Everyone loves to be the genius when it comes to sports or the ultimate trash talker who is the expert on everything. While it’s easy to talk the talk, it can be a different story when you try and walk the walk. Sports betting is a fantastic way to put your money where your mouth is and have some fun, make some money, and prove that you really do know what the heck you are talking about.
In the “old days” (about 15-20 years ago), you would be forced to drive to the closest casino or sportsbook to place your bets or deal with a shady bookie in a back alley to get your bets in. The problem with this was obvious. The convenience factor was terrible, the risk factors were even worse, and for most people, they had zero options based on where they happened to live or how many shady characters they knew.
Thankfully, the internet and the introduction of online sports betting changed everything. You can now place your bets from the comfort of your own home without having to deal with traffic, shady characters, and the other inconveniences that come with betting at brick and mortar locations. Not only that, betting online is cheaper and allows you to line shop which is the single greatest strategy tip you will ever get (we will cover this in full).
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you could ever want to know about betting sports online for real money. The topics we’re going to discuss include the following:
For those of you that are already seasoned bettors and are just looking for a new site, we’ve provided some recommended links to get you started. These sites have been heavily vetted by our staff of experts. Unlike some other review sites, we DO NOT allow sportsbooks ever to pay to be on our recommended list. There are no ways to “manipulate” themselves onto our list. The only way that a site gets recommended by us is if they truly have the best product available on the internet and we’re confident they will provide you an out of this world experience.
A list like this is only worth using if it is properly updated and current with the best options available. We do our best to update this list regularly as sites rise and fall regarding what they can offer you.
Real Money vs The Couch Commander
“See, I told you the Cowboys would win!”
“Hah, see what I said, I told you the Cavs were gonn’ blow it.”
“Everyone knew the Rangers were going to win this game.”
These are the battle cries of the almighty couch commander. The couch commander is that guy or gal who is an expert on everything sports related and is not shy about telling you that they knew (not know) what was going to happen every single time. Maybe you are the couch commander.
Now, we can’t say whether or not the couch commander is as wise and sharp as they say they are because there really is no accountability. But, sports betting provides a great avenue for you to put your money where your mouth is and show just how much you actually know. And, the best part is that if you really are a wizard of sports betting, you’re going to get handsomely rewarded for it with cold, hard cash.
We wanted to write this section to make sure that you were aware that spouting predictions with the remote in hand is definitely different than pulling the trigger on a sports bet. This is not meant to scare you away, but merely to make sure you fully understand the differences.
Ego vs Money
As the CC (couch commander), you only have your pride and your ego to lose if you’re wrong on a bet. It’s easy to forget you made a prediction when the game changes out of your favor and let that incorrect pick fade into the darkness of time. When you place a sports bet, though, your bet is locked in. If you’re wrong, you are out the money that you wagered and can’t slip out of your bet or prediction.
On the flip side, you don’t make any money when you are firing off predictions as the CC. You might get some ego points or look knowledgeable to your buddies, but your wallet won’t be any fuller. With sports betting, though, correct predictions are going to get you paid.
You’re Paid Accordingly
A lot of people assume they will be a great sports bettor because they can pick a lot of winners. The problem is that you can have a winning record at sports betting and still be losing money. The reason is that you are not paid even money on every single bet. You’re paid more if the team or player is an underdog and you are paid less if the team or player is a favorite.
Anyone can pick out a huge favorite to win a game, but it takes a good bettor to be able to find value. Again, this is NOT meant to scare you away from sports betting. It’s just to make sure that you go into this with the right mindset.
Pulling the Trigger
The CC is allowed to make predictions that aren’t definite. You can say things like, “I’m pretty sure this team is going to win unless something crazy like this happens.” With sports betting, though, you don’t get to put in clauses that save you if weird things happen. You can’t say your bet only counts unless a certain player goes off or if the weather changes. Your bet counts every single time.
Brick and Mortar Betting vs Online Betting What You NEED to Know
Betting in the brick and mortar casino/sportsbook or with a bookie is a significantly different experience than betting online. For those not sure, brick and mortar refers to the casinos and sportsbooks that are made with bricks and mortar, the places with walls and doors.
For those of you that are brand new to sports betting, this section might not be important to you. We’re going to be addressing some of the differences between betting in person and betting online. These are things that brick and mortar bettors might be used to that will be different when they’re betting online and should be aware of.
