Understanding Sports Betting
When you decide to start staking your hard earned money as a punter, understanding sports betting should be your first step.
For centuries we have been gambling on all sorts from horses to hockey, football to greyhounds and everything in between.
We just love a flutter, but gone are the days of having to go into sketchy betting shops in the dodgy parts of town.
At the turn of the century there was a boom in online sports betting with new sites springing up all over the place offering an ever increasing array of markets and opportunities for a wager.
Following that, the rapid advances in mobile technology made it even easier on sports betting. Especially placing a bet at your convenience with the whole sporting world priced up just a couple of taps away.
However, as the online sports betting world becomes ever more established it can be a confusing arena for an individual to get familiar with.
That is why we thought that we would answer some of the more common questions so you can get up and running as soon as possible.
If you don’t know your Bet Builder from Bob The Builder then this should be a good read for yourself.
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What are free bets and how do I get them?
Chances are that you will have seen free bet offers all over the place as you watch TV or browse the web, but what are free bets?
Simply put there are hundreds of online sports betting sites out there and they all want your business and as such they will try and entice you with offers like ‘Bet £10 and Get up to £30 in Free Bets’.
There is an often mentioned phrase which is there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ and this is true when it comes to free bets.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions as you will often have to place your first bet on something that is at odds of EVS (2.0 or 1/1) or greater.
There may be wagering requirements on the terms and conditions so make sure you check the small print.
If you believe you have qualified for free bets but you haven’t received them get in touch with the bookmaker and they will be on hand to sort it out for you.
With so many different sports betting sites there are a whole host of sports welcome bonuses for you to explore and you can check out some of the best free bet offers below.
What are sports betting odds & how do they work?
Sports betting is all about probabilities and the better chance something has of happening then the shorter the odds will be.
For example, Tottenham might be 2/1 to beat Real Madrid but they would be 1/10 to beat Kettering Town. If you are struggling with the above scenarios then let’s break it down.
£10 on Tottenham to beat Real Madrid would win you £20 so with your original stake included your returns would be £30.
To beat Kidderminster your £10 would win you £1 so a total return.
If the fraction is smaller than 1/1 (EVS) then it is refereed to as odds-on, with bets bigger than 1/1 odds against.
If fractions weren’t for you at school then you might find it easier to set your account decimals. This would mean that instead of 2/1 you would see 3.00.
To work out your returns in decimal format simply multiply your stake by the number shown.
Which are the safest online sports betting sites?
From the years of the Mafia, gambling has often been surrounded by shady characters looking to make some quick money. So how can you be assured that your money will be safe when gambling with these firms?
Luckily for you, the UK has some of the tightest gambling regulations in the world so you can rest easy in the knowledge that no one is going to run off with your hard-earned money.
All the sports betting sites listed on this site have the highest reputations for safety of customer funds, however, if you have any misgivings surrounding a site deposit using an e-wallet like PayPal or Neteller as an extra layer of protection.
Why do sports betting sites need to see my ID?
The tight gambling compliance rules mean that you can’t just open an account and start playing straight away, more often than not you will need to provide proof of who you actually are.
This is to ensure that you aren’t a problem gambler who is trying to bet through multiple accounts or to ensure that you aren’t doing any kind of money laundering.
Most of the time they will just need to see proof of address and you will be good to go, but if you are a high roller then chances are that the site will ask to see proof of funds to check that you aren’t gambling more than you can afford.
Often verification is done in less than 24 hours. After all, it is in their best interest to get you signed up and playing as soon as possible so you don’t have chance to go and register elsewhere.
If you believe it is taking a while to get verified, get on to the live chat and they will usually be more than happy to assist.
Can you make money sports betting?
In simple terms, yes you can make money betting on sports but it is certainly not easy and there is no guarantee that you will be able to use your knowledge of sports to turn a profit.
There have been thousands of upsets over the years that no one could have seen coming with Leicester City’s 5000/1 title win perhaps one of the more famous examples.
If you do want to maximise your chance of making money through sports betting there are a few simple tips you can follow.
Firstly, never chase your losses. If you have had some bad luck on a match, do not go searching for something else immediately to try and win your money back.
This can be an absolute black hole once entered. The best thing to do is put your phone or laptop down and forget about it until the next opportunity comes up.
