The Ultimate Sports Betting Guide

Learn to Bet Sports and Dominate the Competition

Sports Betting is finally legal and it’s setting up to be insanely profitable with all the new money that’s already started pouring in. There may not be any sports books in your city just yet but there could be very soon. There is still plenty of online sportsbooks to place your bets and I’m here to get you ready by teaching you what it takes to be successful.

The ultimate sports betting guide from Denver Sports Betting will prepare you for the incoming influx of fresh money. I will mostly be using the Denver Broncos as an example to describe different concepts in sports betting. This way, you have a way to apply it to a team you really care about.

Whether you want to sports bet for fun or become a seasoned professional, this guide will help direct you on the right path. Besides, what’s more fun than winning a bunch of money while also beating all your friends?

What is Sports Betting?

I don’t mean to insult your intelligence but it’s important to understand sports betting for what it really is:

Sports betting is a market and the market changes depending on an infinite number of different factors and projected outcomes. The market is fluid, dynamic, and changes depending on all sorts of different reasons such as player injuries, streaks, how well a team is doing, travel, matchups, experience, coaching, and other things we may not even be fully aware of yet.

Recognizing these spots and placing a bet is what makes sports betting so profitable. Not every bet will have value so you have to pick and choose your spots. The lines shift and move from the moment they're released and it continues to do so as new information comes into play. You need to look at sports betting from the lens of a dynamic market to succeed. Once you begin to internalize this concept you’ll soon begin to find “value” in your day to day bets.

In other words, when you start to recognize and bet on value is when you'll start making money!

You should learn and understand these concepts even If you’re just a casual sports bettor that just wants to make a little extra money or beat their friends regularly. Beating friends and making a game more enjoyable should be secondary to turning a steady and consistent profit and if you internalize some of the concepts in this guide that’s exactly what you’ll do.

What is Value in Sports Betting?

To put it simply it’s getting better than the odds the bookmaker’s opening lines. So, if the Denver Broncos were -3.5 point favorites but you really think they should be -7 point then you’d bet the Broncos because there is 3.5 points of value on the Broncos. On the flip side, If the Denver Broncos were +3.5 underdogs but you thought they should be favored by -1 then you’d be getting value betting the Broncos. Learning to recognize value is one of the most important skills a sports bettor can learn. It’s worth mentioning that you can “beat the line” but that’s a more advanced concept we can touch upon later on.

Is Sports Betting Profitable?

Sports betting is very profitable and will become even more so than ever before!

Why?

Because it’s just been legalized and there will be a huge influx of new players who are just starting to learn the game. These new players will make rookie mistakes thus making sports betting more profitable for the people who take time to learn the strategy and tactics to win. Sports betting has been looked down upon for a very very long time but now It’s moving out of the seedy underworld and into the limelight.

The NBA and NHL have deals in place to have sports betting a part of the live experience while the NFL is looking for a way to get in on the action as well. Large, global leagues now understand that placing a bet enhances the fan experience more than anything else. Do you really think people would watch as many games if they didn’t have a fantasy team or a bet placed on it? Only the diehards would watch and most teams wouldn’t be worth as much as they are today.

This means that all those casual sports fans who never took the time to bet will now do so. The bookmakers set the lines according to a wide variety of factors and one of the biggest is public perception. Thanks to ESPN and other sports talk shows, the public will overreact to certain outcomes and situations in sports and the books set the lines to take advantage of this. So, if you take the time to study sports betting you can recognize these situations and profit. Sports Betting Terminology As you get into sports betting more and more you’ll soon start to hear language you’ve never heard before.

Maybe your friends talk betting and it’s hard to keep up with all the terminology and that’s deterred you from ever placing a bet in the first place. Because of that, I’ve decided to outline some of the common ones in this section. At the very least it’ll save you from getting weird looks from friends when you jump out of your chair screaming about that prop bet or that backdoor cover that just hit for you!

Popular Sports Betting Terms

Bankroll

How much money you have to wager on a nightly basis

Bankroll management is key in winning over the long term. A bankroll is completely dependent on your current and future financial situation.

