The world of sports betting is a fun and exciting one, with hundreds of gambling websites looking to satisfy your gambling needs at any given time. The online gambling industry is enjoying a period of unprecedented growth and the markets are as active as they have ever been. As a result, the sports betting scene is also thriving and operators are offering sports bets left and right.

Entering the sports betting scene is not difficult at all but there are a number of things that you need to become familiar with before you embark on this journey. For your convenience, we have put together this guide, covering just about every important piece of information about sports betting, including bet types, odds types, payment services, promotions, and examples of quality bookmaker websites.

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Online sports betting is a billion dollar industry, and it’s becoming more and more each and every day. We’ve personally reviewed a number of sports betting sites so that we can recommend only the best sites out there.

We will say that online sports betting may not be legal where you live, so please check your local laws before placing bets online at these sports betting sites. And we also want to point out that there have been “scam” type sites in the past known to steal money from their bettors, so make sure you stick with recommended betting sites we list here at The Sports Geek.

Lastly with online betting it is easy to get carried away and bet more than you can afford. Always make sure you gamble responsibly. If you have a gambling problem or know someone who does, please get help. Visit Gamblers Anonymous today to learn more about getting help with your sports betting or gambling problem.

Bet Types

Of course, before you can actually get down to betting on sporting events you must first understand what each bet stands for and how it works. Any reputable sportsbook will support at least a dozen different betting options, each with its own set of win conditions.

Outright Bets

Outright bets are the most common and most basic type of bet there is. When you place an Outright bet, you wager on which team will win the event. A bet on the favored team will have a worse payout ratio than a bet on the underdog. For example:

Team A: 2/1
Team B: ½

Under/Over Bets

The Under/Over markets are some of the most active on the Internet and they are supported for a wide range of sports. Whenever you place an Under or Over bet, you essentially bet on whether or not something will exceed a certain number. For example, you can be on the total number of points in a basketball game and the bet will look something like this:

Over 100.5: 2/1
Under 100.5: ½

Whenever you deal with Under/Over wagers you will notice that you are never presented with whole numbers. The 0.5 is added at the end to avoid a situation where that exact number is the final one and the confusion that comes with it.

Parlay Bets

Parlay is a complex betting option where you combine multiple smaller bets to form a large one. The reason why you would choose to combine them is that you stand to win much more money from a single parlay bet then from multiple singles. The trick is that all parts of your Parlay have to be successful for you to win the Parlay. So even if you only lose 1 in 4 parts of a Parlay, it would be the same as losing all 4 parts.

Handicap Bets

Handicap bets are quite diverse and risky, but also have the potential to bring in major profits if you know what you are doing. Basically, whenever you place a Handicap bet you are awarding or deduction points from a particular team for the purposes of the bet. For example, this is a Handicap bet on a soccer game:

Team A (-1) 2/1 | Team B (+1) 1.5/1
Team A (-2) 2.5/1 | Team B (+2) 1.3/1
Team A (-3) 5/1 | Team B (+3) 1.1/1

So, in this scenario Team A is favored to win over Team B. Therefore, for the purposes of the bet, the sportsbook gives you the option to reduce the points of Team A or to increase the points of Team B. After you hypothetical prognosis is applied, if your team wins you also win the bet. The more points that you add to a particular team the more conservative the odds, while the more points that you remove from a team, the more that you stand to win.

Play-In

Play-In is a betting service supported by the most worthwhile sportsbooks on the Internet. Basically, it allows you to place and cash out bets on a sporting event while it is still being played. A Play-In system offers dynamic odds for a match, based on the current state of the game. So if Team A is doing well in the 5th minute, the sportsbook will offer attractive odds on Team B bets. However, if Team B does turn things around in the 10th minute, then the opposite will happen. While the odds offered to change often, once you have placed a bet the odds will remain locked in until it is resolved. You can cash out a wager before the event concludes but that will come at a reduced payout.

Betting Odds

The betting odds are one of the most important aspects of online betting. After all, before you can actually get down to placing bets, you first need to understand the odds and the payout for betting on a particular outcome. In the world of online gambling, there are generally three types of odds that you will encounter and each comes with its own way of presenting the events.

