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Clueless About Placing a Sports Bet? We're Here to Help

January 16, 2012 at 8:43 PM | by | ()

The Big Game is happening is less than three weeks and you know what that means--sports junkies will go crazy placing bets. But what if you've never placed a sports bet? If you're starting to feel left out of the frenzy, don't worry. Over the next few days, we're giving you Sports Gambling noobz a quick how-to on placing bets from our newest contributor, Seth Gruen. Today, he's starting with the obvious.

It's painfully obvious that casino sportsbooks are no different from the casinos that house them--they're in it to make money. And if you remember me as the jerk who thought he was smarter than everyone by stating the obvious (though I promise this isn’t the case), that’s fine. You’ll at least remember the most important aspect of any sportsbook bet. Let me repeat it for you again--casino sportsbooks are in it to make money.

So how do they do it? Well, it's actually quite clever.

Spreads, lines, over/unders and odds are all created so that a certain percentage of people bet each way, creating balance (or imbalance) on each side of a bet that yield a profit for the sportsbook.

The easiest of bets to understand mathematically are spreads and over/unders, where the casino aims to have a 50/50 split on the two sides of a bet. When betting $10 on the spread of a game—usually the minimum—the winning payout is actually less than $10.

Since the casino makes $10 on every lost bet and pays out less than $10 on a winning bet (amount depends on the sportsbook or gambling site), they make the difference on a 1:1 ratio of bets won to lost.

For the sake of easy math, if they pay out $9.50 per winning $10 bet, then for 10 bets won and 10 lost, the casino nets $5. Other bets become more mathematically complicated, but follow the same principles.

My point? Every bet should make you think. There will always be dissenting opinions. Just because a guy buys commercial time, slicks back his hair and tells you he’s a gambling wiz, doesn’t mean he has the answers to every bet.

You can make arguments for every bet. No one is ever right. That is, until they redeem the winning ticket.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we break down all the different bets you can make...or not make. In the meantime, got any questions about sports betting? Let us know. Or think you know something we don't know? Tell us in comments below!

Archived Comments:

We know the casinos make money, but...

If this article was actually a little 2 screen guide to how bets work for different sports, and what to write on the slips for your desired bet, it would be pretty useful.