The current version of FAQ is dirt old, has broken links and very outdated information. This is my suggested update. Note this took quite some time, and am tired out from it. It probably needs a proof read.
Part I: Betting Sports
What are the best sportsbooks?
What is the best book for US players?
What do you think of (specific) book?
What books do you use / should I use?
There is no single right answer. There is no one "best" book for everything. It depends on what sports you are betting, how often you bet, whether you want reduced juice, and lots of other factors. If you're remotely serious, you should have money in as many legitimate sportsbooks as your bankroll can handle.
Remember that lineshopping >>> handicapping in at least 80% of sports betting.
Before joining a sportsbook it’s helpful to research their legitimacy. Keep in mind most review portals sell advertising and are not always best sources of information. A good place to start is with the posters poll (top left corner) of forum.sbrforum.com
. This shows the top 5 sportsbooks as voted for by actual sports bettors.
Next check out multiple sportsbook rating guides. It’s important to compare the ratings of each to see if there are discrepancies. If there are, spend a few extra minutes researching before sending money off to that sportsbook.
Suggested ratings guides that stand out as being a bit more honest than the field are as follows:
It is well advised to take all sports book ratings with a grain of salt
. These are merely guides to help supplement your own research regarding whether a sportsbook is trustworthy or not, and if so for how much.
The reason researching sportsbooks is important is serious bettors want to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks in order to shop odds and take advantage of bonuses/promotions at each. For US players betting under $500 per game, the general consensus is 5Dimes has the best odds. For those outside the US Pinnacle Sports has the lowest margin with highest limits, and also peer to peer betting exchange such as Betfair are available. Serious players will want to use these sites as well as several others to get the best odds/value.
I'm in the US, how do I deposit?
There are three primary ways US players deposit and withdrawal.
Western Union and MoneyGram
: Most sportsbooks will pick up the fee for deposits made via this method so long as you deposit over the minimum threshold ($250 or $300 at most sites). At some sportsbooks such as BetIslands, YouWager and others this is ONLY accepted method. It’s possible to use this method with cash at your local supermarket, or online using credit card or in some cases checking account.
Credit Card Deposits
: Many sportsbooks accept credit card deposits. Be sure to check the terms before making the deposit. BetOnline charges a 6% fee not well disclosed, where Bovada charges 4.95% clearly disclosed.
: At some sportsbooks (ex: 5Dimes) you can purchase a postal money order and send it via courier. They request you send them the tracking number immediately so they can watch for it and credit your account as soon as the money order arrives.
*Note: e-wallets and e-check deposits are quite rare these days, as far as US players are concerned.
Can sports be beaten consistently for a profit?
Yes. You simply have to find lines that are far enough away from the “true” line for the bet to be profitable. This requires good line shopping and/or good handicapping. Personally I know far more winning line shoppers than winning handicappers. Line shopping really cannot be stressed enough. Generally the difference between a losing sports bettor and winning sports bettor is line shopping.
How do sportsbooks make money?
Let’s take a standard wager, where you must lay -110 (11 to 10) odds. Most point spread wagers are approximately a 50/50 proposition, something akin to flipping a coin. So you are laying 11 to 10 on the flip, while the book is TAKING 11 to 10 on the flip. Over time, the book must win. Also, the book has a margin for error in the lines. To win, you must overcome this inherent advantage by finding bets that are not true 50/50 propositions (i.e., far enough way from the true line). Note: There are lots of other types of wagers such as money lines, parlays, teasers, etc., but the basic idea is the same for them all – the sportsbook takes a fee by making you lay odds that are greater than the true odds of the wager.
What win rate do I need in order to make a profit?
This depends on the odds you are laying/taking. At standard vig (-110), you need to win 110 / (110 + 100) = 52.4% of your bets to make a profit. At any other price, you can use the same method to calculate the necessary win rate (risk/return=required win rate *this is referred to as “implied probability”*). Keep in mind that you can sometimes get by with a smaller win rate if you are collecting bonuses from the sportsbooks.
What is the highest sustainable win rate in point spread betting?
Generally, somewhere in the 55%-60% range is considered the maximum that is sustainable. However, if you start approaching the higher end of that range, you are probably passing up some +EV wagers.
Part II: The Basics: Learning How to Beat Sports
What are the best books to read?
Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong is a good introduction to thinking like a sharp. Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting by 2p2'er King Yao is a good update to Sharp Sports Betting but does not replace it. David Sklansky’s chapter on sports betting in Getting the Best of It provides a good explanation of the math behind betting. Roxy Roxborough’s book Sports Book Management provides a good view of how sportsbooks operate. Elihu Feustel (aka Justin7) has written Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall Street which is a solid look at a lot of the maths.
