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Sportsbook 201: Diversifying Your Bets to Decrease Your Risk

Sportsbook 201: Diversifying Your Bets to Decrease Your Risk

Although it sounds like something you might want to discuss with your investment broker, diversifying your bets is a betting strategy.  Simply put, it requires you to place more than one type of bet in order to minimize your risk and maximize your reward… should you win. It’s a pretty big challenge for a beginner to accept, so it’s important that you understand what’s involved.

Diversifying Your Bets: Safe Bets vs. Risky Bets

You’ve heard that it’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in the same basket. The same can be said for your wagers; it’s important that you set aside a portion of your weekly betting budget with which to place “safe” wagers — such as spreads, totals, and wins. By the same token,  it’s just as important that you set aside a portion of your weekly betting budget with which to place “risky” bets, like prop bets or futures.

With safe bets, that is where you’re likely to see the bulk of your winnings over the course of a season. However,  with your “risky” bets, even though you will lose these bets more often than not (…it happens to the best of the best), when you DO win, you will win BIG.

The Betting Basics (Safe): Spreads and Totals


The point spread is the handicap given to the underdog.  Betting “against the spread” (or ATS) can make a lopsided event more interesting – rather than just winning outright, the favorite must win by more than the point spread (i.e. they must “cover the spread”) for bets on the favorite to win. For example, in a football game against the Steelers (-3) vs. the Vikings (+3), Steelers end up winning the game *32-20 out at Wembley Stadium.


The total is the combined scores of both teams (+ overtime) involved in an event. Rather than betting on which team will win the event, you can bet on whether the game will go over (o) or under (u) the specified amount, which is why this type of line is also known as an over/under. Using the example above, Steelers (-3) vs. Vikings (+3), with the total listed at 42 and you bet on the over (o), you win.

The Betting Basics (Risky): Props and Futures


Props, or proposition bets, are single wagers placed on outcomes that are not directly related to the final score of an event. Proposition bets can be on sports, politics, and various other topics. Odds (in either moneyline or fractional format) are posted for each possible outcome. For example, Top Bet Sportsbook has the Odds to Win the 2013-2014 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.


Futures are single wagers placed on the outcomes of future events. For example, a future bet may involve picking the winner of the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the Stanley Cup. The odds are usually given in fractional format.

*A fictitious score used solely for the purpose of this article.

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