For those that live outside the United States, this may look even more strange since -110 is in American odds format. In Decimal odds, which is common in Europe, -110 translates to 1.91 odds. I'm not going to dive into Decimal odds (or other formats) since this article is about American odds, but the Decimal system is pretty straightforward. The odds listed represent a bettor's total return for a winning wager as you simply multiply the odds by the amount you wish to risk. If someone risks \$100 at 1.91 odds and win, they receive \$91 plus their initial \$100 risked (\$91 + \$100 = \$191).
Total – also widely referred to as the over/under is the predicted number of points oddsmakers believe will be scored in the game by both teams combined. The concept is simple – handicap how each team stacks up against each other on offense and defense and predict whether there will lots of scoring or not much. In totals betting, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than or less than the total.

The moneyline is different. First, with the moneyline whichever team wins the game pays out. There’s no giving or taking away of points. How do the bookies even the playing field with the moneyline? They do it by making bettors wager more on the favorite to win less and allowing them to bet less to win more on the dog. The favorite is posted with a minus sign and a number. That number represents the amount of cash that has to be wagered in order to win \$100. The underdog, on the other hand, is listed with a plus sign in front of a number. That number shows how much a bettor wins when they bet \$100.

For those that live outside the United States, this may look even more strange since -110 is in American odds format. In Decimal odds, which is common in Europe, -110 translates to 1.91 odds. I'm not going to dive into Decimal odds (or other formats) since this article is about American odds, but the Decimal system is pretty straightforward. The odds listed represent a bettor's total return for a winning wager as you simply multiply the odds by the amount you wish to risk. If someone risks \$100 at 1.91 odds and win, they receive \$91 plus their initial \$100 risked (\$91 + \$100 = \$191).
We hope this short beginner’s guide to understanding and interpreting odds will give you the confidence to get out there and start making winning bets.  Our experts are here to help you on this journey, so do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you have about sports betting!  We have only scratched the surface on reading betting lines, but this is an excellent place to start.
The concept of betting on totals, or Over/Under (O/U), is quite simplistic. The bettor wagers on whether the TOTAL points scored in a game will fall over or under a pre-determined number set by the sportsbook. Much like the point spread, game totals can be swayed by public opinion. The example below, from the SI Archive, shows the opening totals line for Superbowl XLV:
###### It’s common knowledge among bettors that the online gambling industry pays close attention to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a private company that handles the odds for casinos and newspapers. But the totals I set have to reflect our customers’ preferences for betting the over or under on certain teams in certain situations. Also, because LVSC lines are published early, I have to keep on top of injuries and potential changes in coaching strategy leading up to the game in question before I release any totals. This is doubly important in basketball, where pace determines how many shots will be taken in 48 minutes.

Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
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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.
Straight bet - Amid all the fancy and lucrative-looking bets that are available, never lose sight of the value in a standard straight bet. You probably should learn and practice this bet often before learning any others, and it should be noted that people who bet for a living or a large portion of their income place straight bets almost exclusively.
In this example, we have a favorite to win, and an underdog. The Packers are the favorites, and that is shown by the (–) value in front of the 6. Underdogs are represented by the (+) value.  The 6 point value is how many points either team could win, or lose by. If you think the Packers will win by MORE than 6 points, then you’d bet on the favorite in this case, meaning that the Packers have to win by 7 or more points in order for you to win your bet.
You'll also usually be given the option to wager on the game with the money line in football and basketball. In this case, all you have to do is pick the winner of the contest, but there's one drawback. If you bet on the team that's expected to win, you can find yourself risking much more money than you stand to win. Each team is assigned odds, much like in a horse race where a 2-1 favorite will pay out much less than a 15-1 longshot. This method also evens the playing field for bookies, sportsbooks and other gambling institutions.
Several factors influence a point spread. It starts with power rankings. The media creates power rankings throughout the year, but those can be entirely subjective based more on feelings and emotions than actual raw data. An oddsmaker creates power rankings based on a host of statistics, some more complex than others. The rankings will include record, strength of schedule, and various offensive, defensive, and special teams metrics. They might use Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics, they might use expected points added, or they might use a host of other internal and external options. The idea being to develop as objective an assessment as possible as to how good or bad a given team is compared to the rest of the NFL.
It is important to note the difference between spreads in sports wagering in the U.S. and sports spread betting in the UK. In the U.S. betting on the spread is effectively still a fixed risk bet on a line offered by the bookmaker with a known return if the gambler correctly bets with either the underdog or the favourite on the line offered and a known loss if the gambler incorrectly bets on the line. In the UK betting above or below the spread does not have a known final profits or loss, with these figures determined by the number of unit points the level of the final outcome ends up being either above or below the spread, multiplied by the stake chosen by the gambler.
This is a very common occurrence throughout the sports betting industry. Sportsbooks have the right to shift the spread or odds for any given match prior to it starting. Many factors play a huge role in this decision, and they include injuries, weather, the volume of bets on one side, and anything in between. Depending on the time you place your wager, the bettor may also have an advantage or disadvantage based on which way the spread has shifted.
In most cases, the favorite will be the team with a negative moneyline (in some cases both teams can have a negative moneyline if they are both closely matched). A line of -160 means that you would have to bet \$160 to win your base amount of \$100. A team with a moneyline of -130 wouldn't be favored nearly as strongly as a team with a moneyline of -330.
For the player who wagers on San Francisco -5, San Fran must win by more than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. For the player who wagers on St. Louis +5, they must either win the game or lose by less than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. If the outcome falls on the number, the bet is declared a “Push” and your original stake amount gets refunded.
I will painlessly explain all of the mysteries of sports betting 101 aka “Sports Betting for Dummies.” First of all, you have nothing to be ashamed of, you have taken the first and most important step of all – learning! Why waste money on a game that you don’t fully understand? You shouldn’t! That is why you are here now, to learn how it works and how to win!
Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. He learned about gambling at a young age working down the street from a bookie who took action on anything from the mainstream sports to the last three digits of the purse for certain horse races. Yeah, that's a thing. Today Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant which allows him to work anywhere there's a wifi signal. This allows him to work from the sportsbook at Red Rock Resort or the food court at The Venetian where you’ll find fast and free wifi. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.
Pools, cards, and parlays - A parlay is just a combination bet. Instead of making five separate bets on five different games, the bettor places a single parlay bet, hoping he or she can predict the outcome of all five games. If any one of the games is a loser, the entire parlay is a loser. The payout is better for parlays, because the odds of successfully picking multiple winners are much tougher to beat [ref]. Most people are familiar with parlays through office betting pools or football cards. If you've ever paid \$5 to select your winners from a list of that week's football games (sometimes using the spread, sometimes using the straight scores) in hopes of winning the weekly prize, then you have made an informal parlay bet. Office pools don't usually involve actual bookies beyond the person who organizes the pool, and no one takes juice from the pool. All the money is distributed to the winner or winners.
If bettors were quick to jump on the Atlanta line at +4.5 when it first came out, they would have a distinct advantage over those who waited closer to kick off and were stuck with +2.5. The opposite holds true for Carolina. Bettors that were quick to pull the trigger are now laying two more points than they would if they were patient and saw the line movement before making their move.
If you follow football at least reasonably closely, have some idea about the relative strengths of all the players and teams, and have absorbed the information provided on this page, then you should be able to become a competent football bettor. You don't really need to know much else should the aim be to simply have some fun and win some money every now and then.
Remember that betting on NFL games with an online sportsbook or offline is not legal in all jurisdictions. So if you are planning on using FootballLOCKS.com's NFL selections to gamble on various NFL games, such as betting the NFL Super Bowl spread with an online NFL sportsbook, it might be wise to check if NFL gambling is legal in your specific jurisdiction.