Sports betting is a popular pastime for millions of fans, but only a small percentage are actually making money on their wagers. The key to success is understanding betting strategy and the different types of bets you can make. While it may take months, if not years to become a professional bettor, there are several strategies that can help you bet smarter and win more often.
First, be sure to sign up for a sportsbook with the lowest vig (vigorish), or the amount of commission the sportsbook takes. Ideally, you should also find one that offers a welcome bonus or referral bonuses for new bettors. These bonuses can save you hundreds of dollars in vig over the long run.
Secondly, beware of overanalyzing and betting on teams or players that you have an emotional attachment to. It’s tempting to listen to locker room gossip and rumor, but you need to let statistics and math guide your bets. Putting too much weight on personal bias will lead you astray and cost you bets that could have been won by sticking to the facts.
It’s also important to block out media hype and bias. The majority of television shows, radio shows and web sites devoted to sports are in the business of selling advertising and getting clicks and eyeballs on their content. As such, they are biased toward the loudest opinions and hot-takes that can influence public sentiment. For example, if ESPN is pumping up the Seahawks all week, millions of sports bettors will be influenced and want to bet on Seattle.
In addition, it’s crucial to be aware of how the oddsmakers set totals. They use similar high-level algorithms and formulas as they do when setting the ML and spread, but they lean more heavily on offense vs defense matchups, pace and style of play, coaching philosophies, referee or umpire tendencies and even weather conditions. For example, a game played at a stadium where the wind is blowing 15 MPH could lead to a higher total because more runs will likely be scored than normal.
Once you have a solid understanding of how the oddsmakers set totals, it’s time to start betting. When you walk up to the sportsbook window, be sure to have your bet slips ready and your wallet containing cash ready. Most sportsbooks only accept cash, which you will need to present before the person behind the counter can take your bet.
Once you’ve made your bets, it’s important to have a seat and keep an eye on the other patrons. Especially on busy days, the sportsbook can get crowded and it can be easy to get lost among the masses. It’s also helpful to have a seat with a view of the betting board so you can follow the action more easily. Lastly, be sure to ask the sportsbook if they offer any betting software, which can help you identify positive EV bets and uncover arbitrage opportunities.