The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite.

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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!
Sports bettors place their wagers either legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises. The term "book" is a reference to the books used by wagebrokers to track wagers, payouts, and debts. Many legal sportsbooks are found online, operated over the Internet from jurisdictions separate from the clients they serve, usually to get around various gambling laws (such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States) in select markets, such as Las Vegas, Nevada, or on gambling cruises through self-serve kiosks. They take bets "up-front", meaning the bettor must pay the sportsbook before placing the bet. Illegal bookies, due to the nature of their business, can operate anywhere but only require money from losing bettors and don't require the wagered money up front, creating the possibility of debt to the bookie from the bettor. This creates a number of other criminal elements, thus furthering their illegality.
Head-to-Head. In these bets, bettor predicts competitors results against each other and not on the overall result of the event. One example are Formula One races, where you bet on two or three drivers and their placement among the others. Sometimes you can also bet a “tie”, in which one or both drivers either have the same time, drop out, or get disqualified.
The process of sports betting is nowadays better regulated and therefore a lot safer. The perception in society is also getting better and better. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, the legalisation of online sports betting made it clear that this industry is no longer run by criminal gangs. In addition, many people recognized the irony that although they liked to play the lottery or participate in other lotteries, they still considered sports betting too risky, although they have the better chances of winning. The market was free and better controlled, the state lost its monopoly on gambling and betting providers could advertise for themselves. Now that the bookmakers were represented on television or on posters by prominent faces, the perception changed even faster. The opportunity to now also place sports bets via the Internet drew the attention of many people interested in sports. You no longer had to go to a betting office, but could place bets from the comfort of your own home, on the bus, outside with friends or in a pub.
Understanding NFL betting lines is just the first step towards making profits with football wagering. Once you've got the basics down, it's important to continue learning sports betting strategy to improve your long-term chances of winning. If you're able to win more than 52.4% of the time, you'll be well on your way towards being a profitable NFL bettor.

For example, if you want to bet that -140 favorite, you’ll need to risk $140 in order to win $100. To bet on the +120 underdog we mentioned above, you’ll need to bet $100 to win $120 if the dog wins outright. In many cases, betting moneylines offers better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk. Check out our NFL Betting Guide to learn more about when you should bet a moneyline instead of a point spread.

Once you understand how the NFL point spread works, you can make smarter choices when it comes to your NFL picks. The most important takeaway: It’s not you against the bookie. Think of NFL spread betting in terms of a marketplace, where customers tend to overvalue some teams and undervalue others. Figure out which teams those are, and you’ll find where the profit margin is.

With NFL odds the over/under can vary but usually it’s somewhere between 35 and 47 points. Let’s say in the Colts and Bengals game that the total is posted at 37.5. If Indy scores 27 and Cincy gets 13 points, the total would be at 40 and the over would win. But if the Colts rack up 35, and they shut out the Bengals, the total of 35 would be under.
“Limitations. Subject to the foregoing, and subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, the Tribe shall establish, at its discretion, by tribal law, such limitations as it deems appropriate on the amount and type of Class III Gaming conducted, the location of Class III Gaming on Indian Lands, the hours and days of operation, and betting and pot limits, applicable to such gaming.”

The point spread is the projected number of points that separate two teams.  A game with a spread will have a favorite (the team expected to win) and an underdog (the team expected to lose).  A favorite “gives” points and is identified with a minus sign next to their point spread.  The underdog “gets” points and is identified with a plus sign next to their point spread.


A point spread in sports is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. The “favorite” team (labeled with a “-” sign) would be at the disadvantage as they would need to win the game by a set number of points while the “underdog” team (labeled with a “+” sign) would be given an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points. The reason oddsmakers do this is to provide betting interest for both sides due to one team typically being better than the other.
There are several very important terms and phrases you need to know if you have your sights set on becoming a sports bettor who has even the slightest idea of what you are about to bet on. Doc's Sports "How To" section has you covered for everything you need to know, but this may be one of the most important phrases to know when betting on sports that use a point-spread. Sure, money line, juice, totals, covering the spread and bad beat are all important words and phrase to know, but "laying the points" is something the general public loves to do. Read More >>

But what if the basement-dweller team was spotted 24 points? That's the concept behind the point spread. When two teams meet on the football field or a basketball court, one team is typically better than the other. If all bettors had to do was to pick the winning team, everybody would simply wager on the best team and collect their money. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks, and bookies would soon go broke. 

