Sports Betting Guide

Our comprehensive sports betting guide covering the basics of betting on sports, odds formats, sports betting strategies and tips, and an FAQ.

This sports betting guide will introduce you to how the betting markets work and how to employ systems and strategies to bet against them. The industry has evolved so much in the last decade that finding value bets where you may have an edge has become increasingly more difficult.

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you will feel inspired to expand your knowledge and skillset. Make sure you first read our betting 101 guide for beginners.

What Sports Can You Bet On

It is possible to bet on practically every sport in the world. Even the ones which don't capture mainstream attention. Here is a list of some of the sports you can consider placing a bet on.

Football - Football betting is the most popular market to bet on in Europe. The Premier League receives a huge amount of betting activity while the Champions League and national tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup are also hugely popular.

American Football - American Football betting is extremely popular in the US with the NFL. The Super Bowl is one of the most viewed sporting events in the world and many punters are often inspired to have a gamble on this event.

Basketball - Basketball betting allows you to bet on the NBA in the US as well as lesser-known European leagues.

Baseball - Baseball betting allows you to bet on the MLB in the US. There are occasionally matches held in other countries that are available to bet on but the majority of the focus is on the US.

Handball - Handball betting is popular in Europe, especially in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, its most important markets. Both the EHF Champions League and IHF World Championships are amazing competitions to place bets on.

Tennis - Tennis betting is popular among gamblers due to the tennis schedule being jam-packed throughout the year. Major tournaments such as Wimbledon and the US open are also very popular events to bet on.

Cycling - Cycling betting allows you to bet on cycling races that take place throughout the world with The Tour De France raking in the most money for bookmakers.

Athletics - Athletics betting allows you to bet on multiple sports held within certain world-recognized events such as the World Athletics Championships and the Olympics.

Cricket - Cricket betting allows you to bet on popular cricket events such as the IPL and the Ashes. Cricket is one of the best sports to practice in-play betting.

Formula 1 - Formula 1 betting allows you to bet on races that occur throughout the Formula 1 season across the globe. You can also bet on the outright winner of the championship.

Horse Racing - Horse racing betting allows you to bet on horse races throughout the world. Horse racing has a packed schedule daily and has a few showcase events such as Cheltenham and Ascot.

Greyhound Racing - Greyhound racing is similar to horse racing as there are multiple races running every day around the world which can be bet on. The nice thing about greyhound races is that they are over in a flash making the betting process thrilling for punters.

MMA - MMA betting allows you to bet on the biggest mixed martial arts matches in the world. The UFC often throws up a few fights that gain mainstream attention. These types of fights attract some betting activity.

Boxing - Boxing betting allows you to bet on some of the most famous fights taking place. Mainstream boxing fights don't come around too often but when they do, they receive a huge amount of betting activity.

Esports - Esports betting is a new addition to the gambling world. Players of selected computer games now compete in tournaments for an insane amount of money and it is possible now to bet on these events in the same way you would with any other sport.

How Does Sports Betting Work

Bookmakers have a lot to consider when deciding what odds they will offer for certain sporting events. The main thing to consider is the overall possibility of a certain outcome occurring such as a football team beating another. The factors that have to be considered though are incredibly sophisticated. Odds will change when things occur that make an outcome more or less likely to happen.

This will involve following things such as team news, form, weather, and how a particular game or race is playing out.


Bookmaking is the activity of setting odds and effectively calculating how much to pay customers in the event of a sporting outcome occurring. Today bookmaking is a sophisticated process that makes use of scientific data as well as factoring in some level of human knowledge and instinct. A good bookmaker in theory will be looking to offer the customer odds that are slightly in the house's favor.


There are several sporting events that take place throughout the world which always attract a lot of betting activity. Horse racing events such as Cheltenham and Ascot as well as specific boxing matches are just some good examples of occasions where bookmakers bring in millions from just one event alone.

Teams, Players & Runners

The teams selected for a particular match or the horses involved within a race will have a significant effect on the likely outcome of the event in question and bookies do consider this information.

If a football team is favourites to win a match and all of a sudden their best player is confirmed injured, you can expect the odds to change because of this new information. Similarly, if two horses were joint-favourites to win a race and one of them had to pull out the other horses odds will decrease significantly.


Traditionally you could only bet on the final outcome of a race or a match. For example Horse A to win or Manchester United to draw. Now there are so many betting markets involved within one game punters are spoilt for choice.

