People bet on sports
for a variety of reasons. Some do it just for fun and to make a
particular game more exciting. Some like to bet on their favorite teams,
no matter what the point spread may be. Others, however, bet on sports
for one simple reason: to make money. Although this last segment of the
betting population is the smallest (at least the ones who are successful
at it), there are many who make money consistently and even a few who
make a nice living by regularly beating the house.
Sports betting is enjoyed by hundreds of
thousands visitors to Las Vegas each year. If you've never tried your
hand at sports betting before, we hope that this introduction will help
you get started in this unique and exciting gaming opportunities -
A wide array of betting propositions are available to players. They vary
from two dollar parlay cards to the legendary $100,000 bets accepted at
some sports books under special arrangements. (The standard maximum bet
limit is $5,000 at most books).
Sports betting, race wagering, and poker are the only venues of chance
open to the gaming public in which the player is not in direct
competition with the casinos (the house). In all other casino games
(such as craps, keno, slot machines, baccarat, blackjack and roulette),
the house has a statistical advantage. In sports wagering, however,
players can gain an edge on the house when they can identify games where
the posted line does not accurately reflect the true odds for the game's
outcome. For more information on how to take advantage of this wagering
opportunity, see Section IV - Introduction to Handicapping for
Many people find that placing bets on the outcome of a game greatly
enhances their enjoyment in watching the game on television or listening
to it on the radio. Most Las Vegas sports books have satellite hook-ups
and big-screen TV's broadcasting the numerous college and pro games
being played across the country and they post frequent scoring updates
on the progress of all games on which they are taking action.
Nevada is the only state in which general sports betting is legal. State
laws and the gaming control board provide regulations to insure the
integrity of all sports book activities. The gaming control board is
always open to referee disputes and uphold honest gaming.
When you walk into a sports book, you will see a large "Board" listing
all of the games available for betting, along with the lines and odds
for each game. In some books this board is a huge electronic marvel,
rivalling the most sophisticated reporting system of a large brokerage
house. Other books maintain the board by hand, with displays that are
similar to the ones seen in old movies involving "bookies."
Sports books will only accept bets on those games which have been posted
on their board. These games are known as "board games." Generally, all
major league baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL games are "on the board,"
whereas college games are limited to football and basketball match-ups
being played by major Division I schools. Limited betting is available
at some books on golf, tennis, car racing, and other miscellaneous
Most sports books use the Official Nevada Rotation, supplied by the
Official Nevada Sports Schedule. This rotation is a list of all the
board games being played on a particular date along with starting times.
Point Spread Wagering In Football And Basketball
Perhaps the most important advance in sports wagering occurred in the
1930's and 40's, when the "point spread" became popular. Prior to the
invention of the point spread, sports wagering was similar to horse
racing, in which complicated odds were posted on the basis of a
particular team winning the game outright, (or, in betting parlance,
"straight-up".) While this method of betting works fairly well on evenly
matched teams, it is less than satisfactory when one team is clearly
superior to the other.
For example, over the last 10 years or so, Notre Dame has clearly
outclassed Navy in college football. Without a point spread, to bet on
Notre Dame might have required betting $5, $10 or even $15 just to win
$1. Betting on Navy might offer more attractive odds (betting only $1 to
win $10), but the fact is that Navy has not defeated Notre Dame once in
the last 10 years. Therefore, betting on games that were not evenly
matched held limited appeal for the public.
With a point spread, winning the bet is not determined by which team
actually wins the game, but rather by the final score of the game.
Here's how to do it: Take the score of the team favored to win and
subtract the number of points posted on the board (ie., the point
spread). The team with the most points after this subtraction is the
team that wins for betting purposes. (You can get the same results by
adding the point spread to the score of the underdog.)
Let's use the 1993 Notre Dame/Navy game as an example. Because the
bookmakers knew that Notre Dame was clearly the superior team, and they
posted a point spread of "Notre Dame -34" (or "Notre Dame minus 34
points.") Using betting parlance, if you bet on Notre Dame you were
betting "the favorite at minus 34," or "laying 34 points." If you bet on
Navy, you were betting "the underdog at plus 34 points" or "taking 34
The actual final score of this game was Notre Dame 58, Navy 27. However,
if you bet on Notre Dame you would have lost the bet. Since the point
spread was "-34," we would subtract 34 points from the 58 points Notre
Dame actually scored and come up with 24. Since Navy actually scored 27
points, Navy was the point-spread winner, 27 to 24. Betting parlance
would say the Navy "failed to cover the spread". In fact, over the past
10 years, although Navy lost all their games "straight-up" verses Notre
dame, by betting on Navy and "taking the points," you would have won
your point spread bet 7 out of 10 times!
