The most common way to bet football is against the pointspread (ATS), often called a side bet. This involves making a wager on either the favorite or the underdog. For example, Team A is a 7-point favorite (-7) against Team B, making Team B a 7-point underdog (+7). If you bet on Team A, it must win by more than seven points for you to win your bet. Conversely, if you bet on Team B, it must lose by less than seven points for you to win your bet. Of course, if Team B wins outright, you also win your bet. If Team A wins by exactly seven points, your bet pushes and your wager is refunded.

Notice that point spreads adjust the score for the favorite team. This is easiest to see with an example: If the New York Knicks are playing the Boston Celtics, and Boston is favored to win by a 4-point spread, then a bet on Boston only pays out if Boston wins by more than 4 points. A bet on New York pays out if New York wins or if they lose by less than 4 points.


The New England Patriots are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl 53. The point spread opened with the Rams installed as a one-point favorite following the AFC Championship Game, but before the end of the night, the Patriots were a two-point favorite at most sportsbooks. The line has climbed to 2.5 points at most sportsbooks, with a couple going up to three points.
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Many of the leading gambling bookmakers from the 1930s to the 1960s got their start during the prohibition era of the 1920s. They were often descendants of the influx of immigrants coming into the USA at this time. Although the common stereotype is that these bookies were of Italian descent, many leading bookies were of eastern European ancestry.[4]
Betting on sporting events has long been the most popular form of spread betting. Whilst most bets the casino offers to players have a built in house edge, betting on the spread offers an opportunity for the astute gambler. When a casino accepts a spread bet, it gives the player the odds of 10 to 11, or -110. That means that for every 11 dollars the player wagers, the player will win 10, slightly lower than an even money bet. If team A is playing team B, the casino is not concerned with who wins the game; they are only concerned with taking an equal amount of money of both sides. For example, if one player takes team A and the other takes team B and each wager $110 to win $100, it doesn’t matter what team wins; the casino makes money. They take $100 of the $110 from the losing bet and pay the winner, keeping the extra $10 for themselves. This is the house edge. The goal of the casino is to set a line that encourages an equal amount of action on both sides, thereby guaranteeing a profit. This also explains how money can be made by the astute gambler. If casinos set lines to encourage an equal amount of money on both sides, it sets them based on the public perception of the team, not necessarily the real strength of the teams. Many things can affect public perception, which moves the line away from what the real line should be. This gap between the Vegas line, the real line, and differences between other sports books betting lines and spreads is where value can be found.
By far the largest part of the official market in the UK concerns financial instruments; the leading spread-betting companies make most of their revenues from financial markets, their sports operations being much less significant. Financial spread betting in the United Kingdom closely resembles the futures and options markets, the major differences being
In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.
If the bookmaker was only confident enough to give Seattle a field goal’s lead on the Patriots, it was clearly going to be a tight game. Oddsmakers aren’t often that wrong about flagship games like the Super Bowl. All things being equal, it’s likely the betting public would have taken the Seahawks to win the game and have been done with it. But throw in the point spread that gave the Patriots 2.5 points, and the proposition seems more equal.

Sometimes a line will move far enough to create a “middle” opportunity. Say the Texas Longhorns end up facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of March Madness. If you have Texas early as a 5-point favorite, and I move the line to Texas –7 later in the week, then you can also place a bet on Wisconsin +7. If Texas happens to win by six points, both your bets cash in. Texas winning by either five or seven gives you a win and a push. Any other result creates a win and a loss, so you’re only risking the vigorish.
The Patriots are set to take on the Rams in the greatest show on turf and money has been flowing into both sides of the Super Bowl 53 point spread. The Patriots are -3 for SB LIII according to most legal online sportsbooks but some have them listed only at -2.5. The Rams and Patriots are both offensive minded, and capable of scoring quickly; therefore, the winner will likely be whoever scores last in the game (-180). There is still no discussion of whether the roof will be open or closed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, so weather may or may not play a factor here. Either way, make sure to get in your bet on the spread for Super Bowl 53, whether you choose the Patriots or Rams, before the 6:30 EST kickoff on Sunday, February 3rd.
This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.
The 3-digit numbers to the far right are the listed prices for these bets.  This is also called the odds, vig, or juice.  An easy way to think of it is the amount you must risk to win $100 on this wager.  In our example, -110 means you must risk $110 if you want to win $100.  -110 is pretty standard, but you will find different options.  We will cover those in more depth when we talk about money lines.  The price of the bet has no impact on which team is favored.  Only the plus or minus on the point spread matters.  This is handled differently when you bet strictly on the moneyline.
Hello! I'm Stephen and am the creator of Fast Break Bets. I'm a young Chicagoan with a huge passion for sports betting and analytics. My interest in betting started back in 2011, and I have been studying models and strategies ever since. Fast Break Bets launched in 2015 to primarily help others become a successful sports bettor and share my models' projections. So browse around, follow @FastBreakBets on Twitter, and feel free to ask me a question!
In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.

For example, in a cricket match a sports spread betting firm may list the spread of a team’s predicted runs at 340 – 350. The gambler can elect to ‘buy’ at 350 if they think the team will score more than 350 runs in total, or sell at 340 if they think the team will score less than 340. If the gambler elects to buy at 350 and the team scores 400 runs in total, the gambler will have won 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake. But if the team only scores 300 runs then the gambler will have lost 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake.


