Guide to Sports Betting

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting in 2024

So, you plan on taking up sports betting? With so many exciting events happening throughout the year, this is not a surprise. Betting doesn’t only enhance your experience watching sports but can also put some money in your pocket. If you do it right, that is.

This short guide will give you a few pointers on how and where to start.

Where to start?

There are dozens of betting sites where you can register an account. Some are better, others, not so much. If you are a beginner, it’s a safe choice for you to go with a major international group.

Betway for example has many countries covered: it is one of the leading betting sites in Canada and also qualifies as the top site for sports betting South Africa has for its football fans.

If such an operator is not available in your area, make sure to choose one that has a valid license and a good track record when it comes to fairness, fast payouts, and responsive customer support. Check out some reviews and choose the best betting site for your needs before you proceed to the next step.

Understanding sports betting

Understanding sports betting


The Kansas City Chiefs were facing the San Francisco 49ers in the last edition of the Super Bowl, the grand final of the NFL season in North America. Many fans were sure that the Chiefs would win, considering their performance throughout the season. So sure, in fact, that they were willing to risk their money on their victory.

Betting is the process of risking a certain amount on the possibility of a certain thing happening – like the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. A bookmaker is the entity that matches this bet at specific odds – more on that later.

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Many bets are straightforward – like the Chiefs or the 49ers winning the Super Bowl. Others are more complex, with various levels of risk.

Understanding the odds

What are the odds? In a sports betting context, the odds express the probability of a certain outcome or event, as well as the amount you win when you bet on it successfully. The odds can be expressed in various ways – the most common forms of odds in sports betting are the American (moneyline) odds and the decimal odds.

Moneyline (American) odds

Moneyline (American) odds


Moneyline odds are centered on the amount wagered and the potential win, relative to a $100 wager. They can be positive or negative:

  • +150 means you have to wager $100 to win $150, with an implied probability of 40%
  • -150 means you have to wager $150 to win $100, with an implied probability of 60%

Decimal (European) odds

Decimal odds are more straightforward, expressing the probability of an event. They are not related to the amount you wager. To calculate your potential winnings, you have to multiply the amount by the odds shown and subtract your bet amount.

  • Odds of 1 mean that the specific outcome is 100% sure – you won’t see any at sportsbooks, though.
  • Odds of 2 mean that there’s a 50% chance for something to happen. A wager on this means you can win even money (equal to your original bet).
  • Odds of 1.3, for example, mean that the outcome has a circa 75% probability. It also means that a successful $100 bet will pay $130 ($100×1.3), out of which $100 is your original bet and $30 is your winnings.
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In general, the higher the odds, the less likely for the thing you bet on to happen. The less likely the outcome, the more attractive the potential winnings are – and the higher the risk of losing.

Betting markets

The “betting markets” are specific outcomes that you can bet on at a bookmaker. Depending on the sport you bet on, there can be anywhere between a handful and a few hundred individual markets to bet on. Let’s stick to the example above, the Super Bowl:

  • Results: the Chiefs or the 49ers winning the match
  • Point spread: the Chiefs winning by at least 3 points
  • Totals: The 49ers scoring a total of 20 points
  • Over/Under: The Chiefs scoring over or under 25 points
  • Proposition bets: various outcomes with varying probabilities – anything from the result of the coin toss to Travis Kelce kissing Taylor Swift after the game

There are, of course, many others that you’ll find listed on the bookmakers’ websites.

How to place a bet?


Placing a bet is a simple process. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do:

  1. Register and verify your account. The exact process can vary from one jurisdiction to another, and from one betting outlet to another.
  2. Make a deposit. You will need funds to place a bet.
  3. Choose an event you want to bet on. To stick with the above example, you can go with a bet on the Super Bowl.
  4. Choose a market. Select a specific outcome that you want to bet on like the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl.
  5. Place your bet. Decide how much money you want to risk, and place the bet. This process is pretty straightforward but can differ from one betting outlet to another.
  6. Enjoy the event. 
  7. If you win, your winnings will show up in your account instantly. If not… better luck next time!
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How to bet responsibly?

Like many other things in life, betting can be addictive. Thus, it is important for you to enjoy it in a responsible fashion:

  • Bet within your means. This means that you should never bet using money you can’t afford to lose. Ideally, you should have an amount set aside for betting which you should never exceed.
  • Never chase your losses. The idea of betting more after a loss to win back what you lost is very harmful. Consider the money wagered as if it were already lost. Chasing your losses can lead you into a spiral that can push you toward gambling problems.
  • If you feel like gambling is becoming a problem in your life, don’t hesitate to seek help! Betting sites have a set of tools to help you cope, ranging from deposit limits to self-exclusion tools. Beyond that, there are organizations like GamCare or Gamblers Anonymous that can help you with your gambling issues. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them if needed.


Betting on Sports


These are the basics of sports betting for the absolute beginner. But there’s a lot more you can explore, from betting strategies to bankroll management and specifics for various sports. Hopefully, our short guide will help set you on the right path so you can enjoy betting on your favorite sport in a fun and responsible fashion.