Underdog Betting Guide: How to Bet on the Underdog

Betting lines on any sport reflect a favorite and an underdog. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a professional sporting event or a friendly game of checkers, there is always a favorite and an underdog. Sports bettors understand this and even casual bettors realize there is always one side that is favored over another. But to what degree?

That’s where oddsmakers come in. It is their job to decide which team or athlete will attract the most betting action if all things are equal, as well as create betting odds like point spreads and moneylines for each event. This betting guide will give the novice bettor an idea as to what to expect when betting on the underdog markets.

What is an underdog bet?

Handicap betting is simply a fancy way of saying that one side, the underdog, is getting a head start while the other, the favorite, is getting a handicap. If a recreational golfer decided to play Tiger Woods and the match was open for betting with all things being even, there would be no one betting on the recreational golfer. The bookies would get deluged with Tiger Woods’ money and after he won they would have to pay out all the winning bets and would collect zero from the losing bets because there would be none.

However, if the online sportsbooks decided to give the recreational golfer a 30-stroke advantage, now things get interesting. This is called a handicap and it is the logic that goes into the evening up the playing field on every single game and event on the betting board. Favorite teams will always have a minus (-) sign directly after them and before the odds whether it be a point spread, Chiefs -7, or a moneyline and Chiefs -350.

We often find that a road team is at a disadvantage because the crowd is against them, the venue is unfamiliar, and traveling for work, or in a professional athlete’s business known as road games, is never easy. Even if two teams are evenly talented, the team that is traveling is likely to be declared the road underdog because the other team is playing at home and has an advantage.

Advantages of Underdog Bets

If a bettor continually plays favorites on the moneyline, the sheer volume of wagers, all of which have vig (the bookie’s commission) associated with it, will whittle down a bankroll. Underdog odds will also be +EV, which means plus even money. And that is an enormous part of underdog betting, getting the vig when you win instead of paying it when you lose.

Remember, it is the oddsmakers’ job to even out, or level, the playing field so that everyone has a chance of winning. Double chance betting in soccer means the underdog will cash whether it wins the game or plays to a draw. This is another interesting feature of underdog wagering.

Reading Underdog Betting Odds

Money lines are easy to read as the favorite is listed as such, Yankees -170, while the underdog would be listed, Rays +150, which is why you might see this line displayed as follows:

  • Yankees: ML -170
  • Rays: ML +150

In the major league baseball example above, it would cost $170 to win $100 on the Yankees but on the underdog Rays, it would cost $100 to win $150. All money line odds are predicated on a $100 wager. Depending on your betting budget, you may have chosen to bet on the latter because much of the time, it is just hard to beat underdog prices.

You should also know that the odds do not reflect the actual chances for a team to win a game. The oddsmakers create odds to attract an even amount of action on either side, whether they are point spreads or moneyline bets.

Creating these lines or odds is based on the oddsmakers’ knowledge of how the betting public will perceive the matchup between the two entries. We should also understand that a team playing at home will have a slight advantage but if the road team is significantly better, then they will be deemed the favorite.

How to Place Underdog Bets

Whether it’s point spread or moneyline bets, you will find betting providers offer both, and underdog wagers are as easy as betting on the favorite. Any of these online sportsbooks will allow the customer to use an underdog sports betting app or a mobile site that is fully optimized for their cell phone or tablet. 

Some of the online betting providers like BetOnline, Bookmaker.eu, Bovada and Heritage Sports are all well-equipped to handle many different kinds of wagers in a variety of sports betting markets.

Common Strategies for Placing Underdog Bets

Any comprehensive guide regarding underdog betting strategy must include parlays. If the last leg of your parlay is still live and it includes a money line favorite then the best money line bet you can make is to bet the other side, the underdog, for the precise amount of your parlay.

