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How to Make a Bet in Person at a Sportsbook (in 7 Easy Steps)

by March 16, 2020

In a world where it seems everything is at our fingertips, the sports betting industry is no exception. Millions of bettors around the country have downloaded sportsbooks’ apps and enjoy wagering through their mobile phones or computers. According to an article by, roughly 88% of New Jersey’s wagering handle for 2019 was brought in through various sportsbook apps.

However, there is a sense of excitement and thrill that comes from walking into a sportsbook or casino and placing a wager in person. In addition, these opportunities can be treated as a night out and a chance to enjoy live action surrounded by similarly devoted fans.

Still, there are many who avoid in-person sportsbooks because of the uncertainty of what the experience will be like. No one wants to be the person who frustrates the cashier or other customers, or wagers incorrectly because they cannot understand the technology abound. If you share this trepidation, this article aims to calm those fears.

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Making a Bet in Person at a Sportsbook (in 7 Easy Steps)


1. Get Comfortable With Your Surroundings
The first thing anyone should do when entering a new sportsbook is to learn the lay of the land. Get acclimated to where the odds are posted and where the cashiers are. Take note of how long the lines are at the betting windows. Most importantly, figure out the best place to sit and view all the action to follow your wagers.

2. Read the Odds Board/Betting Sheets
Depending on the sportsbook, odds will be displayed for customers via an odds board and/or betting sheets. An odds board is a big LED screen that has the live updated lines for every applicable wager. Betting sheets come in paper format and may differ from the odds board in the sense that they list what the opening lines of the day were, not necessarily reflecting the most current odds. If both are offered, it is worthwhile to compare the odds on the board and betting sheets to know how a line has moved.

3. Know What You are Betting on Ahead Before Getting In Line
All sporting events have a variety of lines offered each game. One can choose to wager on a point spread, money line or over/under in addition to various alternate lines or props. To maximize your efficiency and not wait in line all night, know all the bets you want to make initially and present them at once. Feel free to bring your betting sheet with you to the window so you do not forget your wagers.

4. Know How to Phrase Your Bet
Many odds boards will have a 3-digit number to the left of the game. This makes for easy reference when walking up to the betting window. Here is an example:

602 Patriots -9.5 -500

The 602 number is what you would reference when making your bet. Patriots is the team name, while the -9.5 and -500 are the spread and money line respectively. If you wanted to place a $50 bet on the Patriots at -9.5 points, you could tell the cashier, “I’d like #602, Patriots -9.5 for $50.”

Typically, cashiers will still know how to find your bet even if you did not say the 3-digit number attached to it. In addition, if you just say the team name it usually indicates you are betting on the spread.

The major takeaway from this is that cashiers are there to help you. If you are unsure of how to phrase your bet, be as detailed as you can be and the cashiers will ask for verification.

5. Verify Your Bets Before Handing Money Over
Your bets are final once your money is handed over to the cashier. Before doing so, the cashier will show your wagers on a screen for you to verify. Make sure the team and what you are betting on is correct. The screen will also show you the potential payout should you win your bet, so you will be able to track how much money you have wagered and what the potential returns are.

6. Hold Onto Your Tickets
When you hand your money to the cashier, he or she will print paper tickets of your wagers. Hold onto these tickets, as you will have to present them back to the cashiers to get paid out. If you cannot stay in the sportsbook for the duration of the game you wagered on, do not worry. Sportsbooks will typically accept tickets on all events for one calendar year, so you can cash out at your earliest convenience.

7. Take Note of the Rules of Etiquette
While you are in the sportsbook, observe the behavior of the other patrons. Many of them are “regulars” and have the in-person sports betting experience down to a science. The more you hear their lingo, the more efficient you can be at the betting window.

However, even the most experienced bettors do not display the proper etiquette. So as not to hold up the lines, have your bets and your money ready to go.

In addition, do not be afraid to tip your ticket writer just as you would a server in a restaurant or a dealer in a card game. While it is not a mandatory thing to do, it is courteous to show them the same respect they showed you when assisting you with your wager. Who knows, maybe good karma will come your way the next time you place a bet.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Betting 101, Betting Tips, How-To