The best sports betting books for beginners

By Andrew D

March 15, 2023

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So, when you’re done reading the plethora of informative articles we have lovingly and painstakingly created here at The Jump Hub, you might either find yourself:

  • More confused than when you started

  • Craving more information

Either way, there is usually no better way to learn how to do something than to study it from a book before giving it a go for yourself. Sports betting, and wagering of all kinds, is no different.

It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed or bewildered by esoteric terminology

So many betting sites just seem to assume that you know what you’re doing when you rock up

This is entirely reminiscent of the time we sat down at a Blackjack table in Vegas for the first ever time, but that’s another story. Not a long one. 

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When the fun stops, stop

Sports betting can be confusing for beginners, so in that spirit, we put our thinking caps on and made a list of the books that either helped us when we were being seared by the fierce reality of sports betting in the very early days. Or that we wish we had bothered to read before we got flayed alive. In no particular order then:

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The Complete Guide to Sports Betting

Kevin Dolan

This is a book that leaves no stone unturned. No prop or line bet left behind, no potential angle or advantage unassessed. If you want to dive right into the subject and go as deep as you like into the mechanics of betting systems, ‘smart-money’ strategies and insights, then look no further.  

It will take some time and effort to read this book. It’s like a school textbook that you have to keep referring back to and reminding yourself what it said. But the information is rock solid. It is painstakingly researched, explained and illustrated.

The Complete Guide To Sports Betting is certainly straightforward and to the point

You will get no flowery descriptions or emotive scene-setting here. This is cold, hard information and it’s perhaps more of a factual, working resource than any other book on this list. 

From deciphering games offering the highest betting value and providing the most logical chance to deliver profit to an understanding of how power rankings work. We found the sections on how to analyse betting trends and patterns particularly informative and pored over the methods of evaluating the impact of early/late line movements again and again. 

This book covers it all and is an absolute must-read for any would-be sports bettors who wants to progress beyond throwing a few dollars at their favourite team to spice a game up at the weekend.

The Everything Guide to Sports Betting

Josh Applebaum 

This excellent book really gets to grips with the subject of sports betting and looks at it objectively from both sides. Applebaum is not afraid to extol the virtues of sports wagering, and how it can enhance the experience of viewing your favourite sports. But he also rings the necessary warning bells as we try to do here at The Jump Hub. Sports betting is inherently dangerous to people with certain character traits and it is a subject that we are pleased to see being brought into the open and addressed. 

This book is a superb guide to enjoying acceptable, affordable levels of sports betting without succumbing to the temptations too much and allowing the dark side to take control. It gives insights into how to research and place sensible bets. Which bets are more appropriate for any given situation and which will lead you to rack and ruin (parlay bets, don’t even get us started) 

Newcomers can learn a great deal from this accessible offering

How to sniff out and identify potentially profitable bets and which danger signs should lead you to walk away (parlay bets, did we mention how much we hate those?)

As an introduction to sports betting, it’s hard to think of a more balanced, informative approach and we really appreciate it for that. Highly recommended. 

Sports Betting for Dummies

Swain Scheps

The ubiquitous ‘Dummies’ series exploded onto the scene in 1991 with DOS for Dummies and has grown like crazy ever since. There are now at least 339 books on subjects as varied as calculus, fixing and making things, and even sex for dummies. 

There is clearly a huge appetite for what are seen as books that anybody can pick up and understand, no matter their previous level of understanding of the subject. And that seems to hold true. 

Sports Betting For Dummies starts readers off at the very beginning and covers all the basic fundamentals and concepts of sports betting. Moving on from there, it teaches the language of sports betting, the meaning of various terminologies, and the types of bets it is possible to make.

From there, things start to go down the rabbit hole and get seriously in-depth

But that’s a good thing. Topics range from how to understand and decipher the meaning behind handicapping and how to apply that knowledge to your own betting strategy. We were particularly happy to find sections on how to manage your bankroll, one of our own unbreakable rules, and the variety of ways to place bets on the internet.

Everything you could ever need to be a successful sports bettor is laid out in a clear, concise fashion. We were pleased to see references to individual sports and events, from our beloved basketball to annual one-off events like the Super Bowl and a whole lot more. 

This book is, without question, one of the most informative, comprehensive ways you could hope to learn about sports betting from the ground up. It even had lots of insights to offer those of us who have been at it for (ahem) a little longer.

Give it a try, it’s hard to see how anyone could be disappointed. 

The Logic of Sports Betting

Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow

This book leads us into the subject of sports betting by explaining the basics, as most do. What Miller and David have done a little differently is to really address the structure and logic behind sports betting from the bookmakers’ viewpoint in an effort to further our own understanding from the other side of the fence. 

  • How do sportsbooks decide on their odds? 

  • Which types of bets are the best if you want to increase your chances of winning? 

  • Is it even possible to beat the house?

As the title suggests, this book gives the reader a better comprehension of the logic utilised by sportsbooks when setting their betting lines.

"Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle."

Sun Tzu - The Art of War

And have no illusions, when it comes to taking their money, sportsbooks are the enemy and it is your sworn duty to do everything you can to ruin them…

Honourable mention:

Guide to Sports Betting

Ian Hudson

This book is a competent, well-structured attempt to provide new sports bettors with a guide to wagering and how to make profits consistently when betting on sports.

The tips and advice seem sound enough and the strategies he mentions, whilst perhaps not painting the whole picture, should lead to successful betting habits if heeded.

Final thoughts

Reading these books won’t suddenly turn you into a professional gambler mastermind who can suddenly make a fortune betting on sports and live high on the hog. But they will show you the depth of knowledge that is required to give yourself the best chance of succeeding. They will highlight ideas and concepts that you may not have considered too much before, even as an experienced gambler. Most of all, what we hope they will do is make you want to gamble! To get out there and try out the techniques they espouse.

Any of these fine books will give you a superb head-start in sports betting and boost your basic knowledge through the roof. There is no substitution for experience, however, and you must put what you have learned into practice, again and again, to truly begin to see what they’re driving at. They can give you the where, when, and why of sports betting until they’re blue in the face, but they cannot get out there and do it for you.

A word of caution before we go:

Sports betting, and any kind of betting can be highly addictive if you have the kind of personality that is susceptible to those kinds of temptations. There is no denying the thrill that comes with picking a sweet winner, especially if you have been doing your homework and carefully researching the situation before placing your bets. 

It’s a rush and one that we have all fallen head over heels for here in The Jump Hub office. But we have all been bitten by it badly at one time or another and it hurts. There are a few fundamental rules that we all now agree never to break and our solidarity has helped us to suppress the demons. But if you dive head-first into sports betting without a safety net then you are putting yourself at risk if you do not put a ladder in place to help you climb back out before you leap. 

Here are the rules that we agree never to break:
  • Never bet under the influence

  • Do not place a quick, reckless bet to take away the sting of one you just lost

  • Betting on your own team is not allowed

  • Protect your bankroll!

  • Assess your habits and spending regularly

  • When the fun stops, stop

Here at The Jump Hub we love to make mistakes and talk nonsense at times. 

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