Those looking to make money betting sports should know that it isn’t easy. It takes a well-crafted strategy and disciplined bankroll management to turn a profit over the long haul. It’s also important to understand that professional bettors, referred to as sharps, don’t typically win a high percentage of their wagers.
The first step in becoming a profitable bettor is to learn the basics of the game and the terminology. This will help you to avoid some of the common pitfalls new bettors make. For instance, many bettors fall into the trap of betting games based on media hype and bias. For example, a team may open as 7-point favorites on Monday night and ESPN will air show after show of commentators hyping them up. This can create an unwarranted halo around the team and can lead to bettors overestimating the impact of that halo on the final score.
Another basic skill to develop is the ability to read and understand odds. A bettor’s maximum bet size at a sportsbook will be listed on the sportsbook’s website, and this amount can be adjusted throughout the course of a game as the odds change based on how much action is taken. A bettor will usually see their max bet increase after losing big bets and decrease after winning big bets.
Sportsbooks often offer a number of different odds to choose from, including spreads. Spreads are a number that is added or subtracted from a team’s actual odds to level the playing field when two teams are competing against each other. For a bet to cover, the favorite must win by a larger margin than the underdog, and the line will sometimes include increments of half-a-point (.5) to avoid a push, where both sides would get their bets back.