Editor’s Note: This new recurring piece was written by Billy Costigan. The first portion of this post is for readers new to lacrosse. The second is for those new to sports betting. The final portion is a deeper dive for serious lacrosse betters. Future posts will most closely resemble the later half of this report.
Welcome sports fans and bettors of all types! My name is Billy (@bCostigan84). If you’re interested in learning more about lacrosse or sports betting, you’ve come to the right place.
This is the start of my weekly lacrosse betting series for Lacrosse Playground, which is aimed at helping readers make sense of lacrosse and sports betting.
My goal is to help readers learn how to gamble responsibly, become profitable, and enjoy the process. We will accomplish this by teaching the game of lacrosse and providing sports betting tips, strategies, and theory.
After the first two posts, the structure of will be lacrosse education, betting education, reviewing recent games, and previewing upcoming games. There will also be discussion of season-long trends in later articles. Now, let’s go over the basics of both lacrosse and sports betting.
An Introduction to Lacrosse
Lacrosse is a sport created by Native Americans with various versions from tribe-to-tribe throughout Canada and the United States, each with their own traditions and history.
Today’s field lacrosse most resembles what has been played in the Northeast, New York and Canada, by the nations of the Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee people. They viewed lacrosse as a gift from the Creator. You can’t tell someone about lacrosse without acknowledging the Native Peoples who created the sport.
I encourage readers to learn more about the history of lacrosse and the Native athletes performing on the game’s biggest stages.
There are two types of lacrosse: field lacrosse, played outside and box lacrosse, which is played inside.
Field lacrosse has ten players per side, a playing area similar to a soccer field, and a 6’x6’ goal.
Box lacrosse is played with six players per side, a smaller playing surface typically the size of an ice hockey rink, and a smaller 4’x4’ goal.
Lacrosse involves running like soccer, hitting like ice hockey, and strategy often similar to basketball. Collegiate and professional lacrosse have their own sets of rules, including different length shot clocks. In many sports, a free possession is awarded to the opposing team after a score, but after each goal scored in lacrosse, and at the beginning of every period or quarter, there is a faceoff — a 50/50 battle for possession.
I encourage anyone who’s interested in lacrosse to watch the game as much as possible. The three most televised versions of lacrosse (which happen to be the three you can bet on) are:
- NCAA Division 1 field lacrosse
- professional field lacrosse in the Premier Lacrosse League
- professional box lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League
Both types of professional lacrosse are now widely available on ESPN+. Many collegiate games are also on ESPN+ or you can find links from the school’s athletic sites for where else to watch. I also recommend trying to get out and catch any level of local contests in person.
An Introduction to Sports Betting
Let’s talk about sports betting and how it works. This section includes sports betting terminology, which can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry though, I’ll do my best to explain.
The first term you need to know is a sportsbook, which is a platform that provides betting opportunities. A sportsbook will actually be the one collecting wagers and paying out winnings.
Oddsmakers provide lines and totals for sportsbook. Sportsbooks can be located at brick-and-mortar locations, often inside a casino with a counter or kiosks where you can place bets. Physical sportsbooks often have a bar with plenty of televisions to watch the games.
Sportsbooks generally also have a mobile option to place wagers, but availability is limited to states with legal mobile betting.
Sports betting is currently legal in 33 states and many more in the process of joining the fun. Be sure to check your state’s laws about which sportsbooks and types of betting are legal.
Sportsbooks set odds and prices at which you can place bets. The different bets they set can also be called the lines. The prices on the bets determine how much you win off your wager. The 3 main types of bets set for each game are: spread, total, and moneyline.
We’ll start with the simplest: the moneyline bet, which is just picking the outright winner of a contest.
The total, or over/under, is a bet based on the total combined amount of points scored between two teams during a contest, which usually includes overtime but always check the house rules posted by your sportsbook or any disclaimers listed on a bet.
The sportsbook will set a number of total points for a game, and you can bet on whether you think there will be more or less points actually scored. An under bet means you think the actual total points will be lower than the one posted and an over bet means you think the actual total points will be higher than the one posted.
Lastly, there’s the point spread. To bet on the spread, you pick either the favorite, the team more likely to win according to the sportsbook, minus the certain amount of points listed in the spread bet line or the underdog, the team less likely to win according to the sportsbook, plus the certain amount of points listed in the spread bet line.
To find out who wins against the spread you take each team’s actual final points scored and add or subtract the amount listed for that team on the spread bet and see who wins after those adjustments.
Before I get into some examples of spread, totals, and moneyline bets from this past week of college lacrosse and some tips for bettors, I want to explain prices or the juice and how to understand what your wager pays if it wins.
To find out how much a bet will pay, you need to look at the price or juice on a bet, which is the commission a sportsbook holds in order to take your bet. This will be a plus or minus amount listed by the bet.