Another name for the point spread is "the line". If the score of a game
comes out to be a tie (after the subtraction of points), the game is
said to be "a push", and all players get their money back.
A sports bettor needs to realize that the point spread on a game is NOT
a prediction by an oddsmaker on the outcome of a game. Rather, the odds
are designed so that equal money is bet on both sides of the game. If
more money is bet on one of the teams, the sports book runs the risk of
losing money if that team were to win. Bookmakers are not gamblers--they
want to make money on every bet regardless of the outcome of the game.
Here's how the sports book makes money out of the deal. When placing a
bet, a player pays a fee called the "vigorish" or "vig", which is
usually 10% of the wager. Whether you bet on the favorite or the
underdog, you would bet $11 to win $10, or $110 to win $100 and so on.
In our example, a person who bet $11 to win $10 on Navy would collect
$21 on his winning ticket, while the bettor who bet $11 to win $10 on
Notre Dame would collect nothing, losing his $11 bet.
Remember, the bookmaker is trying to get almost exactly the same amount
of money bet on both sides to assure he makes a profit. To understand
how this works, let's assume that the bookmaker accepted only two $10
bets on the Notre Dame-Navy game, one bet on the favorite and one on the
underdog. Since he charged $11 to both bettors, he collected a total of
$22. After paying the underdog better $21, the bookmaker has made $1
"profit" on the whole deal. This "$1 profit" represents one of the
lowest wagering margins of all betting propositions available in Las
Vegas. If you do the arithmetic, you would discover that the winning
percentage you need to break even is 52.38%.
You can also bet on the total points that were scored during the game.
To bet on a total, the player examines the number of "total points"
posted on the board. This can also be called the "totals line" or the
"over/under line". If the player thinks that the actual total points to
be scored by both teams (added together) will be MORE than the posted
"total points", the player bets the "over". Otherwise, the player bets
It is possible to bet two or three games as part of the same bet. This
is called a "parlay" bet. In order to win a parlay bet, all of the items
must win. The attraction of the parlay bet is that the amount to be won
is much higher than that for playing a single game. To bet on more games
as a single bet, players can bet a "parlay card". Parlay cards have big
payoffs for selecting several winners. Many parlay cards also have
winning payoffs for "almost wins", such as 9 out of 10 winners. Be sure
to read the information printed on the parlay cards for payoff rates and
rules for handling ties, etc.
A special type of point spread bet is a "teaser" bet. A teaser bet
offers the player a more advantageous point spread in exchange for a
lower payoff. Many books offer "teaser cards" for betting combinations
of teaser bets.
Many sports books run contests in which gamblers compete with other
players for prizes.
Baseball And Hockey Lines
Baseball, Hockey and Basketball are sports where not enough points are
scored to make the point spread wager feasible. Hockey has the
additional complication of frequent ties. In baseball, the starting
pitchers are so important in predicting the outcome of a game that
baseball odds are posted with the starting pitchers specified. In cases
when either starting pitcher is different from the one specified on the
betting ticket, the bet is off and the amount of the bet is refunded to
In baseball, a player backing the favored team will need to risk more
money than will be returned, while the player backing the underdog side
will receive more money back than was wagered. Here's an example. Assume
that the Braves are playing the Dodgers. The Braves starting pitcher is
three-time Cy Young award winner Greg Maddox, and the Dodgers are
starting their third or fourth starter, Kevin Gross. The line might be
"Maddox minus $1.90, Gross plus $1.70." This type of line is called "a
20-cent line". The slanted edge in numbers gives the casino its
Casinos compete with each other for a player's action by offering
15-cent, 10-cent and even 5-cent lines. The difference in these lines is
seen in the "comeback." In the above 20-cent line the comeback on the
underdog is a 20-cent difference. If the Braves were favored by $1.90
and the casino was using a 10-cent line the comeback on the Dodgers
would be $1.80. Once again it is to the players advantage to shop around
to see what the various books offer. In the above scenario if you like
the Braves and Maddox you must put up $190 to win $100, and if the
Braves win you get your $190 back plus the $100. If you like the Dodgers
and Gross you put up $100 and if this side wins you get back your $100
plus $170, almost doubling your wager. Combinations and variables are
often offered here too.
