When sports betting has been portrayed in the movies, it can go one of two ways. In “Let It Ride,” Richard Dreyfuss goes on a hot streak for the ages and enjoys a day of betting at the track like we’ve never seen before. He is our hero, and we dream about becoming him.
In “Two for the Money,” Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey seem to have it all going for them until they start predicting sports bets with their hearts and not their heads, and it all quickly goes south. They are our cautionary tale.
Everyone aims to be the first guy, Dreyfuss, while promising themselves that they won’t become the last two and go with “hunches” on bets. And with the following information, our goal is to keep you away from the pitfalls that plague most casual sports bettors and instead put you into a position to be successful in your betting — if not quite as successful as Dreyfuss, because, after all, that’s just a movie.
There is a lot to know, but all of it will become intuitive in time, and you’ll see how the many facets of sports betting work together to give you the very best chance at winning your bets over the long-term.
The basics of sports betting in Colorado
In November 2019, Colorado voters approved Proposition DD to legalize sports betting in the state. Casino gaming has been legal in Colorado since 1991, and this new law allows all currently operating casinos to apply for a license that allows them to open a retail sportsbook. Those casinos can then partner with an online and mobile provider to open sportsbooks that customers can access via the internet or mobile betting app.
As with most of the states that have legalized sports betting in the last several months, legal sports betting in Colorado requires that you be at least 21 years old and be within the borders of the state. You do not need to be a resident of Colorado, but you must physically be in Colorado when placing any wagers. Geolocation technology in your IP address and your mobile phone will verify your location before allowing any bets.
Colorado’s laws allow betting on professional sports — team, individual, international and Olympic — college sports and motorsports. This includes sporting events that take place in Colorado and involve college teams and individuals from Colorado universities and colleges. It is illegal to bet on high school sports in Colorado, and proposition bets aren’t allowed on college events.
Casino gaming in Colorado comes with a maximum betting limit of $100 per bet. When Colorado lawmakers drew up the state’s sports betting laws, they removed this limit, allowing customers to bet any amount they want. Sportsbook operators do have the option of imposing their own maximum bet limits, but this is not mandated by the state.
The Colorado law imposes a 10% tax on sportsbook revenue that will primarily be used to fund water projects within the state. This tax is solely paid for by the sportsbook operators and not by sports betting customers. Although bettors do still need to declare sports betting winnings to the IRS.
Places to make sports bets in Colorado
Sports betting in Colorado is still new, so the number of sportsbooks and providers of sports betting operations are still growing. All 33 current casinos that operate in the mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek can apply for a sportsbook license, and according to state officials, 28 of those 33 have filed applications.
The following casinos already have deals in place with partner sportsbook operators and are confirmed to offer sports betting at their retail locations.
- Golden Gates Casino, Black Hawk
- Golden Gulch Casino, Black Hawk
- Isle Casino Hotel, Black Hawk
- Lady Luck Casino and Hotel, Black Hawk
- Mardi Gras Casino, Black Hawk
- Saratoga Casino, Black Hawk
- Century Casino and Hotel, Central City
- Bronco Billy’s Casino, Cripple Creek
- Double Eagle Hotel and Casino, Cripple Creek
As sports betting continues to grow across Colorado, this list is expected to grow with it. The list of national sportsbook providers that are opening online and mobile operations in Colorado is also going to grow. So far, these providers have confirmed they are coming to Colorado.
- Twin River
- William Hill
- Wynn Resorts
Understanding Sports Betting Odds
It’s good to understand what is meant by point spreads, moneylines and totals since the big board of odds that you’ll look at when entering a sportsbook will have them all displayed, and it’s what you’ll be wagering.
At first glance, the odds displayed can be a bit intimidating. Weird numbers in a line, and only the name of the team is recognizable. But do not be dismayed — it’s quite easy to understand what you’re looking at and figure out what it all means. This is what an odds board will look like on an NFL Sunday:
- 401 Rams -8 -400
- 402 Vikings 47 +300
- 403 Cowboys 50 +185
- 404 Chiefs -3.5 -165
- 405 Raiders 51 +400
- 406 Chargers -10 -600
The first column (401, 402, etc.) is what is known as a bet identification number or rotation number. When you are wagering at a retail sportsbook, it is important to know this number before approaching the window to place your bet.
You can use the team name, like Rams, but it is easier for the person taking your bet if you just say 401. Plus, you sound more like a pro.
