Handicapping sports can be intimidating – especially for a first-timer. The Whale wants everyone to not only enjoy wagering on sports but also to be successful! Here are some of the key handicapping sports terms for beginners.
Favorites and Underdogs
One of the most critical things beginners need to know about sports handicapping is the difference between a favorite and an underdog. A favorite is an individual, or team, who the sportsbooks – or bookies – anticipate winning in a game. The underdog, on the other hand, refers to the team that bookies believe are likely to lose.
Moneyline odds, or simply “the odds,” is the numbers which show how well a wager will pay out. When it comes to odds, a negative number indicates that one team or player is the favorite, while positive odds indicate an underdog – those likely to lose. A good example of odds are as follows:
- Team 1: -120
- Team 2: +110
In the previous scenario, Team 1 is the favorite. In order to win $100, you would need to wager $120. Conversely, should a handicapper choose to wager on Team 2, a $100 wager would yield $110 if Team 2 was to win.
Vigorish, also known as “the vig” or “the juice” is the term for the commission that bookies make on sports wagers. Using the previous example of odds, in a -120 odds situation, the 20 represents the vigorish or commission, the sportsbook would make on the wager. Occasionally, bookies will lower the vigorish as a way to stimulate and incentivize wagers towards a particular side.
In handicapping, the spread refers to a margin of points which a team must win by in order for a wager to win. For example, if a sports team has a spread of 4.5 points, and they win their game by 5, they are said to have covered the spread. If they only win by 3 points, however, they did not cover the spread, and wagers on the spread would be lost. When wagering on sports spreads, taking the favorite is known as “laying the points,” whereas wagering on the underdog is called “taking the points.”
A parlay is when two (or more) wagers are combined, allowing your wager to ride from one to the next. To win a parlay, you need to win all the wagers you place – otherwise, you’ll lose everything. Parlays tend to be particularly popular with sports handicappers, as they offer the chance at huge payouts.
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