What may look like a jumble of words, numbers, and punctuation is actually a precise and easy-to-read breakdown of the various odds and point spread details your book is offering. Here is a breakdown of each unit of information given above. Once you understand each part of the jumbled details above, you’ll be able to read a sports betting line with confidence.
The Jets are favored by 7 points. When you wager on the Jets -7 points, they have to win by 8 or more for you to get paid. A win by exactly 7 points would be a push and you get your money back. If you wager on the Giants +7 points, you’ll need them to win or lose by 6 points or less to win your bet. The Giants can win the game and you’ll win the wager because they didn’t lose by 7 or more. A loss by exactly 7 points would be a push and you get your money back.

In addition to knowing the basics of betting, you should also know at least the basics of football too. It's likely that most people reading this are big sports fans, and fully understand it, but that's not necessarily the case for all our readers. We like to cater for everyone, so we've written the following two articles explaining all about the game at both professional and college level.

These are just a very small selection of some props. Many bookmakers offer dozens of different options, particularly on high profile matches. Props are generally considered a fun type of bet rather than a way to make money, but it is possible to make consistent profits from them. We explain more about props on the following page, where we also offer some strategy advice.
Parlays - these might be the most popular bets out there, especially among novice and amateur bettors, perhaps because of the lure of betting a small amount for a potentially big payoff. But they are fool's gold at best. Parlays involve wagering on two or more games on the same bet following the casino's pre-determined payout scale. Each game on a parlay must win for the bet to be a winner.
If you've ever said the words "best two out of three" when playing a game amongst friends, you are subconsciously making a "series bet." You are betting that during the course of these three games that you will be able to win two games thus emerging victorious. In the sports betting industry, a "series bet" is a betting option that allows you to correctly predict which team will win more games in a particular series and ultimately advance to the next round instead of deciding who will win each individual game. Read More >>

Edit My Bet. The ‘edit bet’ feature can be used by gamblers to ‘unsettle straight accumulators’ before matches have started or whilst they are in-play. The feature can also be used for to swap single bets for new bets, and the gambler is given a new bet selection valued at the bookie's cash out price to reflect live market/game odds for the original bet.[1]
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).
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]
If the Cowboys are 6-point favorites, their odds are -6. If the Giants are 6-point underdogs, their odds are +6. From the oddsmakers' perspective, the Giants are starting the game with a 6-0 lead, while from the Dallas side, the Cowboys are starting with a 0-6 deficit. If you bet on the Cowboys and they win 34-30, they failed to cover the spread by two points. If you bet on the Giants, they beat the spread by two points.
The house vigorish - and your chances of winning - get worse with the more teams you add. So while some sportsbooks will let you place a 15-teamer with astronomical odds, you probably have a better chance of being struck by lighting - twice - before winning one. You are much better off sticking to two-team parlays exclusively, if you insist on taking poor odds and placing parlay wagers.
Essentially, a moneyline bet is a bet on which team is going to win the game. There is no point spread or other handicap for either team, so if you pick a team and it scores more points than the other team then you win. Obviously there has to be a catch, though, or the bet would be way too simple. The sportsbooks balance their risk by setting different prices on each team. You win a smaller amount than you bet if you pick the favorite, and you generally win more than you bet if you pick the underdog. The stronger the favorite the less you will win, and vice versa.
The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite.
The over/under in this example has been set at 42.5.  If you project the Jets and Patriots to combine to score more than 42.5 points, you would place a wager on the over.  If you think they will score less than 42.5 points, you would bet the under.  Let’s say the final score of this game is Patriots 27, Jets 24.  Which bet would lose and which bet would win?  The sum of all points scored is 27 + 24 = 51, so an over bet wins and an under bet loses.
Anybody who wagers on the 49ers would need them to win by 7 points or more for a winning bet. Those betting on the Rams (+6.5) would need them to lose by 6 points or less (or win) for a winning wager. It's also worth mentioning that a half point is used in many point spreads (such as the -6.5/+6.5) to prevent pushes because no team can score half a point.
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.
Most gambling sites give away bonuses to new customers, and many of them offer additional rewards to existing customers too. You should always try to take advantage of these bonuses and rewards, as they are a great way to boost your bankroll. They're not exactly "free" money, as they come with terms and conditions such as having to wager certain amounts before being able to withdraw. Nonetheless, they can be very valuable.
The -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.

