The Most Popular Sports Americans Love To Bet On

USA’s Top Sports for Wagers

More and more Americans are betting on sports these days. But which are the most popular for wagers? The answers are below, along with some handy tips to get started.


Football (or American football for overseas soccer lovers) is the biggest sport in the US and the NFL is the biggest sporting league in the world. Betting interest follows sporting viewership so it’s pretty obvious this is among the most popular sports that Americans like to bet on (particularly the Super Bowl).

As with many sports, the NFL is brimming with betting possibilities for both individual games and a variety of title bets. On top of this, it’s also possible to bet on who might win various awards over the course of the season. The only downside of having so many markets is that the deep waters can make players wary of dipping a toe in, and option paralysis can be oddly off-putting. To help counter this, here are a few spots of advice for those betting on the NFL.

Don’t bet on everything. Because NFL is wildly popular this unfortunately also means that the sportsbooks have a keen eye on what the odds should be and rarely much significant mistakes pricing markets. Therefore, don’t be afraid to back a value bet with odds that are good, but only place bets when this is the case. Spraying money around is a way to lose because most of the time sportsbooks get it right. Shop around for the best prices (a sportsbook isn’t your spouse, you can have accounts with as many as you like), and even if it seems a small margin these will add up over time. And if you are emotionally invested in a team then, unless you have iron-hearted discipline, you should avoid betting on markets that involve them lest your heart rule your head.

Browsing different sportsbooks does not have to be limited to the USA, as overseas sites nearly always support USD and have major league markets. However, be aware that even some very good overseas sportsbooks do not accept players from the USA. Luckily, recent legislative changes means that there are plenty of sports betting alternatives based in the USA now.

Betting Beyond Sports

Sports betting is much more convenient now for players in the USA thanks to a more relaxed approach towards single event wagers, and online casinos are also increasingly popular. One major advantage of these is that there’s no off-season, unlike sports which necessarily take lengthy breaks in between seasons. If you want a head start on finding the best US online casinos then some of these operators are very popular and accept American players, offering a winning blend of great welcome bonuses, a fun and diverse array of games, and convenient banking methods so financial transactions can be made swiftly, securely, and with a minimum of fuss.


The NBA is another of America’s most popular sporting categories and one that has a frenetic pace of high scores. Many fans are also enthusiastic stats nerds which fits in nicely with the plethora of potential markets. Beyond basic win/loss markets, these also include points tallies in total, for individual teams, and in halves and quarters, with the high scoring nature making it ideal for various under/over wagers.

Basketball can also be a good bet for live betting, which is supported by the majority of online sportsbooks, and things can change pretty rapidly. In addition, handicap win/loss bets can be a good idea (depending on the odds, pairing these with points totals can also work well).

Title bets should be made as early as possible, because not only will the odds be substantially better but you will then be able to hedge (bet against the outcome at shorter odds) to ensure a profitable result either way. If you wait until your pick has a foot in the NBA Finals the odds will not be great (and upsets can happen).

Ice Hockey

Another fast-paced game that Americans love is ice hockey, and the NHL has seen its fair share of shock results over the years (not to mention quite a lot of blood spilt). Sportsbooks often have literally hundreds of markets on each clash on the ice, so there’s no shortage of choice but newcomers to betting might prefer to stick to the win/loss markets until they’ve earned a little experience.

Total goals under/over and puck line betting will be the first port of call for those venturing beyond picking a winning team, and goal total betting can also occur on a period and team basis, meaning there are dozens of possibilities. Predicting precise scores can give good payouts but can be quite tricky, and some players like to hedge these with live betting. One upside of the enormous array of quite specific betting markets is that you may be able to find conflicting odds at differing sportsbooks, enabling you to back both options for a guaranteed profit.


After the NFL, the MLB is the biggest major league sport in the USA. Every team plays 162 games a season, and with extra games post-season potentially leading to the World Series there’s no shortage of betting possibilities. In common with other major league categories, baseball has a precise and numerous array of scoring markets (total runs), in addition to team scoring and predictions for the first five innings.

It can be tempting to back the team with the shortest odds but most of the time this will actually leave you behind, in the long run. The reason for this is the smaller payout and the fact that casual bettors often lazily lump some cash on whoever has the shortest odds. It’s better to back underdogs but to be selective (with so many games every season you can afford to pick and choose). In addition, the weather plays a massive factor and when the winds are high the direction can either be very beneficial or hinder the hopes of home runs.

General Sports Betting Tips

To help your sports betting experience, here are a few quick tips to improve your chances of finishing ahead regardless of the sport you like the most. Sign up at several sites, as this not only gives you multiple welcome bonuses (often match deposit or free bet promos) but also means that when one site has better odds you can take advantage of them. If you chain yourself to a single sportsbook then you can only use the odds they deign to offer.

Manage your bankroll tightly and grow neither despondent nor giddy if things go poorly or well. Even the wisest can make mistakes, and luck (both good and bad) often plays a role. Only bet a couple of percent of your bankroll at any one time so you can absorb losses. Also, consider that sometimes sites outside North America (and which follow the major leagues less) offer better odds due to less expertise. In the same way, if you like betting on English soccer then the margins at a UK sportsbook will be wafer-thin.

Should you happen to be playing at an international site and are confronted by unfamiliar odds set up in fractions or decimals be aware that these don’t take long to understand. However, most sites will also offer American odds if you simply find them easier to read.

The major leagues have always been popular for spectators and are increasingly bet on by gamblers these days. Just remember to only ever bet what you can afford to lose.

About the Author: Mark Bargatze

Mark has been a betting man for nearly 20 years now. He is mainly into sports betting & horse racing. But also likes to play an occasional poker tournament. He shares all his betting experience on his blog.

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