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Betting.net / Betting Guide / How To Choose a Sportsbook? Sportbooks for Beginners Explained 2024

How To Choose a Sportsbook? Sportbooks for Beginners Explained 2024

Publish Date:June 20, 2021
Fact checked by: Jesse M Cox

New to sports betting? Fear not, we got your back in our sports betting guide for newcomers

If you’re looking for a guide on how to start online sports betting, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find our comprehensive expert tips on betting for beginners.

From the basics of betting markets and how to place a bet, to understanding betting odds and how they work – we’ve got it all covered for you below. So join us as we help you start off your sports betting journey in style.

Betting for beginners – in a nutshell 

  • Understanding sportsbooks and how they work
  • Get to know the most basic types of wager and betting market
  • Learn how to read and understand betting odds
  • Start small and manage your bankroll
  • Stick to betting on sports you already know well

Beginners guide to sports betting

Sports betting is becoming more mainstream both in the US and across the world. With popularity comes tighter regulations and a plethora of sports betting options for you to enjoy as a consumers.

If you’re completely new to sports betting though, we need to let you in on a little secret – placing a sports bet is easy. Winning, on the other hand is not. That’s why it’s important to use an online betting guide such as ours to help you get to grips with the concept of sports betting. Additionally, we’ll also take you through the most important aspects of sports betting for beginners including bankroll management, understanding odds and betting markets.

How sports betting works

The basic concept of sports betting is fairly simple to understand. Essentially sports betting involves two parties – the bettor (that’s you) and the sportsbook. As the bettor, you give the sportsbook some money to back a certain outcome of a sporting event. If that outcome then happens, the sportsbook is obliged to return your stake to you along with a certain amount of winnings.

The chances of said outcome coming to pass and the amount of profit you stand to win on your bet can both be found in the sports betting odds, which are contained within the betting lines. This is therefore the logical starting point for our beginners guide to sports wagering.

How to bet on sports for beginners – betting lines

Betting lines display the fixture that you are focussing on as well as the two possible outcomes. The probability of each outcome and your potential winnings are displayed in the form of the odds – which we’ll get to a little further down. With a typical betting line, the two outcomes are divided, with one being categorized as the favorite, and the other as the underdog.

To give you an example of a betting line, let’s use an NFL fixture: 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150) vs New Orleans Saints (+200)

In the above betting line example, the Buccs are the favorites as their odds are negative and therefore shorter. The Saints are the underdogs, which can be told because they have positive number odds.

If you were to therefore back the Buccs, the chance of your sports wager being paid out would be higher, but your stake-to-profit ratio would be poor. On the other hand, were you to back the Saints,  the probability of your bet being paid out would be lower, but your stake-to-profit ratio would be much better.

How can we tell this, you ask? By reading the betting odds – which we’ve kindly explained how to do for you below.

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Betting for beginners – understanding odds

Key to understanding betting lines and therefor how much you should bet and stand to win is learning to read odds. If you’re completely new to sports betting, then you might wonder how we are able to decipher the favorite and the underdog from the above example, as well as how much you would stand to win by backing each outcome.

Once you know how, you’ll actually find its pretty simple.

Moneyline odds

The betting line that we’ve used as an example above is using moneyline odds. This is the most common odds format used in the US, and is therefore sometimes referred to as American odds. Elsewhere in the world you might find decimal and fractional odds formats – which we’ll also exp;lain briefly below.

With moneyline odds, there are two different types of numbers to account for as seen in the example above – positive and negative number odds. 

Positive odds

When it comes to positive number moneyline odds, the figure tell you the amount of profit you would stand to win with a $100 stake. For example, if you see an outcome on a betting line at odds of +200, then you would win $200 in profit should your bet payout. The total returns would be $300, as the $100 stake is returned alongside your $200 winnings.

With positive number odds, the potential winnings are more attractive, as you’ll always stand to win at least the same amount as your stake or greater (the minimum positive odds number is +100). However the implied probability of your bet coming up are always at least 50% or lower. Therefore teams being offered at positive number odds will be the underdogs in the majority of cases. 

Negative odds

In the case of negative odds, the number shows the amount that you would have to stake in order to win a $100 profit. For example, if a team on a betting line is being offered at odds of -200, then you would have to bet with a stake of $200 in order to make a $100 profit. This means that, just as with the example of positive number odds above, you would stand to get a total return of $300, however your stake-to-profit ratio would be 2:1 rather than 1:2.

