There are a number of activities that generate fervent interest in fans, and interest in sports in general sits up there with the most popular of them. We like to watch sports, we like to play sports, and we like to read about sports. So it's no surprise that when it comes to attempts to win money, sports betting takes high rank among the many different ways of making a profit.
Opportunities for sports betting are endless, with operators taking bets on just about every sport you can think of, and in ways that will satisfy anyone who has an interest in making a bet. In fact betting on sports is experiencing high growth worldwide and taking a sizeable chunk of the estimated $25 billion that's being wagered on betting of different types each year.
On this page I'm going to examine a number of different aspects of sports betting. I do have to say though that the subject is an enormous one, and I could write hundreds of pages and still not cover every aspect. What I'm hoping to do though, is share enough of the knowledge I've built up over 30 odd years to give you a chance of placing some winning bets. Over time, I'm confident we can build this section up to be a comprehensive resource.
Before we move on to the deeper intricacies of the subject, it's worth taking note of a new type of betting that's only recently been introduced. This is a platform provided by FootballIndex.co.uk, and is a footballer stock exchange platform where you can buy or sell real footballer shares (of course not for the millions they actually cost). Prices range from £1 upwards, and you get profits by either selling at a higher price than you bought or by earning dividends on high performing players. If you know plenty about footballers, it's worth a look.
What Is Sports Betting? And What Sports Can I Bet On?
Well, it's a simplistic question for a big subject. The simplistic answer is that it entails placing wagers on the outcome of any sporting event - from archery and badminton, through football and horse racing, to swimming, tennis, and volleyball. Some might even consider playing in poker games to be a sport, and the explosion of interest in eSports and video game cash contests is a good indicator for how that area will grow in future.
Throw in every sport you can think of in between and you have the scope of sports betting in a nutshell.
In the US, some of the most popular kinds of online sports betting are on NFL football, college football, soccer, horse racing, baseball, and basketball. In the UK you might be more interested in football or rugby betting. Australian betting fans will be keen on cricket, horse racing, rugby, and Australian football.
But really any sport in every country around the world has the potential for betting in one way or another. And finding a sports book that will take your bet is not difficult; just do a quick search online and you will have plenty to choose from. If you don't want to look too far you can try either of my recommended sports betting operators - Betfair and Bet 365.
Who Can Get Involved In Betting On Sports?
Another easy answer. Pretty much anyone can get involved, provided it's legal in the country you live in, and you're over the legal minimum age.
That's not to say everyone who can should consider sports betting as a means of making a few extra dollars, pounds, or euros. As with any type of betting the same risks still apply. There's a risk you could lose money, and there's a risk you could become addicted to the thrill of trying to win that money or the thrill of the involvement in the sport.
And the thrill is definitely a danger, watching any sport while you have money riding on the outcome does add an extra dimension - especially if it's on a team, player, or animal that you have an emotional involvement with.
Winning Money at Sports Betting - Basic Sports Betting Advice
Although you have no direct control over the outcome of games or contests on which you place bets, you can control how you make your betting selections and where you place them by studying the past performance and other characteristics of your chosen selections.
Winning money at sports betting depends on many factors, including finding good sports betting advice, knowledge of athletes, teams, or animals, a good appreciation of probabilities, knowing where to place the most effective bets and when (finding value is a key term to remember), and skill at studying and analyzing sports statistics.
That's not all. Of course luck plays a big part, as do the need to have a good starting bankroll that will allow you to soak up losers without risking missing winning bets. Finally - and this needs to be a big part of every bettors armoury - you need patience and the self discipline to wait for the right opportunities, and strength of character to go with your convictions.
Finding Sports Betting Advice
There are definitely no shortages of websites, publications, text message services, and newspaper adverts all promising untold riches (or in some cases reasonable/realistic looking profits) by following their betting advice - be it on horse racing, football betting, choosing lottery numbers, or anything else you can think of.
Some of those offer betting systems, some offer direct selection advice in certain sporting events.
But think to yourself for a minute before signing up for betting advice from one of these types of service. Why are they selling it? If it's that good why would they not keep it quiet and use it to make thousands of dollars, pounds, or euros profit for themselves?
The answer of course is that most of them are scams to one extent or another.
The ones that set themselves apart - and may throw out some long term profit - are those that are based either on inside information (and you do need to be wary of many of these), and those that provide information which you can use to make up your own mind and apply your own skill and experience to.
