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Guide to sports betting

Sports betting is typically performed through a bookmaker or via the internet.  There are several types of bets.
Sports betting is typically performed through a bookmaker or via the internet. There are several types of bets.
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

It is estimated that over a million adults in Britain engage in sports betting in sports such as horse racing, football, golf, tennis, boxing, rugby, cricket, and motor racing. Predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome has received greater media coverage in recent years.

Sports betting is typically performed through a bookmaker or via the internet. There are several types of bets. A straight bet is the most common type of wager. It is made against the spread or line, which is a number assigned by the bookmakers which handicaps one team and favors another. Essentially, bookmakers price odds on the likelihood of one team winning against another by a certain margin.

A proposition bets is a wager made on a very specific outcome of a match. A punter can predict the number of goals each team scores in a football match. There are countless possibilities in making proposition bets in sports, and it can prove profitable for punters who possess substantial expertise in a certain game.

Parlays involve multiple bets and will reward a successful bettor with a large payout. In a parlay, a bettor can predict that three football teams will all win on a given Saturday. If any of the three teams lose, the bettor loses the parlay. However, if the punter is correct in his prediction, he receives a substantially higher payout. Similarly, a teaser allows the bettor to combine his bets on two or more different games. The bettor can adjust the point spreads for the two games, but must get all the games correct to win and recognizes a lower return in comparison to parlays.

An “if” bet consists of at least two straight bets joined together by an if clause which determines the wager process. The punter creates the conditions that give him the chance to win a payout, and those conditions need to be met. If the player’s first selection complies with the condition (clause), then the second selection will have action; if the second selection complies with the condition, then the third selection will have action and so on.

There are other types of sports betting. A run line, puck line or goal line bet features a fixed point spread that usually offers a higher payout for the favorite and a lower payout for the underdog. A “futures” wager involves long-term predictions on a team or player. For instance, a punter can bet that a certain tennis player will win the Wimbledon championship in an upcoming season.

In head-to-head bets, a punter predicts competitors’ results against each other and not on the overall result of the event. This type of wager is popular in race events such as motor racing and horse racing. For example, a bettor can predict that one racehorse or jokey will finish ahead of a rival in the Epsom Derby.

In totalizators, the odds change in real-time according to the betting trends and the return rate of the bookmaker offering the bet. These are also referred to as flexible rate bets. If the bookmaker’s return percentage is 95 percent, then 95 percent of the amount placed on the winning result will be given back to bettors and 5 percent goes to the bookmaker.

As the term implies, a second half (or halftime) bet only concerns the outcome of a sporting event in the second half. The resulting bet that is placed is won or lost only on the points scored by both teams in the second half only. Thus, a punter can take advantage of teams that perform unusually well in the later stages of an athletic contest.

Finally, in-play betting allows bettors to place new bets while a sporting event is in progress. This type of wager is typically restricted to online betting sites.

A bookmaker acts as a market maker for sports wagers. The bookmaker accepts wagers on both sides, and maintains a spread which will ensure a profit regardless of the outcome of the wager. They assign odds and probabilities on players, teams, and sporting events.

Bookmakers usually assign prices in such a way that approximately the same number of bettors will choose either side. That allows the operator to gain a profit regardless of which side wins or loses.