Moving left to right from 401 and 402, we see Rams and Vikings, the point spread (Rams -8) and over/under (47), and finally the moneyline. This means that if you bet on the Rams to win outright with no point spread, you would need to bet $400 to win $100, while a bet on the Vikings of $100 would win you $300.
A couple of things to note before we explain these odds in a little more detail. First, the above display is American odds. There are also decimal odds and fractional odds that exist in the world, but in Colorado, you will be dealing exclusively with American odds.
Secondly, all odds are fixed, meaning that even if they move after you make your wager and before the event takes place, your ticket will play the odds as they were posted when you made your bet.
When looking at odds online and on a mobile app, there probably won’t be a bet identification number since you’ll just click on the bet you want.
Point spread: This is one of the most basic sports wagering odds. Instead of just picking a winner or loser, you’re betting on points.
The Chargers are heavy favorites on the above board to beat the Raiders, but for your Chargers bet to win, they must defeat the Raiders by more than 10 points. These bets typically pay at -110, meaning that for every $11 you bet, you will win $10. The extra dollar goes to the sportsbook as a fee.
Over/under or total: A totals bet is exactly as it sounds. It’s the total amount of points scored by both teams, and you place a bet on over that total, or under that total. This bet also pays at -110 to pay the sportsbook its cut (also known as juice or vig).
Moneyline: If you don’t want to play a point spread, but instead would just like to bet on the winner or loser straight up, the moneyline reflects the odds that you’ll play.
Because the Cowboys are the underdogs to the Chiefs, they pay at +185 ($185 in winnings on a $100 bet). The Chiefs, as the favorite, pay just -165. The vig is built into these odds, so the posted number is exactly what they pay.
One final note on posted sports betting odds. All of them assume a payout on what is known as “to one,” meaning that the payout includes the original stake. Let’s say you put $100 on the Cowboys to win outright, and you win $185. Your total payout is $285 — the $100 of your original bet, and $185 in winnings.
Sports betting math skills
Understanding sports betting odds requires the use of some math to be successful. But there are several other math skills that can be used to enhance your knowledge of sports bets and aid in your search for the best available values.
You’ve done your research and figured out what you believe is the probability that the Houston Texans will beat the Tennessee Titans. But what are the probabilities that are implied by the posted odds? It’s easy enough to figure out, and it’s useful information when deciding if it’s worth a wager.
Let’s say the Texans are listed at -250 on the moneyline. The formula to use for implied probability is:
- (250/(100+250)) x 100
That means that according to the moneyline, the probability of a Texans win outright is 71.43%. If that matches up with or exceeds the probability of a win as you see it, it’s a good bet to take.
But if that number is higher than you believe the Texans’ chances to be, then the payoff you receive will be less than the risk you feel you’re taking. This is why finding the implied probability is a good thing to do before placing your bets.
One thing you will note — when figuring out the implied probability of both possible outcomes (-250 for the Texans and +200 for the Titans), you will discover that the combined probabilities always exceed 100%. That is because the sportsbook takes its profits too.
Bonus offer math
As you begin to explore the many sportsbooks in Colorado, you will notice that most of them will offer you bonuses for signing up, making a deposit and placing the first bet. Before accepting any of these offers, be sure to read the fine print and understand exactly what is required to cash in on that bonus.
Let’s say you get a $500 bonus when you deposit $500. You won’t be able, however, to withdraw that $500 until you meet certain requirements. Often that requirement features both a time limit (let’s assume 60 days) and a playthrough requirement that means you must bet that total amount a certain number of times (let’s assume 10 times).
That means over the next two months, you must place $5,000 worth of wagers to release that $500 into your account for withdrawal. If you are someone who is going to place wagers daily, this probably won’t be a problem. But if you’re only going to place bets one day a week, then there is a very good chance you won’t meet the two requirements, meaning that the bonus money will be forfeited.
Before moving forward with any bonus offers, be sure to do the quick math and see if it’s a bonus through which you’re likely to see a benefit.
The importance of bankroll management
The foundation of any successful sports betting strategy is doing the right research to identify winning and losing bets, and then finding the right value in those bets. But since you can’t always find a winner, and you will lose a good number of your bets, the best sports bettors also understand the importance of bankroll management.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a bet you really feel good about and decide to wager a lot of money. Just as it makes sense to lower your bet when you’re betting on a game that feels more uncertain.