Ok, other than Sharp Sports Betting (and Yao's book, and now Justin7's) what are the other good books to read?
Sadly this gets asked so much that it needs its own entry in the FAQ. There really aren't any other great sports betting books not listed here that I know of - if you know of one, submit it and we'll pimp it. Sharp Sports Betting is the Super/System of Sports Betting. No one has written a Sklansky-level follow up to it.
2+2'er King Yao has written "Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting" which is a solid follow-up to Sharp Sports Betting but does not replace it.
We've had one recommendation for the following - I can't personally vouch for them, but listing here for completeness: "For a good overall book check out Education of a Sports Bettor by Bob McCune. It's older, so you'll have to get past some editing mistakes, but it's very good. For football I'd also suggest How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Point Spread JR Miller and Beat the Sports Books by Dan Gordon." Another poster provided the following disclaimer: "you should ignore the advice about Kelly betting in the Miller book, and ignore the advice about parlays, teasers etc. in the Gordon book. Dan Gordon is a reasonably decent handicapper but pretty clueless about optimal betting."
What is a good bankroll to start with?
However much you can afford to lose. Seriously, you can get started with as little as $100 with $1 units (see the next question).
What part of my bankroll should I bet for each game?
A commonly accepted guideline is 1%-2% of your bankroll. This is generally referred to as a "unit".
Why 1%-2%? A unit size greater than 2% dramatically increases your risk of ruin (risk of going broke). If you dont care about going broke, use whatever size units you're comfortable with.
Should I use flat betting or change my bet size each game?
If you can accurately quantify your edge on a bet, it is mathematically correct to vary your bet size. However, in practice (a) it is often hard to quantify your edge accurately and (b) the edges in sports betting are generally small enough that you don’t lose a huge amount by failing to vary your bet sizes on common point spread wagers. For these reasons, flat betting is best for most people even though it is not optimal. You can use what is known as "Kelly Betting", which is betting a certain percentage of your bankroll based on how much your edge is. If you are new, stick to the guidelines of 1-2% of your bankroll. If you know you are a winning sports bettor, then do a Google search of "Kelly Betting".
Are parlays and teasers bad bets?
Generally yes, parlays and teasers are -EV compared to straight bets. Although correlated parlays can be +EV, and teasers through certain numbers (through the 3 and 7) in the NFL (called Wong Teasers or "basic strategy teasers) can be +EV as well. Beyond that, stay away from parlays and teasers unless you are just out for fun.
What are some websites for handicapping info?
, or the sports league websites such as nfl.com
for betting trends, Covers.com
for various data, etc. (be careful as much of this is written to just impress not so savvy sports bettors).
For others do a Google Search.
What is a moneyline?
In a game between the Braves and the Giants, the moneyline might be Braves -150 / Giants +130. That means you have to lay 15 to 10 odds to take the Braves and you get 13 to 10 odds to take the Giants. In other words, you have to bet $150 to win $100 on the Braves and bet $100 to win $130 on the Giants.
What are some general betting tips? What are some good tips for someone new to Sports Betting?
Check out Some General Betting Tips (My Pooh-Bah Post) by Tech
Although containing some outdated information also check out: Tips for the new sports bettor
(Any more recent suggestions to go here?)
How should I track my bets?
As carefully as possible
Check out the thread For the forum: a spreadsheet for record keeping for a spreadsheet
Performify built to track his publicly posted picks.
Check out a very cool tool from poster EnsignLee: Charts for Tracking Sports Betting
If you have other tools or resources to share, submit them!
Should I pay a service (aka "tout") for picks?
No. See this thread Paying For Picks
for a good overview of why this generally is a bad idea.
Also 2+2'er riccja has been regularly posting his picks for free for many years. He sometimes has additional picks at his other sites. Follow him at:
Am I sharp or am I square?
See this thread from "TrixTrix"
for a good discussion of some pointers that he feels delineates a sharp bettor from a square one. These are good points to read for someone just getting started as goals to work towards...
Where can I go for more information?
for a massive amount of sports betting information, some good and some bad. At least you get different opinions to consider.
Part III: Advanced / Sport Specific Questions
Where can I see lines from multiple books?
Where can I see what the public is betting? (Where can I gauge public opinion?)
What is an arbitrage? How do I do it?
An arbitrage, also known as a scalp (the process is often referred to as "scalping") is the process of betting both sides of a game to ensure a guaranteed profit or at least no possible losing scenario. In a quick example, say BOOK-A is offering the line of Texas +105, USC -105 and BOOK-B is offering the line of Texas -105, USC +105. You could bet on Texas +105 with BOOK-A and USC +105 at BOOK-B, and you would win $5 with $100 bet on each side, no matter which team wins the game.
