If there’s a legitimate sporting event with at least a decent amount of interest, there’s a very good chance that you’ll find odds on it at every major (or minor) sportsbook.
Despite the abundance of choices, though, most bettors still stick primarily to the Big 4 sports — football, basketball, baseball, & hockey. And especially the major leagues most associated with them (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA)
But are those the most profitable games or sports to bet on? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of betting on each of the major sports at top CA sportsbooks online.
Pros and cons of betting on the NFL
- Popularity: As the biggest game in town, NFL betting gets a massive amount of attention from sportsbooks. This means you’ll generally find a huge array of NFL-specific promos. In addition, the spaced-out weekly schedule gives each game a must-see feel.
- Information: You won’t have any trouble sourcing information on the games. The NFL news cycle spins rapidly, and a lot of outlets will have in-depth NFL game and player breakdowns. No matter what angle you want to dig into, you can find a source of info.
- Time: NFL games take place in distinct broadcast windows. The schedule layout translates into plenty of off days where you can look ahead and research sports betting odds and matchups.
- Odds Shift a Lot: Since the NFL attracts so many bets, the numbers on the odds board can fluctuate a lot. While there are benefits to watching the live moves, it can be frustrating to have your heart set on a number and have it shift before you can place a bet.
- Info Overload: The overwhelming amount of NFL coverage is both a gift and a curse. If you’re not careful, you can subject yourself to information overload.
- Parity: There’s typically a clear hierarchy among contenders, pretenders and also-rans. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be upsets. Anything can happen, and your own preparation won’t stop that.
The lure of weekly NFL moneylines & point spreads remains strong. The season can go by in a flash, which helps to give every game the feel of a major betting event. There are plenty of bettors who focus on the NFL (and only the NFL) above all else.
Pros and cons of betting on the NBA
- Coverage: If you’ve got a team located in your area, you’ll have more than enough games to watch and enjoy. Meanwhile, top NBA games are also available on several national broadcast outlets.
- Attention: As a big draw, NBA betting receives a good level of attention at sportsbooks. The same holds true on TV, the internet, and social media. If you’re a fan or bettor, there are plenty of places to turn for NBA betting tips and general stats & information.
- Options: NBA spreads and totals are a top choice for many basketball bettors, but the options don’t end there. The NBA aligns well with moneylines, same-game parlays, props and live betting, as well, so you can pick and choose a strategy that works best for each.
- Player Fatigue: The busy NBA schedule translates into wear and tear on the players. Fatigue can be a big factor, especially in back-to-back situations. It can be tough to figure out which players may have their A-game on certain nights.
- Injuries: Unannounced injuries or changes to the starting lineup can remain secret until shortly before the opening tipoff. This is a massive landmine to watch out for, but also one that can be difficult to avoid.
- Odds: The numbers can shift quickly for NBA games, especially when a star player ends up sitting out. Add in general fluctuations due to the bets coming in, and landing on the number that you prefer can be a tough task at times.
Pros and cons of betting on MLB
- Daily: From the opening day of the regular season to the last out of the World Series, there are hundreds of MLB betting odds to pick from nearly every day.
- Lineups: Before the games begin, you’ll generally know the starting pitching matchup and which bats will be in the lineup. There’s not as much guessing about who will be seeing the majority of playing time as you’ll find in other sports.
- Choices: MLB is another sport that works well with many wagering strategies. You can focus on pregame lines, place a bet on what will happen in the first five innings, take your chances with player props or live betting, even bet on the HR derby at the All Star game and much more.
MLB is a very popular option at online sportsbook apps in the summer months. While that’s partially due to it having the stage to itself, it’s also thanks to the overall popularity of the sport. That said, there are still some potential negatives to consider.
- Grind: The lengthy season is a grind for players, and the same holds true for bettors. Just like your favorite team, it’s not uncommon to go through hot and cold spells with your betting.
- Weather: Rainouts and weather delays can impact any game that takes place outside, which is many of them. Add in wind issues that can affect the trajectory of the ball, and there’s no getting around the need to play meteorologist.
- Bullpens: Complete games from starting pitchers are becoming increasingly scarce. The bullpens on both sides can play a large factor in deciding your wager, depending on the bet.
Once upon a time, MLB was more than worthy of its nickname of America’s national pastime. While this may have declined in recent decades, it remains a preferred option for a number of bettors.
Pros and cons of betting on the NHL
- Regular: Another sport with a lengthy season, the NHL offers regular, daily odds. Some days will have many games and others just a handful, but downtime is limited.
