The world of sports betting can seem daunting to those just learning the ropes. In comparison with online casinos like Rocketplay, where everything is simple, betting sites have a lot more to learn. Between money lines, spreads, parlays, and more, the terminology alone is enough to make new bettors want to fold their hands. However, with some key strategies in mind, even beginners can learn to bet smart and maximize their chances of winning. This guide breaks down the basics of betting odds and offers tips any first-timer can use.

Getting a Grip on the Numbers

Betting odds, at first glance, appear to be a random jumble of numbers and decimals that don’t seem to make any sense. In reality, the odds offered for any given event represent the implied probability of that outcome occurring. Learning what the different odds formats indicate and which bets offer the highest chances of a payout is step one to strategizing effectively.

Moneyline Odds

These are the simplest type of odds, indicated by a positive or negative number that shows which team or outcome is favored to win and by how much. For example:

  • Team A -150
  • Team B +130

Team A is expected to win, so a winning $150 bet would net just $100 in profit. Team B is the underdog, so a $100 wager could produce a $130 profit if they pull off an upset victory. Higher numbers, either positive or negative, mean that outcome is seen as less likely.

Point Spreads 

The spread sets a margin of victory that the favored team must exceed for a bet on them to cash out. The underdog team can lose by less than the spread and still cover the bet to produce a win. For example:

  • Team A -6.5
  • Team B +6.5 

Team A must win by 7 or more points to “cover the spread.” Team B can lose by up to 6 points and still cover. This allows betting on unevenly matched contests.

Getting the Best Value

One key betting strategy for beginners is to look for odds that offer maximum value. This means judging which team is more likely to cover their side of the bet than the odds imply. For example, Team A may be established as 6-point favorites over Team B. But if you determine Team A is likely to win by 10 points, not just 6, then betting on them offers good value. Identifying and betting mispriced odds is a primary way savvy bettors maximize profits.

Betting Against the Public 

Another common strategy is called fading the public. Sportsbooks adjust odds based on how actual bettors are wagering, aiming to balance the action on both sides. If most casual fans are loading up on Team A as 3-point favorites, the book will adjust by making Team B more enticing as 3.5-point underdogs. Contrarian bettors may then see Team B as offering better value given the shift.

Hedging Your Bets

Betting novices should also know how to hedge their wagers to mitigate potential losses. This involves placing bets to cover multiple outcomes of the same game. For example, if you bet on Team A covering a 7-point spread, you could also make a smaller wager on Team B with +7 point spread odds as insurance. This way, if Team A fails to cover, your Team B bet cashes to make up some of the loss. The trade-off is smaller potential profits.

Now that you grasp some key numbers and strategies around sports betting odds, you’ll be able to approach even the most chaotic-looking betting sheets with more confidence and skill. Just remember that while upsets and unexpected outcomes are always possible, the odds still give a useful snapshot of probability. So betting smart comes down to finding places where those odds seem misaligned with reality.