The Five Best Bets In A Sportsbook

The Five Best Bets In A Sportsbook

Jack Andrews
Line Shopping
The Process
February 28, 2024


In a previous video, I outlined five of the worst bets you could make in any given sportsbook. But if there’s a five worst, then there must be a five best. In this video, I’m counting down five of the best bets you can make if you’re in a sportsbook and looking to place a bet.

Hi, I’m Jack, from I’ve been a professional bettor for over 20 years.There’s a lot of people out there that want to tell you who to bet on. I’m not one of them. I’m here to tell you how to bet so you can become a better sports bettor.

Winning at sports betting is hard, especially if you’re trying to do it by just picking winners in a major sport like the NFL or NBA. Those markets are just too efficient for you to expect to have an edge – but that brings us to where we’re going to start our list of the Five Best Bets you can make. 


5.) Betting Close to Game Time

That is, specifically, hitting the side or total close to kickoff/first pitch/tip-off/puck drop.

Make no mistake, by betting on the team you like in the last hour before the game begins, you probably won’t win long-term. However, that market efficiency also means you won’t lose at a terrible clip either. 

For bets against a point spread or on the over/under, the house edge is about 4.5 percent. Compared to other games in a casino, that’s not a great house edge to be up against, but you’ve got action for two or three hours instead of just one spin of the roulette wheel. Plus, if you’re in a physical sportsbook at a casino, you can ask the clerk for drink tickets. If your bet is big enough, they’ll give you a couple of tickets for free beverages while you watch your bet play out. 

With what drink prices are at some casino bars, getting a couple free drinks might make up for the amount you’d expect to lose in the long-run on your wager.

Now of course, making no bet at all is probably better than betting something you can’t beat in the long-run, but if you’re focusing on the entertainment value of sports betting, then betting on the side or total of a game is one of the lowest house edges you can bet into at a sportsbook.


4.) Player Props

Sportsbooks these days offer a wide variety of bets on individual player performance. It used to be player prop bets were rare, now they are almost ubiquitous with sports betting.

Many bettors are getting into sports betting via Daily Fantasy Sports. In DFS, they roster a team of individual players and compete to earn fantasy points with that lineup. Those fantasy points are based on player performance in the game. Sports betting is a natural progression because you pick individual players and get to choose the stat you feel you can predict the best.

One of the reasons this is good for bettors is because with many players and many prop bet lines, it gives the sportsbook a large surface area to defend. You can narrow in on one particular player or position to come up with better projections than the sportsbook.

Another benefit to betting player props is that there is less uniformity between sportsbooks on what the line should be. If you do a little bit of line shopping between all your available sportsbooks you can find some significant differences in prices that make it much easier to profit. There are now even odds screens like the one we have which helps you line shop player props across sportsbooks in one view.

Back when I started betting sports, it was tough to find a sportsbook that would tolerate much action on player props. They were offered as an amenity, but not something you could bet heavily. Now, times have changed. There’s a growing tolerance about player props and getting decent money down is becoming possible. If you’re not looking at player props, maybe you should. 

Of course, despite the growing tolerance, many sportsbooks don’t like winners. It’s true. If you get very good at beating player props, you can expect sportsbooks to take countermeasures against you such as limiting the size of the bets they’ll take from you on props. There’s more information about that in my video about sportsbook limits.

Sometimes when faced with a complex problem, the best thing to do is break it down into a smaller problem first. Remember teachers telling you that in school? Whether it was math or grammar, you can take something complex and break it down into simpler sections. Well, you can do the same thing with sports betting, and that leads us to No. 3 on our list.

3.) Simpler Bets

It’s what I’ll call “simpler bets.”

For instance, you may think trying to handicap a full Major League Baseball game is too complex. With the various lineup combinations, starting pitchers, bullpen pitcher availability, and then things like weather factors, park factors, and team dynamics it can all be too much. Well, what if you broke it down into simpler sections. Instead of the full nine-inning line, sportsbooks offer a five-inning line. Some even offer a three-inning line. It takes the complex and simplifies it somewhat. 

