Betting in some way or form has been around probably about as long as humans have been around. As long as there has been a way of gaining some kind of advantage by taking a risk then mankind has been willing to take that risk.
Betting – or gambling – as we know it today is the action of attempting to predict the outcome of an event and wagering money on the chance of that happening. Bookmakers will present the odds of an event occurring and punters will place their bets accordingly.
Although there are many areas of life that people can bet on, the most popular – and most well known – is within the sports arena. As sports are unpredictable and work to no script, they are the perfect thing to bet on. You may be attracted by the long odds given to events that are less likely to happen, knowing that that will bring the bigger winning returns. Or you might be more inclined to go with the more sure fire bets that are more likely to come in but pay out less.
This is where a lot of the attraction of betting lies and it is a fine balance between the level of risk and the possibility of greater winnings that keeps the entire betting industry going.
In this guide for novices we will look at what kinds of things you can bet on and how to do it. The betting world can sometimes seem a bit impenetrable to anyone not familiar with the processes and terms associated with it. But once you get to know your way around you will discover that it really is quite simple and that you will pick up more as you go along to understand even more.
With the incredible rise in popularity of online sports betting and the development in technology that has come along because of that, more and more people have started to become more interested in the world of gambling.
Just a short time ago the stereotypical view of betting was a dingy high street shop full of smoke, men and undecipherable betting talk. These days even the more traditional bookies operate online sites that cater for a wide range of people across society’s spectrum. The bookies know that the more accessible their sporting markets are the more people are likely to take a look at what at betting is all about – and from there open up their own customer accounts and start betting with them.
Although you can obviously still use the high street bookies to place your bets newcomers are more likely to use these online sports betting sites to make their selections so the first thing you will need to do is sign up for a customer account.
There is an amazing amount of betting sites to choose from so it is a good idea to take your time having a look at what is out there. See which sites cover the sporting markets and sports that you are thinking of betting on and compare the huge array of welcome offer promotions to see which bookie is the right one for you. There are a lot of sites you can look at to give you insight to the different bookies and their variety of offers, so do carry out a little bit of research.
In very simple terms, betting is the process of risking something to get more back in return. When it comes to sports betting it is the risk of your stake on the outcome of an event to win back more money in return.
There are, of course, a lot of different permutations and details alongside that very basic outline but at its essence it is just attempting to predict a result correctly and being rewarded for doing so.
As we mentioned earlier there are many different ways that you can bet but if you are a beginner then you are more likely to be just interested in traditional betting at this point. We will take a quick look at other methods such as exchange and spread betting in a little while but as these can be slightly more complex – and expensive – we will be concentrating on the basics of traditional sports betting for now.
How to Bet
It really depends on the sport in question but the most common and simple bet to understand is attempting to predict whether an event will end as win for one side or the other. Football is the most popular sport to bet on online and the simplest bet would be to predict which side will win – or if there might be a draw at the end of the 90 minutes.
For example, if Chelsea are playing Manchester United you could bet on Chelsea winning, Manchester United winning or that the game will be tied at the end of the90 minutes (it is very important to stress that this bet covers the outcome after 90 minutes, if the game goes to extra time, penalties or any other decision making method then that is covered in a different bet entirely).
The amount you bet is called the stake and it is entirely up to you what amount you decide to place as a bet. The bookmakers are the people that offer the odds on the bet and that will give an outcome a degree of attractiveness to a punter. There are various elements that are considered concerning the odds of an outcome – and this will change for a variety of reasons as well.
The winnings are calculated by your stake multiplied by the odds. If you are successful you will receive that amount as well as your original stake as your winning return. If your prediction doesn’t come true then you just lose your stake.
What to Bet On
We won’t go into specifics here as the amount of different sports markets and the individual outcomes you can bet on is growing all the time. For beginners it is a good idea to go with a sport you know already as you will understand how the game is played and what happens in the duration of an event.
Then you can investigate further into the kinds of things you can bet on with that sport. It might be as simple as who wins a football match or horse race, or who will get the most runs in a cricket match. As you can imagine, there are plenty of different outcomes to bet on and these can always be easily found on any online sports betting sites sportsbook page.
The best advice for complete betting beginners is to go for the simplest bets available and go on from there. If you are looking to bet on football then start with the single win bets on individual matches and if you feel fine with that (you will, there’s nothing to it!) then progress as slow or fast as you feel like. There is, of course, no ultimate endgame when it comes to online sports betting.
You should just bet on whatever you feel comfortable with and if that means just single matches or events then stick with that. The whole point of this is to enjoy yourself and make some money along the way.
Explaining the Odds
Although the way odds are displayed may seem confusing to a beginner – and especially when you notice that they can be presented in a number of ways – they are actually very straightforward, easy to understand and tell you all the information you need to know about the probability of an event.
As well as telling you how probable an event is of happening, the odds also explain how much you will win by placing a bet at that price (a ‘price’ is another word for the odds). By looking at the odds a bookmaker gives a specific event you can see how likely it is to happen and you can then make your decision on whether you find that attractive enough to stake your money on it.
There are a few different ways that odds can be displayed and this can sometimes depend on what country you are in or just personal preference. When you sign up for a customer account with an online betting site you have the chance to opt for the view that you find most easy to follow. You can generally change this at any time as well so it really is just a case of what you most prefer.
Traditionally in the UK bookies have displayed their odds using fractions. This has changed somewhat since the rise in online sites – and just general usage – but it is a good idea to understand how fractional odds work and what they mean.
As an example, if Chelsea’s chances of winning a match are listed as 4/1 that means that there is a 20% chance of that outcome occurring. As far as winnings go it means that for every £1 you stake you will receive £4 back – plus your original stake. So if you bet £1 on Chelsea winning at 4/1 you will get back £5 – £4 of winnings plus your original £1 stake.
