A beginner-friendly guide to sports betting and daily fantasy sports

October 24, 2020

  • Friends watching baseball game

Gentlemen, it’s time we switch gears and talk about some sports, specifically sports betting and the different options on how to bet on sports. Within the last year, the legal sports betting landscape has changed drastically.

Almost half the states now allow some form of legal sports betting whether it be through a retail sportsbook or an online counter.

I’m not saying you’ll end up like Biff Tannen from Back to the Future when he got a hold of the future sports almanac, but football Sundays might get a little more interesting…and those everyday baseball games won’t be so boring anymore.

We’re going to cover some of the basic and most common type of wagers that can be applied to most major sports. That way you can go ahead with the sport you are most familiar with, and maybe even take home that fantasy league trophy this year.

Spread Betting

Spread betting is a great beginner friendly style of wager. An extremely common wager and most popular in football.  All you’re doing here is simply betting against the margin of victory. In most cases, there will be an underdog and a favorite going into a matchup.

Here is an example of a given spread for a football game. For now, let’s ignore the “O/U” portion and take a look at the “ATS” which stands for Against the Spread. The (+) denotes the underdog and the (-) denotes the matchup favorite.

Spread bet line

When the “ATS” reads (-2.5) for Carolina, it means that if you were to place a wager on Carolina, they would have to win by 3 or more for you to cover and win the bet since you can’t score half a point in football. If the margin of victory is any less than 3, you would lose the bet. But if you took the underdogs, in this case Atlanta, you would need Atlanta to lose by less than 3 or win the game outright.

So just by looking at the ATS, if you take the underdog, they can only lose by less than 3 or win and if you take the matchup favorite, they have to win by 3 or more. The half point is just added so that there is less chance of a push and no winner. Depending on the sportsbook you use, they will issue a refund in the case of a push but always check with your sportsbook for that detail.

The guys at Sports Betting Dime do an excellent job going in depth about this strategy so make sure to check them out.

Money-line Wagers

Money-line bets are the most common way to get in on some action for lower scoring sports like the MLB or the NHL. Unlike wagering on NFL games, the spread and margin of victory don’t come into play as much.

In a money-line wager, you are simply picking who you think will win the game. You don’t need to worry about any spreads or how many points a team has to win by or lose by but just who will win the game.


Just like the spread betting, the example shows that there is a (+) for the underdog and (-) for the matchup favorite.

Let’s say you pick the Falcons who are the underdogs to win the game. The (+120) means that if you placed a $100 bet on the Falcons and they won, you would get a pay out of a $120. Of course, if they lose then you are at a $100 loss.

If you choose the matchup favorite, the Panthers to win the game, unlike betting on the underdog, you would have to place a $140 bet to win a payout of $100.

You may be thinking, “Well, why wouldn’t I bet on the Falcons since I can risk less money for a better payout?” Remember, the reason for being able to get a better payout with less risk is because you are betting on the underdog.

Check out this article from The Lines for a an in depth guide to money-line bets.

Over/Under Wagers

Over/Under wages are very simple and it’s an easy concept to understand. The Over/Under is specifically speaking about the total points, goals, or runs that will be scored in the game.

over/under line

In this example here, you can see that the Over/Under line is placed at 48.5 So to take a wager, all you are doing is deciding if the game will have a total combined point total of both teams above 48.5 or below 48.5. This is a very straight forward bet and can be applied to baseball, basketball, and most major sports.

Daily Fantasy Sports

I’m sure you guys are well aware of the traditional Fantasy sports, where you set up a league with your buddies, you guys agree on an entry fee for the season, and manage your fantasy team like an owner would in real life. Fantasy sports is most common and popularized by football but can be played with basketball, baseball, hockey, and much more.

What I want to mention today is a spin-off of fantasy sports but a focus on DFS which means daily fantasy sports. This format has really been popularized in the last few years and have quickly become a way to get involved and have some fun while you enjoy your favorite sport.

Unlike traditional fantasy leagues, you don’t have to choose players and form a roster based on the whole season. Instead you are given a “Salary” for the given day and with that “salary” you buy players to be on your roster. The players are priced accordingly to their recent performances and likelihood of having a good day.

The benefit of this format is you don’t have to worry about the whole season. If you’re too busy to keep up with in’s and out’s of the players and the sport itself, this is a great option to keep yourself entertained since you only have to worry about that particular day.

  1. Sign up for DFS platform. The most popular platforms are Fanduel and Draftkings
  2. Enter a contest depending on what sport and entry fee
  3. Choose your lineup for that given day
  4. Go and enjoy the games with your friends and family
  5. Get a payout based how your team point total places compared to the rest of the entrants. Contest payouts do vary based on amount of people playing and the entry fee
Draftkings and Fandeul Logo

It’s all fun and games

Now remember, there’s no need place all your money on one bet and don’t think you can’t lose because you’re on a hot streak. Some of the concepts can be a little confusing at first but these are some really beginner friendly styles of sports betting and can add a some fun and excitement to watching sports with your buddies.

Hope you guys enjoy!