7 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

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Brian Christopher at a sports betting kiosk

If you’ve never placed sports bets before, you’re not alone – many sports fans have yet to take the plunge, in part because the legality of sports betting in the United States until recently made it out of reach for many.

In the past five years, however, more than half the states in the United States have legalized some form of sports betting, particularly on easy-to-access mobile apps and websites, which means it’s much more within reach than it has been previously!

Like many forms of gambling, it can be initially intimidating, but we’re here to help.

With that in mind, here are X sports betting tips for beginners that can help you get started.

1. Establish a Bankroll

It’s important regardless of the type of gambling you’re doing to set limits, and that includes how much you’re willing to spend on sports betting. 

Whatever you set as your bankroll, make sure it’s money you can afford to lose – gambling is a negative expectation sport and so you should not expect to win with any money you’re gambling. As we always like to say, be sure to gamble with your entertainment budget!

2. Get to Know How Bets Work

It can be intimidating seeing all the various numbers around games, but once you get to know how to read them it can be a simpler process.

To help, we’ve build a full guide you can explore that explains the core bet types, how to read them, how to know what you’ll get when you win a bet, and how to read the data that sports books provide as part of the betting process.

3. Don’t Overbet Your Bankroll

This is advice that we give across the board, but it’s equally important in sports betting. If you bet half your bankroll on a single wager, it can be hard to rebound if that bet ends up being a losing one.

Many sports betting experts recommend using a small portion of your bankroll, somewhere between 1 and 5 percent, for each bet. 

While it may be tempting to place bigger bets, the reality, like any casino bet, is that smaller bets can smooth out the ups and downs by giving you more chances to have winning bets, vs. swinging for the fences and hoping to make a lot off a small number of bets.

4. Don’t Make Too Many Wagers at Once

It can be tempting to place a lot of bets at one time, but it can make it easier to lose sight of what’s in play and what’s on the table at a given moment when you have a lot of bets out there. 

While betting carefully with your bankroll means you have the room to make more bets, it’s oftentimes better to focus on a handful of ones that are of importance to you, let some of them resolve as the games are played out, and then make the next round of bets. 

In that way, you can be more on top of what’s happening and how you’re doing. Treat it like a marathon and not a race.

5. Avoid Parlays and Prop Bets

Parlays and Prop bets tend to be enticing for a variety of reasons. For Parlays, small bets can be rewarded greatly if everything lines up just right. Prop bets can go from the mundane (how many points a player scores on their own) to the downright bizarre (how long the national anthem will be). Both can feel like fun opportunities to mix things up.

In both cases, however, they drive into areas that make winning more challenging because of the requirements, can have a larger house edge, and can sometimes require more knowledge and research, as well as a healthy dose of luck, to make a good decision.

Newer players should get the basics down first (both Parlays and Prop bets rely on the same mechanics as basic bets for picking a winning team, for instance), and can ensure you have a good foundation before diving into more exotic fare.

6. Shop Around for the Best Deal

Not every sports bet will be identical on every platform. Sometimes, there’s a slight bit of difference in the way an outcome is set up around odds between one platform and another. 

This differentiation can mean the difference between a winning or losing outcome in the case of a spread, or a bigger win if the odds are more in your favor. So it can make sense to do a bit of homework, and check what each sportsbook is offering, in case there is a better opportunity on one site vs. another.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Withdraw

When you’re in a casino, it can be easy when you’re up to raise your bets, keep playing, and watch those winnings and your bankroll vanish. Some players go so far to get Winners Banks and other devices to put winnings away so they can take it home. But players have the ability to leave a casino and walk away with what they have.

It can be harder to find that line when betting on sports betting apps, simply because apps are accessible 24/7 on a device you always have with you. 

So it can be a good practice to withdraw money when you’re ahead, ensuring you lock in some gains when you have a good run, and not just bet it all back into other bets where the money could be lost.


It doesn’t have to be overly intimidating to get acclimated to how sports betting works, but it does help to keep a few common sense steps in mind when getting started to make the most of your first steps into sports betting!

For more tips on managing a sports betting bankroll, check out this guide in our Explore section.

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2 Replies to “7 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners”

  • Dorothy DeYoung says:

    Hi, I have to disagree with you about making parlay bets, as long as you’re making small bets. All you have to do is google a bit and you can read a ton of professional writers giving advice on attractive parlays. When I receive free sports bets at my online casino, this is my go to approach. It’s either an 8:1 win or better if I hit one, or nothing, which I’m willing to live with since it’s a small bet to start with.

    • FlipTheSwitch.com says:

      Hey Dorothy – we don’t necessarily think you shouldn’t make a Parlay bet ever, but if you’re new to sports betting, we think it’s better to get started learning how the basic bets work before advancing to a parlay. Following what others suggest without understanding what’s actually going on can lead some into trouble. But doing small bets is seems to us like a good method given the risk/reward. Parlay bets don’t often have to be substantial because of the upside potential to begin with.

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