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How to Start Betting on Sports Like a Pro – Six Tips for Beginners

Usually, betting on major sports takes time to learn if you are a beginner. With so many terms to know and with so many sports to keep up with, you might find it difficult to keep pace with other gamblers who seem to cash out significant sums every week.

Still, the good news is that you can start with the basics and start winning pretty quickly as long as you don't bite off more than you can chew, playing higher stakes before you're ready.

So, with that in mind, here are six tips on how you can bet Sports like a pro even if you’re only starting out.

Tip #1 – Learn the correct terminology first

Of course, the first step is to learn the correct terminology before you start placing straight bets or prop bets on any sport.

Besides, the most critical term you need to know starting out is odds, the probability of a team's chance to win, sometimes expressed as a ratio (i.e., my favorite team has 2-1 odds to win this game).

On the other hand, some terms have more of a slang element than others, like "dog" or "chalk," which don't bear any resemblance to the word's literal meaning.

Depending on where you live, a sportsbook might also use different words that are more colorful than most. Usually, betting a "dime” means that you're placing a $1,000 bet, but in some places, a dime may mean a small $10 prop bet if the sportsbook takes action at such a low level.

Regional differences also exist, and some terminology may not be used at all in your home state.

But there's a glossary at the end of this article that goes over the most common lingo that sportsbooks will use, so if you don't know what they mean, you're already behind the eight-ball before you even build a bankroll.

Tip #2 – Manage your bankroll

Another concept that tends to confuse beginners is bankroll management. This term doesn't refer to your actual bank account. Instead, it relates to the amount of money that you "invest" in gambling.

If your bankroll Runs Out, you won't have anything left to recoup losses. Every beginning gambler has a bad run where no amount of preparation seems to pay off; you simply start to lose every single bet you lay.

Honestly, it happens to every gambler, so to have any semblance of success betting on sports, Managing your bankroll it's absolutely vital to winning – and winning consistently over time.

Bankroll management is part and parcel of the strategy for many casino card games like Texas Hold 'Em or Blackjack, but it's even more crucial in sports betting because it's easy to lose it all if you don't know what you're doing.

Tip #3 – Bet on the sports you know well

Not everyone is a "sports guy," and you don't have to be well versed in every sport to enjoy gambling. That's one of the reasons why specific terminology exists, such as point spreads and the money line.

Even if you've never watched a single moment of a new sport, you can make a general judgment about which team is the favorite by taking a look at the numbers the sportsbook is giving for that particular bet.

For instance, if you're not really a fan of NFL football, a point spread of -10 may seem like a good bet if you are used to gambling on other sports like the NBA.

But football-wise, a point spread of -10 means that one team it's a clear, decisive favorite over the other. It's your call whether or not the favored team will cover the 10 points or not score high enough to cash out.

Tip #4 – Never, ever bet on your favorite teams

The most successful Sports gamblers are successful for a reason: they focus on the numbers and learn to put their emotions aside.

Sure, your favorite team may hit from time to time, but overall, it’s a tremendous mistake to make bets based on your personal feelings about a team or sport in general.

In fact, it’s such a risk that some people won’t even bet on teams that play against their favorite squads.

So, unless you can compartmentalize your emotions and make a wise bet, it's best to stay away from betting on the teams you like.

Tip #5 – Start with one type of bet before diversifying

The best sports gamblers know how to diversify their betting, placing a few parlays for fun and straight bets for genuine gambling.

But you don't have to place every type of bet to win consistently. The best way to learn how to sports bet is to stick with straight bets and not deviate from the point spread/line.

It may be tempting to start with parlays, yet it’s not the best way to go for beginners. If you lose one bet, you lose the others in a parlay.

Along those lines, it’s also tempting to bet on dogs and absurd money lines, but if you stick to the chalk at first, you’ll get a feel for when there’s an upset on the horizon.

Ultimately, those are the essential tips to get started on sports betting, and when more often than you might think.

Tip #6 – Understand the money line

Also known as American odds in some parts of the world, the money line is the amount you have to wager to win $100 based on a team’s plus-minus number.

For example, if a game has a money line of -140, you have to lay a $140 bet to win $100, so is this bet wise? Regarding the money line, it’s a risky proposition because you’re essentially gambling an extra $40 to break even on the cash-out.

In the end, knowing the basics gives you the best chance of success when you start betting on sports.

Glossary of sports betting terms

Bankroll – The amount of money you have set aside for gambling purposes.

Odds The likelihood of an event occurring versus another event (i.e., 50 percent chance to hit heads instead of tails during a coin flip).

Money odds/American odds – Often confused with ordinary statistical odds, money odds is the ratio of a cash-out relative to the amount you wagered expressed as a plus-minus figure.

Hit – A slang term for the moment you win a bet (i.e., this new slot machine hit for $500 on my first try).

Point spread/line – The number of points that shows one team is favored over another (i.e., a -7 point spread means the favored team must win by at least that amount).

Lay – The act of placing a bet with a sportsbook.

Cover When a favored team exceeds the point spread, it’s a cover.

Action The placement of any bet for gambling purposes regardless of the context (i.e., casino action versus sports betting action).

Money line – A different type of sports betting based solely on money odds and not the point spread/line.

Parlay – A bet that includes two or more separate bets, meaning you have to win all bets to cash out the parlay.

Cash-out – The amount you win after you finish gambling.

Upset – A favored team that ends up losing the game.

Stakes – The amount you bet, typically categorized as high or low, depending on the sportsbook.

Dime A slang term for placing a $1,000 bet on any sport.

Straight bets – A standard bet based on a game’s point spread/line.

Prop bets A bet covering a particular event during the game (i.e., betting on the coin flip during the Super Bowl).

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