Bets are placed on a wide variety of events, sports, and outcomes. The most common bets are on table games such as poker, baccarat, blackjack and roulette; non-casino games like bingo and dead pool; and electronic gaming machines including online slots, keno, and scratchers (UK/Ireland: lotteries). There are also wagers on personal skill-based games such as bowling, skeet ball, golf and some video games.
The goal of a bettor is to make a series of bets with positive expected value over time. Expected value is calculated by comparing the true probability of a specific outcome to the odds set by the betting brand. If a bet has positive EV it means that the player’s bets will produce a profit over time. Negative EV bets will result in losses.
A bettor’s bankroll is the amount of money they are willing to risk on a particular bet. This can be adjusted based on the amount of time they can devote to gambling or how much they are winning and losing over the course of a week or season.
In the betting industry, the term “sharp(s)” refers to a group of successful, high-stakes professional gamblers that can influence a book’s lines by placing heavy action on one side of a bet. For example, if a team’s star quarterback sustains an injury four days before a game, the line may move in favor of the underdog because of the increased interest from sharps. This is known as taking the points.