Action

When placing a bet you’re taking “action” on that particular side whether it’s a team, prop, over/under, or futures bet. If you bet the Broncos money line it means you have “action” on the Broncos.

Chalk

The act of placing a bet on a favorite. If you’re considered a “chalk” player it means you mostly bet favorites.

Futures bet

Betting on the outcome of a sporting event in the future. For example, betting the Denver Broncos to win the super bowl before the first preseason game would be considered futures bet.

Point spread betting

The most popular form of sports betting is the act of taking or laying the points.

For example, if the Denver Broncos were favored by -3 points they would have to win by more than 3 for you to win your bet. Winning by 3 would be a “push” where neither side would win.

If Denver was +3 you could win your bet if Denver lost by less than 3 and push if they lost by exactly 3.

Prop Betting

An example of a prop bet is whether or not you think that Peyton Manning will have over or under 299.5 passing yards or over or under 2.5 touchdown passes. You’re basically betting on an individual players outcome.

Money line betting

The most simple way to bet on sports. You pick a winning side and that’s it. The side that’s expected to win (favorite) has a minus (-) while the side that isn’t (underdog) has a plus (+).

Sharp

A sophisticated sports bettor who studies and handicaps the game to the point of turning a steady profit.

Square Play

A mostly public bet with no value in it.

Giving the points

When you bet on a favorite. For example, if you bet on the Denver Broncos at -3.5 you’re giving the points

Taking the points

On the flip side, if the Broncos were a +3.5 underdog you’d be taking the points.

Value

As mentioned above, the value is all about getting better than the “true” odds the bookmaker posts.

What is Bankroll Management in Sports Betting?

Bankroll management is extremely important when it comes to sports betting. Wins and losses can have positive and negative effects on your mindset especially if you’re betting large amounts. The best way to learn sports betting is to play with an amount of money that doesn’t affect you in a major way whether you win or lose.

If you don’t even know the terminology yet the last thing you should be doing is placing huge bets on teams out of sheer emotion. In sports betting, slow and steady wins the race when you’re first learning the game and even if you decide to go pro. As you get better and your bankroll grows you’ll be able to move up in stakes and place bigger bets over time.

So, how big should your bankroll be?

If you're a regular guy or gal who grinds a 9-5 it depends on a lot of different factors but I always suggest to always pay your bills first and see what’s leftover to dedicate to sports betting. Let’s say you have a $500 bankroll on any given month and if you lost that it wouldn’t sting too bad and you could replenish it with ease.

Your working bankroll is essentially $6,000 because you get $500 a month x 12 months = $6,000. If you don’t sweat a $500 loss a month then I say roll with that. If money is tighter then maybe a $100 per month is better which would set your working bankroll at $1,200 (12 months in a year).

If even that’s too high there’s no shame at starting at $50 per month. I started really small myself and worked my way up over time. My average bet size to start out was $25 and I only took plays that I carefully researched. That only amounted to one to two bets a week and slowly a bet or two a night. Now that my bankroll is much bigger I can bet 5-10 bets a night at $50-$500 a bet and not lose much sleep if I ended up losing most of them. This took me about a year to get to this point so don’t jump into the deep end head first before you learn to swim.

This part of sports betting is so player dependent and it’s important to never bet outside of your working bankroll to the point where it negatively affects other aspects of your life.

How much Should You Bet?

Most professional sports bettors suggest risking only 1-2% of your bankroll on any given bet. That isn’t a bad approach until you understand how everything works and get used to the variance. It’s extremely conservative but it will give you the opportunity to really learn the ropes and it’s an approach that I highly suggest if you’re brand new. More than anything this gives you an opportunity to get used to the swings. Not everyone is built to win or lose money and it takes time to get used to it. Some people get really angry when they lose $10 while others can lose $500 without flinching.

Again, it takes a lot of practice to figure out what type of player you are. In the $6000 example if you only risked 1% per bet that means each bet would be $60. Again, depending on your current life situation will determine how many bets you place per night. Maybe you’re only ok with making one bet a night ($60). Maybe you’re ok with making 5 bets per night ($300). Whatever it is take some time to really determine what your bankroll is. Bankroll management is arguably more important than placing actual bets. If you can easily replenish your bankroll then 5%, 10%, or even 20% is completely ok to risk on a nightly basis.

