One of the biggest problems for bettors of all experience levels is simply choosing what to bet on. Sportsbooks have betting boards chock full of sports and other events from around the world.
You can bet on the major sports like football, basketball, and soccer, but you can’t forget tennis, golf, and a number of other sports where wagers are available. With all those choices, how do you choose what to bet on? How do you avoid simply staring at your computer screen trying to pick a bet?
It all starts with knowing what to look for.
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Winners vs. Value – Choosing What to Bet
If you approach sports betting with a mindset of picking winners, your bankroll is probably never going to grow. In fact, it will probably become smaller and smaller. When choosing what to bet, you need to start with the right mindset.
Bettors can win bets but still lose money. You have to remember, not all bets pay the same. Let’s use an example. We’ll make four bets, all on heavy favorites. We’ll wager $100 on each favorite which is listed at -500 odds to win.
At -500 odds, a winning bet will pay out $20. Three of the four favorites win and the other loses. On paper, you look pretty good. You went 3-1. However, you may want to check your wallet.
After winning three bets, you pocketed $60 total. You did lose one bet though which means you lost $100. Your net profit is minus-$40.
Picking favorites and winners isn’t the key to successful sports betting. The key is finding strong value bets that pay.
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Choosing What to Bet – Always Find Value
The idea in choosing what to bet on is finding bets that pay more than they should. To select the best bets, you need to understand something called implied probability.
Again, we’ll use an example. Let’s say you think Team A has an 80 percent chance of beating Team B. At an implied probability of 80 percent, Team A’s odds of winning are -400. At those odds, a $100 bet would pay out $25.
When you go to your sportsbook, you find that Team A is listed as a -200 favorite to beat Team B. The implied probability in this case is 66.67 percent. You think Team A has a much better chance of winning than what the sportsbook does.
You should also note that a winning bet in this case pays out $50, more than what you think it should. That is value and those are the types of bets you should be searching for.
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Where bettors can really find value is on underdogs. A look at another example can help you understand just how important finding underdogs can be.
If you make four $100 bets again and this time pick four different underdogs all given +400 odds to win, you’ll see that you only need one of these bets to be correct to come out ahead. This time, your won-loss record (1-3) doesn’t look so great but your bankroll has increased by $100.
You lose $300 – $100 each on the three losing bets – but you make $400 on your one underdog winner. That leaves you with the $100 profit.
Find a Betting Niche
Smarter bettors love to bet on the major sports – football and basketball, for example – but the smarter bettor can find a niche in a sport like golf. Instead of betting spreads and moneylines, golf bettors can make a lot of money betting on event winners.
In most golf tournaments, the favorite to win is given plus-money odds typically between +300 and +800. In golf, you can bet favorites and still get big payouts. Betting on underdogs in golf can really pay off.
Even in the major sports, there are plenty of bets on the board from which to choose. Take the NBA Race to 20 points. It’s a game prop where bettors can prosper if they know what to look for.
You may have a team like Portland taking on Utah or Brooklyn. The Trail Blazers won’t be the favorite to win and you may not like the spread or moneyline bets. But, you find Portland at plus-money in the Race to 20 points. You also know Portland scores more first-quarter points than any team in the NBA.
How to choose what to bet on comes down to two things primarily – finding value and doing your research. It takes time to find good quality bets. Take the time to do so and your bankroll will thank you.