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Sports betting means betting on sports other than horse and dog racing. It is a term interpreted loosely now and so anything is up for grabs. The wide ranging possibilities make this an increasingly attractive thing for the Good Gambler to investigate. When there is so much to understand and know, the person offering a bet can often be disadvantaged by a punter who has done the hard work necessary to fully understand the sport. Be warned however, it goes without saying that money inducement for participants to change the outcome of the sporting event can only become more widespread with time.

With so many sports and bookmakers it pays to look around for the best online free bets to get the most value for your money, and if you want to compare bookmakers then find our bookmaker page.
Basics   Profesionalism
For the casual gambler, sports betting has more real interest than horse racing which can seem just a blind gamble without being privy to a lot of turf mumbo-jumbo. Most people have a favourite sport and a view point that goes with it. Everyone is tired of hearing it so putting your money where your mouth is is a good alternative.

For the major sports there are four clear ways to get on. Bookmakers, Spread Betting, Betting Exchange and the Tote. For most sports the Tote, or pool betting, is a non-starter.

The most popular choice is to bet with Bookmakers either directly on-line or in a betting shop. The Bookmaker prices the event according to their understanding of the odds and punters select either an emotional bet (i.e. betting on your favourite football team) or a calculated bet (made because you think the bookie got his sums wrong).

Spread betting is growing in popularity, especially with those educated in risk undertaking. Really though, it is not difficult to get to grips with the possibilities, but one thing must be understood. A spread bet is a two way lay, that means to say that when you place your bet, you are also accepting a counter bet from the spread betting firm. In other words your potential downside is variable and dependent on the outcome of the event.

The third alternative is to find an individual who will take your bet on. This could be a friend, a Private Bookmaker (not completely legal) or someone found using one of the new Bet Swap web sites (explained later).
Professionalism Basics Bookmakers
Professional Sports Bettors rely on understanding their sport,Professional Sports Gambler or a single aspect of one, better than the bookie (we'll use bookie to mean all bet outlets). The word 'understanding' means one hell of a lot in this context because the bookies will have lots of help, resources and experience to give them a clear picture and a way to work out the true odds of an event. However, and this is important, a bookie must also cater for his clients and create prices that will attract money across the board.
  • e.g. Arsenal Football Club has a lot of big money support in London and elsewhere. The sentimental betting on their success will force low odds on them and consequently higher odds on the opponents.

This example highlights the possibilities of finding imbalances in the market due to the weight of money on home teams or favourite people. The combined ability to understand a sport really well and spot the bookies direction on market sentiment is the key to successful sports betting.

Bookmakers Professionalism Spread Betting
The Bookmakers job with a sporting event, lets say the U.S. Masters (Golf), is first toBookmaker hard at work calculate what they think are the true odds of each individual player winning the event, and/or finishing ahead of one or more of the other players (match bets and group bets). Having done that they consider sentiment for the key players and price up the event accordingly.
  • e.g. An out of form Greg Norman may really be 100-1 to win the event but there'll be a lot of punters happy to take 50-1 when they see it. The pro's won't bet him either way and so the bookies get more money in with a lower liability.
The professional will take advantage of the opposite of what occurred in the example. Many good golfers have unfulfilled potential and when one starts gaining in confidence their chances of winning dramatically improve. However, because they are unknown they will not attract a lot of money and their odds may remain above their true value. The pro is then taking advantage of an overlay.

The casual punter, or a professional, may stumble across a piece of knowledge that the bookies do not know and thus will be able to take advantage of an overlay, a price that is higher than the true odds. Examples of this are injuries or a tennis player really doesn't like a particular surface or they are having emotional problems, etc. In the financial world this would be called "Insider Dealing" because basically they are pussies when it comes to taking a loss on the chin. In the real world it is precisely what everybody is trying to do.

Spread Betting Bookmakers Golf
Spread Betting comes into its own with Sporting events as the whole spectrum of possible performances by a team or individual can be represented in one bet. Its all about numbers so get yourself a calculator. Its quite simple to work out your result once the event is over but in conventional odds betting you would be advised to use an odds calculator to evaluate each way, rule 4 deductions, bonus values and dead-heats.
  • e.g. how many runs are scored in the One Day cricket match between England and Australia. Quote :   450-460
The example shows a quote of the market maker, in this instance a spread betting firm. Theoretically no runs could be achieved and thus the result would be 0. Also over a 1000 runs could be made. They are the limits of the spectrum but the most likely total of runs will lie somewhere in the middle and hence the quote. This example highlights another feature of spread betting, namely the ability to bet something will perform badly. In this case if you sell at the 450 number you hope the total number of runs scored will be lower than that number. If it is, you will win the difference in the numbers (450 - 415 say) multiplied by your stake (£10 say) and thus win £350.