The important thing to remember is there is no true cookie cutter philosophy and that it’s dependent on your particular situation. So, if you need a helpful suggestion feel free to reach out. Another thing worth mentioning is placing bets under the stress of bills will lead to losing mistakes. Also, if you’re in debt make sure you at the very least have a plan to pay it off and are doing so on a monthly basis before placing a bet. Sports betting is such a mental game and to be successful you have to have a clear mind to make the most profitable decisions.

When you have the pressure of bills or debt it will be extremely hard to make good decisions.

More about point spread betting

Because this is one of the most common bets you’ll make it’s worth going into a little bit more detail. The goal of a sports book is to get equal money on each side so they set the spreads and odds accordingly. The line and the odds shift depending on the action that comes in on each side as well as other factors such as player injury news. For example, if the Denver Broncos open up at -7 against the Oakland Raiders at -110 odds the line and odds will move depending on what side is bet more and the types of players that take that particular side.

In the particular situation above, it means that you have to risk -$110 to win $100 and the Broncos have to win by more than 7 points for you to win. If they win by exactly 7 it’s a push and neither side wins and the bet cancels out. If Phillip Lindsey is injured mid-week during practice the line will shift to account for that player news. This can either be the bookmakers adjusting the lines or a big bet coming in on the Raiders due to Phillip Lindsey being injured (which means they think the value is on the raiders). In the example above if Phillip Lindsey got injured and the Broncos were -7 the line may shift to -5 to account for them losing their star running back.

The type of player placing the actual bet is also extremely important. Sports betting is a battle of sharps (the professionals) and squares (the public). When a sharp makes a bet it carries more weight than if a square places a bet. For example, if a sharp walked into a book and placed a $40,000 bet on the Oakland Raiders at +7 then the books would adjust the line in their favor.

In this case, it could move to -4 or -5 Denver Broncos instead of -7 to account for sharp liability. If a sharp bettor puts $40,000 on the Denver Broncos at -7, the line would move up to -8 or higher. If multiple sharps put money on one side it can drastically move the line. A single bet from a casual bettor won’t move the line because the average bet size is so small. If thousands of bets are placed by casual players on one side it will move the line in favor of the particular team they like.

If you get really good at sports betting you can “beat the line” by placing the bet early in the week. “Beating the line” basically means you are anticipating line movement in one direction so you want to get your money down on that particular side before it shifts. It’s important not to “chase” the line which means you place a bet late in the week after the value is gone.

More about Money Line Betting

Money line betting is considered the simplest way to bet on sports because you basically just pick a side. Everyone has made a friendly wager on which team they think will win and that isn’t much different than betting on a money line. The big difference here is that when you bet the money line there is something called “juice” which is the cut the sportsbooks take on that particular bet. The more likely a team is to win the game the more money you have to put down to win a smaller bet. For example, if the money line is -110 you have to wager $110 to win $100.

If the money line for the Broncos during the Peyton Manning years was -450 for a game it means you have to wager $450 to win a $100 bet! The bigger the favorite the bigger the money line. This may seem stupid to do at first but if a team is 70-90% to win (and sometimes close to a 100% barring a major injury) you’ll make a lot of money on that bet over the long run. Think about how dominant the Warriors were on their regular season run before they lost to the Cavaliers in the NBA finals.

During that year the money line bets were massive in favor of the warriors and you often times would have to wager $1,000-$3,000 to win a $100! Of course, this is sports and unexpected shit happens. How else do you explain the Cavaliers coming back from 3-1 down to beat the supposed greatest team in NBA history?

Some say it was because Draymond Green tried to kick Lebron in the nuts. Others chalk it up to Lebron’s greatness. Whatever you think it is, part of the reason we bet sports is because of how exciting it is when the underdog wins. So when it comes to money line betting it’s important to take the time to assess all the factors at play before confidently placing the bet.

