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How do I place a sports bet?

If you’re in a sportsbook, look at the odds board. There you will find all the information you’ll need to make your decision. Factor in either the point spread or the moneyline odds to calculate your wager. Once you’ve done your research and made your decision, go to the counter and place your bet with the teller. The process online is very similar—except electronic.

Here's an example of a potential bet laid out on an odds board for a football game:

401 TEAM A -7.5 -400
402 TEAM B 42 +300
403 TEAM C 55.5 +185
404 TEAM D -3.5 -165

One way to look like an experienced bettor: Note the numbers to the left—they’re called rotation numbers, and they are the unique identification numbers for each bet. Using these numbers instead of team names makes placing your bet faster, more accurate and has the fringe benefit of making you sound like someone who knows what they're doing.

Rotation number 401 is for the Team A, with a point spread of -7.5. The 42 under the -7.5 is the over/under total for Team A versus Team B. The final column is the moneyline. If you bet on Team A to win outright—with no point spread— -400 means you will need to place a bet of $400 to win $100. A $100 bet on Team B, on the other hand, would pay $300 if Team B wins.

For this example, let’s say you want to bet on Team A to win by more than 7.5 points and cover the spread. You also believe the final score in the game between Team C and Team D will be at least 56 points. Additionally, you’re confident Team C will win their game outright, so you choose to bet the money line (a payout of $185 on a $100 bet) and forgo the 3.5 points you’d get if you bet the point spread.

So, when you reach the window, you’re ready to make 3 bets. Say to the teller, “I’d like to make three bets. 401, Team A -7.5 for $100. 403, over for $100 and 403, Team C moneyline for $100.”

Then pay the teller for your three bets and double check the betting slip they give you is accurate. That’s about it!