At its most basic, sports betting is simply placing money behind an outcome that you believe will happen. If you wager on the winner of a game that is called a straight bet. If you think a team or individual will win by more points, goals or runs than the number given by the oddsmakers, that is a spread bet. And if you combine several outcomes into one bet, that is called a parlay.
The first step to becoming a profitable sports bettor is understanding how odds work. Odds are the implied probability of winning a particular bet and are set by bookmakers to balance out action on both sides of a market.
While it is possible to beat the sportsbooks by removing vigorish, this is difficult to do consistently. It is far easier to improve your odds of success by keeping a standard spreadsheet of your bets and focusing on leagues you know well.
It is also recommended to start with a league that you are familiar with from a rules perspective and then expand your horizons once you have a good grasp of the teams and players involved. This will help you develop a sense of betting value that you can feel confident in and then apply to other leagues. This is not an easy task and there will be weeks where you might struggle, but this approach will allow you to quickly increase your profits. Also, don’t be afraid to use the tools and systems that are available. Whether it’s Ken Pom, Sagarin or Football Outsiders’ DVOA, these are tested systems that have been proven to be effective in various sports.