For moneylines, it’s clear as they are just listed as the price to win outright. For example, you might have a -160 moneyline favorite and +130 moneyline underdog in a game. For totals and spreads, the price will be listed in parentheses next to the over, under, or spread bet.
Most odds you’ll see listed are “American Odds” which are based on how much you would have to risk to win $100 for favorites or minus prices and how much you would win for every $100 risked for underdogs or plus prices. For example:
- A -180 price = $100 won for $180 risked or $10 won for $18 risked
- A -105 price = $100 won for $105 risked or $10 won for $10.50 risked
- A +105 price = $105 won for $100 risked or $10.50 won for $10 risked
- A +180 price = $180 won for $100 risked or $18 won for $10 risked
There are helpful calculators online for gambling odds and prices. When you place a bet, the sportsbook should tell you the potential payout for the amount you wager.
Be mindful though sportsbooks may list a “to pay amount” and not a “to win amount”, you’ll need to subtract the amount you wagered, which you are getting back if you win, from the “to pay amount” to find your actual winnings.
Lacrosse Betting Examples
On Saturday March 26, Georgetown defeated Lehigh with a final score of 14 – 11.
Since Georgetown was a -4.5 favorite and only won by 3 goals, Georgetown technically lost against the spread. Georgetown’s actual final score of 14 minus the 4.5 goal spread, for being the favorite, gave them an adjusted score of 9.5.
This was less than Lehigh’s adjusted score of 15.5 which is their actual score of 11 + 4.5 goals for being the underdog. Georgetown would have needed to win the contest by at least 5 goals to win a spread bet on them in this situation.
However, they won on the moneyline bet since they won the game outright. Taking Georgetown -675 on the moneyline you won your bet, but did not win much at that price, since -675 would require a $67.50 wager to win $10.
If you took Lehigh +425 on the moneyline you lost your bet and whatever amount you wagered, since Lehigh lost the game outright. However, if you took Lehigh +4.5 goals on the spread, you won, since Lehigh lost by 3 goals (not by 5 or more which would have been a loss). You were also rewarded since Lehigh +4.5 was priced at +110, meaning you won $11 for every $10 wagered.
The total was 22.5 goals but 25 goals were scored. Since 25 actual goals is more than the posted total of 22.5, a bet on the over won and bets on the under lost.
Below I’ve added a chart for all the NCAA lacrosse games that were available to bet last week, the bets (with their prices) that were available, and the actual results of each game.
I’ve highlighted every bet that won or “cashed” in green and the bets that lost in red. You can compare which bets are in green or red to the result to help you understand reading the betting lines / odds that were posted.
After the chart be sure to check out a few more crucial tips for bettors and some closing remarks.
Betting Tips and Conclusion
I’ll leave you with three very important tips on betting.
First, bankroll management is one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of sports betting. This is a strategy for gambling responsibly and making sure you don’t lose too much money.
You first decide your bankroll, the specific amount of money set aside for sports betting, which is entirely disposable and you are fully prepared to lose.
Then, you pick a unit size which should be 1% to 5% of your bankroll. I usually go with a 3% unit size but you can always start at 1% and increase your unit size as you get more comfortable.
Once you have your standard unit, you should stick to a policy of flat betting which is only risking 1 unit on every bet you make. It’s also known as betting to risk and is generally a safer approach than betting to win.
So, if your unit size is $10 and a bet is a -150 price you only risk your one $10 unit to win $6.67, you don’t risk $15 to win a whole $10 unit.
This strategy can seem frustrating or slow going when the prices get big and you only win a small fraction of a unit back; but it helps save you from losing too much on bets you don’t win, by consistently only risking your set unit size (1 to 5 percent of your bankroll) on each bet.
Second, track all of your bets 100% of the time. Track bets you make and bets you don’t make, but strongly consider. See how you do betting different sports and types of bets. Try to find areas you excel in and work on that. This tracking can easily be done with Google Sheets or Excel. It’s crucial to keep track of how much you are winning and losing.
My final suggestion to anyone, especially those getting into lacrosse or sports betting for the first time, is that you can practice bets all you want. Anyone, anytime can look at odds and pick bets they want to make. Then, instead of actually risking money, you can just write the bet down and see if it wins or loses.
This is a great way to get into sports betting or a new type of sports betting without much risk. It’s tempting to fire away, but I highly recommend making practice bets your first few weeks betting a new sport; picking what you’d bet, writing it down, and recording the results. This can help you test the waters and gain knowledge before putting real money on the line.
I really hoped you enjoyed this intro to lacrosse betting and found it helpful!
Look for more articles weekly here on Lacrosse Playground to help you become a better lacrosse bettor. As always, my DM’s are open with any questions you may have about lacrosse or sports betting @bCostigan84 on Twitter.
Best of luck and let’s cash some bets!
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