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Quick Start Sports Betting Guide

Quick Start Sports Betting Guide

New to sports betting? Want to get started RIGHT NOW? Then you’re in the right place! Our quick start sports betting guide is just what you’re looking for. We’ll have you placing sports wagers in no time.

This guide won’t teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about sports betting of course. Although it will teach you a lot, we can almost guarantee that anyone who is serious about trying to make money will want to learn even more. But you can worry about all that a little later. Let’s focus on what you need to know to get started for now.

The good news is that you don’t need to know that much. Getting started with sports betting is actually pretty easy. There are just five steps you need to follow, and we’ve detailed each one for you below.

Step 1 - Set a Budget

This first step is extremely important. Before you start betting on sports, think very carefully about how much money you’re prepared to put at risk. Then set a weekly or monthly budget, and make sure you stick to it.

Bear in mind that, as a beginner, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to lose. So it’s VITAL that you only ever risk money that you don’t need for other things.

Now, it’s not for us to tell you exactly how much to risk. We do recommend starting with a small budget though, regardless of how wealthy you are. What’s the point in risking large sums when you’re still in the learning process? You MIGHT get lucky and win, but losing is far more likely. And losing a lot of money can be very disheartening, even if you can afford it. The sensible approach here is to set aside a modest amount of money, and see how things go.

Then after you’ve gained some experience, you can always increase your budget!

When setting a budget, it’s also important to consider how much you are willing to stake per wager. This doesn’t mean you have to be overly cautious. Just be aware that staking too much will cause you to go bust very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to start by placing wagers that equal around 2% of your overall budget. So with a $250 budget, for example, $5 per wager is about right. Anywhere between 1-5% is fine though. It just depends on your attitude to risk.

If you decide to take sports betting seriously, then budgeting and money management becomes even more important. The following article offers some useful advice on the subject.

Step 2 - Decide What to Bet On

There was a time when we could only bet on mainstream sports events. Those days are far behind us, as our betting options are seemingly endless now. Bookmakers and betting sites offer markets on virtually every sport that’s played professionally, and virtually every league, tournament, and competition.

We like to have options, so this much choice is a good thing as far we’re concerned. It does give us something extra to think about though. We can’t realistically bet on everything, so we have to decide what to focus on.

This is a decision you should make BEFORE you start betting. You can always change your mind of course, but it’s a good idea to start with a plan. The obvious thing to do is simply bet on any sports that you already follow, as these are probably the ones that you know the most about. There are a few other things we’d like you to ponder though.

  • Some sports offer more betting opportunities than others
  • You don’t want to bet on too many different sports
  • Some sports aren’t played all year round

There’s no right or wrong decision here, and no sport is definitively “better” than any other from a betting perspective. We just ask that you take your time in deciding which sport (or sports) will best meet your needs.

Aren’t a huge sports fan? Then, this may be a little more difficult for you. The best approach in this case is to experiment with a few different sports, to see which ones you enjoy betting on the most. We recommend starting with the more popular sports, such as the ones listed below. These all offer plenty of relatively simple betting options.

  • American Football
    American Football
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Basketball
  • Ice Hockey
    Ice Hockey

For some additional advice, please read our article on choosing which sports to bet on.

Step 3 - Join a Betting Site

There are several different methods for placing wagers on sports events. Depending on where you live, you may be able to bet in a bookmaking shop, over the telephone or at a casino sportsbook. The easiest option by far is to use the internet though. Online betting offers many advantages over the other options just mentioned, and it’s definitely the way to go for beginners. It’s also why the third step we recommend taking is joining an online betting site.

Is this hard to do?
No, not at all

Joining a betting site is very simple. You just have to enter a few personal details, such as your name, address, date of birth and email address. You may have to choose a username and password too, although they’re often generated automatically. The whole process can usually be done in just a couple of minutes.

The only difficulty here is picking which site (or sites) to join. There are LOTS of options, and it’s important to choose wisely. You’re going to be depositing real money, so you only want to join sites that are reputable and trustworthy. Ideally, you want to join the sites that provide the best service and overall experience.

This is something we can help with. At we rate and rank the top gambling sites based on our own extensive research and testing, and we can confidently state that the following sites are currently the best sports betting sites at this moment in time.

These sites are all ideal for beginners. They’re easy to use, offer plenty of betting options, and have good customer support to help you if you get stuck. They also offer attractive welcome bonuses, which means you’ll get a little extra money to bet with when you sign up and deposit.

It’s a good idea to have accounts with more than one betting site. You can take advantage of multiple bonuses this way, and it also makes it easy to compare odds and lines when placing your wagers. This is something you should get in the habit of doing from the moment you start betting.

Step 4 – Learn About Odds

Odds play a very important role in sports betting. Eventually, you’ll want to know everything there is to know about them. For now, though, just make sure you focus on these three key points.

  • Odds can be expressed in three different formats.
  • Odds are used to calculate the payout from winning wagers.
  • Odds indicate how likely a wager is to win.

The three different odds formats are decimal, moneyline and fractional. While decimal is slowly becoming the “global standard,” especially online, it’s still possible that you’ll come across the other formats. That’s why we suggest at least being familiar with each one.

Decimal odds

Decimal is the simplest odds format. Odds are displayed as a single number, typically to two decimal places but sometimes more. For example, 3.50 or 1.265. Potential payouts are calculated by multiplying this number by the stake. So the potential payout for a $10 stake at 3.50 would be $35. This payout includes the initial stake too, so the profit would be $25.