Don’t ever just blindly take a money line bet because it’s a “lock” or a 100% to win. Nothing in sports is a 100% to win which is how the Eagles won the super bowl in 2018 and the Patriots came back to beat the Falcons in 2017 after being 99% at multiple points.

Betting the Over/Under and/or totals

After money line betting over/unders is the next most popular. If you hear someone say “totals” it’s the same as betting the over/under. All you have to do is bet on whether or not a game goes over or under the total. For example, If the Denver Broncos are playing the Oakland Raider and the total is at 51 you place a bet on whether it will go above or below that total. So, if you bet a $100 that the total will be above 51 and it hits 52 you’ll win. If the total lands right on 51 it’s a push and anything below that will lose.

Of course, there are odds involved so the bet may be over 51 -110 which means you bet a $110 that the game will go over 51 to win a $100. Most people bet the over because it’s more fun to bet and cheer for a higher scoring game. In certain sports, it can be very profitable to bet the under because of this. Bookmakers will shade the lines a few points high in football games where there is a potential shootout between two elite quarterbacks.

For example, Patrick Mahomes vs Tom Brady went way over the total even though it was one of the highest of all time! Primetime games like Sunday night football or Monday night football will usually have higher totals because those are very public games. Thursday night games are usually lower because it’s a short week and they’re historically lower scoring games.

There are many different factors that affect the over/under including quarterbacks, offensive and defensive ratings, player injuries, whether it’s played in a dome or outside, home/away splits, and indoor/outdoor splits. Like every other line in sports betting it shifts up and down throughout the week. Sudden extreme weather in an outside stadium will sink the line and so will a star player injury. Consistent betting action on the over will push the total up throughout the week.

What Factors Affect Sports Betting Lines and Odds?

There is a wide range of different factors that affect sports betting from a week to week basis. That’s why it’s so important to watch player news and sometimes you just have to sit back and wait instead of pulling the trigger too early.

The most obvious thing that affects betting lines and odds are star player injuries. If the Nikola Jokic gets injured than the line will move in the favor of the team they’re playing. If The Denver Broncos lose Chris Harris or Von Miller then the total (amount of points each team scores) will go up and the line will move in the other teams favor. 

Different sports are affected by different factors. For example, in the NBA you may have to anticipate a star resting or not resting on any given night. It's a long season and coaches elect to sit their stars (like Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, etc) instead of forcing them to play and risking injury. 

Injury news in the NBA is HUGE! There was one time where I caught an over-inflated prop bet on points scored by Denis Schroder when there was a lot of confusion as to whether or not Russell Westbrook would play that night. Surprisingly he did and they had Denis Schroder's points scored at 16.5 and I took the under. Since he didn't play starters minutes it didn't hit and I won big!

Anticipating news can give you a huge edge but it can be tough to do. A good example is when Joel Embiid was recently struggling with tightness in his back. The 76ers were especially cautious with their star center to start his career and you had to think they would once again be careful. It was a Saturday and Embiid was a GTD (game time decision). I read as much as I could to see if there was any important piece of information I could bet on before the announcement. If Embiid was ruled out the Thunder, who they were playing, would be incredible value!

I decided to place a small bet on the Thunder ($100) just in case I missed the news and was planning on putting $500 down if Embiid was out. Well, Embiid ended up playing so I didn't place that second bet but the Thunder covered so I ended up getting somewhat lucky with the bet.

What Else do you Need to Know About Sports Betting?

Sports Betting is insanely profitable but there are going to be swings. If everyone was a winner then Vegas would still be a few shacks in the desert and there wouldn't be bookies begging for your action at every turn. Because of that, it's extremely important to take your time as you learn the ins and outs. Downswings will happen (I've been in multiple up to this point) and when they come you'll begin to doubt your skill.

Eventually, they will pass and if you practice good bankroll management it won't sting as bad. Also, because player injuries drastically swing the lines and affect the outcome of the game it's extremely important to keep an eye on the right sites for news and stats. Below I've listed a few sites I use for stats, matchups, and injury news. If you have any questions you can always reach out to us on Twitter or Instagram.

Rotoworld

Pro Football Focus

NBA.com