With the rise of the MMA it is not a shock to see that fans want to bet on their favorite fighter. What they do not know however, is that it is not as simple as picking a fighter and placing a bet. There is much more to it than that, especially if you want to turn a profit over time. While betting on MMA or UFC is similar to boxing, it is different in the aspect that there are many other talents and qualities of a fighter that come into play. Things such as past wins/losses and to who they won or lost to just do not cut it anymore. But let’s start at the beginning. As a beginning sports bettor it is important to know some of the simple math behind betting and what you what the numbers mean to you. You need to know how much you are betting and what you hope to win. Also, prior to making a bet you should have a simple understanding on the homework that is needed to become profitable as a sports bettor, namely MMA.
When learning the math involved in making a sports bet, it may help to write it down so you better understand. It is our goal to make it as clear cut for you as possible. So first things first, when you make a bet on a fighter there is what is known as the money line. The money line is the American bookmakers way of displaying the odds of the game at hand. Lets take a look at an example to make this easier: (please note that these numbers are for the use of explanation purposes only and do not represent any actual real figure for a fight or fighter)
Fighter A’s money line -200
Fighter B’s money line +190
Notice that the money line for “A” is negative 200. A negative number means that that person, player, or team is the favorite in the match. This is also the determined amount that you will need to bet in order to win $100. So if you were to bet on Fighter A because he was the favorite, you would bet $200 and if he won you would win $100 plus your $200 bet back for a total of $300.
The same scenario applies to Fighter B. He is the underdog in this case as he displays a plus sign in front of the money line. This is read a little different than it did for Fighter A, and you want to be sure you are not confused. The number in front of Fighter B is not the amount you spend to win $100 as it is in Fighter A’s case, but this is the amount you win for placing a $100 bet. So if you were to place a $100 bet on Fighter B, then you would win $190 plus your initial bet of $100 for a total of $290.
Now that you know how to read a line, it is also just as important to break that down into odds and a percentage. Let’s start with the equation for Fighter A and for your convenience we will highlight both the equation and example we give so you can see where the number comes from.
Amount of bet / (amount of bet + amount to win) = your fraction = percentage
200 / ( 200 + 100 ) = 200/300 or simplified 2/3 = 66.6% chance of winning.
It is a little different for the underdog or Fighter B. Let’s take a look at that example:
Amount of bet / (Amount to win + Amount of bet) = your fraction = percentage
100 / ( 190+ 100 ) = 100/290 or simplified/rounded 1/3 =33.3% chance of winning.
Notice that the two percentages add up (or pretty close since we rounded). It is not uncommon to see it add up over 100 for the sports book commission. Now that you have an understanding of the math, you can make your first bet knowing what the numbers mean. What you will hope to accomplish before too long, is to set up your own lines based own your homework of the fighters. This will take a while to become efficient at it, but with time and experience you will get close.
The reason why you want to create your own lines is because you can set you own line on a fighter and when the lines come out from the sports bookers then you can look for an “edge” to make a potential profit. Something to keep in mind is that the lines can change dramatically as a “supply and demand” tactic from bookermakers’. So if the favorite was -190 one minute then changes to -150 the next, it is because the bookmakers’ want to attract attention and money to the underdog. Although it is difficult to do, if you are experienced in “scouting” the fighters, then this can prove to be a possible advantage. The less you have to risk the better. And the same can be said for the underdog as well. If you notice an opening line at 450+ and you get your money in and then the lines shift then its possible for the underdog to be 400+ or 350+ which means you will get more for your money than others. These are just a few of the many edges you can find and will come with time and experience. Just as important though, is the homework prior to making a bet.
Once you figure out how to read a line, making a bet from there can be pretty easy. However, if you were to rely on sports bookers alone on proving accurate information then you may be at best a break even sports better. There are several things you can do to give yourself an edge. Here is a few thoughts outlined for you below:
*Do your homework on a fighter. Look at videos, fighting style, who they are fighting against, etc. Anything that can help you make a more educated decision.
*Do not fall in the misconception that if Fighter B can defeat Fighter A and Fighter A can defeat Fighter C that automatically Fighter B can defeat Fighter C. You definitely need to weigh this option, just not as heavily as some.
*Watch the lines for any shifts to be made. If there is a clear favorite and your homework proves it to be so, wait and see if the price drops. Meaning, if fighter A is a favorite at -200 and drops to -150, this would be a good time to get your money in as you would be risking less for the same amount.
*Also watch for potential mistakes being made. If bookmakers swing one way heavily or too heavily in your opinion, it is possibly to make a good profit according to your homework.
*Shop around for bettor money lines at your favorite sports books.
While these tips will help you to become a better sports bettor, they really are just the tip of the iceberg. As you gain experience you will learn when to place a bet or how much to bet depending on your odds and expected value. The overall lesson here is to learn how to read money lines and know how that can affect how much you win or lose. Once you pick this up and start practicing making your own lines, you can be on your way to being a profitable sports bettor.
You can apply this knowledge at many of the fine Sportsbooks we list on this site: