A few people make a living betting on sports, but it isn’t the majority. Betting is a risky game that will see you lose more than you win. Less than 5% of long-running betting accounts are profitable, and that’s even if you’re a professional handicapper with a 50% hit rate. The reason is that you can’t predict the outcome of an event before it happens, and the law of averages is stacked against you.
Most bettors are fans to begin with and use their knowledge of a team or players to place wagers. They often start small with their bet size and build up to a maximum amount that they can risk on any one single bet. This is a sensible approach to the sport, and will help ensure that losses don’t wipe out their bankroll too quickly.
The odds are estimated on the morning of a race and constantly recalculated by computers throughout the prerace betting period. Bettors can bet that a horse will win (come in first), place (come in either first or second) or show (come in third). Win payoffs are higher than those for place and show.
The most common type of sports bet is a straight bet on a specific outcome. You can bet on the winner of a particular match or competition, or on the total score of a game (over/under). For example, you might bet on the number of goals scored in an NBA basketball game or on the number of tries scored in a rugby match.