Another popular way that odds can be displayed is by decimal odds. In this case the odds of Chelsea winning would be listed as 5.0. If you made the same bet of £1 you would get £5 back. Decimal odds are regarded by some as easier to understand as they tell you exactly how much you will get back, including the stake. In truth there is no real advantage in either method of odds display and it really is just down to personal taste on which one you use.
Your online betting site may offer you the chance to have odds displayed in American style. Unless you are used to that then it is probably best to go with either fractional or decimal. The most important thing is to understand what information the odds are giving you and use that to help decide on your stake and bet.
Although you will see various offers and promotions from bookmakers there is usually not that much difference in odds between them. But there is sometimes value to be found and that is where an odds comparison site could come in handy.
With online betting you will need to have a customer account with the site that you want to place a bet with but if you do your research on an odds comparison site you may be able to see that a particular bookie consistently has more attractive odds than some of the others. The good thing is that you are not obligated to stay with just one bookie so you are more than free to look around and find a better place to go.
Odds comparison sites will have filters that you can include on a search making it possible to see what all the bookies they include have as odds for the winner of the Premier League for example. You will probably see that most of the odds will be very similar here but it is sometimes in the small margins that the money can be made.
For some this may seem hard to follow but handicap betting is just the same as the straightforward betting that we have just explained but just changing some of the variables.
Bookmakers offer handicap betting markets as a way to even up natural disparages and distances between – if it were a football match – the two sides. The odds are still displayed in the same way as we outlined above but they will be slightly different as you will be betting on an outcome that may not actually occur in real life.
For example, we looked at betting on Chelsea to win before and it would be obvious to see if you had won your bet as Chelsea would have scored more goals than their opponents to win their match. Now with handicap betting that may not be the case.
If Chelsea were listed as (-1.0) and their opponents were listed as (+1.0) it would mean that Chelsea would start the match at a disadvantage as far as your bet went. If you were backing Chelsea to win using this handicap then they would have to win by two goals for you to win your bet. If Chelsea win their game, but by only one goal then as far as your bet is concerned it has effectively finished as a draw and you have not won.
Handicap betting is available in a number of other sports as well but when it comes to football you may see it called an Asian handicap, due to the fact that these kinds of markets became very popular in Asia. The point of Asian handicaps is to give both teams a better chance of winning (as far as the bet goes) so you will also generally see odds much closer to evens (1/1) than in straight betting.
Other Types of Betting
You may not want to explore more complex ways of betting quite yet if you are beginner but it is a good idea to know roughly what the terms mean as you will probably see them listed as well as the traditional method.
Exchange betting is a term given to betting on an event where one person believes the event will happen and another thinks it won’t. Most online betting sites that you will use as a beginner will only display traditional odds but there are a few that have exchanges as well. The bookie in this instance doesn’t actually make any money off the bet – that is purely between the two opposing sides. The money made here for the bookie is in the commission.
Bookmakers such as Betfair just have to make sure that the bet is ‘matched’ – that is that there are two opposing views on the event. If anything exchange betting is actually more like two friends making a private wager than traditional betting.
Another popular method of betting that you will probably hear about is Spread betting. This method is most common in sports and financial markets and in fact came originally from traders betting on commodities. The attraction here is that you can win a lot of money but that also means that you can lose more as well.
In traditional betting you will only lose your stake if your bet is not successful. In spread betting you make your bet being higher or lower than the ‘spread’ of an event and the more your bet is right the more you win. Of course, that also works the other way as well.
As we said, if you are a novice to sports betting then these methods are probably better left alone for now until you feel you have more confidence in what you are doing and understand the process enough to know how much you are likely to win or lose.
Looking After Your Money
It may seem like a very obvious point but you need to make sure that you are well on top of the financial side of your betting. As a beginner you will be a very recreational gambler and therefore probably not be spending vast amounts but it is always a good rule of thumb to only bet what you can afford to lose.
All online sports betting sites have a number of different ways you can deposit and withdraw money into customer accounts and all the details – including minimum and maximum amounts and the time it takes for the money to be moved around – will be clearly set out on the site.
You will be well aware of the dangers of problem gambling and most bookmakers have programmes in place to help anyone who believes that they may have issues with their betting. These can be as simple as setting deposit limits, so you are not moving too much money into your betting account, to the contact details of professional organisations.
Betting online can be highly enjoyable – and financially rewarding! – so it pays to know how to move your money around to make the most of your time on a betting site.
Getting Betting Tips
Traditionally punters have always liked to use someone on the inside to get that special insight into the specifics of an event to influence the way that they bet. Even though it is still just as unpredictable as ever, that extra bit of knowledge could make all the difference.
With the rise of online betting sites we have also seen the rise in the amount of tipster services vying for business. These will usually cost money to use so you may want to give them a miss for now as a beginner but if you find a tried and tested tipster once you get more experience it could really help.
For now you could probably get just as much insight from sports professionals who regularly offer their opinions and insight in the media – including most betting site blogs.
Make the Most of Promotions
With so many online betting sites looking to sign you up as a customer – and keep you happy – you will find that you can get quite a lot out of all the various promotions and offers that new and existing customers can claim.
You could get risk free bets and deposit matches as well as odds boosts and special bets just by being a customer of a particular bookie. Always take the time to check out the site’s promotions section as there is a lot of good value to be found. And they quite regularly have event specific offers so definitely take a look when a big sporting event comes around.
Betting for Beginners
Adding a little bit of personal interest to sports events can make even some of the most boring events seem exciting and there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from using online betting sites to place your bets.
Doing your research is key all along the way – from the initial account registration, to who to bet on, to how you control your money. Always make sure that you know what you are doing and you can have a really great time betting online!