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Personal fouls are most common in basketball and American football and refer to penalties on players who overstep the limit of what is acceptable in the rules of the game. In basketball it is the most common type of foul and occurs when a player makes illegal personal contact with an opponent. With American football a personal foul penalty is more likely to be called for unsportsmanlike behaviour or unnecessary roughness.
In basketball, players who commit too many personal fouls become ‘fouled out’ and are forced to watch the rest of the game from the sideline. Although this is not usually something bettors can wager money on it will have a big affect on any bet that is made in a game.
An increase in the amount of personal fouls made in NBA and NCAA basketball has had a major effect on other betting markets. The over/under bet is particularly popular in basketball and because the clock is stopped and free throw foul shots are awarded (giving the teams more scoring opportunities) the amount of points scored in games has risen in the past few years. This means that the over/under totals have needed to be adjusted by bookmakers.
Unlike other sports where a persistent fouler will be regarded as a dirty player, basketball players in the NBA are expected to foul as part of the team’s tactics. This means that some of the best players in the history of the game are also the names at the top of the most personal fouls list. In fact, the player with the most personal fouls in the NBA is hall of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.