For a more detailed explanation and some more examples, see the questions and answers in this thread
. For a calculator to calculate arbs refer to scalpulator.com
Should I hedge?
I hit the first 5 picks of my 6 team parlay! Should I hedge?
I picked Miami preseason to win the Super Bowl at +15000 and they just won the AFC Championship! Should I hedge?
The answer depends on your goal in hedging, and no one will be able to accurately answer your question without knowing more about your goals and your situation.
Which are you trying to do accomplish? Maximize EV or Guarantee Profit?
I Want to Maximize my EV!
OK, great, but keep in mind that you cannot change the EV of your pending wager. Your “hedge” is simply creating new wagers whose values have no relation to your initial wager. Analyze these new wagers on their own merit; if they are +EV, go ahead and bet them. If they are –EV, you would be losing value, despite the possibility of guaranteeing a profit. (But if that was really your goal, read on.)
I Want to Guarantee a Profit!
Well go ahead and hedge. But, understand that you are most likely sacrificing EV. You are paying a premium to reduce risk – sort of like buying insurance on your wager. But, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily a bad thing. If the sum to be gained is substantial to you, the utility of the potential win could be significant. For example, despite being -EV, it may be better for you to lock in a profit of 48 units rather than coin flip on 100, but that is a personal preference dependent on a large number of factors including your tolerance for risk, the wager size compared to your financial standing, among other things. The average person would probably choose a guaranteed $50 million rather than a 50/50 shot at $125 million. A multi-billionaire would probably choose the latter. The utility value of the guaranteed $100 million is greater to most people than the utility value of the 50/50 shot at $225 million.
If you decide to hedge lock in a profit, examine the various options, and decide how much you want to guarantee, and how much you want to potentially win in excess of this, and you will have your ideal hedge
What exactly is a Wong Teaser (also called a "basic strategy teaser")?
For the ultimate answers, see the excellent Wong Teaser FAQ compiled by MyTurn2Raise: Daliman WONG Teaser FAQ
This is a very specific teaser that is generally regarded as +EV, which Stanford Wong details in Sharp Sports Betting. Wong states that if you can cross 2 key numbers including the 3 with a 6 point, even money teaser, you have a wager with a statistically positive expectation. That means in the long term a winning result.
To spot a basic strategy teaser, look to tease games where you have a -7.5, -8 or 8.5 point favorite and/or a +1.5, +2 or +2.5 point underdog. These would tease to -1.5, -2, or -2.5, and/or +7.5, +8, or +8.5. So simply put a Wong Teaser is teasing across (not just to, but across) the 7 and 3. Either plus or minus. For example, teasing from -8 to -2 would cross key numbers at -7, -4, -3. Likewise teasing +2.5 to +8.5 would result in crossing +3, +4, +7.
Crossing to the 7 or 3 isn't, for example teasing a -9 to -3, as you're not gaining the probability of a win when the game lands on those key numbers, only a push. You want to move across them. Again, that's detailed in Sharp Sports Betting.
What is the easiest way to clear a sports book bonus? (Also asked as "What are the basics of Sports Book bonus whoring?")
See the discussion in this thread: Easiest way to clear sportsbook bonuses?
Where can I see past lines for historical purposes?
Why isn’t there more detailed information on how to bet?
Generally, Sports Betting is about edges in market information, much like the stock market. For the most part, successful sports bettors don't have as much of a motivation as for example poker players to share techniques on how to be successful. As an example, if a sports bettor were to tell every little detail of how they bet sports, someone could simply beat that person to the lines they want and would negatively affect the success of the person giving out the detailed information.
In other words, giving out detailed information on how to bet sports is a significantly –EV proposition for those who do it well. So you're unlikely to see a detailed "this is exactly how I bet sports" guide.
How do betting exchanges like Betfair work? Can Americans use Betfair?
To answer the second question: there not many exchanges accepting US players that have liquidity. Outside the US exchanges such as Betfair (the largest), Matchbook, Betdaq etc. are available and can often be used to get better odds. Click here
to learn how Betfair works.
How often are Major League Baseball games decided by one run?
From Betting Baseball by Michael Murray, when the home team wins they win by 1 run 31.7% of the time. When the away team wins, its by 1 run 23.6% of the time. Keep in mind, however, that a game is more likely to be decided by 1 run if it is lower scoring, and less likely to be decided by 1 run if it is high scoring.
What is a correlated parlay?
Generally speaking, it means combining two outcomes which are more likely to occur together. In sports betting, the basic idea applies most often to NCAA Football. For example, in a game with a large underdog and a relatively low total (over/under) - IF you think the under is a good bet, there is value in parlaying it with a huge underdog, because if the underdog scores at ALL, they're almost a lock to cover in any game that finishes under. The parlay nearly doubles your payout on the under bet, while *probably* not halving your odds of winning, giving it a higher EV. At least, that's the general theory of the correlated parlay when the spread is very close to the total.
What if I make a bet and the line later improves?
See this thread
for good discussion on both sides of this issue.
How do I win my NFL pool?
See How to win an NFL pool for n00bs
by kevkev60614 for a great writeup of basic strategies to win your next NFL office pool.
Part IV: The 2+2 Sports Betting Forum
What are the guidelines for posting in this forum?
Absolutely no spam, period. This is rule A, B, and C for this forum. This means no advertisements for tout services and the like, and absolutely no affiliate links of any kind. Anything falling into this category will be deleted on sight.
When you post picks, please post your season-to-date win/loss record along with units won in the subject line of your post. Also, please include at least some type of justification/reasoning for your picks. In many cases, the reasoning is more important to your readers than the actual picks. This is detailed in the Posting Picks Rules
Please post all NFL threads in the official threads, broken down by time period. For more, see this post
Can I post low content / parlay threads / whatever ?
This forum is for sports betting content. However, we allow one active thread with "anything goes" rules where you can post pretty much anything you want that doesn't break the terms and conditions of 2+2 or the general rules enforced in this forum by the moderators (i.e. still no commercial spam, no belligerently insulting other posters, no bypassing the content filter, etc). Search around for the most recent recent forum chatter thread.
Part V: Glossary of Terms
Bar Stool Pundits
. Abbreviated as BSP. A term used for universal consensus from the general public, i.e. walk in to your local sports bar and ask the Bar Stool Pundits who they think is going to win. If there's a consensus, that's a BSP pick.
– see Vigorish
– Kelly betting refers to a method of calculating your wager size given your edge on a bet
- see Spread
– Betting both sides of a game in a way that gives you a chance to win both wagers. For example, let’s say Dallas is playing Denver. If you bet Dallas +3.5 at one book and Denver -2.5 at another, you win both bets if the game lands on 3. If it lands anywhere else, you only have to pay the vig. This allows you to bet much larger than your normally would.
- a common abbreviation for Pinnacle Sports Book. Generally regarded as one of the top books.
PK or Pick or Pick'Em
- a spread of +0 for each team. Mostly shown as PK but sometimes expressed as Pick or referred to casually as "a Pick'Em". Note that you still pay "vig" on a PK line.
– When the outcome of a game falls exactly on the line, it is a “push” and the money is returned to bettors. For example, if the line on a game is New England -3 and they win by exactly 3, it is a push.
– an alternative method for betting baseball; typically given as Team A -1.5 / Team B +1.5. This means that team A has to win by at least 1.5 runs to win a bet on Team A, and a bet on Team B wins if B loses by no more than 1 run.
– betting both sides of the same game in a way that guarantees a profit; for example, laying -120 on the favorite and taking +140 on the underdog
– knowledgeable bettors
- a specific victory margin set for a game which must be "covered" to win your bet against the spread. For example, Chargers -7 means that the Chargers must outscore their opponents by 8 points or more to win this bet. If the Chargers win by seven in this case, the bet is a Push.
– unsophisticated bettors, collectively known as “the public”
– lines offered to square bettors, often shaded against favorites, overs, and other popular bets
– lines offered to sharp bettors, often shaded against underdogs, unders, and other advantage bets.
- a standard amount you bet on a game. Generally recommended as 1%-2% of your bankroll. So if you have a $2000 bankroll and typically bet $20 per game, then $20 is your unit. Posting plays as units instead of $$$ is better as it lets people see an independant measure of strength regardless of if you're betting $20 units or $200 units or $2000 units.
– This is the “fee” that sportsbooks charge for your wager. So instead of getting even money on your wagers, you must lay -110, -105, or something similar. The extra money you must wager is the vig.
Part VI: Closing Comments / Notes
For more information, you might be interested in the old usenet rec.gambling.sports FAQ, or you might consider using this site as well.
If you have any suggestions for items to be added to this FAQ, please PM the moderator of the 2+2 Sports Betting Forum.
It also needs to be noted that 2+2 does not necessarily endorse any of the "outside" websites and were listed here by the moderators. If you are the owner of a site and wish to share information for the benefit of the 2+2 Sports Betting Community to get your site promoted here, please contact the moderator.
Other items to add:
-How to Remove Vig
-Buying Half Points
probably already a threads somewhere to link to on those. I got tired here.