Spread Betting can be applied to any aspect of the sport in question, some quite random or apparently inconsequential. The number of bookings in the Football World Cup is one example. You may say that people are not trying to get booked but that is irrelevant. The point is a market has been created around this aspect of the sport and you take a buy position (positive with upside) or a sell position (positive with downside) if you have an opinion.

Professionals who play the index markets must develop a way of analysing the particular market that they think is vulnerable. It can all get very esoteric or mathematical but it comes down to hard work or having some inside information.

Our section on Spread Betting Explained
Exchanges Spread betting Golf
Swapping your bet with someone else is something that has been going on since time began. If friends bet between each other on the result of a football match then they have swapped wagers. If Arsenal beat Liverpool (as an example) then friend A gets paid by friend B. If Liverpool wins then friend B gets paid by friend A. Money doesn't usually change hands before the result is known.

There is a breed of bet swapping promoted by 'brokering websites' which are called 'Exchanges'. The basic principle is, you think of a bet and it gets posted on the website. Web surfers who come to the site get to view the bets on offer by other ordinary people, including yours, and can take your bet if they like the terms of what is on offer. The broker takes full payment from both sides as soon as the bet is accepted and will make their money by taking a small percentage of the money bet. See Ways to Bet for more on Bet Exchange.

Golf Spread Betting Football
Golf is one of the easiest of games to understand and the most illustrative when it comes to showing the potential in sports betting. Standard bettors and Spread bettors like the game because all the aspects of sizing up a sporting event are involved in understanding a Golf Tournament. The attractions are:-
  • TV coverage
  • Weekly events all through the year
  • International players attracting sentimental support
  • Clear results
  • Corruption free
  • Strong trend analysis possible
The first three things are obvious to all. The last three make the game attractive.
Clear Results
Professional associations around the world look after the job of establishing records and statistics which are used as the definitive results reference
Corruption free
Money can be bet to any limit free from the suspicion of cheating in the sport
Strong trend analysis possible
Golf players exhibit strong trends of confidence, attitude, physical ability and course likability which gamblers and bookies analyse in great detail
Golf also has the ability to be bet in many different ways :-
  • Outright winner
  • Match bets between two players
  • Group bets between several players - e.g. Americans, Past Winners, etc.
  • Spread Betting on the above
  • Spread Betting on the value of the scores, winning margin, Eagles, etc.
  • Spread Betting on the finishing position of a player - i.e. 76th out of 150
There is a lot to get into for the serious professional.
See also Golf Betting and Golf Ratings.
Football Golf Cricket
Football has vast support through the world and thus when only a tiny percentage of that population bets on it then the volume becomes large. Football betting is big and is getting bigger.

All kinds of betting markets have grown up to stimulate interest in football due to the fact the basic game is dull from a traditional gamblers point of view. There are only three possible outcomes, Win, Lose or Draw and so betting on the scores, or correct scores, was developed by bookies with their coupons.

Now with Spread Betting bods dreaming up esoteric markets it is possible to bet on the total of the shirt numbers that score goals and many other apparently random events. Of course they are not random and you can be pretty sure the firms have done some serious homework on these things. It is also true to say that some professionals have been able to understand these things even better. However, the number of them is so small that Bookies and Spread Betting firms make good profits from football.

To get a favourable bet with the bookies on a regular basis means choosing one aspect of the game that is regularly bet on, and doing work on it. What this entails is breaking the game down into its constituent parts and understanding them each in tern. For example, a popular market is Corners, which may on the face of it seem random. But when taking a closer look it clearly depends on the defending tactics and attacking tactics of the two teams involved. Still further there are key players who have particular habits, they may or may not be playing. Yet more things effect changes to the likelihood of corners, like pitch condition, weather and home or away.

In the above example if you manage to evaluate all the building blocks that go into the corners aspect of football then you can put them together whenever, whoever and where ever a game is played. When you see a difference between you and the Bookie or Spread firm then its worth a bet. Its not easy!!

Click here for our dedicated page on Football Betting
Cricket Football Tennis
Cricket betting is on the increase due to the access offered by satellite TV, radio and constant online updates. All betting formats are available for cricket.

If pressed to name the sport that offers the best trading opportunities, it would be hard to make a stronger case than for cricket. There is a televised match virtually every day, sometimes two or three, and liquidity across a wide variety of markets. Furthermore, this sport involves so many nuances, all of which have profound implications for the outcome of each match and innings. By developing a detailed understanding of those nuances, the well-researched, disciplined trader will soon enjoy a significant advantage compared to most punters.

