Tips For Sports Betting Beginners

Types of Sports Bets 

  • Favorites vs. Underdogs

“Favorite” = the team that oddsmakers expect to win the game

“Underdog” = the team that oddsmakers expect to lose the game

If the game is considered a toss-up, oddsmakers will open it as a “pick’em”

  • Spreads

Betting on the spread is one of the two ways to bet on a favorite or underdog

This is based on which team will cover

A favorite “gives” points, while an underdog “gets” points

For example, let’s say the Chargers are 4-point favorites (-4) against the Broncos.

If you bet on the Chargers (-4), they need to win the game by 5 or more points for you to win your bet. If the Chargers win by 5 or more, you “cover”. If the Chargers win by exactly 4 points, this is called a “push”, meaning you get back the money you originally bet. If the Chargers win by 3 points or less (or lose the game straight-up), you lose your bet.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you bet on the Broncos “plus the points” (+4), you need the Broncos to either win the game, or lose by three points or fewer for you to win (or cover) your bet.

  • Moneylines

The other way to bet on a favorite or underdog is on the moneyline. 

A moneyline bet is based solely on which team will win the game.

Favorites are given a “minus” designation, such as -150 or -340. If the favorite is -150, this means that you have to risk $150 to win $100. If the favorite loses, you lose $150, but if the favorite wins, you win $100. Due to the fact that favorites are expected to win, you assume more risk when betting on them.

Underdogs are given a “plus” designation, such as +150 or +340. If an underdog is +150, this means that you have to risk $100 to win $150. If the underdog loses, you lose $100, but if the underdog wins, you win $150. Due to the fact that underdogs are expected to lose, you assume less risk when betting on them.

Moneylines are available for all sports, but they are most commonly used when betting on baseball, hockey, and soccer.

  • Over/Unders (Totals)

Oddsmakers also set a total number of points scored in a game (by both teams combined) - this is called the “total” or “over/under”. Bettors, like yourself, can then wager on whether or not the game will go Over or Under the total.

For example, let’s say an NBA game between the Clippers and Thunder has a total of 220. You could either bet the Over 220 or the Under 220. If you bet the Over 220 and the total points scored ends up being 221 or higher, you win your bet. If the total points scored are 219 or fewer, you lose your bet.

  • Futures Bet 

A futures bet is a wager on an event, series, or award that will finish in the future.

This is different than betting on the “spread” or “total” (as mentioned above), but remains just as popular amongst sports bettors.


A futures bet can range from betting on a specific team to win the Super Bowl before the season has begun, to betting on an MLB pitcher to win the National League Cy Young during Spring Training. 

Once the season starts, the odds on these futures plays frequently change due to trades, injuries, and other in-season factors.

Placing Sports Betting Wagers 

  • What does the -110 number next to my bet mean?

This -110 next to your bet is the oddsmakers’ “tax” on every bet, which is called the “juice” or “vig”. The juice is the commision you have to pay to the sportsbook for them to accept your wager.

For example, let’s say the USC Trojans are -6 (-110)

This means that if you want to bet on USC as a 6-point favorite, you need to risk $110 to win $100 (for example) 

  • How to Place a Bet

With legalized sports betting quickly spreading across America, sports bettors have never had more options to take advantage of both online and in-person. 

A few of the Top Online Books are: Bovada, BetOnline, and

Currently The Following States have legal sports betting in some facet:

Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington D.C. and West Virginia  

- AND - 

Currently The Following States have Full Mobile Betting with multiple options:

Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia  

(As of January 2021) 


  • How much should I be betting?

When it comes down to placing the bets, all clients will always have the final say on how much to risk on a particular game or event, as we want everyone to feel comfortable with the amounts they are choosing to wager. Sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint and that is why we recommend a scaled approach to help maintain your risk management. 

All Game Theory Picks Sports Betting Recommendations are based on a 1unit to 1.5unit to 2unit MAX confidence scale.

​This would mean that a minimum investment would be 1unit; therefore, risking 1% of your given bankroll towards sports investing on this particular play (your bankroll is the starting amount you are comfortable using towards sports betting) 

For instance, if you began with $5,000 as a "bankroll" towards sports betting ... your initial scale would be $50/per unit or 1%. Just like investing in the stock market, the key is watching your return grow gradually over time. As your "bankroll" begins to increase, that's when you unilaterally raise your dollar amount ($) per unit and further build your portfolio. 

You'll notice our scale grows up to 2unit** MAX play, which would be a "MAX" investment, meaning risking 2% of your given sports investing bankroll on this particular play.

*We do not provide plays higher than 2% as we feel it is not worth the additional risk over time