Using Your Own Sports Knowledge
One of the great ways to make a winning bet is after you've found an angle through your own hard work that very few others have seen or identified. Those are the situations where you're going to get value - where you have identified some sort of winning chance where the odds of it occurring are greater (in the best cases much greater) than the general odds on offer.
An example - a few months ago there was a mares only novice hurdle race run in the UK. Around 12 or 13 lined up for the race. From my own study, I know that mares races can sometimes be uncompetitive and throw up long priced winners. I narrowed the race down to 3 long priced outsiders, based on the fact that their pedigrees suggested they might be better than they'd shown so far.
The outsider of the three won at a 200-1 SP. It paid over 800-1 on Betfair, the betting exchange. The feeling I got by winning a few quid is almost secondary to the feeling I got by knowing I was one of a very few who knew (or more to the point suspected) that horse had any sort of chance.
And it also illustrates the point I've made elsewhere on the site that using a betting exchange can lead to some amazingly lucrative opportunities.
Using your own knowledge to make winning bets is highly rewarding. If you study and learn from your mistakes, keep a clear head and keep going, it can ultimately put you in a position to make a nice long term, consistent profit.
Understanding what the probabilities are of any particular event happening is useful in any form of betting. I believe it's more useful in casino games than sports betting, but still worth making the attempt to grasp and master it. It can be a complex subject, depending on how deep you want to go. For that reason, I'm not going to try and go into probabilities on this page. I'll cover it on a dedicated page another time.
This is another good way of finding potential winners and ties in with the sections on using your own knowledge and finding betting advice above. There are a number of sites which record and present statistics, either laid out for you or in databases which can be interrogated.
The basic premise is that an event or series of events that have occurred in the past can occur again if the situation they were first recoded in happens again.
Again, horse racing offers an example. Statistical analysis might show you that all the offspring of a particular sire win 1 in 3 races at 2 miles on soft ground. Those resuts are recorded over a long period, long enough to eliminate the probability that they might be flukes. In these circumstances, backing every runner at over 3-1 will return a long term profit.Better still, waiting for a handful of long priced runners might make even better returns.
The same theory and statistical analysis could be applied to football betting as well, and many other sports.
Placing Bets Effectively - Finding Value
I've already mentioned that a good betting approach is to look for value. That means finding bets that have a better chance of coming good than the odds on offer imply. Another way of looking at is is to identify where a favourites odds are lower than they should be, given your reading of their true chance.
Using Patience & Self Discipline
In combination with all of the points above, being patient and self disciplined is incredibly important and can mean the difference between losing long term and winning long term.
They works in similar ways. Patience means having the self discipline to wait for the right opportunities. Betting without discipline often leads to irrational bets made on emotion rather than hard self belief. When that happens you're more often likely to be relying on close to pure luck rather than reasoned, well thought out betting strategies.
Where To Place A Sports Bet
The question of where to place sports bets is one of the easiest answered questions you could ask. As with anything you want to do online, your choices are widespread and high quality ones.
I could name a dozen sites here off the top of my head (and I have accounts at all of them!!). But for now I'm going to make just a few recommendations, and it's probably best that I break those down into country specific choices.
There are a number of places to get extra info on sports betting, many of which are what's known as affiliate sites where you're going to see advertising in different forms for the main sportsbook operators. Even so, a fair few of them offer valuable info alongside the advertising.
Some of the sportsbook operators site also hold good and helpful info, though of course they're focussed more on offering odds and making it easy for you to place a bet.
The third and fourth most useful ways of getting sports betting info are through forums and videos. There are a handful of very good and well trafficked forums where - if you dig deep enough - you'll find some very useful advice and perspective. Let's look at forums first:
Sports Betting Forums
Finding an active, well used sports betting forum can be similar to stumbling on a gold mine. The best of them will have sections that cover betting on all types of sports. You'll get tips, views, strategy sections, and systems sections.
Sportsbettingsites.org is run by a well known and highly trusted figure in the affiliate world. If I had to name the number 1 site on sports betting, this would be it. The website is exceptionally well written, with unobtrusive low key advertising.
BettingSites.org has a well laid out page on sports betting with some helpful info and links to some trusyed sportbook operators.
Betfair's sports betting page gives you options to trade on a wide range of sporting events and competitions.
I couldn't end this section without noting a UK based site known as Racingpost.com. I've been using this site for many years. It has sections that cover pretty much anything you'll need to know about news and betting on various types of sports. Not particularly US or Australian focussed, but UK and Europe are well covered.
Sports Betting Videos
Youtube is of course the best place to look for some well filmed and informative sports betting videos. Here are a few of the best: