Sports betting FAQs

Sports Betting

How do odds work?

Good Q! Check out our glossary entry on odds for a full rundown.

What’s a betting line?

A line actually refers to the point spread, or the specific number of points the sportsbook uses to determine the odds between an underdog and a favorite. The line is the margin between those two outcomes.

  • If the Toronto Raptors are favored by four points over the Brooklyn Nets, the line would be:
    • Raptors -4
    • Nets +4

What does it mean to 'cover the spread'?

A team that covers the spread means they won the point spread bet. 

  • To use the same example as the previous question, if the Raptors won by four or more points, they would cover the spread.
  • However, if the Nets were to win or lose by less than four points, they would cover the spread.

The team that covers, is the team that wins the bet based on the betting line that is set by a sportsbook.

How does sports betting differ between sports?

Once you understand the sports betting basics, you can gamble on almost any sport by betting the moneyline (who will win, who will lose).

  • Each sport has its own rules and nuances. For example, a draw happens fairly often in soccer, so it’s a common betting option. However, it’s not available in sports like tennis or golf where there has to be a winner.

Can I bet with friends or compete against them?

That’s fantasy sports! Which is another fun way to get in the game. In the case of single game betting, it’s essentially you against the sportsbook rather than you against your friends.

  • But of course, you can always fire up the BFF group chat to talk about what you’re betting on that night. Or even better, meet us in The GIST’s Twitter Community!

How do I bet smart?

Ah, the million dollar question. Here’s the real tea. Even the BEST in the sports gambling biz only predict it right 50–60% of the time. Factor in the juice and avid sports bettors aren’t making as much money as they’d like you to believe.

  • That said, there’s huge value in doing your research and paying attention to trends, player injuries, weather (seriously!) and other factors that could affect the game.

What’s a bankroll?

A bankroll is the money you can afford to lose on gambling. Everyone wants to win, but the reality of the situation is that you will win some and lose some — it’s the beauty of sports! Professional gamblers recommend setting a personal bankroll and never exceeding that limit.

How much should I bet?

This is completely up to you! But we definitely recommend setting a bankroll and not going over that.

  • On most sports gambling sites, you can bet as little as a few cents, so it’s totally okay to start small and work your way up to bigger bets as your confidence grows. Always wager responsibly.

What’s the best sport to bet on?

To us, the best sport to bet on is the one you enjoy watching the most.

Should I be concerned about gambling addiction?

Like most things in life, sports gambling should be enjoyed in moderation. While some make a career out of gambling, many are just looking for a little extra reason to cheer on the home team or watch a game.

  • In sports, we often celebrate the unexpected — the Cinderella stories, the underdogs, the unlikely heroes. But for every winner, there’s a loser. It’s important to remember that and just have fun along the way.
  • Friend of The GIST Dom Luszczyszyn, best known for his fantasy hockey and sports betting analysis for The Athletic, wrote an honest, personal account of the highs and lows of being an avid sports gambler.

What if I have more questions?

Come find us in The GIST’s Twitter Community where we’ll be happy to answer anything you might think up!

Sports Betting