There are Five Main Formats
1) Five-day Test Matches involving international sides. These are usually played over a series lasting up to five matches.

2) Four-day matches between English counties. In these cases, broadly the same betting principles apply as for Tests.

3) Fifty-over per side matches, which usually involve international sides. Again these are usually part of a series, or a multi-team tournament such as the World Cup or ICC Trophy.

4) Forty-over per side matches between English counties in the CB40 Trophy. The strategic criteria for trading these is basically the same as for 50 over matches.

5) Twenty-over per side matches. This is a global phenomenon, with four main club tournaments and an international scene. The biggest club tournament is the Indian Premier League, played over six weeks in April. In England there is the Twenty20 Cup. Australia hosts the Big Bash and finally the Caribbean T20. Finally for clubs, there is the Champions League Twenty20, which this year will be in South Africa during October. International sides will compete for the World Cup this September in Sri Lanka.

Most popular markets
Match: Match winner, Test Match End, Completed Match Innings: Total runs, Session Runs, Top Team Batsman

Click here for our dedicated page on Cricket Betting
Tennis Cricket Minor Sports
Tennis betting involves three things, find value, sound money management and discipline. The only sport with more money traded is football (soccer) and there is nearly 24/365 coverage of the action with tennis betting. There are four main tours to bet on; the ATP Tour (main), the ATP Challenger Tour, the ITF Futures tour and the WTA Tour for women. So there is match being played somewhere in world at all times.

All major types of betting, i.e. bookmaker, spread, index and exchange have large numbers of opportunities and volumes bet on tennis. Fantasy Sports has yet to get to grips with this sport but that is a matter of time before they do.

Main types of betting with examples.
  • Match betting – who will win
  • Handicap – the underdog gets a 5 game start in the betting for most games
  • Over/Under – total games under 23 expressed as -22.5
  • Correct Score – first set being won 6-4
  • Set Winner – who wins any individual set
  • In-Play - game by game winner
  • Tournament Winner - straightforward
Market Efficiency

Betting markets on tennis tend to be efficient, that is they generally get close to the true odds of an event. This means you need to focus on particular characteristics of players and certain match-ups that can provide an edge. For instance a top player may have just won a tour event and then 3 days later are in the first round of another. Fatigue is a big issue in tennis and some players tire in the 3rd set or beyond so if they haven't won in 2 straight sets then you can focus on the odds available for them to lose.

Good punters know where to find the stats and collect them for themselves for all parts of the game, the ATP Tour website has plenty in Stats page. You can analyse serve, return of serve, break points and all sorts of more specific events like comebacks from 1 set down etc..

Live betting has high turnover volumes but there are many serious punters with extremely detailed spreadsheets betting automatically into the exchanges as the match progresses point by point. So unless you have no other commitments the key it to isolate every match and look for issues involving the 2 players whether it is tiredness, personality clash, wrong surface, confidence or family issues etc..
Minor Sports Cricket U.S Sports
They'll bet on anything these days and the principle motive for Bookies and Spread Firms for creating these markets is to get people involved with gambling who would not ordinarily bet. There is not a lot of money to be made from the Tour de France but if just a fraction of those newbies open accounts and start betting on other stuff, then its all worth the firm's time.

If you are someone who is really knowledgeable about your sport, maybe you work for McLaren F1, then your knowledge is going to give you a strong head start when it comes to finding value bets. Mind you, just because you have the right side of a bet doesn't mean you are certain to win.
Go ahead and have a crack at a sport that you know about. The most important lesson to learn however, is that when you think you have a fantastic bet because the Bookie must have got it wrong, that is when you are most vulnerable. If that bet fails you must avoid the temptation to 'chase' that money with more money. You must sit back and await another day.
U.S Sports Minor Sports  
Americans love their own sports which are dominated by NFL (American football), Ice Hockey and Basketball. Big money moves on these sports through legal "sports books" which reside in the casinos of Las Vegas but not however over the rest of the country. Hence illegal bookmakers thrive in the U.S..
Read our article on The History Of NFL Betting.

Americans live on a very restricted diet of betting variations (outright winners with or without a points handicap) and you will not find any of the exotic markets there. Places where you can bet on sports other than horse racing and greyhounds is very restricted or though current court battles in many US states are challenging the federal government's belief that it is restricted by federal law. Over in the U.K., however , you can bet on all US sports because many of them are televised through various satellite, cable and even terrestrial channels.

All these sports can be analysed in just the same way as in the example for Golf, but of course the firms have access to some pretty good information from the States. They know what they are doing.

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