Sports Betting 101

Sports betting is about putting money behind an outcome that you believe will happen in a sporting event. It’s a risky business, and you’ll lose more than you win. But if you play smart, you can make some money over time.

The most basic type of bet is a straight bet, which is simply wagering on a specific team or individual to win a game. For example, if you think the Toronto Raptors will beat the Boston Celtics in an NBA game, you’d place a bet on the team that covers the spread, which is the number set by the sportsbook that reflects the expected margin of victory.

Another popular type of bet is the Over/Under, which is a prediction of the combined score of two teams. For example, a total of 42.5 points might be set for an NFL game. If you think both teams will score a lot of points, you’d bet the Over; if you expect a defensive slugfest, you’d bet the Under.

When betting on sports, it’s important to keep track of your bets (using a standard spreadsheet is fine) and to choose teams that you know well from a rules perspective. Also, be sure to watch news regarding players and coaches, as many sportsbooks will adjust lines for these events, especially props. The NCAA is particularly sensitive to gambling, and it imposes harsh penalties on student athletes, coaches, and other team personnel who engage in sports wagering.