Beginners Guide To Sports Betting

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For as long as there has been sporting events throughout history, there has been sports betting. Basically, sports betting is making a prediction on the outcome of a sporting event and placing a wager on the outcome. This can be done on an informal level between friends or via a professional bookmaker where ever single wager is documented.The most common sports to bet on include association football, basketball, baseball, hockey, MMA and boxing. Over recent years, it has become common for people to bet on the winners of reality TV shows and the result of political elections. Horse racing is very popular for betting on (especially the Grand National in the UK) as is greyhound racing. Although illegal, underground dog fighting is very common in some places around the world.

Types of Bet

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  • Win
    Perhaps the most common form of bet placed around the world. This is simply where you bet on a specific team or athlete to win.
  • Place
    When betting on a race, you may bet on where somebody will finish within a range of positions. An each way bet will give you a return on your wager if your pick finishes within the top 3 places.
  • Double
    This is where you place one bet that covers the results of two different sporting events. Both outcomes must win in order for you receive a return.
  • Treble
    A single bet placed on the outcome of three different events. You must win on all three events in order to gain a return on your initial stake.
  • Accumulator
    A single placed on three or infinitely more selections, all outcomes must win in order for the bettor to receive a return. Accumulators are usually named after the number of selections contain, such as fourfold, fivefold, sixfold etc.
  • Trixie
    This is where a bet is placed on three selections and consists of four separate bets, for example 3 doubles and 1 treble. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.
  • Yankee
    A bet on four selections of 11 separate bets, for example 6 doubles, 4 trebles and a fourfold accumulator. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.
  • Canadian or Super Yankee
    A wager places on five selections of 26 separate bets, such as 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds and a fivefold accumulator. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.
  • Heinz
    A bet on six selections of 57 different bets, such as 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and sixfold accumulator. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.This type of bet is named after the 57 varieties advertising slogan of the Heinz company – best known for their baked beans.
  • Super Heinz
    A wager placed on seven selections of 120 separate bets, a possible combination includes 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, 7 sixfolds and a sevenfold accumulator. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.
  • Goliath
    A wager on eight selections of 247 separate bets, such as 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 56 fourfolds, 28 sixfolds, 8 sevenfolds and an eightfold accumulator. A minimum of two selections must win to gain a return.


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Harry Ogden was the first bookmaker of the United Kingdom, starting his business in the 1790s. As a result of the Gaming Act 1845, race tracks offered the only form of betting permitted in the country. Special excursion trains were started so that the upper classes could travel to the numerous racecourses around the country. Harold Macmillan and his Conservative government first legalised betting shops in 1961. This led to the formation of William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral, all still around today and generally recognised as The Big Three. At one point there was as many as 15,000 high street betting shops across the UK, but that has gradually been reduced to around 9,000.

Internet Gambling

The internet is a recent addition to the world of betting. Despite the Free Trade & Processes Act passing in 1994, bookmakers didn’t really get involved until 2001. When research there was more than eight million willing bettors, many bookmakers leapt at the chance to take advantage of this opportunity. Most traditional bookmakers have launched a website, allowing them diversify their brand, and in many cases they built a stronger online presence than they initially had in their traditional brick & mortar establishments.

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The development of smartphones and mobile apps has provided an even bigger opportunity for bookmakers. With the majority of the UK population now having some form of smartphone, the provision of a betting app would make it even easier for sports fans to place a wager than ever before. No longer would you have to travel down to your local high street branch and fill out a betting slip. Now you can place a wager from the comfort of your own home or while watching the match at the pub with a group of friends.
This has also created the in-play betting market. Instead of placing a bet at the start of the game, you can start watching it, assess how the players are performing and then place a bet accordingly.


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When placing a bet on anything, it is important to bear in mind the odds. Odds reflect the likelihood of a certain team or athlete winning, and you can also use them to calculate the return you’ll get from your stake, if successful. European betting markers use decimal odds, the United Kingdom uses fractional odds and the USA uses moneyline odds. Decimal odds are also used across Canada and Australia, they provide a ratio of the full payout from the stake. Decimal odds of 2.00 would be an even bet. Fractional odds show the ratio of the potential winning amount in accordance to the initial stake. The / symbol is pronounced ‘to’. For example 2/1 would be pronounced ‘two to one’ and means that £2 would be one for every £1 wagered. Moneyline odds present the amount that could be won on a 100 stake when positive and the stake needed to win 100 when negative, odds of 100 would be an even bet. The favourite in any event will always get the lowest odds (otherwise bookmakers would never make any money). Betting on the underdog will always provide a bigger return, and while it’s not impossible, it doesn’t happen very often.

Please check out our other guides, including guides on Baccarat, Bingo, Craps & Keno.

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