You’re at a race track, watching the horses go around in circles, waiting for someone to lose so you can win some money. Across the room from you, a couple is having a crazy fight. You want to watch the game, but you can’t. You hear the man yell “Tot!” You look at the counter and realize the bet is over. You didn’t know what “tot” meant in sports betting. Here’s a game that you might see at a track:
The track could be any kind of race track, though it’s usually an American one. You’ll see races for horses at any level, from beginners to professionals. The horses run around a circular track, with the starting line in front of the grandstand. The track will have banks of flashing lights that the spectators turn on and off as the horses run by. The track might be equipped with an electronic chip system, which tracks the activity of the other horses and compares them to the winning horse’s profile. This form of gaming used to be known as “pari-mutuel” racing, because the odds are determined by a group of people who watch the races and place bets on the horses. The system was created to allow gamblers to participate in gambling on horse racing, and the more people who join, the louder the noise of the machines will be. This form of betting is also referred to as “the sport of kings,” because it was popularized by the wealthy classes in 19th century Europe.
Baseball is a team game that’s been around for a while. It was originally conceived as a way for Americans to play their games during the winter months. The objective is to strike out the opponent by hitting them with a pitched ball, trying not to be hit back. It’s mostly a timing game, with the pitcher’s arm setting the tempo, and the batter trying to hit the ball as soon as the pitcher releases it. Hitting a home run is the most valuable achievement in baseball, though doubles, triples and stolen bases are also common. There are nine innings in a baseball game, with the team that scores the most runs in a single inning winning. The pitcher stands on the mound, dressed in a uniform with spiked shoes and a fitted cap. There’s a timekeeper at each base, keeping track of the innings. The spectators will be behind a screen that prevents them from seeing the action, but they can still follow the results through television. The catcher is also on the field during a game, wearing protective gear to catch the ball. The defense in baseball is very important, as two out of every three balls will become outs because someone will make a catch. The pitcher must keep the ball in the vicinity of the plate, and the batter must try to hit the ball with force, otherwise it’ll be an out.
Basketball is a fast-paced game that’s been around for a while, too. It’s the sport that Gen-X and millennials played in high school. You’ve probably seen it on TV, where players use their hands to shoot a ball through a hoop, with a net in the middle. Teams of five play against another team of five, with one player on the floor at a time. Basketball is also one of the most popular sports in the world, due to its simple rules and easy to understand scoring system. Like other ball games, there’s a three-point line in the center of the court that players must shoot from. The goal in basketball is to score more points than the other team, with a single point awarded for each basket made. Like in some other sports, there is a foul line that divides the court into halves. The ball can be blocked by a person standing behind it, called a “blocker.” A team commits a foul if they touch the ball before it goes around the perimeter of the court. Blocks are worth two points, with the other point going to the opposition. Players wear colorful clothing and use accessories like watches to show their team affiliation.
Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, due to its exciting matches, spectacular goals and spectacular injuries. It’s a game that the entire family can enjoy, with several variations that you can play, depending on the number of players interested in the game. The objective is to score more points than the other team by kicking a ball through a series of cones mounted on a goal post. An additional point is scored if a player catches the ball with one of their hands. Teams of twenty-two will play against each other, with eleven players on the field at a time. The team with the most points at the end of the match wins. Football is mostly played during the summer months in the US, though it’s also a popular winter sport in Europe. The ball is a little bit smaller than those used in other sports, and it’s usually made of plastic or rubber. This is to allow the ball to bounce more, making it easier to score in soccer. Games can range from 30 minutes to three hours, depending on how many substitutions each team makes, with a halftime break to let the players refresh themselves.
Golf is another game that’s been around for a while and which still enjoys considerable popularity. It was originally conceived as a way for the upper classes in England to play the gentleman’s game of curling. The objective is to hit a ball with a stick (golf club) toward a hole (target) that’s been carved out of the landscape. There are three phases to a golf match. The first is the setup, where the player draws the ball position on the ground, the hole, the rough and the fairways. The second is the round, where the player takes a hit and follows through with their swing, trying to hit the ball into the hole. Ball marks left on the tee indicate where players must stand to begin their swings. The third is the presentation, where the player with the most impressive display wins. It’s still primarily a male-dominated sport, with the male golfer depicted on television often appearing to be in a good mood. The golf club has changed a lot since the days of long hair and bucket hats. Now it’s a sleek metal with a pointy end, designed to travel faster and farther.
Tennis originated in England during the early 14th century, though it was originally called “Squirrel Tennis.” The sport has been around for a while and is still popular today. The objective is to hit a ball through the opponent’s court using rackets. It’s a game that the entire family can enjoy and which has been popularized by TV shows like the US version of The Big Bang Theory. Like golf, tennis is played outdoors and in the presence of an audience. Popularity among the upper classes in England helped establish the sport as an acceptable pastime for the leisure classes. Today, it’s still a popular game for the well-bred, with the gentleman golfer again presenting himself as the ideal tennis player. The great champion Fred Perry wore a bow tie and white shorts to show off his feathery bum. The shorts are still worn, but now it’s less gentlemanly to wear a tie. Nowadays, players wear form-fitting lycra shorts and tank tops that accentuate their figures. One of the latest developments in tennis is the increase in interest in mixed-doubles matches, where two players from different genders play together. It’s now acceptable for women to play alongside men, with titles such as Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss. America hosting mixed-gender competitions. The ball is light and usually made of covered in leather or synthetic materials. The surface is firm but not too hard, so that the ball can be struck with sufficient force to travel through the air.
That’s a lot of information to digest, but it’ll be worth it if you understand how to place a sports bet. Once you understand the basics, you can branch out and place bets on other sporting events, like hockey or car racing. It might not be the most exciting game to watch, but at least you’ll know what’s going on. Place a bet on this year’s Super Bowl and experience the fun of betting without all the boring technicalities. Then you can go home and complain about how your team lost, but at least you’ll know why they lost.