If you want to place your first bet online, but don’t know which are the best betting sites, or you’re relatively new to the top betting sites or online sports betting and want a quick introduction, stick around.
Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, don’t worry – betting is nothing like the isolating activity it used to be. Winning money is enough of an incentive to get anyone excited, even those who aren’t die-hard sports fans or don’t like sports at all. The best betting websites channel this adrenaline and offer an outlet for it, which attracts all kinds of folks and creates a diverse community sharing one passion.
This guide will cover all the basics you need to start betting online with confidence. We’ll set your mind at rest if you have any concerns about online sports bets and there’ll be plenty of our best betting tips along the way for amateur gamblers or those who are simply curious.
Betting Websites Jargon Buster
First off, here’s a quick summary of some key betting terms you’re likely to come across, if you haven’t already. Clue yourself up on the basic framework that supports online betting websites and you’ll be a smarter player straight out the gate.
In short, these are the different options presented to you as available bets for one contest. They can be made up of money lines or point spreads:
Point spread determines how many points a team has to win by to take home the winnings. Depending on how safe the odds are — for example, if one contender is a firm favorite, not just more likely to win — a bettor will make less money if the favorite wins, and more money if the underdog wins (assuming they’ve bet on the winner in each case).
Money line determines the amount of extra money you get to take home if your team’s opponent wins or loses. If a sport relies only on a winner or a loser (e.g., boxing), the money line is always used, since the point spread isn’t applicable here.
You can play multiple bets — across different teams, for example. Regardless of whether the bet sits on the money line or over a point spread, all of your teams must come out on top for you to claim the cash.
These are extra options found on a sports betting site, which are there as ‘exotics’ to brighten up your betting experience. ‘Props’ or ‘prop bets’, as they’re also known, increase your chances of winning by having you bet on specific elements of a contest. For example, which player scores the first hoop in a basketball game, or whether the first goal is scored in the first or second half.
This is just another term for your bet.
Square or Sharp?
To find the best sports gambling sites for you, think about what it is you want to get out of it.
If you’re playing for fun or have money to burn, there’s no need to play it safe, so go ahead and try your luck with props for a more entertaining experience. Playing in this style, you’ll be known as a Square: a casual gambler.
However, if you’re serious about making money from gambling, gather as many of the best betting tips as you can find, read online sportsbook reviews, and play with a clear head. With enough time and effort, you could become a Sharp: a professional sports bettor.
Here’s a full glossary of betting terminology for all of you aspirational ‘Wiseguys’ (another term for Sharps).
Using the Best Online Sports Betting Sites
Whether you want to play casually or professionally, if you want to bet on sports online, you want to make sure the betting website you use is trustworthy and reliable. Not only that, but that you enjoy using it. Just like any other ecommerce site, it’s important to look past a smart logo and an enticing collection of free betting offers on the homepage. Dig deeper through the site.
Finding a Sports Betting Website for Your Favorite Game
Run a generic search on the top betting sites for sports and you’ll be inundated with results. Before you even consider narrowing down a selection, you’ll need to suss out which sites support the sport, or sports, you want to follow.
You might think one sports gambling site is very much the same as another, but they don’t all carry the same selection.
If there are limited or no odds at all for baseball, or you’re frequently missing the opportunity to bet on soccer matches, look elsewhere if this is where your interests lie.
Do They Really Have the Top Sportsbooks?
Don’t be fooled by overblown or continuous promotions. These are just a hook to get you in.
The best online sports gambling sites shouldn’t need to resort to elaborate tricks. If they cater to your interests, read a bookmaker review or two, check their odds, and then have a thorough browse through their website.
If you find it clunky, dated, or you’re just not feeling it, move on. A Square or a Wiseguy, chances are you’re looking to gamble on a fairly regular basis at least, so you want the site you use to feel comfortable.
Make Sure Payments Run Smoothly
A bookmaker sportsbook review can offer vital clues as to whether an online bookie is good with payments or not. After all, why else are you gambling? You want to win money and, every time you do, expect it to hit your account fast.
Still, online trading is online trading. Until you get to know and trust a site, you need to stay on your guard. Once you’re satisfied that the online betting reviews you’ve discovered are legitimate and you’ve chosen a site you want to try, start off with small bets to begin.
Losing money is one thing, but losing a lot of money is unnecessary. So even if you’ve found a legitimate bookmaker site that you can trust, make sure it’s also secure and speedy; you can even use Bitcoin on big-name sites like Bookmaker.eu, which means instant payments and no fees.
Top Sportsbooks Reviewed
We’ve reviewed the best betting websites in full on our own website, but we’ll provide a short summary for some of them right here to get you started.
Becoming a pro on BookMaker is what you should aspire to. Professionals use this site to place large bets, so you’re playing with the big boys here. This is one of the very few websites that takes bets of $50,000 or even higher.
It’s the first site to post odds and they have the most sophisticated lines, so use it to watch and learn. Over time, bookmaker.eu should demonstrate to you what sports betting is all about.
