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Sports betting explained

Sports betting. What is it exactly? Think of it as a personal duel with a bookmaker, whether you are handing over cash in a betting shop on the high street or laying down a virtual bet through your online betting account. You are still looking at what the bookmaker is offering you and making a decision about whether you will be able to make some genuine profit from what is being presented to you. Essentially you give the bookmaker your money to hold (placing your stake) and if your bet wins they will give it back to you plus any earnings, if the bet loses, then you aren’t getting your money back.

Pretty much any sport out there can be bet on. Find yourself on any online betting site and you will see a predominance of the popular markets which have the most appeal such as football, cricket, tennis, horse racing, golf and the other major sports. They are the markets which bookmakers lean heavily towards promotion because they are the cash machines in making their own profit, but you will also find smaller, less heavily-backed sports market. Whatever the sport is, you are simply betting on an outcome to happen in your favour, or the alternative way of thinking is an outcome not to happen. Just think, in a football match if you have backed a team to win, you are banking on two other outcomes (a draw and a win for the other team) not to happen.

Online betting v offline betting

Is there a difference between online and offline betting? In principle no, but you have far more control over sitting at a computer or being on a mobile device, because you can track bets through important features like live in-play betting and cash out options. The other clear advantage to online betting is the fact that you can shop around for prices. If you walked into a High Street betting store, you are limited by what odds that bookmaker is offering on a market. If you are online, you can look at several different bookmakers, or better still an odds comparison tool to find the best possible price for that particular betting option. The arrival of online betting has really taken the activity to a whole new level, plus, you don’t even have to leave the house to bet online because of the latest updated prices are available on mobile apps and websites.

Understand the various elements of betting terminology

How does a bookmaker make a profit?

Do bookmakers make a profit? Of course. On every bet. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t be in business. The obvious example of a bookmaker gaining from you is if you placed a £10 bet on a team to win a match and that team didn’t. That’s £10 that you have given the bookmaker. Whenever a favourite loses, that is when the bookmakers are hit the hardest. If you see a 28/1 horse romp home first then while the big price may make you think that the bookmakers are suffering a heavy hit, they aren’t. They will be in bigger profit when a favourite loses than when one loses. So if you imagine a Premier League weekend of football when 8 out of 10 favourites win their matches, you know it’s been a rough weekend for bookmakers. But the bookmaker won’t lose out completely because there is something a bookmaker margin which they use to earn some profit off every bet that is played. The bookmaker has adjusted the odds in their own favour so that they will win, whatever the outcome.

See the Betting Odds Explained page in the sports betting guide for more details.

How do I get a betting edge?

Even though you are aware that the bookmaker is running an edge, it won’t affect your betting practices. All it will do is allow you to find the bookmaker which is running the lowest percentage margin. How much profit can you make from sports betting? That is an open-ended question because it will be dependent on how much you can afford to lose. Never approach betting from the angle of how much you can win, but how much you are prepared to lose. This will stop you getting into trouble by over-playing your betting hand because you should never bet more than you can afford to lose, especially not when trying to make up for some losses.

Top Tips

  • Study statistics and form
  • Aim for slow steady profit
  • Look for bookmakers with low margins

The best way to get a betting edge at the bookmakers is looking for slow steady profit and ignore the gung-ho long priced underdog wagers. Studying form for example in football helps, and you will see obvious stats like home sides winning more games than away teams across the course of the season. T

he teams that are always closer to the top of the table win more home games than clubs near the bottom. So there are some basic steps to take to try and get an edge, but always play within your means. Top tip of all is that it is better to earn a small amount from five separate odds-on wagers than losing all your stake on trying to hit one big win.

Should I stick to one sport for betting?

The benefit of just sticking to one sport to go betting with is the fact that you will become more familiar with trends and spotting likely outcomes from things like form. Say if you only ever bet on the English Premier League you would know who is good, which team is struggling with a poor defence, who is struggling with injured players and who is strong on the road.

Knowledge of injuries and things like that can help influence your betting immensely. It may be a good idea for a beginner to just stick to one sport until they are familiar with it. Having a solid base in one sport can then afford you the opportunity to go branching out into other sports. Don’t try and spread yourself too thinly or get swept up in the emotion of a headline event happening but not really having the knowledge of the sport to back up a betting decision of your own.