Sports Betting 101

sports betting

Sports betting is a popular way to wager on the outcome of a game. However, it can be confusing for newcomers. This article will help you understand the different types of bets and how they work. It also explains the terms used in sports betting, such as “covers” and “pushes.”

Betting lines are designed to give bettors an idea of how likely it is that a team or competitor will win. They are created based on a number of factors, from what other sportsbooks are offering to the results of previous matchups. They can even be adjusted in real time, depending on injuries, weather, and the amount of money being wagered on each outcome.

In addition to the traditional straight bet, many sportsbooks offer point spreads and total (over/under) bets. The former is a bet on whether a particular team will win or lose by a certain number of points, while the latter involves predicting the total number of runs, goals, or points scored during a game. Point spreads are often displayed as a number that includes a half-point, even though very few sports have this scoring system (for example, the Patriots might be listed as 3.5-point favorites). This extra point is added to avoid a push, which would result in both sides getting their money back.

When a bet covers, it means that the bet is successful. For instance, if the Blues beat the Avalanche in hockey by six or more goals, bettors who took the Blues will win their wagers. However, if the teams tie, bettors who placed wagers on either side will receive their original stake back. Pushes are common in sports betting, and while most sportsbooks refund them, some count them as losses.

While most bets are placed on individual events, some bettors choose to place a wager on an entire season. These wagers are called futures, and they have a long-term payout horizon measured in weeks or months. For example, a bettor can place a bet on a team to win the Super Bowl next year. The payouts for these bets decrease as the season progresses, as it becomes easier to predict a champion.

Another popular type of sports bet is a prop bet. These are wagers that focus on specific aspects of a game, such as what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach or how long the national anthem will last. Prop bets are typically offered only at major sportsbooks.

In order to bet on sports, you must have a valid ID and a state-approved form of payment. Most online sportsbooks will verify your identity through a database of government-issued IDs. In addition, you may be required to provide the last four digits of your social security number and your email address. In some cases, a geolocation service might mistakenly detect that you’re outside of your jurisdiction, which could cause your bets to be voided. The best sportsbooks have a customer support department to assist you with any issues that arise.