Bookmaker.eu is online 24 hours every day and runs a loyalty program. It might seem unfair to the aspirational sports bettor, but professionals are not allowed in the loyalty scheme – it’s still got to be a fair game for everyone else. Plus, if you can find the sweet spot and start to hit it big, you won’t need extra sweeteners.
Bovada.lv is the site for sports gamblers based in America. They also wear many hats, with poker betting and casino games, too. If you get a taste for sports betting, you might want to venture into these areas, so it’s worth a look.
You’ll find money management on Bovada easy. They have a processing fee of 4.9% for credit cards, but they’ll accept pretty much any card, so you can get straight down to business without any hassle. More importantly, winnings are also paid quickly via money transfer sites like Western Union.
If you want to test run this site, they make it simple for you. Some of the usual fees, e.g., for deposits or credit card processing, are waived in your trial. They also offer promotions for first time users, which are equally appealing, so there’s no reason not to give this site a chance.
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all type of betting site, then betonline.ag is it. You literally can bet on anything online here, whether you’re into national or more niche sports.
BetOnline is a solid choice for the average sports bettor. A visit to the website is like a trip to the sweet shop for a kid — offers and promotions stand out like lollipops, and the diverse range of betting options is laid out like a Pick & Mix.
The owners of this site are constantly making improvements, which we think is a big deal in a competitive marketplace. Read our full review to learn more about their unique approach to nailing it at being one of the top sportsbooks.
5Dimes Sportsbook Review
5Dimes has a great mix of all the other features we’ve already mentioned:
- Top betting site for US players
- Good incentives for newbies to take advantage of
- Professional players welcomed
- Excellent range of sports to bet on
However, 5Dimes also offers some more exclusive bets to attract a key audience. For example, if you want to bet on MMA and UFC events you can do that here. In fact, you might not find odds for these events anywhere else.
The customer service is above the average. Any issues you may experience, would be quickly solved by the friendly people from customer support.
On top of this, 5Dimes also offers betting options for the Lotto. This is a real rarity, so bear in mind that this bookmaker is always worth checking out when you’re exploring your options. It could quite quickly become your favorite.
Other Signs They’re the Best Sports Betting Sites
We hope you find our reviews useful and we encourage you to research any site you plan to use thoroughly. However, there are other factors besides reviews that you can take into consideration.
For example, longevity is undeniably important in the world of online gambling. Sites like 5Dimes, for example, have been around since the 1990s. Trust has been established for more than two decades.
That’s not to be sniffed at.
It’s good to know that bettors go back to a site time and time again. It means these bookies are paying out regularly while still maintaining their own profit levels. Which leads us to the next question that’s probably on your mind…
How Do Bookies Make Money?
You’ll hear the term vig, or juice, and begin to recognize this as a kind of commission for the bookie. Typically, they add a small percentage to the betting fee, so whichever way the win goes on a point spread, they still make a small amount themselves, even after they’ve paid out the winnings.
It’s key for you take time out to try and understand vig calculations before you start betting, otherwise, you risk going broke as a result of poor judgment.
If the bookies make money out of ignorance, it’s your fault, not theirs!
Who Are the Linemakers?
It’s assumed there’s a lot of secrecy among experts who set the lines. For gamblers, sure, you want to know who’s pulling the strings.
This intrigue was enough to prompt a TV show called The Linemakers, which saw some of the best in the business talk about how and why lines are set the way they are.
“How many times have you sat in the family room and watched a game and wondered how the line on that game came about?” — Brian Blessing, TV host
The show’s seven featured linemakers are said to have “100 years of combined experience in Las Vegas,” so they know good sports books when they see them.
It’s safe to assume you won’t be beating the professional linemaker any time soon. For now, just wise up on your skills and see how good you can get.
Last Piece of Advice: Don’t Get Too Cocky
Over time, you’ll know what to look for. You’ll recognize good odds when you see them and might even come across the odd line you think is way off the mark. The more you know about your chosen sport, the higher your chance of outwitting a linemaker, but this is rare.
Like we said, don’t ever forget the vig. Either way, all bets considered, online sports betting sites are still going to make a profit. You just want to try and make sure it’s out of the next person and not out of you.
Take the Challenge
To begin with the best odds you can find, start online.
You’ll find much more choice available online. A physical store needs to turn on the lights and have someone man the desk. Screens all cost money to run, too. Online, you just log in and play. You spend no time or money getting to the bookies and they spend less of their profits on old-school establishments.
Naturally, there’s a lot of competition, so if you scout around you’ll find some great offers. Just check that they’re legit and, remember, no offer is ever too good to be true.
As a newbie to the game, you’ll also find help and information readily available online and a variety of opinions on what works best or what doesn’t.
Try your hand and see how you fare.
Ready to gamble? Check out a sports book review or two for some of the biggest sites. You decide which one is the best sports betting site for you.