Using football as an example, it is now possible to bet on the correct score, Half time winner, first and last goalscorer, 2.5 goals or above, and the number of corners. Certain bookmakers can offer up to 80 markets on one game alone.


Odds are arguably the most important thing to consider when betting. A good bet shouldn't be defined by the end result, instead, you should justify why you are placing the bet. For example, if you believe there is a football game that could go either way and you see one team with odds of 4.0 and above you should be able to recognize that you are getting great value here.

In-Play Betting

When a game is in-play it is possible to still bet on the outcome of the match. In-play betting can bring some advantages for gamblers. Mainly that we can watch a game play out and make decisions based on what we see with our eyes. It is also possible to use in-play betting to receive more favorable odds.

Bet Types

Depending on the sport you bet on, you will have access to a wide variety of wagers. From outright winner to more exotic bets, each sport has its own more common types of wagers you need to be aware of in order to choose the right betting strategy for your bankroll.

How Does Sports Betting Work
How Does Sports Betting Work

How To Make Money Betting On Sports?

Making money on sports betting is not an easy thing to do consistently. Many don't have the patience to practice good discipline as well as take the time to study to help them improve. There are things you can do though to make your results consistent. Most notably following these pieces of advice.

1. Pick a Sport You Know & Understand

Having Knowledge of the sport you are betting on always helps. This way when you are looking for value in the market certain odds will stand out to you as not looking quite right.

2. Don't Bet With Your Heart

If you support a particular football club you are more likely to have some level of bias and this will affect any sort of betting strategy you are looking to implement. You should be making decisions because you are betting with odds that represent good value.

For example, if you believe a team is unlikely to win but you feel the bookmakers have them significantly underpriced. This bet still represents good value and if you believe you will win in the long run you should consider placing a bet if it falls within your bankroll management.

3. Make Data-Driven Decisions

Bookmakers use data to help define their odds so we should make use of data also. For example, bookmakers used to offer very high odds for there to be a hole in one in golf tournaments. Many punters realized that the odds of this occurring were not as high as the bookmaker's odds were suggesting and hence took advantage of this opportunity. It is unlikely to find something as good as this today with all the data bookmakers employ but the idea is to seek something using this logic.

4. Follow Trusted Tipsters

There are people online who are classified as trusted tipsters who are able to prove they make consistent money and will often charge for you to use their services. There are many legitimate ones out there but precaution must be taken when searching for one.

These people will often choose picks based on ample research and scientific data and if you come across a good one it will be worth the monthly subscription you need to pay.

5. Record All Your Bets

When you record all your bets you effectively have a reference point as to what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. This way you can remove any bad habits you're implementing and increase the money you are bringing in. This system will also help you stay in control of your bankroll management.

6. Engage In Sports Betting Communities

Talking to other gamblers who are trying to achieve what you are can be extremely useful. We are lucky that we live in an age where there is so much information available online that we have the ability to learn from other people's mistakes. You also have the ability to discover if any theories you have, have been tested before.

7. Bankroll Management & Unit Size

Bankroll management is there to protect gamblers from going bust. It does this by trying to account for as much variance as possible. While unit size refers to what percentage of your bankroll you should be betting with. This will vary for different strategies but it usually involves staking more money on low odds and less money on high odds.

8. Use Multiple Sportsbooks

Using Multiple Sportsbooks is essential for serious gamblers as we should always be striving for the best deal possible. For example, if the odds for a horse were 4.5 on bookmaker A and 5.0 on bookmaker B we should use Bookmaker B every time as this will have a substantial effect on our long-term profit.

9. Employ Specific Betting Systems

It is very hard to maintain discipline when gambling but being able to display such skills will have a very positive effect on your results. Choose a betting system where you have a plan in place for numerous scenarios and stick to it until you have a good reason that it might not be for you.

10. Be Realistic, Be Patient

Don't chase unrealistic profits as it is very unlikely that you will become rich overnight from sports betting. a good betting system is usually conservative and tries to eliminate the luck factor as much as possible therefore realize what represents a good return before you start so you don't end up getting frustrated and bet more than you should.

Sports Betting Odds and Implied Probabilities
Sports Betting Odds and Implied Probabilities

Effective Sports Betting Systems

Betting on instinct is not a system that will bear fruit in the long run and you would be better suited to using systems that take the emotion out of betting and do not rely on things like gut feeling or worse extreme luck.

It is important to know that there is no magic formula for betting on sports.