Fractional Odds

Fractional Odds are primarily used in the United Kingdom but sportsbook operators have also implemented them in their websites. Fractional odds are written with a hyphen or a slash and are read as ‘X to Y’. For example:

Team A: 2-1 or 2/1
Team B: 2-3 or 2/3

The fractional odds only denote the amount that you stand to win when placing this bet. More specifically, a bet $100 on Team A will earn you $200 in winnings for a net balance of $300.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are the prefered type mostly in continental Europe and are usually the favorite when it comes to online sportsbooks. Unlike their fractional counterparts, the decimal odds are written with a colon ( : ). For example:

Team A: 2:1
Team B: 1.3:1

They denote the net sum that you will receive when the bet is settled. More specifically, if you place $100 on Team A, you will receive $200, of which $100 will be profit and $100 – your original bet.

American Odds

American Odds are somewhat different from the other two types but still serve a similar purpose. They look like this:

Team A: +200
Team B: -300

As you can see, there are symbols before the numbers. The plus (+) symbol indicates the underdog in the matchup and signifies the amount that you stand to win from a $100 bet. On the other hand, the minus (-) signals that this team is favored to win and the number after it is what you will have to wager to win $100.

Bonuses and Promotions Explained

Bonuses and promotions have become an integral part of the online gambling experience and the sports betting scene is ripe with them. These are incentives for punters to register with a particular gambling website over another and provide them with some form of value. This usually comes in the form of bonus money and free bets.

Bonus money can be used to place bets on sporting events of your choice but there is a catch. Before you can withdraw the bonus cash you have to place a certain amount of it in wagers. This is referred to as the wagering or turnover requirement. For sportsbook bonuses, the number of times you have to wager your bonus usually ranges between 3 and 10 times, but these vary widely between the different sportsbooks. There are also usually restrictions on how much you can bet at once and minimum odds at which you have to place your bet for it to count towards the requirement.

Free bets are another promotional incentive available at modern online sportsbooks. They are quite simple to grasp and are a great way for punters to get a foot in the door. Basically, the sportsbook allows the punter to place a free bet of a predetermined value. If they lose the bet, their bankrolls remain intact. However, if they win the bet, the winnings are added to their balance as bonus funds. Bonus funds are subject to a number of conditions before they can be withdrawn.

Banking Methods

Online gambling happens exclusively on the Internet and since there is no way for a person to use physical cash there, we have to utilize an online payment service. There are multiple of these supported by the online gambling industry and the most popular ones are available at just about every sportsbook.

Credit cards are some of the most used payment services on the Internet and in the online gambling industry, as well. They allow for instant deposits and, depending on the sportsbook, timely withdrawals. Many gamblers prefer to use their Visa or MasterCard to fund their online bankroll as it is easy and convenient. The process takes a few short seconds and you can get to placing your bets.

The electronic wallet, or eWallet, has become a quite popular service in recent years and it is becoming widely supported by online gambling websites. With an eWallet, punters may make quick and convenient deposits, while also receiving the benefit of the fastest withdrawals in the industry. Indeed, eWallets are the prefered payment service of millions of gamblers all over the world and they are accepted almost universally. Popular services include Skrill, Neteller, PayPal, EntroPay and more.

Traditional banking services are also in high demand and if you do not feel like using an online payment method, many sportsbooks will allow you to fund your bankroll via bank transfer. Granted, this method of payment is quite slow, taking anywhere between 1 and 5 business days for a transaction to clear and withdrawals are no quicker either. Still, they are secure and reliable and just about every sportsbook supports them.

Cryptocurrencies are on the rise, especially in an age where the cost of privacy is high. Cryptocurrencies are online payment services which allow for anonymous transactions at incredibly high speeds. The typical Bitcoin payment takes only a few minutes to process on a normal day, with other similar services being even faster. Among online sportsbooks, Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency, though particular websites also support the likes of Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and more.

Hallmarks of a Good Sports Betting Website

There are many things to look out for when choosing an online gambling website. For starters, you need to have a look at the customer service that the sportsbook can offer you. There will probably come a time when you will need to have something explained to you or another issue arises. In such events, you need to know that there is someone out there that you can rely on. Top-tier gambling websites will have support staff on standby 24/7 to ensure that you have the best possible experience. A live chat system is usually a telltale sign that a sportsbook has good customer service.

Additionally, you also should look out for some form of government licensing. Online gambling can be a shady business if you have the unfortune to come upon an unscrupulous operator. This is why it is prudent to first look at the certification the website has before you register. A government license indicates that a website is a legitimate business and that it can provide a fair and secure gambling experience. Generally, the most trustworthy websites are licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Government of Curacao, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.