If you want to predict what will happen when Team A meets Team B, your best stats to analyze are those generated in their most recent head-to-head matchups at the same venue. The habits of the betting public are fairly constant, so ATS results in general have a longer shelf life, but don’t bother going too far back in time. The 2009 New York Yankees are going to look a lot different than the 2008 Yankees or the 2000 Yankees. (Source: The Sports Bookie Blog)
The negative (-) sign indicates that the Cowboys are the favorites, while the positive (+) sign indicates that the New York Giants are the underdogs. With the spread set at 2.5 points, a bet on the Cowboys would mean that they would have to win by more than 2.5 points (3 or more) in order for you to win that bet. A bet on New York would mean that the Giants would have to either lose by 2.5 or less points (2 or less) or win the game outright in order for your bet to win.
Futures betting also is offered on the major events in horse racing, such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. In horse racing futures, if your horse does not start the race due to injury or any other reason, you lose the bet -- there are no refunds. On the other hand, the odds on your horse racing futures bet also are "locked in," regardless of the horse's odds on race day.
A parlay basically combines several different wagers into one. For example, a parlay could be made up of five point spread wagers on five separate games. The payout for such a wager could be very attractive, but only if ALL the wagers were correct. Just one wrong pick would mean the whole wager failing. That's why these are considered quite risky. They're a bit more complex than the previous wagers mentioned, but we won't go into any more detail here. We do on the following page though.
The most common football pool is the standard 100 square football pool.  At almost every Super Bowl party you have ever been to you might have seen this 10 x 10 betting sheet and wondered what it is. There’s nothing like a friendly little game to liven up the party during the Super Bowl. This pool is built around a simple chart calls for no skill or previous knowledge of how to bet the spread or of the game of football in general. In this article I will explain how easy this to partake in and how much fun this form of gambling on football can add to the game.
With some betting sites odds, certain games are priced differently than risking $1.10 to win $1.00 (which is called -110 odds). For example, you might see the Giants priced at -105 and +7 in a game against the Jets. Now, you only have to risk $1.05 to win $1.00. This is obviously better odds, but it's very likely that they will lose by exactly seven to give you a push. Taking -110 and +7.5 with an alternative bookmaker is actually the better bet.
There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.

Another way to beat football point spreads is to shop for off market prices. For example, let's say you're shopping online betting sites and see every site is offering Vikings +7.0. Then, you stumble upon one site that's offering +7.5. There's a good chance that this is a +EV wager, simply because it is out of sync with every other site. Please note that this strategy isn't quite the same as simply shopping for the best lines. Here, you're specifically looking for wagers that are +EV because they're against the market.

If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.


There are many ways that you can bet on football and I will go over all of the different options below.  The first and most common bet is the straight bet, which simply means the team wagered on must win by the point spread given at the time of the wager.  Most of the time the odds on a straight bet is -110, which means for every $110 bet, you win a $100 back.  An example of a straight bet is if the team you bet on is a 6 point (-6) favorite, also known as giving up 6 points.  Then in order for you to win, the team taken in the wager must win by more than 6 points in order to collect your winnings.  If they win by 6, then this will be called a push and your original bet will be refunded to you.  You can also bet on the totals, which is also known as the over/under bet.  The totals bet is The combined score of both teams for games wagered on, all totals pay out at -110, which is $110 dollar bet makes you $100, no matter if you bet on the over or the under.  If the total score equals the line, then the bet is a push and you get your original bet back.  Another type of bet is the money line bet.  This bet is simply that team wagered on just has to win the game.  The odds on these games vary depending on the disparity between the favorite and the underdog.  You obviously will win more betting on the underdog; however there is a reason why these bets pay more because the odds of the underdog winning are decreased.  Although betting the moneyline can sometimes return a big sum, it is wise to know that the bookmakers hold percentage is much larger than a typical straight bet on the side or total of a game.  A classic straight wager on the point spread is almost always dealt at -110 on both sides which is 20 cents of vigorish.  Compare that to a double digit favorite in college football with a money line of -600/+450 and you can see the extra 130 cents of vig added in.
Many novice bettors fail to understand the impact of home advantage when wagering on sport events. When looking at the board for potential wagers, these bettors tend to get excited and bet on lots of superior teams favored on the road against weaker opponents. The betting market is so much more advanced than this, and for the most part point spreads are always going to be 50/50 propositions.
The point spread, which is sometimes referred to as the “handicap”, is the number of points taken from the favorite, or given to the underdog, in order to open up the chances of either team winning the wager evenly. In most games, there’s usually a team that is more likely to win, based on a number of statistical factors. If the only kind of wager available was on who would win between a very strong team and a poor team, it wouldn’t be all that exciting. The point spread was designed to make betting much more interesting, since it allows a bet on the losing team to win you money. How? Let’s break down an example:
As an example, let’s consider a matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. In our scenario, the Bengals are the home team, which means they will be listed last and the Colts, as the visitors, will be on the odds slip first. If Indy’s rotation number is 101, then Cincy’s rotation mark would be 102. When you place a bet live at a Vegas sportsbook or over the phone, you would say the number of the team on which you want to wager and not the name.

If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.
In the United States, it was previously illegal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 for states to authorize legal sports betting, hence making it effectively illegal. The states of Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon—which had pre-existing sports lotteries and sports betting frameworks, were grandfathered and exempted from the effects of the Act.[6]
In general, the betting public tends to gravitate towards favorites when betting the games regardless of the actual pointspread. This is especially true with high-profile teams such as Dallas and Green Bay in the NFL and Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA. The sportsbooks are well aware of this phenomenon and often times they will adjust the betting spreads accordingly. This, in turn, actually adds some value to the underdog when you consider that a pointspread is nothing more than a handicapping tool that is designed to even out the match.
Also known as NFL OVER/UNDER betting, the total is the number set by sportsbooks that estimates the total number of points scored by both teams combined. Bettors then must predict whether there will be more or fewer points than the NFL “total.” If you bet the 37.5 UNDER, you are hoping for a defensive battle and predicting the offenses to struggle. If you bet the 37.5 OVER, you are hoping this will be a high-scoring game.
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