What is Underdog Betting? Underdog Betting Explained

What is Underdog Betting?

Underdog betting refers to placing a sports bet on an individual or a team that is less favored to win. In other words, it involves betting on the perceived weaker side to win or to lose by a smaller margin than what is predicted by the sportsbook.

The odds of an underdog winning a game or event are lower than those of the favorite when it comes to moneyline betting. However, that is not always the case with against the spread type bets. This is most common in baseball betting.  And it is because the spread serves as a handicap to make the wagering a bit more balanced versus a traditional moneyline wager.

Here is an example of an underdog bet in the NBA:

Team Moneyline
Los Angeles Lakers -135
Memphis Grizzlies +200

In this example, the odds for the Grizzlies – the underdogs – to win are +200. Thus, a successful $100 bet would yield a payout of $200 in addition to the original wager. But a $100 bet on the Lakers would only yield $74.07 in profit.

Additionally, here is an example of an underdog bet at the XBet sportsbook via the moneyline odds provided during the 2023 playoffs.

Lakers moneyline betslip example

In summary, betting on the underdog can yield a higher payout because the perceived risk is higher and the odds are longer. Throughout this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about underdog sports betting. However, below is a great video to help you get started in terms of fully understanding underdog betting.

How Does Underdog Betting Work?

To bet on an underdog, you first need to select a betting site that offers sports betting odds, and there has never been a better time with the US enjoying a boom period in gambling across the country – indeed, the actual gross gaming revenue of the gambling industry in the US reached almost $53 billion in 2021.

Next, you need to analyze the odds and the factors that may influence the outcome of the event, such as the history of the teams/competitors, the form of the players, injuries, and other variables. This will help you make an informed decision on whether to bet on the underdog or the favorite.

Once you have made your decision, you need to place your bet by selecting the underdog and the amount you want to wager. If the underdog wins the game or event, you will receive a payout based on the odds offered by the bookmaker or betting platform.

It is important to note that betting on the underdog carries a higher risk than betting on the favorite or betting the chalk, as the chances of winning are lower. It is essential to practice responsible gambling and to only bet what you can afford to lose.

Top Sports: How Underdog Betting Works

Underdog sports betting is available across all sporting events. This includes soccer, MMA, boxing, baseball, football, basketball, tennis – you name it. However, underdog betting is arguably most prevalent among bettors who are wagering on football and basketball as these two sports are consistently among the sports that receive the most action from sports bettors.

And there is good reason to consider underdog NFL picks for example. Midway through the 2022 season, underdogs won nearly 55% of the games through week 10. At the end of the season, underdogs won 34.3% of the time, which is sizable.

When it comes to NBA underdog picks, the win rate is similar. Additionally, underdog betting is big among college sports too – especially March Madness. In 2023, a number 16 seed defeated a number 1 seed for just the second time in history as Fairleigh Dickinson University took down Purdue. Within the tournament, there are typically countless smaller upsets as well.

All-in-all, underdog picks are popular plays and oftentimes smart plays depending on the sport and the matchup – especially when it comes to NBA betting and NFL betting.

There is also the opportunity to select the underdog when playing fantasy sports that allows the chance of siding with their underdog fantasy picks.

What Are the Advantages of Underdog Betting?

Below we highlight a few of the best advantages of underdog sports betting.

1. Favorable Odds

The odds on underdogs are generally more favorable than those on favorites, meaning that a smaller investment can lead to a bigger payout. This can be particularly advantageous for sharp bettors looking to maximize their profits over the long term. Betting on underdogs may result in smaller wins, but these can add up over time.

2. Potential for Upsets

While favorites may be expected to win more often than not, the beauty of sports is that upsets can and do happen, with evens shots in betting being turned over. Betting on the underdog in such cases can result in substantial payouts, and can also add an element of excitement to the betting experience as bettors root for the underdog to pull off the upset.

3. Reduced Risk

Betting on the underdog can often carry less risk than betting on the favorite, as underdogs are expected to lose. This can be beneficial for bettors looking to minimize their risk, as well as for those who enjoy taking calculated risks.

4. Sportsbooks Adjusting Odds

Sportsbooks may adjust their odds according to public betting and opinion. Thus, the odds for the favorite may become less favorable over time. By focusing on underdogs, bettors can take advantage of the odds differentials and potentially outsmart the sportsbooks in the long run.

5. Greater Value

Betting on the underdog can often provide greater value than betting on the favorite. This is simply because favorites are more likely to win, the odds on them are often lower. Oftentimes the favorite bet isn’t worth it in the long run and you have to consider the greater value instead.

Underdog Betting vs. Favorite Betting

Here, let’s dive deeper into the fifth advantage – value. Oftentimes underdog betting apps and sportsbooks have created such lopsided betting odds that there is too much value in the underdog to pass up.

For instance, this is particularly true in MMA betting as a fight can end in so many ways despite the skill differences between the two fighters. Simply put, anything can happen. In cases where underdog betting apps greatly underestimate an underdog, the underdog value might be the play.

The reason it might be the play is that it will yield a higher return or profit. But also, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze with the favorite bet. Meaning, it’s difficult to profit. Combine this with the uncertainty of MMA fighting, you have an ideal scenario to consider an underdog pick with greater value.

Here are a few pros and cons to help you further understand underdog betting vs. favorite betting.

Most Popular Sports for Underdog Betting?

In this section, we’ll continue deep dive into how underdog sports betting works among popular sports beyond just football and basketball.