Hockey is the most complicated of the major sports to wager on and it
also has the most variables. A puck and a money line are the two options
used by casinos when taking hockey bets. The books generally use the
money line. For example the line "Buffalo minus 1/2, minus $1.65 over
Quebec" would translate into Buffalo being the favorite giving 1/2 goal
and a player would need to bet $165 to win $100. If a player wanted
Quebec the line would be "plus 1/2 plus $1.45" and if they bet $100 they
would get 1/2 goal and win $145 (plus the return of the original $100).
The available difference in the amount of goals and money in hockey is
quite diverse and different from casino to casino which is yet another
boon to the shopping wagerer. The other choice in hockey betting is the
In the above example using the puck line, the line on Buffalo would be
"minus 1 1/2, even." To back Buffalo you must give up 1 1/2 goals and
the wager is in even money, meaning you risk $100 to win $100. To play
Quebec the line would read "plus 1 1/2 goals, even" meaning that you
would receive 1 1/2 goals in backing Quebec while risking even money
($100 to win $100). Hockey's built in danger for the player to be aware
of is the problem of an open net goal at the game's end drastically
altering the outcome on any type of 1/2-goal, 1- goal, 1 1/2-goal, or
Opportunities are also available on all sports in the field of the total
amount of points scored in the game. These bets are termed "over or
unders or totals." For instance, in an NBA Celtics-Lakers clash the
"posted total" is 207 1/2. A player can bet either over or under the
total of 207 1/2 (overtimes included) risking the uniform vig of $11 to
How To Place A Bet
It is an easy process to make a bet in the books and the clerks or
ticket writers are more than willing to assist you. The best way to make
a wager is to use the numbers assigned to each team on the betting
boards which are provided world wide by the Nevada Sports Schedule. This
numbering system is the Official Nevada Rotation for the state and is
used for the convenience of both the house and players. When a player
goes into a sports book and studies the betting board, the team's
assigned number is the number to the left of each team. The number to
the right of the team is the odds for that team. The home team is always
listed on the bottom unless a neutral site is noted. For example the
betting board in a casino will list:
8 Green Bay -3
This game will be referred to as game "7/8" with Detroit being team
number seven and Green Bay being team number eight. The number on the
right indicates that Green Bay is a three-point favorite over Detroit.
If a player decides to bet on Green Bay they can go to the window and
state "I would like $11 to win $10 on team eight, Green Bay minus the
three" and sound like a pro!
If you would like to bet a parlay or teaser you need to have the numbers
available for all the teams you wish to back. When choosing multiple
teams you will look to the betting board for the numbers of the teams
you need, for instance:
2 Dallas -7
3 NY Giants
4 Chicago -8
5 New England
6 Miami -3
8 Green Bay -3
After deciding which teams you want to back in your parlay or teaser you
can then approach the window and state "I would like a $10, four-team
parlay (or teaser) on team one Philadelphia, team four Chicago, team six
Miami, and team eight Green Bay."
Again shopping for numbers relevant to your games of interest is very
important because you may have to lay 3 1/2 points at one sports book
while another house offers your team at minus three, which can make a
Introduction To Handicapping For Beginners
After reviewing sections one and two of this guide you should have a
basic understanding of how the line (odds/spread) is determined. We
cannot stress enough that the goal of the spread in each gaming contest
is to equalize betting on both sides and it is NOT a prediction of the
score differential between two teams. The casino wants to have equal
action on both sides so they have no risk regardless of the actual
outcome. It is because of this fact that players receive their biggest
advantage--their ability to shop. When casinos begin to receive more
money on one side over another they will adjust the line in order to
create interest on the other team. If you like that "other" team, it is
in your interest to wait until the line moves before placing a bet,
thereby receiving the best value. But, if you are backing the team in
which most of the money is going to, it is in your interest to wager
before the line moves. Because there are so many casinos, some books may
not have received as lopsided money as others and thus put a slightly
different line on a game. A good shopper will eventually find the best
value for his side, and over the long haul a 1/2-point here, and a point
there can translate into significantly greater profits.
