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On selected college football and basketball games, and on every NFL football or NBA basketball games, the sports websites give you another opportunity to play the games. You can bet on the total.

This one is simple, and it's an excellent wagering situation as well. There are a lot of occasions when there is a great games scheduled with two teams that you not only follow, but also know a lot about. You know how their styles of play match up, and you have a pretty good idea of what their games plans might be. You've got all the information you need to "handicap" the games and pick the winner. The problem is that even knowing everything that you know, the games is too close to call. The line looks about right. The teams are evenly matched. There is no "edge" or advantage to going with either team over the other. This might be a good time to bet the total.

When a total is posted along with the line, you have your choice of wagering whether the total number of points scored in the games by both teams will be more or less than the number posted by the sports website. This is perhaps the easiest of all sports wagers to understand. In our example above, Notre Dame was an eleven-point favorite over USC, and the total was 55. If you think that the total number of points scored by Notre Dame, added to the total number of points scored by USC, will be less than 55, then you would bet the under. If you think the total number of points by both teams will be more than 55, you would bet the over. It's a straight bet, just like betting whether or not a particular team will or won't cover the posted line, but it's a little easier to figure out.

Betting totals is very popular, particularly in football, and it's a very good wagering situation as well, as evidenced by the fact that with most sports websites in Las Vegas the maximum allowable wager on a totals play is generally the lowest of all possible bets. Betting totals in basketball and baseball is exactly the same as in football and, by the way, overtime periods and extra innings do count as the total number of points scored in the games.

Okay, so we've touched on probably the two most popular sports wagers, and I'm sure you're with me as far as the explanations go on how each wager is made. But there is one thing that is a little troublesome. A few pages back, when we were discussing wagering on the "side"-one team or the other-I pointed out that when you bet the favorite, the person at the sports website window merely acts as a clearinghouse, handling bets on both sides of all the games. If the sports website didn't add a handling charge-the juice-the sports website wouldn't make anything for handling the wager. That's the theory. In actuality it very seldom works that way, but to understand how the system works, let's suppose that the sports website winds up with $100,000 bet on Notre Dame minus the eleven points, and $100,000 bet on USC plus the eleven points. Assuming that the games is not a push and there is a winner, one group of bettors will win $100,000 and one group of bettors will lose $100,000. A lot of money changed hands, but the sports website didn't get to keep any of it.

Enter the juice. Since the favorite, by definition, is presupposed to win, it will cost you an extra 10 percent juice to bet the favorite. That's why the person at the window asked you for $ll0 when you made a $100 wager on Notre Dame, our favorite. The supposition here is that the favorite is going to win the majority of the time, so it is logical to charge the juice on the wager made on the favorite.

There is also one more thing to consider. If the sports website is trying to attract equal amounts of wagers on both sides of a game, it would discourage bettors from wagering on the underdog if there was, in essence, a penalty for betting on the team that was presupposed to lose the games. Therefore, on almost all "straight" sports wagers there is a 10 percent charge for wagering on the favorite, while there is seldom, if ever, a handling charge, or juice, on bets made on the underdog. There is, of course, one glaring exception where there is a charge for betting on the underdog. It's when you bet the

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