Sportsbetting 101: A Comprehensive Introduction

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Fact checked by:
Paruyr Shahbazyan
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2024, 8:17 PM

Understanding the Basics of Online Sports Betting

Online sports betting involves predicting the outcomes of sports events and placing a bet on said predictions. It merges elements of knowledge, analysis, and sometimes a bit of luck. As a form of gambling, it encompasses understanding the dynamics of different sports, grasping the basics of betting odds, and developing strategies for bet placement. 

This guide serves as an introductory resource, particularly tailored for beginners and those seeking to learn more. It aims to demystify the essential components of sports betting in the US and Canada, from selecting a reliable sportsbook to comprehending the types of bets available. Furthermore, it offers insights into managing a betting budget, responsible gambling, and making informed decisions, which are crucial skills for anyone venturing into the online sports betting space. This comprehensive approach is designed to equip newcomers with a solid foundation in the principles of sports betting.

Choosing a Sportsbook

Just as you would train before competing, you need to learn before you play. The initial and crucial step is selecting an appropriate online sportsbook. This decision should be informed by several key factors to ensure a balanced and practical approach to online betting. Here’s a more detailed guide to aid in making this decision:

  1. Reputation and Reliability: Research the sportsbook's history and track record. Look for platforms that are known for their reliability and have a history of fair dealings. Checking for a valid license and regulation by a reputable authority can also provide an indication of the sportsbook's trustworthiness.
  2. Range of Sports and Events: Evaluate the variety of sports and events offered. A sportsbook with a wide range of sports, including both popular and niche markets, provides more opportunities for betting. Consider if the platform covers major leagues, international events, and also offers options for less mainstream sports.
  3. Betting Odds: Compare the odds offered by different sportsbooks. The competitiveness of odds can impact potential returns, so it's beneficial to explore multiple platforms to find the most favorable odds. Remember, odds can vary for different sports and events.
  4. User Interface and Experience: Assess the ease of use of the sportsbook’s website and mobile app. A user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate enhances the betting experience. Check if the platform allows for quick access to different markets and betting options. 
  5. Payment Methods: Look at the available payment and withdrawal options. A sportsbook should offer a range of secure and convenient payment methods, including credit cards, e-wallets, and bank transfers. Consider the processing times for deposits and withdrawals, as well as any associated fees. 
  6. Customer Support: The availability and quality of customer support are important. Reliable customer support that is accessible through various channels like live chat, email, or phone can provide assistance with any queries or issues. 
  7. Mobile Betting: For those who prefer betting on the go, check if the sportsbook offers a mobile app or a mobile-optimized website. The functionality and features of the mobile platform are crucial for a seamless betting experience. 
  8. Promotions and Bonuses: While not the primary factor, promotions and bonuses can offer additional value. Look at the terms and conditions of bonuses and promotional offers to understand their real value and applicability. 
  9. Betting Limits and Features: Different sportsbooks have different betting limits and unique features like cash out, live betting, and parlay options. Assess these based on your betting preferences and strategies. 
  10. Responsible Gambling: Finally, consider sportsbooks that promote responsible gambling. Features like self-exclusion, deposit limits, and reality checks indicate a commitment to responsible betting practices.

Understanding Odds

Odds in sports betting are fundamental, serving as a quantifiable measure that indicates the likelihood of a particular outcome in a sporting event. They are primarily presented in three formats: American, Decimal, and Fractional, each offering a different perspective on the betting landscape.

  1. American Odds: Often used in the U.S., these odds are displayed with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign. A plus sign indicates the underdog and shows how much you would win with a $100 bet. For instance, +150 means you win $150 on a $100 bet. A minus sign denotes the favorite, revealing how much you need to bet to win $100. For example, -200 means you need to bet $200 to win $100.
  2. Decimal Odds: Popular in Europe, Canada, and Australia, decimal odds show the total payout instead of profit. For example, odds of 2.50 mean that for every $1 bet, the total return would be $2.50, including the initial stake.
  3. Fractional Odds: Common in the UK and Ireland, these odds are presented as fractions, like 5/1 (read as "five to one"). This means you would win $5 for every $1 wagered, plus your original stake back.

Understanding these formats is crucial for making informed decisions in sports betting. Each format provides insight into the potential payout and can guide bettors in assessing the value and risk of their wagers. By grasping how odds work, bettors can better navigate the betting landscape, compare different betting options, and choose bets that align with their strategies and preferences.

Types of Bets

There are various types of bets you can place and many sportsbook provide a diverse range of their own “unique” betting markets. Here are examples of the most common and popular bets:

  1. Moneyline Bets: This is the simplest form of betting where you pick the winner of the game. For example, in a basketball game between Team A and Team B, you would bet on either team to win. If you pick Team A and they win, you win the bet.
  2. Point Spread Bets: These bets involve a margin of victory. The favorite team will have a certain number of points deducted from their final score, and the underdog will have points added. For instance, if Team A is -5.5 against Team B, they must win by at least 6 points for a bet on them to pay out. If Team B is +5.5, they must either win or lose by less than 6 points.
  3. Totals (Over/Under): Here, you bet on whether the combined score of both teams will be over or under a specified amount. If a football game has an over/under of 48.5, betting 'over' means you think the total score will be 49 or more, while 'under' means you expect it to be 48 or less.
  4. Prop Bets: These bets focus on specific events within a game that don’t necessarily relate to the final outcome. For example, betting on the number of touchdowns a player will score, or the number of strikeouts a pitcher will throw.
  5. Parlay Bets: A parlay combines multiple bets into one. To win a parlay, all individual bets included must win. For example, betting on four different football games in a single bet. The total payout is higher if all four bets win, but the risk is also greater because if even one bet loses, the entire parlay is lost.

Final Thoughts

As we conclude this comprehensive introduction to online sports betting, it's important to reflect on the key aspects that shape a successful betting experience. First and foremost, understanding the legal landscape in your region, whether in the US or Canada, is crucial for safe and legal betting practices. Choosing the right sportsbook is more than just finding a platform; it's about ensuring reliability, a range of betting options, and user-friendly features. Understanding odds and the various types of bets is fundamental to making informed decisions. Implementing responsible betting practices, such as effective bankroll management and avoiding emotional betting, is essential for sustainability in this realm. Advanced bettors can explore more complex betting types and utilize tools and AI for enhanced strategies and efficiency. Remember, sports betting combines knowledge, analysis, and an element of luck, and staying informed and disciplined is key to enjoying and succeeding in this dynamic activity.

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Meet Our Authors

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed numerous articles and reviews to various online platforms, sharing his knowledge and perspectives.

Central to Sol's approach is his dedication to honesty, especially regarding sports betting platforms. He believes in providing bettors with straightforward and detailed reviews, distinguishing his work by avoiding the often overly positive spin on bonus offers and promotions. His commitment to truthfulness has made his reviews a reliable source for those seeking authentic advice and information, thereby earning him a reputation for integrity among his readers.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG


Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Mike Rosenberg
Mike Rosenberg
Content Writer

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.