Fantasy Sports Betting
The concept of fantasy sports betting has been around for a long time. It has really grown in popularity over recent years though, in certain parts of the world in particular. There are several soccer fantasy leagues in the United Kingdom, for example, all of which attract a lot of interest. In the United States there are leagues for all the main American sports, and the number of people getting involved is increasing at an incredible rate.
Fantasy sports betting isn't at all like sports betting in the traditional sense. There are no odds involved, and you don't place wagers on the outcome of sports events. It's more of a competition really, which allows you to put your sports knowledge to the test against others. There's still a strong element of betting involved though, because you can risk money to win money based on how well you do.
This probably doesn't make much sense if you're not familiar with fantasy sports betting. It will once you understand how it all works though, which we've explained on this page. We've covered the basics, the key rules, and how the actual betting works. We've also looked at some of the reasons why you might like to try it for yourself.
The Basics of Fantasy Sports
The basic idea of fantasy sports is that you assemble a fantasy team for the relevant sport, by picking from a set pool of real players. You then enter your team in a fantasy league, and you'll earn points based on how the players you have picked perform in real games, leagues, and tournaments. The better your players perform, the more points your team will score.
You'll be competing against teams put together by others, and the team that scores the most points over an agreed period of time will be the winner. There are all kinds of different fantasy leagues you can participate in, for different sports and set over different time periods. There are also different ways in which you can bet on how well your team performs.
The biggest fantasy leagues are mostly run by specialized betting sites. Some of these sites have hundreds of thousands of members, with thousands of leagues running at any one time and several betting options. There are also a number of popular leagues operated by sports publications and daily newspapers. Some are free to enter, where you are playing for limited prizes or simply the glory of doing well. Others cost money to enter, with cash prizes on offer.
Football is easily the most popular sport for fantasy betting in the US, and in the UK the popular sport is soccer(football). There are leagues for all of the following sports too with even more not listed.
In terms of the basics, that's really all there is to fantasy sports. The next thing you need to know are the rules relating to how you pick your team and how your team scores points.
Rules for Picking Players & Scoring Points
The rules for picking the players to make up your fantasy team will vary depending on which league you're taking part in, and what the relevant sport is. Generally speaking, the rules will include some kind of salary cap or budget. This means you can't automatically include all the best players, so you have to put some thought into how to spend your virtual money and try to get the best value.
You'll typically have to pick players in different positions too. For example, you wouldn't be able to assemble an NFL fantasy team containing only running backs. For a soccer fantasy team, you wouldn't be able to pick only strikers. Another common rule is that you can only pick a limited number of players from one real team, so you wouldn't be able to just replicate the San Antonio Spurs for an NBA fantasy team.
The rules for how your players score points will depend on the sport too. This is somewhat obvious, as of course football players are going to score points differently to basketball players. It's always a very good idea to check the exact scoring rules for a league before entering your team, because they will have a significant impact on your strategy for picking players.
How the Betting Works
The actual betting involved in fantasy sports is fundamentally very simple. The team you assemble competes against teams which have been created by others, and you basically bet on how well your team will do. There are a few different betting options, but the basic principle is always the same.
The options relate to the number of opponents you're playing against, the stakes involved, and the period of time the league will last for. For example, you could choose to enter a $10 league which is played over a whole season and has ten entrants. You would pay your $10 stake at the time of entering, and all the other entrants would do the same. This would create a $100 prize pool, which would be paid out at the end of the season. Depending on the terms of the league, it could be paid in full to the winner or split between those in the top few places.
Alternatively, you could choose to enter a $100 league which is played over a single weekend and is just you against a single opponent. You would both pay your $100 stake at the time of entering, and at the end of the weekend the winner would get $200.
The precise options available to you will depend on the site you're using. The above examples provide a good indication of how the betting works though.
Why Play Fantasy Sports?
There are several reasons why you should consider playing fantasy sports. With so many different sports covered, it shouldn't be hard to find a league that interests you. It's really easy to get involved, as the rules are rarely very complicated, and there are betting options to suit players of all budgets. There are even options for playing for free.
It's a great alternative to traditional sports betting as a way to try to make some money from your sports knowledge, and it can be a lot of fun too. It can make watching sports that much more exciting, as games that you wouldn't normally be interested in may have a player or two from your fantasy team taking part.
We should include a final word about the legalities of fantasy sports betting. In some parts of the world there's a lot of confusion about which forms of betting are legal and which are not, but it all appears to be perfectly clear when it comes to fantasy sports. To the best of our knowledge, fantasy sports betting is considered completely legal throughout the world.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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