer is “Churchill Downs, fourth race, ten dollars to win on No. 3.”

If you have ever placed a bet at a horse race track you will find that the process is very similar in Las Vegas. The rules to collect are the same, if your horse wins the race you collect a “win” bet, if he ends in either first or second place you collect a “place” bet, and if he finishes first, second or third place you collect a “show” bet.

There is also a mixed bet “across the board” which is three separate bets: the win, place and show.

And of course the famous bets exclusive to horse racing:
-An “exacta”: picking the first two finishers in a race in the right order
-A “quinella”: is the first two finishers in any order.
-A “trifecta” picking the first three finishers in exact order
-A “trifecta box” is the first three horses in any order.
-A “superfecta” is the first four finishers in exacta order.

A few other exotic bets can be placed such as the the “daily double” for picking the winners of two consecutive races. A “daily triple” wager is won if you pick the winners of three consecutive races. And finally the “Pick Six”, one bet as hard to win as that of winning the lotto, you have to guess the winners of six consecutive races, if you are lucky enough this bet will entail a enormous payout.

Race books in Las Vegas go from very basic to full blown coverage, some offer contests, promotions and cash prizes, others have betting pools that grow larger if no one claims the pot for a few days or races and some other house-banked promotions. If you are deep into horse racing be sure to look around for a casino that has the right features for you.

Propositions

Unlike some offshore online sportsbooks, due to legal restriction for the state law, those in Nevada can only accept bets that depend on the outcome of “athletic contests” and not events that depend on elections or votes. This is why related wagers are not allowed, such as the winner of the TV show “Survivor”, the Academy Awards (the Oscars) or the presidential elections. They are not restricted from posting odds, so some do as a marketing strategy, but they cannot take bets on it and are not considered betting lines.

Unfortunately this same restriction also applies to some sports related issues such as who will be the Rookie of the Year, or who will win awards such as the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and others.

Certain sports books in Las Vegas circumvent the restriction by coming up with creative proposition bets related to a major sporting event, such as the Super Bowl.

Take for example the Super Bowl XXXV, some books posted propositions to bet on whether the Ravens would score more touchdowns than the Chicago Blackhawks scored goals on Super Bowl Sunday. This is just one example of the many more creative propositions posted.

One proposition that is gaining popularity (as it is used to boost the interest in Monday Night NFL games) is to post odds on which player will score the first touchdown in a game.

The odds and nuances about these propositions are as varied as there are casinos, so even though they can be lots of fun make sure to read the fine print before placing your bets.

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