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.
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.
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