Secondly, everyone knows about the Premier League. Sure, you may be able to name Leeds United’s strike partnership from the 1996/97 season but that does not really mean that much.
However, much you think you know about the Premier League it will always be harder to turn a profit sports betting on the major betting events and leagues.
That is because the traders at the bookmakers also have in depth knowledge and strong algorithms that help them price up matches.
The best chance you have of making money on a sporting event is by having knowledge of a niche sporting event or league that you can put to good use.
Finally, you will almost certainly not make long term money by doing accumulator bets. These are the bets that grab the headlines, get shared in the group chats and are good fun to place, but that is all they are really: a bit of fun.
Don’t be relying on these longshot bets to turn a profit, they are there for some entertainment in the off chance you land a big winner – much like playing the lottery or buying a scratchcard.
Which sports are the best to bet on?
We touched on it above, but the best chance you have of beating the bookie long term is by having more knowledge than them on a certain event.
If you know Caribbean cricket or Polish volleyball like the back of your hand, then use this to your advantage.
Check across a number of bookmakers as they are more likely to make a mistake on these markets they know little of.
Remember, you don’t have to bet. Be patient, wait for your opportunity and striker when it does.
Can sports betting sites limit your account?
At the end of the day, sports betting sites are a business and if you are winning too much money then they will look to limit your stakes.
This will happen quicker if you are winning on smaller markets like women’s basketball or youth football, but it can also happen on smaller bookmakers who will have tighter limits and will restrict you sooner.
For this reason, it is sometimes better to open an account with an established bookmaker as you have a better chance of making money in the long term.
What is ‘in-play’ sports betting & how do I cash out?
Right at the beginning we spoke about the fact that technological advances had led to an explosion in online gambling opportunities and betting sites are constantly innovating.
Back in the day you used to place your bet on an event and let it run, but there are now so many chances to get involved whilst an event is taking place.
Say after 30 minutes Liverpool are all over Chelsea and you fancy the Reds to go on and get the win, you will be able to back them in-play on the betting app or site of your choice.
Similarly, cash out has also enhanced the potential of in running betting.
Using the above example, if you had backed Liverpool to win and they have gone 1-0 up, but Chelsea are piling on the pressure and you are getting a bit twitchy, then you can just cash out your bet.
Simply find your bet in a section usually labeled ‘my bets’ or ‘cash out’ and hit the cash out button, guaranteeing yourself some profit.
You won’t win as much as you would have done in the original bet, but it might be worth it for a more relaxed viewing experience.
What is a bet builder?
A bet builder is like an accumulator bet all on the one game. Taking Liverpool v Chelsea again. You could have Liverpool to win, over 2.5 goals, both teams to score and both teams to get five or more corners if you so desire.
Bet Builders are a relatively recent phenomenon in the world of online sports betting and an increasing number of sites are offering them across several sporting events.
Every bookie has there own phrasing for these kind of bets but they can usually be found when selecting the match of your choice and an option will be there to price up your own selection.
If it isn’t there, you can always try Tweeting them or going on their customer live chat and asking for the trader to price them up for you.
Again, these bets can be good fun and can help enhance your viewing experience of a big match.
Rather like accumulators though, it is hard to turn a long term profit doing these kind of bets which is why you will see betting sites being so keen to push them, often offering enhanced prices to entice you in.
Which sports betting tipsters are the best to follow?
When it comes to betting online, there are plenty of people out there across social media who fancy themselves as some kind of tipping genius.
However, a substantial volume will be chancers or gambling addicts or just mug punters whose accounts will be gone within a month.
If you are considering following a tipster, try and see if they have a dedicated profit and loss spreadsheet.
A trustworthy tipster will never hide from losing runs. Also have a look and see if any come recommended by other users before you take the plunge.
You will find that some tipsters charge money for a lifetime VIP scheme. Generally these are unavoidable as once you have paid the money, they have no incentive to keep on generating winners as they have already taken your money.
It is also important if you are paying for tips to check they aren’t scammers as once you have sent the money to them there is no way of getting it back if they disappear into thin air.
Now that we have answered those questions for you, you are ready to get started on your betting journey.
Take a browse through our list of recommended sports betting sites and see what takes your fancy.
We have plenty to choose from and with established brands competing with new upstarts there has never been a time with better opportunities for a punter!