The Mechanics of Sports Betting

Mechanics of Sports Betting

There's a lot to learn about sports betting if you want to be successful at it, but thankfully you don't need to know everything there is to know before you start placing bets. There's certain information to be aware of before risking your money, however, and thus we have compiled this beginner's guide. Once you have read it through, you'll have all the basic information you need to get started. The rest you can learn as you go along.

If you are a complete novice, one of the first things you absolutely need to understand is the mechanics of sports betting. The topic of this article, important as it is, is actually a very straightforward one.

The Basics of a Sports Bet

A sports bet, or wager, essentially involves two parties taking opposing views on the outcome of a sporting event, with each party backing their view with a sum of money. The party who gets it right wins the relevant sum of money from the other party.

The two parties can be two friends making a wager between themselves, but the term sports betting generally refers to using a bookmaker. A bookmaker is an individual or organization that takes wagers from other parties in a professional capacity. A person placing a wager with a bookmaker is known as a bettor. The act of the bookmaker accepting a wager is known as laying.

The Three Components of a Sports Bet

There are three components to any wager that a bookmaker lays to a bettor as follows:

  • Selection
  • Stake
  • Odds

The selection is simply what the bettor thinks is going to happen. The stake refers to how much money is risked and must be paid to the bookmaker at the time of the bet. The odds reflect the likelihood of the selection winning and determine what multiple of the stake the bookmaker must pay out to the bettor if they are correct.

Example of a Sports Bet

To make this explanation as clear as possible, we use a simple hypothetical example. Let's say there's an upcoming football match between the New Orleans Saints and the St. Louis Rams. For the sake of the example, we'll assume a bookmaker has set moneyline odds of +100 on the Rams winning.

Please note, moneyline odds are one of three odds formats. The other two are decimal and fractional. In a later article in this guide, we explain more about them, and odds in general. For now, you just need to understand that +100 is the equivalent of even money, which means the potential winnings would be equal to the initial stake.

Now, let's say you believe the Rams are going to beat the Saints, and you want to wager $10 on it. The three components of the bet you need to place look like this.




Rams to Win vs. Saints $10 +100

There are two possible outcomes here: the Rams either win or lose the match. If they win, then you will win your wager. Your stake of $10 will be returned along with your winnings. As this is an even money wager, your winnings will be equal to your stake. You'll receive a total of $20 ($10 stake plus $10 winnings). If the Rams lose, you lose your wager and the bookmaker keeps your original $10 stake.

We've kept things very simple here, but this is essentially how sports betting works.

What Else is Involved in Sports Betting?

As you can see, the basic mechanics of a sports bet are really quite straightforward. There are many other aspects involved however. For example, we've already touched on the fact that there are different types of odds, and there are several different types of bets you can place as well. There are also the various factors to consider when making a selection, including probability and the concept of value.

These are topics we cover later in this guide. The next step to learn is how to actually go about placing a sports bet which is covered in our next article.

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