Since the Supreme Court’s decision to let states legalize sports gambling, there has been a boom in new sportsbooks across the United States. This means you can now take the party bus to Atlantic City or Vegas and gamble on sports without having to leave the comfort of your own home (and probably a greasy futon with buffalo chicken dip). But the explosion of sports betting has also opened up the floodgates for people who aren’t prepared to handle it and can end up in trouble. That’s because gambling isn’t just fun and games—it’s addictive, and it can make you broke faster than your Aunt Donna’s green congealed salad.
Sports betting is a simple concept, and it’s been around for a long time: since dinosaurs were roaming the earth, people have put money on the outcome of sporting events. In a modern context, this has taken the form of bets placed online or at brick-and-mortar casinos and shops. It can be on anything from how many points a team will win by to whether or not a player will score a touchdown. A lot of sports betting odds are listed with a plus or minus sign before them, which is how our brains are programmed to read them: the plus indicates that the underdog team has a better chance to win and the minus means that the favorite has a better chance to lose.
The best way to bet on sports is to bet with your head instead of your heart, and that means making an objective decision based on facts and stats rather than emotional attachment or locker room gossip. Don’t be afraid to go against your gut instinct and make a bet that goes against the grain, but always think about it rationally and not emotionally.
Another important tip is to shop for the best numbers. Don’t be afraid to look at multiple sportsbooks before placing your wagers. The best bets are usually the ones that cover a spread (meaning the team must win by more points than the number of points on the spread). If you’re seeing a number like -7 for a certain team, resist the temptation to place your bet and shop around.
It’s also important to set a budget for how much you’re going to spend on your bets. The best way to do that is by opening a dedicated bank account for your sports betting funds and sticking to it. It’s a good idea to keep this money separate from your regular funds so that you can avoid getting too excited about big sporting upsets and making bets that you know you can’t afford. In addition, this will help you maintain a healthy perspective on your gambling habits and not treat it as an emergency or necessity to get by. This is how people wind up in serious financial trouble with sports betting and other forms of gambling. It’s a lot easier to stay in control when you have a steady stream of cash coming in from your bets and not out of your bank accounts.