The core idea of sports betting is actually quite simple. All pundits will distinguish between earning money consistently and winning big on risky bets. Just to keep winning over half of your bets, you have to basically drip-feed your bankroll with small, consistent profits. But this method is good only if you cannot engage yourself enough to out-guess the bookmaker. Sometimes, it is possible to find a higher return on investment just by going at it from a different approach. Betting on the underdog is one of such tricks.

What Is An Underdog? 

In any competitive sport, there is a winner and a loser at the end of the game. Therefore, the world of sports betting revolves around the possible winners and possible losers. Largely speaking, underdogs are the side expected to lose. Now, this can be due to various reasons – key players suffering injury, skill gap between teams, lack of chemistry or form, or just precedents where the underdogs have lost. The bottom line is, they are statistically likely to lose. 

Spread and Money Lines

But how do you spot the underdog in an online sportsbook? Actually, the delineation is quite clear. Either on the spread or money line listings, the underdog will always have a plus (+) sign before their numbers. Now, let us talk about point spread and what it tells us. Spread is usually present when betting on a points-based sport. Instead of just betting on who the outright victor of the game will be, it lets bookmakers and punters bet on what kind of margin there will be on the win. 

E.g., if two sides of a basketball game have a spread of -10 and +10, The second team are the underdogs. Let’s say you bet on the underdog in this case. To succeed in this bet, the underdogs must either win the game or lose by no less than 10 points. Generally, the spread is also accompanied by the vig rate (e.g., a number like -110, denoting a $10 vig on a $100 bet). In the case of games that are close shave, the spread will be very low. But then the vig difference will become a bigger factor.

Sometimes money lines can replace spread to gauge winning likeliness and odds. This is prominent in cricket, baseball, and hockey, for example. Reading money lines follows the same logic as reading vigs. In games where a side is clear favourites, the money line will have big differences (e.g., -190 and +220). A +220 underdog on the money line listing simply means that you win $220 if you bet $100 on them with a winning wager. In more even games, again, the vig becomes the bigger deal. The team with the lower vig numbers are considered the slight underdogs. 

Evaluating Betting On Underdogs

The fundamental concept of underdogs is simple enough. But as you may know, sports like cricket and soccer are all about surprise twists. Underdogs outperform favourites; stronger teams topple to weaker ones. In fact, that possibility is what fuels the suspense of sports. So when betting on underdogs, you have to first look at the prime criteria. That is: are they playing a home game or the away game? Statistically, home sides are much likely to exceed expectations. Away teams, on the other hand, have all the odds stacked against them. But other than that, the factors are simply too many to give a general guide. So when you bet on the underdog, it is a matter of risk vs. benefits.

What many handicappers recommend is evaluating how many games the underdog would win out of 100 – if the same matchup was played 100 times. After you have made this evaluation, let’s say you bet on all 100 games. At the current money line odds, would the total amount of won bets cover your losses? The answer to that should be the key to betting on the underdogs. 

When Should You Bet On The Underdogs?

Generally, you should only bet on games where there are no ties. Or at the very least, where ties are highly unlikely. This is why test matches, for instance, are a far worse choice than T20. When you bet on the underdog based on spread, you have two bet win conditions – and neither of them is covered by a tie.

In conclusion, we should also mention the importance of live betting. If the sportsbook has very limited live betting options, steer clear of them. Underdog betting, after all, is a risky investment. If things go against you, you need to immediately do some damage control. A good way to do this is backing the favorite team as soon as your odds get high enough to cover the initial stake. But you need to bet fast and on the run; thus, live betting is very important.

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