Underdog NFL Picks

In the NFL, there are three main types of underdog bets – moneyline, point spread, and totals bets. Moneyline bets are straightforward and offer potentially high payouts. Point spread bets involve giving the underdog a certain number of points to “cover the spread,” while totals bets involve betting on the total number of points scored by both teams. These types of bets can be exciting ways to bet on the underdog and offer different levels of complexity and potential payout.

Underdog NBA Picks

Like the NFL, the three main types of underdog picks in the NBA relate to the moneyline, spread, and totals. The same rules and concepts apply – each underdog will have higher payouts and higher odds.

Underdog Soccer Picks

In soccer, there are also several types of underdog bets. One of the most popular is the moneyline bet, which involves betting on which team will win the match outright. The underdog in this type of bet will typically have higher odds, but it also carries a higher risk – you can also cover the underdog with double chance in soccer betting. In addition to the moneyline, there are also the goal line and totals, such as over/under 3.5 goals.

Underdog MLB Picks

When it comes to betting the underdogs in baseball you can do so via the run line, totals, and moneyline. The most popular MLB betting involving underdogs is the moneyline as it typically has higher odds. However, you can find value within the run line as oftentimes teams favored may have positive odds due to how difficult it is to win by 1.5 or more in baseball.

Underdog Tennis Picks

The main form of underdog sports betting in tennis is the moneyline bet, where you bet on the underdog to win the match outright. Another option is the spread bet, where you bet on the underdog to cover a certain number of games or sets.

In addition, you can also bet on the underdog to win a specific set or game, which can offer higher odds and potential payouts. It’s important to consider the surface, player form, and head-to-head records when betting on tennis underdogs to increase your chances of success.

In closing, it is worth mentioning that underdog betting also applies to various prop bets across each and every sport. For example, you will see underdog odds for the total number of made three point shots in an NBA game for a particular player. Furthermore, underdog betting also applies to live betting as well. The options are virtually endless across all major sports.

Underdog Fantasy Picks

There are numerous online fantasy contests available where you can win real money for choosing picks around your favorite teams and players while watching sports and major events like the NFL. By opting for underdog fantasy picks, you could stand a better chance of coming out on top if the favorites underperform and eliminate the fantasy player’s chances.

Is Underdog Betting Legal?

In short, yes underdog sports betting is legal in the United States. Where and how you can bet on the underdog will vary depending on which state you live in.

If you live in a state that has regulated online sports betting inside state lines you will be able to bet at traditional American sportsbook online and/or in person. If you live in a state where online sports betting is not regulated, you will be able to underdog bet at offshore sportsbooks. It is worth noting that offshore sportsbooks are also available to residents in regulated states as well.

As of 2023, the following states have regulated online sports betting in their state: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Tips For Underdog Sports Betting and Strategy

Below are a few of the best tips to help you succeed when betting on the underdog.

1. Do Your Research – check T&Cs

It’s important to check the terms and conditions of the betting site and the specific event or match you’re interested in betting on. Doing research can help you identify opportunities for underdog bets and increase your chances of success. Additionally, you will need to understand how each betting site pays out its winnings, grades bets, etc.

2. Take it Slow

Betting on underdogs can be exciting, but it’s important to not get carried away. Start with smaller bets and gradually increase them as you become more confident in your research and betting strategy.

3. Manage Your Bankroll

It’s crucial to have a solid bankroll management plan in place when betting on underdogs, or any type of sports betting for that matter. Set a budget stick to it, and avoid chasing losses or overextending yourself.

4. Know When to Make Use of Handicap Betting

Handicap betting is a type of bet where the underdog is given a points advantage to “even out” the odds. Knowing when and how to use handicap betting can help you increase your chances of success when betting on underdogs.

Underdog Betting – The Pros and Cons

Underdog betting is fun, exciting, and potentially very lucrative. However, there are both pros and cons to underdog sports betting. Here are the main ones to consider.

Pros of underdog sports betting:

✅ Higher payout potential: Underdog bets typically offer higher payouts than favorites, which can lead to significant profits.

✅ Less public money: Since favorites are often more popular and heavily bet on by the public, underdogs may have more value and better odds.

✅ Value betting: Since underdogs usually have longer odds and a lower probability of winning, the odds offered by bookmakers may not accurately reflect their true chances of winning.

✅ Emotions can fuel upsets: Underdogs may be more motivated and play with more passion, leading to surprising upsets.

✅ Overlooked advantages: Underdogs may have strengths or advantages that are overlooked by bookmakers and bettors, creating value for savvy bettors.

Cons to underdog betting:

Higher risk: Betting on underdogs is inherently riskier than betting on favorites since they are less likely to win.

Lower win rate: Underdogs win less often than favorites, so betting on them requires a higher percentage of successful bets to be profitable.

Unpredictability: Upsets and unexpected outcomes are more common with underdogs, making them more difficult to predict and bet on.

Inconsistent performance: Underdogs may have a track record of inconsistent or unpredictable performance, which makes it difficult for bettors to assess their true potential.

More volatile: Underdog odds can change quickly and dramatically, leading to potential losses or missed opportunities for bettors.

Conclusion: Best Site For Underdog Betting?

You can’t go wrong with any of the top offshore sports betting sites when it comes to backing underdogs, especially as there are daily opportunities to place a wager within the sports betting industry, which continues to grow.

– an i But one of them sets themselves apart from others and that is BetOnline. BetOnline has a longstanding history in the sports betting industry, offers modern features such as live betting, and is known for offering excellent odds on North American sports such as basketball and football. It is our top recommendation for underdog sports betting.

Related content: Each-Way Betting Guide


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