In fact, a very popular bet type is just betting on whether or not there will be a run scored in the first inning. Those bets even have a catchy name: YRFI for Yes Run First Inning and NRFI for No Run First Inning. By taking smaller slices of the game, you can narrow your focus on what you need to look at to make an educated wager.

I’m fond of saying that sports betting is often a logic puzzle that you get paid to solve. These bets that are sometimes just a derivative of a bigger bet can be the best kind of logic puzzles to solve.

They exist in just about every sport. You can bet on just the first quarter of a football game, or which team is going to score 20 points first in a basketball game. Bet on the first period of a hockey game or any individual inning of a baseball game.

One thing to lookout for on these bets is to be careful how much house edge you’re betting into. While full game bets are often offered at -110 on each side, for a 4.5 percent house edge, derivative bets like these are often at -115 per side or worse. That’s at least a 6.5 percent house edge. Still your likelihood to beat this simpler market makes it typically a much better bet even with the increased house edge. Shopping around to find the best line on these will help a lot as well.

2.) Parlays

No. 2 on the list also showed up on my list of five worst ets you can make in a sportsbook. It may surprise some of you that it’s parlays. 

When I listed parlays as one of the five worst bets you could make in a sportsbook, it was because it compounds the house edge against you for each leg of a parlay. However, if you have the edge over the sportsbooks, parlays compound your edge instead. 

Of course, many bettors watching me right now might not have an edge, and even fewer of them might actually realize that they don’t have an edge. So putting this on the list was tricky. The reason why parlays can be such a good thing beyond the math is that they look like square bets. Sometimes the hardest part of being a sharp bettor is being able to bet what you want where you want. I like to say there’s the science of sports betting and the art of sports betting. The science part is straightforward. The art is much more difficult to master.

Disguising your good bets within a parlay can throw a sportsbook off your scent and allow you some longevity as the sportsbook might think “there’s another parlay betting sucker on the line.”

Ironically, the thing that square bettors love the most about parlays – which is their ability to bet a little to win a lot – can sometimes be annoying to the sharp bettor. If you know your edge, sometimes you just want to grind out that edge without the roller coaster of variance in your results.

If you’re a sharp bettor or you’ve found yourself an angle which yields an edge in your betting, parlays might be your new best friend in helping you get money down.

Finally we’re up to No. 1 on our list of the best bets to make in a sportsbook. 

1.) Promotions and Bonuses

Now sports betting has changed a lot over the last 20 years. Previously, it was something you could only do legally in Nevada and being able to bet on sports was a novelty reserved for trips to Las Vegas. Now, most of the country has the sports betting world at their fingertips via their smartphone.

With that innovation comes competition for your business, and with that competition comes promotions and bonuses. That’s the number one best bet you can make in a sportsbook – taking advantage of a good promotion or bonus.

The new wave of sportsbook apps offer a ton of promotions to entice you to play with them. In my five worst bets video I mentioned that misplaying a free bet or risk-free bet might be the worst bet you could make. Conversely, playing it correctly and taking advantage of promotions can be one of the best bets you can make.

You want to use your risk free bet on the longest odds you can. I know it seems counterintuitive, but as I spelled out on the last video, the longer the odds, the greater the expected value of that bet will be.

Beyond just the risk-free bet, there are always other promotions that tip the odds in the favor of the bettor. Free bonus money for each home run a team hits in a game when you have a bet on them. Or profit boosts where you get a 50 percent boost on the payout. Sometimes, sportsbooks offer ridiculous promotions like adding 100 points to a basketball team’s score. These are typically for small dollar amounts, but things like these add up.

Trust me, I’ve known many aspiring bettors who have built their bankrolls with these types of promotions and bonuses. If you live in a state with a lot of sports betting apps, you could make several hundred dollars a month without much risk at all.

Go into your sports betting apps and just see what’s offered everyday. Now, not all promotions are going to have a positive expected value. But most of them do and the value of some of them will be undeniable and easy to spot. Use these to your advantage. 

And remember that any time you’re given a boost on the odds, such as a profit boost or a risk-free bet, you’ll always have a higher expected value by using it on longer odds. That’ll serve you well in profiting from these promotions.

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