It’s a psychology that makes total sense when looking at just that one bet. But any good sports bettor will tell you that every betting strategy must be designed for the long-term, and that includes bankroll management. Each bet is made in a larger context, and that is how it has to be since you are guaranteed to have losing streaks.
Many bettors advocate a flat betting strategy for this very reason. Let’s say you have a bankroll of $1,000. The flat betting strategy, which is designed to maximize bankroll management, says that you should never bet over 5% of that bankroll, and ideally, you would bet 3%. So with a $1,000 bankroll, the ideal bet is $30, and you should never bet more than $50.
It’s all about sustaining your money through those losing streaks and staying consistent with your wagers during the winning streaks. You are much more likely to have success when your betting plan is focused on the long-term. If you look to make a quick buck in just a few bets, you could find your bankroll completely wiped out.
Focus on long-term success
The magic number that every sports bettor should know is 52.4%. If you win 52.4% of your wagers, you will break even on your bets. So anything over that, and you begin to make a profit on your wagers. Anything lower than that number, you are still in the red.
This is why the best sports bettors understand statistics, and specifically, inferential statistics, which allows us to make predictions on what is going to happen in the future based on the sample of statistics that we’ve already collected. And when it comes to statistical trends leading to accurate future predictions, it’s always long-term.
You can’t with any certainty say what will happen over the next four games. Even the worst baseball team will win four in a row. But over 100 games, we can be accurate. Results and predictions begin to line up.
This is why all good sports bettors focus on the long-term. The numbers tell us that betting on Mike Trout to get a hit in one single at-bat is a bad bet. But if you bet on Mike Trout to get a hit in this one game, it becomes a good bet. It’s far easier to predict his success over multiple at-bats vs. just a single at-bat.
It’s regression to the mean. In one event, you may get an extreme result. But over the course of multiple events, the results become more easily predictable. It’s why when you read about any of the most popular and successful sports betting strategies, they all are built for long-term success.
Maintaining discipline and patience in sports betting
If you are a casual bettor who plans to place at most a couple of bets a month, and often fewer, discipline in betting isn’t that important. At that frequency, betting is less of a hobby and more just an occasional dabble.
It’s like with anything — if you golf weekly, get good clubs. If you golf but once a year, any set of clubs will do.
If you plan to make sports bets on a regular basis, then you must be both disciplined and patient. Maintaining that discipline has been cited as the No. 1 issue that plagues sports bettors, and the No. 1 reason they lose money.
If you are employing a betting strategy, it will only work if you stick to the strategy. That means strict adherence to the rules of the strategy and discipline in your betting amounts, even in the midst of long winning streaks or losing streaks. Otherwise, you will eventually become a loser.
With so many different sportsbook options within Colorado sports gaming, finding the best odds can make all the difference between winning and losing your bet, and winning and losing long-term. Be patient when searching for the right bet.
There are a lot of options and loads of information for you to wade through. The best bettor is the one who remains patient in the search for the best bet.
You also need to remove emotion from your betting, then keep it out. Don’t get down, and don’t get too high; you must remain even-keeled.
The bettors who watch bet after bet lose then try to win it all back by placing a wager that they hadn’t previously planned to play, they are going to always lose money overall. Wins and losses shouldn’t change how you approach any bet or any stretch of bets.
Don’t be afraid to be boring. Slow and steady and patient and disciplined is the only way to find long-term success in your betting.
It’s a lot of information, but when you start placing bets, it also becomes second nature. Almost every sportsbook that you’ll encounter will have detailed explanations on how odds work, so you can consult them at any time.
While you may feel as though you are competing against sportsbooks, since you are betting against them, the truth is they want to help you. They would prefer that you become a comfortable customer who places sports bets with confidence rather than become disillusioned by the process and walk away. If you need help, ask.
The sportsbook, however, won’t help you do your research, which is still the most important thing in sports betting. Everyone involved “knows sports.” You need to dig into the numbers and the trends and find that extra edge.
Remember that number 52.4%. The very best sports bettors in the business win 55% of the time. People who are consistent losers win 51% of the time. The margin is small, so the advantage you want to find can be small. But you won’t find it if you don’t look for it.
And once you’ve become comfortable with reading odds, researching bets and placing the wagers with the best value, remember to stay within yourself when formulating a strategy.
Never bet with your heart. Stay away from teams for which you have a bias. And when implementing a betting strategy, stay disciplined.
No matter how great your research, you will lose. No matter how sure you are of victory, some of those bets will fail. Just stay the course. Be patient, remain disciplined and remember that long-term success is what you seek.