In a different study released by FDU’s PublicMind in October 2011, results showed that New Jersey voters thought legalizing sports betting in New Jersey was a good idea. Half of New Jersey voters (52%) said that they approved the idea of legalizing sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, 31% opposed it. In addition, there was a significant gender split: a majority of men approved of the idea by a wide margin (65-21), while only 39% of women approved and 41% opposed.[9] The October results were stable, reflecting an earlier poll in April 2011 where New Jersey voters approved the legalization of sports betting in the state by a margin of 53%-30%. However, nearly two-thirds (66%) of voters were not aware of the upcoming statewide referendum on the issue. Age proved to be a divide: voters between the ages 18 and 34 were more likely to approve of sports betting than were older voters. Dr. Woolley commented: "But... younger voters... are far less likely to vote than other voters... As always, a lot depends on who actually shows up to vote."[10]

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has also advocated the league changing its stance on sports betting, with both Manfred and Silver noting that the scale of illegal sports betting makes opposition to betting meaningless. He also stated a willingness to "try to shape" any future legislation at federal level. This was noted as a marked contrast to former Commissioner of the MLB Bud Selig, with Manfred going beyond tacit approval and stating, "There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting."[46]
One of the first rules of gambling is that nothing is ever certain. There's one thing that's almost certain though; you will make mistakes as a beginner. This is nothing to worry about, and in fact making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. That doesn't mean you need to make unnecessary ones though. There are a few mistakes that are routinely made by beginners, and it pays to be aware of these.

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.
The point spread will list one team in the negative and the other in the positive. (Unless neither team is favored, then they will be listed as EVEN or PICK). The club posted in the negative with a minus sign is favored and so the bookies take points away from them, which means that team must win by at least a certain number of points to cover the spread. The underdog will have a plus sign and will cover if they win outright or lose by less than the posted number.
The National Football League (NFL) remains the only sports league to maintain public opposition to sports betting, however critics have noted that with the move of the Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas in 2019, the NFL has positioned itself for legalization, while simultaneously contradicting its long-held position that sports betting in NFL markets would lead to potential match-fixing.[47] Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed with Manfred in a July 2017 seminar that betting on in-game events, as opposed to the outcome of games, was a more palatable form of sports betting.[48]
We already mentioned how using multiple betting sites allows you to take advantage of multiple bonus offers. That's not the only benefit either. Since point spreads vary between sites, one of the best ways to beat these wagers is to compare the different spreads in order to find which one is the most favorable. This doesn't take nearly as long as you might think, and it will make a huge difference to your bottom line over time.
You can also bet straight winners and losers -- with no point spreads involved -- with money line wagers. When there is a minus number you bet that amount to win $100 in profit. When there is a plus number, that is your winning profit for every $100 wagered. So if the Cowboys have a money line of -250, you would have to bet $250 on them to win $100 in profit on any Dallas victory. If the Giants had a money line of +150, you would win $150 in profit with a winning $100 bet. If a money line is posted as even, you would win a $100 profit on a $100 winning bet.
Bovada gives all first time college football bettors a 50% to $250 bonus when they make their first deposit which only allows you to wager on more spreads. Bovada welcomes USA players and has many great deposit methods to boot. Players are able to instantly add funds to their accounts using a variety of methods that include credit cards (Visa/MC/Amex), debit cards (Visa/MC), several brands of prepaid gift cards, cash wire transfers (Western Union + MoneyGram), and even payment through accepted Bitcoin wallets.
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:
Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.

For all the talk of new forms of wagering, the good old point spread remains the bet of choice for most NFL fans. Also known as the line or spread, the myth is that Las Vegas sets the point spread as its predicted margin of victory for one team. In reality, it's a number chosen by oddsmakers that will encourage an equal number of people to wager on the underdog as on the favorite. The negative value (-3.5) indicates that team is favored by 3.5 points. The positive value (+3.5) indicates that team is the underdog by 3.5 points. Betting on the favorite means the team must win by at least four points to cover the point spread. The underdog team can lose by three points and still cover the spread. You will also notice a moneyline value associated with the point spread (such as -3.5, -115). This indicates how much you must risk in order to book the bet (also known as the vig or juice). It means you have to risk $115 to win $100. The underdog may see a value such as +3.5, +105. This means you risk $100 to win $105 if your team covers the spread. The spread is not a static number, so you will notice line moves during the week. Team A may be favored by 3 points on Tuesday and by 4.5 points on Friday. This indicates more people are betting on them, so Las Vegas increases the underdog value hoping to encourage more wagers on the underdog.

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