An infinite variety of activities play into each line. The weather in
baseball and football are big factors. Injuries to star or integral
players make having the latest information on a team vital. Such
considerations as who is the home team and what's the history behind a
match up are very important. Historical results which show tradition and
revenge situations are very crucial in determining how a game will play
out. Equally essential is the upcoming schedules of the teams, their
starting participants and who's in the coach's doghouse. Feist Sports is
the leader in sports handicapping and sports information because of its
ability to stay on top of and disseminate all of these crucial factors.
Many casinos hire experts and consultants to help them with the odds
because there are too many of the above factors, along with current
power statistics and trends, for a busy casino to follow them all
Who will win the game? That's the answer all handicappers are searching
for and since the sports books conveniently place numbers on a game in
order to equalize betting on both sides, the numbers make your job of
selecting the winning team more difficult. With all of the factors
available to you as a handicapper and also available to the oddsmakers
and bookmakers the difference between winning and losing comes down to
the practical application of that information. Common sense, hunches, TV
games and personal loyalties are nice instruments to keep a player
interested, but over the long run they are also a nice way to keep you
The best and most successful handicappers are money managers looking for
ideal situations which are defined as games with only a high percentage
of return. In individual situations dumb luck will play into the outcome
of games which no amount of handicapping can overcome, but in the long
run a disciplined handicapper will win more of those lucky games than
they lose, because they aren't depending on the luck-factor for winners.
Experts will gather as much information that's available through the
latest in available statistics, trends, weather, home field and team
histories. One well known example of a historical trend is that NFL
teams which play on the road three weeks in a row have been strong
go-against plays. This trend has been a winning play for a decade.
Computer programs are also being written daily to review, analyze and
predict how each team does against the point spread. These programs
reflect the opinions of each individual because some handicappers give
more value to some factors over others. For instance one handicapper may
determine home field to be the most important issue in each game, while
another believes that the coach is the most important component in a
game. It is important to note that there is no "right" way to pick a
game. The emphasis of a handicapper needs to be on disciplining
themselves to a system that has produced winners for them and never
varying from it.
The information available to a player can be found in daily
publications, news services, computer services or specific detailed
programs for this purpose. The goal of a handicapper is to study as much
information as you can, for as far back as you can, in order to find the
necessary trends which fit your handicapping needs. You will find that
the more time and work you put into your task the more you will learn
and more successful your handicapping will be.
Seven Key Factors For Sports Wagering
Both amateur and professional gamblers know that successful Sports
Wagering is dependent on the law of probability. When doing any Sports
Gambling there are seven key ideas that pertain to successful sports
1- For successful Sports Gambling the first thing you must do is
completely forget luck. Counting on the fact that you will have good
luck when doing your Betting is a good way to not be successful in
2- Always remember that your Sports Gambling has a better than
break-even percentage, the more Sports Wagering you do, the more
winnings you will have.
3- Even the most successful gamblers have losing streaks. All plan for
this when Sports Gambling.
4- Don't overcompensate when you experience a losing streak or switch
sports services. The length of Winning or losing streaks varies when
doing long term Sports Wagering and the serious Gambler should not get
5- In Sports Gambling, you cannot expect a trend to continue when the
changes occur that can affect that trend.
6- Winning at Sports Wagering depends on successful money management.
Keep all of your Bets within a certain money range.
7- Look for Games where the Sportsbook has posted incorrect Odds to
avoid lop-sided Sports Wagering.
Sports Gambling can be a successful enterprise. Once you are secure in
these ideas, you can take your bet to the Sportsbook or Bookmaker. The
Sportsbook is a legal Sports Gambling establishment.] Most of the
Casinos of Las Vegas contain a Sportsbook. A Bookmaker, of Bookie, is
someone who can accept a Sports Wagering proposition. When you go to do
your Sports Gambling, you may be offered a Parlay or Teaser bet. Both a
Parlay and Teaser bet tie the outcome of two or more Bets together.
Although both these Bets may offer a high Payout, they do not fall under
the successful Sports Wagering strategy. Another way to be successful at
Sports Gambling is to find a good Handicapping company. A Handicapping
company can provide Picks for Football, Baseball, Racing, or most other
sports. Getting Picks for Games from a Handicapper is a good start to
successful Sports Wagering if you are new to the Sports Wagering world.