How to Find Value in Sports Betting

In sports betting, value is the difference between a team’s actual winning percentage and their expected one. This calculation is based on a number of factors, including the home/away and against-the-spread records of both teams, as well as the strength of the opposition’s defense and offense. A successful bettor must be able to identify this value, and then take advantage of it.

The best way to find value in a bet is to study the market and look for bets that are priced below their true probabilities. This can be done by comparing historical betting patterns or by using a computer software program. However, the process can be time-consuming and requires an understanding of complex mathematical formulas and data science. To many aspirational bettors, it may seem like a task that is beyond their grasp.

Another important factor is to understand how to read sports betting odds. Unlike the stock market, where the minus sign (-) is used to denote a favorite, in sports betting it’s the opposite: plus signs (+) mean underdogs and minus signs (-) denote favorites. If a team has a plus sign in front of their odds, they’re considered underdogs.

This can be confusing for beginners, especially if they see a team with a plus sign in front of their odds and think that the team is expected to win. But this is a misconception. In fact, a plus sign means that the bettors are being paid better than the average price of a wager.

While looking at the number of wins and losses can be telling, a bettor’s overall winning percentage is more important when assessing their skill level. This is because the higher a bettor’s winning percentage, the more likely they are to be profitable. In addition, a bettor’s overall record can help them decide which picks to trust from around the web.

A bettor’s goal is to maximize their profits while minimizing risk. This can be accomplished by limiting their bets to games with high win probability and low loss probability. This strategy is similar to diversifying a portfolio in the stock market, and will lessen the impact of a cold streak or bad game.

The most common type of bet is a straight bet, or moneyline. This bet is placed on the winner of a particular event, and pays out according to how much money was wagered. Other types of bets include spread and totals. In a spread bet, the sportsbook sets a number that handicaps one team and favors another. This is done to make the bet more appealing to customers. When a team “covers” the spread, they win the bet. A totals bet, on the other hand, pays out based on how many points are scored in a game. This can be complicated, but can lead to large profits. A bettor can also place bets on a game’s over/under. This bet is based on the total number of points scored in a game, and can be either over or under the posted total.