The Basics of Sports Betting

Putting money behind an outcome of your choice and getting paid if you win is the essence of sports betting. You can improve your chances of making money through discipline (not betting more than you can afford to lose), research and seeking advice from winning sports bettors.

Betting lines are used to handicap teams and games, giving a larger payout to bettors who take the underdog. A positive number indicates a favorite; a negative one, an underdog. The odds are based on the probability that an event will occur, and they can be expressed as a percentage or a decimal.

A Half bet applies only to the first or second half of a game. A Total (Over/Under) bet is a wager on the combined score of both teams. If the final adjusted score is exactly the same as the proposed total, it is a push and most sports books will refund all bettors. A Half point is sometimes added to eliminate the possibility of a push, particularly in NHL and MLB games where the totals are often higher.

Props, or proposition bets, are a special type of bet that often has a humorous theme and can involve anything from how long the national anthem will last to the name of the first song that the halftime artist will play. These bets are usually available at retail and online sportsbooks. A good sportsbook will have an intuitive mobile app, easy-to-find bonuses and loyalty programs, and a solid reputation for customer service.