With negative number odds, the implied probability of the outcome being realized is in your favor, as it is always as least 50% or greater. However your stake-to-profit ratio is reflected in this, meaning you will always need to stake more than your profit return will be. As a result, the team on a betting line being offered at negative odds will usually be the favorites. 

Sports betting for beginners – your questions answered

We understand that some of the above may be a little confusing for first timers, which is why we’ve answered some of the most common questions regarding betting for beginners below. 

Do I have to stake $100 on moneyline odds?

No, absolutely not, with moneyline odds, the $100 dollar figure is at the core of the format simply because it’s a round number that’s easy to work with. If you want to stake lss, you simply have to do the division to calculate your potential winnings – the implied probability won’t change for smaller or larger stakes. For example, if you wanted to stake $10 at odds of +200, your potential profit would be $20. 

Can I bet on a tie instead of the favorite or underdog?

Yes you can, in the above example, we’ve used a straight bet, as it is the most simple line when it comes to sports betting for beginners. You can also bet on other outcomes such as a tie or the margin by which the team you are backing will win. You can find out more about betting on tied games in out answer to the question, what does draw no bet mean?

How do I know what is a good bet?

When it comes to betting for beginners, deciphering a good wager from a bad one is key to early success. The two things that you want to avoid are pointless bets and lottery bets. In other words, you don’t want to back a heavy favorite or a complete longshot underdog.

If you back a strong favorite, you’re bet will most likely payout, but you’ll have to stake a high amount for a small return. At the opposit end of the scale, the stake-to-return ration might look favorable when backing an underdog, however the chances of it happening are so slim it’s like throwing away money.

There are a number of different factors that can come into it, but it all boils down to finding a balance between the potential value of the bet and the probability of it actually paying out. 

Sports betting for beginners – how to place a bet

Now that we’ve explained the basics of how sports betting works and how to read odds, the next logical step for us is to explain how you can place your first bet step by step. The example we’ve used below is for fixed odds betting sites, which are the most commonly used sportsbooks and are easiest when it comes to betting for beginners. You can also check out how do betting exchanges work with us here should you wish.

First things first, check that sorts wagering is legal in your jurisdiction. This is particularly important if you’re in the US as online and mobile sports betting is not yet legal in all states across the country.

Choose your sportsbook

Once you know that sports wagering is legal where you are, pick a licensed and reputable sportsbook with which to do your betting. You can find a list of the best sites for sports betting for beginners right here at Betting.net.

Fund your account

Once you’ve signed up to a sportsbook and your account has been fully verified, you’ll then be able to fund your account. Before deciding how much to initially deposit, we recommend taking a look at our bankroll management guide here at Betting.net. The best sportsbooks should have a range of deposit options including credit/debit cards, PayPal and echecks.

Browse the sportsbook 

While first browsing the sportsbook and getting used to the site, you can refer back to our guide to betting for beginners while looking at the betting lines. You may encounter some different types of betting markets than the straight bets found above, but we have more guides to help you out. See our answer to questions such as what does 1×2 mean in betting?

Place your first bet

Once you’ve had a look at the various betting lines, you can pick your first bet by clicking the line and adding it to your betting slip. Here, you should be able to input your desired stake and the betting slip should show you how much you stand to win. Once you’re happy, you can click to confirm and your bet will be placed. We always recommend placing bets on sports that you already follow and are a fan of.

Naturally, our betting guide for beginners is only the start of what we’ve got available for you here at Betting.net. You can now go on to use our more advanced guides including betting market explanations and how to manage your bank roll. If you want to see things from the other side, you can find out how do sportsbooks make money right here.

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Sports betting for beginners – the conclusion 

So there you have the beginners essentials to sports betting and how everything works. Before you go on ahead and place bets on your own, just remember a few key pieces of advice. First, always set yourself a budget and stick to it. Secondly, keep your first few wagers simple and always stick to sports you know and understand. It’ll be smooth sailing in no time at all.

Sports betting for beginners FAQ

📚 How can I learn sports betting?

Learning how sports betting works is simple – learning to win though, is where the difficulty lies. Find out everything in the beginners guide to sports wagering here.

❓ What sports is the easiest to bet on?

Basically the easiest sport to bet on is the one that you know the best and love the most. That being said, some sports are simpler and easier to bet on than others. Which ones – take a look at how sportsbooks work to find out more.

️🏀 How do sports bets work?

Sports bets work in different ways depending on the betting lines, odds and markets that are involved. Basically, some are simpler tha others. Discover all of the ins and outs of sports bets and where to palace themes right here at Betting.net.

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