Hedging a bet is a strategy that involves placing a bet against your original bet. This is an advanced strategy with the aim of either minimizing losses or guaranteeing a profit depending on how the original bet is looking.

This bet has to be executed while the match is in play and it will be beneficial to have a plan in place for what to do in different scenarios.


Arbitrage betting is where you bet for and against the same outcome in a sporting event on different sites in order to make a guaranteed profit. This can be done by betting on different bookmakers or it can be best done using one bookmaker and an exchange site.


Dutching is the act of placing two opposing bets on different sites on the same game or sporting event to lock in a guaranteed profit. This works in the same way as arbitrage betting as you will be betting with odds that guarantee a payout no matter the final outcome.

Matched Betting

With no-risk matched betting, it is possible to use the bonuses bookmakers offer and use them in such a way you are making a risk-free profit.

There are several advanced strategies full-time matched betters employ to make a profit but the most basic exploitation of these offers is as follows.

You place a bet on a bookmaker to activate the free bet and then you lay against this bet using an exchange site to more or less break even. You then do the same process with the free bet meaning you will make a profit whatever the outcome. You can repeat this system with every bookmaker that has sign-up offers.

Progressive Sports Betting Systems

Positive progression systems encourage punters to bet more when they are winning and less when they are losing. The theory here is to minimize your losses and to capitalize on your winnings.

Sports Betting FAQ

Answers to the most common questions about sports betting.

What do the + and - mean in sports betting?

The + and - signs are used in American odds. The - sign is when you are betting on a favorite and a + sign is when you are betting on an underdog. The number followed by the - sign is the amount you will need to stake to win $100. The number following the + sign indicates how much money you will receive from a $100 stake.

How do sports betting odds work?

Sports betting odds will increase and decrease depending on the likelihood of a certain outcome happening. Things like form and potential teams news are factored in when bookmakers create odds for their sites.

Is sports betting a form of gambling?

Yes. Sports betting is gambling as there is no guarantee that you will make money. Even if you believe you have a good strategy in place there is no guarantee of making money on a consistent basis either so please understand this before you proceed.

Are there betting strategies that guarantee a profit?

Yes. matched betting and arbitrage betting are guaranteed ways of making a profit. Both of these systems involve placing bets on the same match or event on different sites to lock in a guaranteed profit. The profit is unlikely to be that much and constant practice of these strategies is likely to result in restricted accounts with bookmakers.

What is the moneyline in sports betting?

The Moneyline in sports betting refers to a bet where you will be making a profit that is higher than the amount staked. it is called the Moneyline as you are betting on an outcome that is not the most likely thing to occur.

How to win my sports bets every time?

it's impossible to guarantee a return every time you place a bet on a sporting event. The magic formula doesn't exist and a successful betting system will be tailored to winning in the long run. Any system that guarantees you can win every bet is a scam.

What does the spread mean in sports betting?

Spread betting is a very risky type of betting. This is because the amount of money you win or lose will be depending on a specific outcome of a game. For example. If you were to bet on the number of goals in a game, the odds and stake might mean that you will make $5 for every goal that happens above the 2.5 over/under market. In this instance, you can only lose $10.

However, if you bet on the under market, there is no limit to what you can lose.

How to start betting on sports?

To start betting on sports all you need to do is sign up to a bookmaker of your choice and deposit money. After this you can search for sporting events you want to bet on and add your selections to a bet slip.

How to get good at sports betting?

To get good at sports betting requires a lot of discipline and understanding of how the market works. When you discover a betting system you will need to practice good bankroll management which also involves a good level of discipline.

What is parlay in sports betting?

parlay bet is a type of wager that links together two or more types of wagers together. To win a parlay bet all of the selections selected will have to win.

Are sports betting exchanges better than regular bookmakers?

On betting exchanges, customers of the exchange set their own odds for other users to match. This often leads to more attractive odds being available on exchange sites. This can definitely be applied to outsiders.

How much money can you make betting on sports?

The amount of money one can make on sports betting varies hugely. Factors such as skill, discipline and outright luck will go a long way to determining your levels of profit.

The system you choose to employ will also determine the money you will make. If you are seeking to make consistent profit then you are more likely to make money from gambling but as result of the system you won't make as much as if you were to take a wild punt and get lucky for example.

Betting on sports has become a significant part of many cultures around the world. Many do it for a bit of fun whilst others take it very seriously. If you want to belong to the latter you will obviously have a desire to make a profit from sports betting. Following all the steps in this guide is a good start to achieving this.