If you are not one of the many millions of seasoned sports bettors, then it can be quite complicated to understand all the terminology that comes with it. You’d think it would be as easy as finding odds on a team, player or horse that you like, and placing a bet. While in its simplest term that is correct, it really is only scraping the surface of what betting options there are out there.
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That’s why gaining an understanding of the terminology is important, ideally as early as possible, so you can take full advantage of your betting app. Soon enough, even an inexperienced bettor will understand what a parlay builder is, in the context of sports betting. You will then be able to browse your sportsbook, and find bets that are much more interesting, and potentially return much higher profits than you previously would have been able to.
Sports handicapping is another interesting way of varying up your betting methods. It requires a bettor to study and analyse sporting events, to find an edge when betting on games. There are professional sports handicappers, who spend all day looking at hundreds, if not thousands of betting websites, trying to find a bet to take advantage of, but there is no reason that the average bettor at home can’t do the same in their spare time.
Therefore, we thought we’d point out some of the key things and features to look out for when you first get into sports handicapping, so that you can begin your (hopefully fruitful) journey into this exciting world of betting.
Point spread / moneyline
So, you’re ready to put in the hard work, analyse some sporting events, to try and find an edge in the betting odds. But what are you actually looking for? It is possibly a good idea to break handicapping into two different perspectives; the point spread and the moneyline.
Let’s tackle the point spread first. Points spread is something often used in sports such as American football, basketball and soccer. For anyone into college basketball, Doc’s basketball predictions against the spread are a must. It isn’t limited to these team sports, however, as it is possible to use points spread betting on tennis, darts and golf as well. If we pick a fictitious NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, you might see a betting line such as:
Green Bay Packers -6.5
Chicago Bears +6.5
The Cardinals are the home side (always listed at the bottom) but because the Packers are a much stronger team, even though they are playing away from home, they are the favourite. It allows you to bet on the Packers and obtain value, despite them being the overwhelming favourite. It also means some might still bet on the Bears, as if for some reason they do get a win, you’ll get a good payout for your bet.
The other main time of handicapping bet is a moneyline, which you often see when betting on baseball or ice hockey. Say the Miami Marlins are travelling to Fenway Park to play the Boston Red Sox, the moneyline might look like this:
Miami Marlins +180
Boston Red Sox -180
Here, the Red Sox are not only the favourite as they’re a better team, but they are also at home. However, it will be quite a payout if the Marlins can win, so it could be worth betting on. This is what handicap betting is all about, finding value in odds that otherwise would not be worth betting on.
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What to look out for
Now you (hopefully) have a better understanding of how handicapping works, here are a few things that you should be on the lookout for when handicap betting.
Keep an eye out for opening odds – as soon as the odds are released for a game, bettors will begin to place their bets. This will then begin to trickle down and affect the opening odds, so very quickly you’ll be able to tell which direction people are betting. Pay close attention to see how much they change.
How strong are the teams – if you are betting on a Premier League game between Manchester City and Norwich, of course Man City would be the favourites ordinarily, but you need to consider if they have players injured, or in poor form, and also if the underdog have been improving recently under a new manager, as this will impact the way you bet/the odds.
Are there any matchup advantages – in the NFL, you might have a team that has a strong offense, but a much weaker defence. If they come up against another side who on paper aren’t as strong, but have the players to exploit the defence, make sure to account for this when finding odds and placing bets. That way, you won’t be caught out.