How to Handicapping Sports at a Sportsbook

A sportsbook is a place where people can bet on the outcome of a sporting event. It was once illegal in most states but since the Supreme Court ruled that it is constitutional, sports betting has boomed and more than 20 US states now have legal sportsbooks.

Whether you’re a casual or professional sports bettor, you can bet on any sport at an online sportsbook. The best ones are those that offer a wide variety of markets and competitive odds. They also accept major payment methods, such as debit cards and eWallets. In addition, the best online sportsbooks treat customers fairly and promptly pay out winning bets.

The odds on a particular game start to shape up almost two weeks ahead of kickoff. This is when the so-called “look ahead” lines are released. These are usually set at a few select sportsbooks, and they reflect the opinions of some smart sportsbook managers. They are also known as 12-day numbers, because betting opens 12 days before a game.

A look ahead is an important tool to use for handicapping a game. It allows you to compare the lines of different sportsbooks and make informed decisions on which line to take. It is also a good way to determine if the sportsbooks have shaded a game. For example, if the public’s “betting percentages” are too extreme, this could indicate that the sportsbook has shaded a game and should be avoided. This can help you maximize profits and make the best bets.