About 46% of Americans have at least a slight interest in sports betting for their favorite sports. 

Betting can be a fast way to either make or lose money. For beginners, it might be a little intimidating to learn all of the terminology and information you need to be successful when placing your bets.

Are you thinking about getting into sports betting? If so, it’s a good idea to know as much as you can about it in order to make smart bets and choose strong teams or players. That’s how you make the big bucks! 

Keep reading below to learn the ins and outs of sports betting and how to bet on sports online like a pro. 

What Is Sports Betting for a Total Beginner?

In simple terms, sports betting is when you’re trying to predict what will happen in a sport and you’re placing money on your guess as a wager. If you’re correct, you get your money back plus more, but if you’re incorrect, you get nothing.

While sports betting is obviously most common with… sports, you can also find sports betting for reality television or non-human sports, like horse racing. The basics of how it works remain the same.

You’ll need to find a bookmaker to legally bet on sports. They will use a sportsbook, which is simply a book that is used to keep track of wagers and debts (as well as payouts). Legal bookmakers (also called “bookies”) will take your money upfront in order for you to place your bet.

Some people like to bet online, which is what we will mostly cover here, but you can also find places to bet in person in certain locations, such as Las Vegas or on cruise ships. To place your bet, you’ll need to know exactly what type of bet you want to place as well as how much money you want to put down. 

The Knowledge You Need to Get Started

The first thing that you have to do when you want to start betting on sports is find a reliable betting site. While we will touch more on this later, it’s a wise choice to have a few different options in mind so that you can have plenty to choose from. The last thing you need is to sign up with a fake site that ends up stealing your money.

The next aspect to focus on is the type of sport you want to bet on. American football, basketball, and soccer are some of the most popular choices for sports betting, and this is mainly because they are just popular sports in general. While you may not want to choose your favorite sport to bet on (in case you end up losing more than you’d like), you should pick a sport that you like to watch and can understand the rules of to make things easier.

Remember that you can always choose a new sport later if you end up not liking placing bets on the first one that you select.

Once you have these two things ready, you need to brush up on your betting odds. Understanding the type of bets you place is perhaps the most important aspect of sports betting. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you won’t be able to make educated guesses on what the outcome will be or whether or not you might even have a chance of winning.

It wouldn’t hurt to learn more about betting odds either, especially if you aren’t great with math problems. Luckily, we will touch on all of these things in more detail here. 

Understanding Odds

In sports betting, the most common form of gambling is called fixed odds betting. While there are some other, more advanced types of bets you can place, these are the main forms we will focus on here since they are what you’ll see as a beginner.

Betting odds and the types of bets you can place are different depending on where you are in the world. If you’re in the US, you’re going to come across both decimal odds and American odds. If you’re in the UK (as well as other countries), you’ll likely see fractional odds as well.

Decimal odds are easy to understand for most people because they are very basic. You simply multiple your wager by the price to see what your return could be.

American odds, or moneyline odds, can be both positive and negative (such as +150 or -200). In our example, if you have +150, that means you would be able to win $150 on a $100 bet for a total of $250. Alternatively, if you have -200 odds, you need to place at least $200 as a bet to win $100 for a total of $300.

Fractional odds are generally considered the most complicated type of odds, which is likely part of the reason they are less popular. To know how much you might win with these odds, you need to calculate how much money you will win (the number on the left) versus how much money you have to stake (the number on the right). If you see odds of 6/1 or 6-1 and you place a bet of $100, this means you stand to earn $600 if you win. 

Choosing Between the Types of Bets You Can Place 

There are many types of sports bets you can place on most of the common betting sites, but there are five specific bet options that you need to understand before learning about the more advanced ones. Just like with odds, you need to get the basics down first before learning about your other opportunities.

The variety here can make it a little difficult for beginners to know what they want to do because you need to understand how they all work to make the smartest choice. 

The bets you need to familiarize yourself with include:

  • Moneyline
  • Point spread
  • Future
  • Over and under
  • Parlay


This is the most simple bet you can make because you’re simply betting on who is going to win. Earlier when we discussed odds, we mentioned that American odds are also sometimes called moneyline odds. To make a moneyline bet, you will always need to follow that formula to figure out how much to bet.

Point Spread

A point spread, also called a handicap, is a type of bet that is also represented in the moneyline plus/minus format, but refers to how many points the team will win by rather than just which team wins. 

An example is if you see something like Bengals -7.5 Jaguars. This means that Cincinnati is expected to beat Jacksonville by 7.5 points, but since teams can’t get half points, Cincinnati would have to win by at least 8 points for someone betting on the Bengals to win this spread. If you’re betting on the Jaguars, they would need to lose by seven or less (or win the game) for a bettor to win.


Future bets are a little vague because they are generally just betting on anything to happen in the future. Also represented as a moneyline bet, you can bet on things like who will win the World Series, who will get the Heisman Trophy, or who comes in last at the Daytona 500.

Over and Under

This type of bet is usually going to rely on the total points scored by both teams in the game. Bettors will see a total score in a sportsbook and decide if they want to bet that the actual total score is over or under that number. 

Over and under bets are pretty easy to make and understand, but they are also nice because you can sometimes find them for period or halftime eligibility instead of the entire game or match. 


A parlay is interesting because it’s actually different types of bets put together. If you win all of the bets you place, you win big, but if even one of those bets doesn’t pan out, you don’t get anything.

Commonly, a parlay will consist of moneyline, point spread, and over/under bets. 

Picking the Best Sports to Bet On

Whether you want to bet on sports because you think it will be fun or because you actually want to make some money, you have to really consider which sport you want to pay attention to for betting. 

If you just want to have a good time, the sport that you choose to bet on doesn’t really matter that much. You should pick something that you think is exciting or that you’re interested in, but since you’re just trying to have fun, it won’t matter as much if you win or lose.

However, if you want to get into sports betting to make some money, you need to do a little more digging. The sport you pick should be one that you’re familiar with already, and it should be focused on teams that you know about. Otherwise, you may end up placing bets that you don’t feel confident in, which leads to more losses.

If you’re committed to learning about a sport before you start betting, that will work as well! You just need to have a solid understanding of the sport’s rules, history, and teams before you select the right one for you. 

How to Choose the Best Sites for Sports Betting

Now that we have covered all of the basics and you’re ready to actually place a bet, you need to narrow down the websites that you might want to use. You can place free online bets all over the place on the internet, but that doesn’t mean all of the websites are actually good for someone to use.

First, you need to think about what type of betting you want to do. Consider the types of bets we mentioned earlier and which ones you want to make sure that the betting site offers. You also want to check that they allow bets on the specific sport or team you like.

Next, you’ll want to make a shortlist of the options that seem like the best fit and look up reviews for those websites. You can also spend some time clicking around on the sites themselves to see if they are user-friendly, if you can use it on your smartphone, or if you like the way that the website functions.

After that, you just need to pick one. Remember that if you end up not liking one, you can always sign up for a different option later.

Before you start betting, you should create a sports betting budget to make sure that you don’t overspend. The last thing you need is to lose out enough times to create real financial ruin for yourself. Pay attention to what you’re doing, how much you’re spending, and how much you have left at all times. 

Sports Betting Made Easy

Now that you know a bit more about sports betting in general and how you can start, it’s time to figure out which sports you want to bet on.

You should choose a sport you understand or one that you want to learn the rules of before you place a bet. This will make it much easier for you to know if you won or lost! 

Keep up with your budget and how much you’re spending. You don’t want to get too caught up in the fun!

If you found this article interesting or useful, take some time to look at the rest of our blog next for more just like this.