- Research: Of the major daily sports, research can be much more fine-tuned for the NHL. You can still get lost in a haze of advanced statistics if you wish, but it’s generally easy to focus on what really matters.
- Edge: The NHL trails the big three in overall interest level and attention from sportsbooks, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means that if you put in the research, you may be able to find an edge.
- Attention: While there’s plenty of NHL information out there, mainstream coverage is limited. You may have to dig for info, which is good for edge purposes but a downside if you have limited time.
- Travel: The NHL season is long and busy. Teams can hit the road for lengthy stretches, and back-to-back contests or three games in four nights can take a toll. This can impact player performance while being tough to predict.
- Shootouts: This is true whether you love or hate shootouts. Unless you’re betting on regulation only, your NHL betting results can come down to which skaters get the better of goalies in a one-on-one situation.
Pros and cons of betting on college football
- Opportunity: There will be dozens of games each week, and another 40-plus when it’s time for the postseason. If you like having lots of games to bet on, NCAA football is the ticket.
- Specializing: While the sheer number of games can be overwhelming, there’s plenty of room for specialization, such as picking a particular conference.
- Effort: College football betting info can be tougher to come by, but those who manage to dig it out may find an advantage.
- Information: As mentioned, info isn’t as readily available for many college games. When it comes to major programs and big TV games, you’ll be covered, but other games may present a challenge.
- Mismatches: Powerhouse programs can line up against schools that are nowhere near the same talent level. That leads to mismatched games and inflated spreads, which aren’t exactly the easiest bets to figure out.
- Availability: While all of the top sportsbooks offer odds on college football games, the exact options can vary. In some states, you can’t bet on player props or live bet on college sports, while others prohibit betting on in-state teams.
Just like the NFL, you have set days for games and additional time to research. Add in all of the ways that you can specialize and the chances of finding an edge, and it’s not too hard to see why college football season is a favorite time for many bettors.
Pros and cons of betting on college basketball
- Volume: If you think March Madness is busy, then take a gander at the average set of regular-season games for college hoops. For several days out of the week, you’ll have dozens of options to sort through.
- Focus: Since there are so many games to choose from, there are chances to focus and specialize here, as well.
- Schedule: While the schedule itself is busy, the teams get breaks in between games, at least outside of tourneys. Unlike the NBA, issues like fatigue, rest, and travel aren’t as big of a deal here.
- News: Similar to college football, information can be tougher to come by outside of the marquee programs. It’s out there for those who have time, but the rest of us can be at a disadvantage.
- Time: Busy schedules are great when you have time, but they can be a pain in the neck when you don’t. In order to navigate your way around, you’ll need to have a system in place to sort through games in a hurry.
- Accessibility: Once again, the available options for betting on college basketball can vary. Even when there are props available, the number of options will be much less than what you’ll find for pro sports.
College basketball odds capture the imagination of the betting world each year for the tournament, but the regular season can be fun, as well. In fact, many bettors shift over to college hoops as the NFL and college football seasons start winding down.
Biggest differences to consider
Sportsbooks offer many choices. While that’s a good thing, it can also lead to difficulties. If you’re debating which of the major sports to focus on, consider the following:
How much time do you plan to devote?
If you’re a recreational bettor who only bets here and there, you have the luxury of picking and choosing your spots. For those who want to bet more often than that, the time factor enters the equation. If you can’t dedicate time every day to research and shop for odds, then the NFL and college football may be your best options. For those who can spare some time daily, more daily sports could be options.
What’s your preferred style of betting?
Do you love sports betting spreads and totals? Then football and basketball could be good picks. Moneyline bettors may like betting on MLB or NHL games, though the other sports also tend to work well here. For player props and live betting, meanwhile, you’ll generally find more options with each of the pro sports instead of college.
Which of the sports do you like the best?
Sports betting should be fun and entertaining. By extension, you should be spending the time that you dedicate to it wisely. If you have a favorite sport or two, then that’s where you should focus. You can always expand your horizons as time permits if you’d like and learn the ins and outs of betting on the others.
Which sport is best for betting?
If we go solely by numbers and overall attention, then the NFL is the ruler of the sports betting roost. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should drop what they’re doing and focus on pro football. If the NFL isn’t your thing, that’s perfectly fine.
The other five options on this list also have large followings, and there’s plenty to like about each. When deciding which is best for you, consider what you enjoy and what type of betting you tend to do best at. Ultimately, the best sport for betting is the one that provides you with the most enjoyment and entertainment.
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