This is one that might not seem like a big deal, but from our discussions with sports bettors that have made the transition, it actually is. When you are placing a bet in person, you have the time driving to the casino, the time finding the odds, and then the time waiting in line to make up your mind. Online sports betting goes much faster. You don’t have to go to the casino, you don’t have to search for the odds, and you don’t have to wait in line.
This is, of course, much more convenient but can throw off some sports bettors when they first start betting online. Sometimes you need that extra time to think about a bet before you put it in. What we recommend is taking a walk outside or stepping away from the computer before you put in a bet if you feel like you need the added time. The convenience factor is the most amazing thing in the world, but just make sure that you don’t let it get you too comfortable and off of your game.
As we mentioned earlier, line shopping is the single greatest strategy tip you can employ ever when it comes to sports betting. You should be fully aware that the sportsbook is going to pay you differently based on how well they think a certain team or player is going to do. If a team or player is a big underdog, you will get paid more for a correct bet on them. On the flip side, if a team or player is a favorite, you will get paid less for a correct wager on them.
These are commonly referred to as “the lines” or “the odds”. These lines and odds are put in place to try and get the same amount of money bet on each side of a game or match. This ensures that the sportsbook will make money no matter who wins the game or match.
As you might imagine, sometimes more money will come in on one side of a bet than the other. To correct this, the sportsbook will adjust the lines to make it less appealing to bet on the side with too much money and more appealing to bet on the side where they need to collect more bets. The make it more or less appealing by adjusting how much you get paid for a winning bet.
Now, with that information in mind, you have to realize that every sportsbook operates independently. This means that they will be adjusting their lines independently to ensure they have the correct amount of money bet on each side. This means that it is highly likely that each sportsbook will pay out a different amount of money for a correct bet.
For example, let’s say you want to bet on Canelo Alvarez to win a boxing match. Sportsbook A has a ton of people betting on Canelo, so they adjust their odds to payout worse for him. Sportsbook B has most people betting on Canelo’s opponent, so they have to change the payout odds to entice more bets on him. The lines might look like this:
This might not seem like a big deal, but in actuality, it is. If you bet $100 at Sportsbook A, you would receive $130 in profit for a correct bet. If you made the exact same bet at Sportsbook B, you would get paid $175 in profit for a correct bet. Even if the second sportsbook were only paying you $1 more, you’d be silly not to bet there and take the free money.
The reason we bring this up in this section is that this is not possible with brick and mortar sportsbooks/casinos. Unless you live next to several different casinos or sportsbooks, you are stuck with whatever line they are offering, or you won’t be betting.
It takes a matter of seconds to line shop and check a bunch of different sites for the same bet online. You don’t have to drive anywhere else or do anything that costs you additional money. You simply have to click to a different site and see what their odds are. Find the site with the best odds for each sports bet, and place it with them.
It’s common for professional online sports bettors to have 5-10 different accounts. As it doesn’t cost any money to join a bunch of sites, we recommend joining at least 2 or 3 for recreational bettors.
Online Real Money Sportsbook Options
Thanks to the technologies of the internet, online sports betting offers a lot of new betting options as well as all of the classic options that you might be used to.
Online sportsbooks offer ALL of the betting action that you can get in a standard brick and mortar sportsbook. One of the perks is that these bets are going to be better organized and easier for you to sift through. A brick and mortar sportsbook is only going to show the most popular bets on the board and the rest you are going to have to find a sheet for and then check to see if those odds are still correct or not or if they have changed.
While you may see bits and pieces of this in a brick and mortar setting, the real action with live betting is found online. Live betting refers to bets offered AFTER a game or match has started. Historically, you have only been able to bet on sports before the game started and once that happened all bets were locked.
In some brick and mortar settings, they will allow you to place bets at halftime if they have the ability to get those betting lines out for you. Online, though, they almost always offer these and take things a step further. Some online sportsbooks have the technology to let you bet on every quarter or round, and some even allow you to bet on every single play! You can literally bet on what is going to happen on the very next play of a game.
If you’re an action junkie or something that can spot value on the fly, this could be incredible for you. Want an example? If you’re watching a basketball game, you can bet that the next basket will be a 2 pointer, 3 pointer, or a free throw. All of this is updated in real time and gives you the ultimate in betting flexibility.
Tips for Betting Real Money at Sportsbooks Online
We wanted to give you some tips to point you in the right direction if you’re new to sports betting or new to sports betting online. While some of these tips may also apply to brick and mortar betting, they are certainly also important in the online realm.
Understand What You’re Betting On
There seems to be a strange movement among some sports bettors to shy away from simple bets and only work with more complicated bets. For some reason, they believe that more complex bets will pay out better or give them a better chance to make money.
The reality is that complexity does not equal better odds. Bets are paid out based on the appropriate odds for what you are betting. Just because a bet is called something cool or is tough to understand does not mean that it gives you any better chance of being profitable. In fact, there are plenty of professional sports bettors that only use the simplest of bets and are highly successful and make a living doing that.
Online sports betting will sometimes give you a lot crazier and complex bets than would be available at a brick and mortar location. We are not saying that you shouldn’t use these bets; we are just saying that you need to make sure you fully understand them and only use them if you think they are giving you an advantage or have value.
Don’t bet something just because you think it makes you look cool. You know what makes you look cool as a sports bettor? Winning.
Ask For Help When You Need It
No, this is not a tip for gambling addicts to seek help (though we do recommend you do so if you feel you have a problem). This tip is a continuation of the above tip. If you are placing a bet and are not exactly sure what you are doing or what you are betting on, ask for help. One of the cool perks of betting online is you have the full power of the internet one click away as well as support staff that you can chat with at the click of a button.
There should be no egos when it comes to this. The only way that you’re going to learn is to ask for help and figure things out. It’s much better to admit you don’t know something then pretending that you do and lose money because you find out you have no idea what is going on. The joy of being at home behind a computer is you can ask for help without any fear of being embarrassed or looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. (You shouldn’t feel that way anyway. We all had to start somewhere.)
Use Available Resources
This tip is again a continuation of the above recommendations. Being able to bet online allows you to have full access to the internet while you are placing your wagers. Take advantage of this. Look up things you’re confused about. Research statistics about the bets you’re going to make. Look up the opinions of experts.
Not only do you have the full power of the internet, but a lot of sites will provide you with resources to help you make your bets. Remember, they really don’t care who wins or loses as they try and get the same amount of bets on each side of a game or match. They just adjust the odds accordingly and take their small house cut.
These resources can include news stories, stats portals, comparative tools, expert predictions, and more. Everyone will have access to these tools, but it’s up to you to take the time to use them and interpret the information properly to make the smartest best you can.
Track your results
This tip is not specific to online sports betting but should be applied by ALL sports bettors regardless of the medium you choose to bet from. If you take your sports betting at all serious, you need to have an accurate and honest picture of how you are doing. This will let you know what sports or bet types you excel at and what areas you might need improvement.
The operative words here are HONEST and ACCURATE results tracking. People have a tendency to forget their losses and exaggerate their wins and unfortunately the only person you hurt while doing that is yourself. One of the perks of betting online is that you are already on a computer where you could easily create an Excel spreadsheet or even just take quick notes on what you bet, how much you bet, and how you did on that bet.
You’d be surprised how vital this is to your success and improvement as a sports bettor.
Real Money Sportsbook Promotions
While having lots of options of sportsbooks to choose from can make selecting a new site more challenging, it also breeds intense competition amongst the sites for your business. What does this mean for you? This means that they are going to do everything short of begging you on your doorstep to try and get you to be a customer. This means free stuff and free money for you.
We wanted to take a minute and run through the most common types of sportsbook promotions you would see when joining or betting at an online sportsbook. This is not intended to be a complete list of the types of promotions available as some sites are very creative with their offerings.
Online sportsbooks will usually have some sort of deposit bonus available where they will match the money that you deposit to a certain percentage. For example, a common bonus you will see is 100% up to $600. This means that if you deposit $600, the site will give you $600 in bonus dollars. If you deposit only $200, the site will give you $200 in bonus dollars. If you deposit $700, the site will still only give you the $600 in bonus dollars.
You’re probably already asking what bonus dollars are. Bonus dollars are free money the site gives you that you have to “unlock” through your play on the site. The more that you play on the site, the more of the free money that is released to you. Each site will have some sort of a playthrough requirement in order to release the money. The money is usually incrementally released so that you don’t have to clear the entire bonus to reap some rewards.
If you’re upset about the fact that you have to play through to receive your bonus money, you really shouldn’t be. If they just handed you $600, you would cash off immediately, and the site would be out $600. Everyone would do this, and they would be out of business in about a day.
Another common promotion that we see are online sportsbooks will offer free bets or “do-overs” if you lose your first wager. For example, a site will tell you that if you lose your first $25 bet, they will give you a free $25 bet to make up for it. Frankly, this is a pretty awesome promotion and is one that if seen should be taken advantage of even if you don’t plan to bet much at all with the site.
Sites will also give away free bets during promotions, as deposit bonuses, or for trying out new features. It’s common to see sites offer free bets just for trying out their mobile platform.
Specifics to Look for When Selecting a Site
The number one thing you should always be looking for when selecting an online sportsbook is trust, reliability, and integrity. You want a site that you can trust your money and personal information are safe at.
The remainder of this section is going to be about sportsbook specific things that you want to look for when selecting an online site. There are a handful of “general” things that are much more important than these factors that we address in our dedicated Choosing a Site Guide. We highly recommend reading through this guide first before reading this section and then making your final selection about where you want to play.
Yes, it may sound like a little bit of work and reading to find the best site for you, but we can promise you that in the long run, it will be well worth it. Your head, heart, and wallet will thank you.
Not all sports betting sites are created equally. In fact, none of them are created equally at all. One of the biggest differences that you will see is the sports that bets are offered on. It’s pretty safe to say that most sites are going to offer the big four – baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. Beyond that, though, it’s all over the place.
People tend to freak out and think that they need to find a site that offers EVERY sport available. The truth is that you only need the site to offer the sports that you are going to wager on. If you are only betting baseball and boxing, why do you NEED a site that offers cricket betting? News flash my friend, you don’t.
Find a site that has exactly what you need and don’t worry about the excess. Unless you really see yourself getting into betting Egyptian Basketball one day, don’t worry about it.
An additional factor you need to weigh is the types of bets offered by the sites you’re deciding between. If you love to bet over/under bets on basketball, but the site only offers win bets, it’s a no-go for you. On the same token (and in line with what we mentioned above) if you never bet over/unders on basketball, that should never weight into your decision if the site does not offer them.
The key here is knowing what it is that you like to bet on and finding a site that offers the correct level of flexibility. Offering more flexibility than you need is completely fine but betting with a site that does not offer enough could be detrimental to your long-term bottom line. You need to be able to have the flexibility you desire to leverage any and all predictions you have.
When Lines are Released
Some online gambling sites are historically slow at releasing their betting lines. This can be an issue if you’re looking to get your bets in early in the week or to take advantage of the opening lines. Sites will sometimes post in their FAQ when lines are released, but for the most part, you should expect to have to look at the site periodically or contact their support to find out.
Sites that release their lines late will often react to the lines released at other sportsbooks which may or may not work in your favor. We can say they are less likely to release a bad line that you can jump on because they can see that mistake at the other sites before they release on theirs. Ideally, you want to find a site that releases lines the earliest.
Intelligence of the Bettors
What people sometimes don’t realize is that once the lines are released, it is the betting public that is responsible for the movement of the lines. This means that if a bad line is released to sharp (good) bettors, that line is going to be immediately bet on and will correct itself quickly. This could prevent you from being quick enough to take advantage of this.
Also, if you’re betting at a site with a lot of sharp bettors, you won’t find as many “bad” lines that have been moved by the ignorant betting public. Typically, the betting public as a whole doesn’t do a great job of picking winners and has a tendency to bet with their heart instead of their head. This creates some great opportunities if you can capitalize on it before the big money sharp bettors swoop in.
What’s the best way to beat the sharks before they swoop in? Bet somewhere without a lot of sharks. You won’t get a roster or a rating on a site to know how good their bettors are but with some careful and calculated analysis, you can start to get an idea. Smaller sites are sometimes a good place to start.
Also, when you’re line shopping, keep track of the sites that seem to have lines that are far off. Take a few minutes and explore some new sites every now and then and see how their lines look. Remember to look at the sports that you specifically bet on. If a site has a ton of sharp basketball bettors, but you like to bet football and the football bettors they have are weak, the site is still a win for you.
Don’t kill yourself trying to analyze this, but if you’re able to spot some trends, you can start to move some of your action to the site where you are getting the best lines. Ultimately it comes down to line shopping, but knowing where to shop first will go a long way.
Hopefully, we’ve done a decent job of getting you as educated as possible on the world of sports betting with real money online. If you’re excited about the opportunity to have some more fun and possibly make some money, then the next step is getting signed up and getting your first bet placed!
We HIGHLY recommend that you check out the sites at the top of the page that we recommended as these are the best options available for you currently on the web. These sites are the most trusted in the industry and offer the highest value for overall customer experience. Good luck out there and we hope to see you at the top