This is a sound underdog betting option and will allow you to win without any risk. Should the favorite win then the parlay wins while the lesser amount bet on the underdog will lose. However, should the favorite lose then the parlay will lose as well but betting on the underdog as a flat bet will allow you to recoup the losses on your parlay. These betting tips will allow even a novice to bet like a pro.

Determine a Game’s Importance

It’s fair to say we all know that World Series games have greater importance than a three-game series in the middle of May. A game’s importance can play a big role in how teams perform and the subsequent betting outcomes. If they have veteran players who have been under similar pressure then it would certainly be an advantage to have that experience versus young players who have never competed under a spotlight so bright.

Therefore, it is important that the bettor understand the makeup of each team and which of them has the benefit of experience. Many underdog betting tips will advise the bettor to wager on the experienced team, particularly if they are being cast in the underdog role.

Have Patience When Waiting for Lines to Move

Waiting for lines to move can be part art and part science. The trick is to make sure the betting lines will move favorably and not against you. If it is early in the betting process and you believe the public will likely be betting big on a favorite then let the money pour in and wait for the line to move so that you can get a better price or a line on the underdog.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Betting favorites is what the public does. They will blindly bet on the favorite and over the posted total because, in their minds, the home or road favorite always wins. They don’t really consider the point spread as being the ultimate equalizer. There is a lot of hype for the stronger teams while the weaker teams are often discounted.

Determine an Outcome’s Probability

Betting providers allow you the choice of betting on who or what you want. They provide the odds and you are subject to them the moment you place a bet. Home-field advantage can be a huge factor depending on the team while it could mean much less to a team that plays as well on the road as they do at home.

The actual chances of a team winning is somewhat arbitrary but if we are to use an example, we could say the following: The New York Mets are given odds of 2.50 to win a game, which means their implied probability of winning is 40%. If the Mets are given odds of 1.50 to win a match, their implied probability of winning is 67%.

Betting tools such as an odds converter can easily be found but the bottom line is to educate yourself about each team, player injuries and historical matchups.

Do Your Research

There are several betting tools available to help you research a game but including home-field advantage should always be contemplated in your analysis. We should also consider if a team has played two or more straight games in a row. Professional athletes wear down and need rest just as all of us do so make sure to factor that into your handicapping process.

Adjust Your Stake

Betting odds are dynamic and will fluctuate depending on how much money the bookmaker is getting on either side. If too much money is coming in on the favorite, then the point spread and moneyline odds will rise. The converse also holds true for money being bet on the other side, which means the odds on underdogs and point spread will lower if too much money is being wagered on it.

And if you bet on a team but you have subsequently found out information that would necessitate you to adjust your stake, then always do so. If the information is positive then put more money on the team of your choice but if it is a late injury to a key player then you might have to bet on the other side to diminish your stake or negate it completely.

Is underdog betting for you?

Favorite bettors comprise the vast majority of the betting public. Underdog sports betting is usually the province of professionals who “fade” (bet against) the public. But blindly backing every underdog is not what sharp sports bettors do, rather they pick their spots and get +EV value for their betting buck.

FAQs – Underdog Betting

Which sport is the best for placing underdog bets?

The best sport for placing underdog bets is the sport in which they are paying out the most. Every season is different and there is no definitive sport that favors underdog bettors.

What determines who the underdog is?

Initially, the oddsmaker determines the betting favorites and the underdog odds but after that, it all depends on how much money is being bet on each side. So, you might say the betting public ultimately determines the favorite and the underdog.

What do the odds need to be for an outsider bet to be worth it?

An outsider or long shot is generally a team or athlete with long odds to win a tournament. The actual chances of an outsider winning all depend on the level of competition. The odds need to be high enough for it to be a worthy wager.

How much should I put on an underdog bet?

As with all types of bets, it should only be as much as you can afford without losing sleep if you lose. The betting public can differ widely on this amount as casual bettors normally bet much less than professionals.

Do all sportsbooks allow underdog betting?

Yes, all betting providers do allow underdog sports betting. 

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