2.00 is the decimal equivalent of “even money.” A wager at even money odds has roughly a 50% chance of winning, and pays out exactly double your money. A wager at decimal odds of below 2.00 has more than a 50% chance of winning, theoretically at least, while a wager at decimal odds of above 2.00 has less than a 50% chance of winning.

Decimal odds of below 2.00 are said to be “odds on.” This means the potential profit is less than the amount staked. For example, a $10 wager at 1.50 could return $15 ($5 profit).

Decimal odds of above 2.00 are said to be “odds against.” This means the potential profit is greater than the amount stake. For example, a $10 wager at 3.00 could return $30 ($20 profit).

Moneyline odds

Moneyline odds are also known as American odds, because they are so commonly used in America. As a matter of fact, most US friendly betting sites use this format.

These odds are also displayed as a single number, preceded by either a + or a - symbol. Odds preceded by a +, such as +200 for example, are odds against. Odds preceded by a -, such as -150, are odds on.

When the number is positive, moneyline odds show how much you stand to win based on a $100 wager. So a $100 wager at +300 would win $300 if successful. The initial stake would be returned IN ADDITION to that $300.

When the number is negative, moneyline odds show how much you need to stake to win $100. So if the odds are -120, for example, you’d need to stake $120 to win $100. Your total return would be $220, as you’d get the initial stake back too.

Fractional odds

This is the format traditionally used in the United Kingdom and a few other regions. It’s starting to die out now, probably because it’s the most complicated of the three main formats.

Here are some examples of odds expressed in the fractional format, along with their equivalents in the other two formats.

  • 2/1 (+200, 3.00)
  • 3/1 (+300, 4.00)
  • 7/2 (+350, 4.50)
  • 6/4 (+150, 2.50)
  • 5/6 (-120, 1.83)
  • 1/3 (-300, 1.33)

Honestly, we wouldn’t worry too much about learning this format. Any betting site that uses it will also give you the option of seeing odds displayed in decimal format. If you’re genuinely interested, however, you can read about fractional odds in more detail in the following article.

We also cover some other important aspects of betting odds in this article. We explain how they can be used to calculate implied probability, and how bookmakers use them to their advantage. You don’t need to know this stuff right now, but you will in the future. It will be vital to know if you decide to start taking your betting more seriously and are striving to make money on a consistent basis.

Step 5 – Learn the Simple Wagers

There are LOTS of different sports wagers to choose from. Far too many to list in what’s supposed to be a quick start guide to sports betting. And we’d only be repeating ourselves, as we’ve provided detailed explanations of them all in another article.

You don’t need to know about each type at this stage anyway. As a beginner, you want to keep things as straightforward as possible. That’s why we recommend sticking with just the simple wagers for now.

  • Win bet/moneyline bet
  • Point spread
  • Totals
  • Futures/outrights

The win bet is the simplest of all sports wagers. Also known as a moneyline bet, it’s a wager on which team or individual will win a game, match or other event. Here’s an example.

The Los Angeles Clippers are about to play the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA. To place a win bet on this basketball game, you simply pick which of the two teams you think is going to win. If your selection does win the game, your wager will win. You’ll be paid out based on the relevant odds and how much you staked. If your selection doesn’t win, your wager will lose. You’ll lose the exact amount in which you staked.

Point spread wagers are a little more complicated, but they’re nothing to worry about. They’re extremely popular in the United States, especially when it comes to football. Here’s an example of how a point spread works on a football game.

The New England Patriots are about to play the Atlanta Falcons. A bookmaker is offering the following point spread market.

New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
Point Spread
New England -3
Atlanta +3

You’ll notice that New England is listed as -3, and Atlanta at +3. This is “the spread.” For the purposes of betting, a three-point adjustment will be made to the final score. New England is the favorite here (hence MINUS three), so if you back them they’ll be deducted three points. Atlanta is the underdog (hence PLUS three), so if you back them they’ll be given three extra points.

If you back New England, you’ll need them to win by MORE than three points. If they win by less than three points, or lose the game outright, then you’ll lose your wager. If you back Atlanta, you’ll need them to lose by LESS than three points or win the game outright. If they lose by more than three points, then you’ll lose your wager.

This is only a basic explanation, but it’s hopefully enough to help you understand how point spreads work. If you want more detail, please refer to the article above.

Totals wagers are super easy to understand. With these, you simply have to bet on whether the actual total in a game or event will be higher or lower than the estimated total posted by the bookmaker or betting site. In a football or basketball game, for example, you’ll be betting on the total number of POINTS scored by both teams. In a soccer game, you’ll be betting on the total number of GOALS scored by both teams.

Futures, also known as outrights, are also very straightforward. These are wagers on the winner of an entire league or tournament, placed before it starts. So you could back a tennis player to win the French Open at the start of the tournament. Or a golf player to win the US Masters. Or a soccer team to win the FIFA World Cup. These are just a few examples.

Once you’ve spent some time betting on sports, you can start looking at some of the other types of wager. It does make a lot of sense to stick with these simple ones to start with though.

That concludes our quick start sports betting guide. You can now begin placing wagers, and we wish you the best of luck. Just remember to visit us again as soon as you’re ready to learn about sports betting in more detail. We have a wide variety of information and advice to offer you throughout our comprehensive sports betting guide.

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