How do I bet on sports at a Las Vegas casino?

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Answered by: Greg, An Expert in the Sports Gambling Basics Category
How to Win Betting on Sports in Las Vegas

Most people in the United States can't lay legal wagers on sports, unless they take a trip to a Las Vegas casino's sports book.

But, when they get there, most do not know how to bet on sports, and wind up making bad decisions that cost them money.

Here's a simple rundown on the basics of sports betting and how to have fun winning money at a sports book in Las Vegas.

Three Basic Wagers

Most people lay one of three different wagers when they bet on sports. Those are the margin of victory, total points scored, and which team will simply win the game.

When you lay a wager on one team to beat another team by a particular amount of points, that is called a "side bet," because you are betting on which team will cover the point spread.

To cover a point spread, a the favored team must beat the underdog by more points than are on your ticket. The underdog need to only lose by fewer points than the spread to cover.

If the favored team wins by exactly the number of points indicated for the spread on your ticket, that is a "push," and the sports book refunds your wager.

Total Points Scored

You also can bet on how many points both teams will score during the game, including overtime. That is called a "total" bet, and works the same as a side bet.

If you bet on the "over," both teams must combine to score more points than indicated for the total for you to win. If you bet the "under," they need to score fewer points than the total.

If the teams score exactly the number of points indicated for the total, that is a push, and you get your money back.

How to Bet the Money Line

Another bet that many gamblers like to play is the "money line." The money line is a bet on which team simply will win a game. No point spread is involved.

The money line tells you how much money you need to bet to win $100. But, you don't have to play to win $100. You can bet to win more or less.

For example, in a boxing match, the favorite might be -500. That means you have to bet $500 to win $100.

Likewise, the underdog can g might be a -450. That means a $100 wager will return $450, if the underdog wins.

Baseball, boxing and hockey are the most popular sports that use only money line wagers. You also can lay money line wagers on football, basketball and other sports.

How the Vig Works

When you bet the side or total for a game, you have to pay a tax called the "vigorish," which usually is called the "vig."

The vig is how sports books make their money. In most cases, you have to pay a 10 percent vig when you bet the side or total.

That means you have to bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, if you like smaller wagers.

The sports book will adjust the vig and the line to encourage equal betting on both sides, as much as possible.

If bettors lay an equal amount of cash on either side of a particular wager, the casino will is guaranteed a 10 percent profit.

That almost never happens, though, which puts sports books at risk when bettors greatly favor one team over another.

Parlays Pay More Cash

Another popular bet as sports books is the parlay. To bet a parlay, you pick two or more outcomes on which to bet.

Those outcomes usually are the side and total in a game, or the sides and totals in more than one game.

To win a parlay, you have to get every pick correct. Just one loss, and you lose your parlay bet.

A two-team parlay usually returns 2.6 times your bet at a sports book. That means at $100 bet would win $260, if you cover both picks.

The more outcomes you add to your parlay, the more you can win from your bet. But, parlays often are very difficult to win.

Now that you know the basics of sports betting, you can create a budget and pick your games.

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