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.
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.
A wager on the Giants on the spread does not mean that New York has to win the game in order for you to win cash. All the G-Men have to do is come within 8 points of the ‘boys, and you’re a winner. You determine a winning or losing point spread by adding or subtracting 7.5 from the final score, depending on which side you laid your bet. If you’re confident that New York will at least come within a touchdown of beating the Cowboys, or beating them outright, then you’d wager on the spread in favor of New York.

This is because bookmakers are in business to make a profit, so they effectively charge a commission for taking wagers. This commission is known as the vig, short for vigorish, and it's one of the ways that bookmakers stay profitable. They don't charge it just for points spreads and totals either, as it's built into the odds for every wager that they offer.


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.
Although the examples from above are in $100 increments, you don’t actually have to bet those exact amounts. That’s just how the odds are set up so that everyone is on the same page. With a quick glance at the numbers, you can tell who is the favorite, who is the underdog and what type of payout you can expect on each. You’re free to bet $5, $500 or whatever amount fits your budget. If you want to find out the specific betting limits for each option, browse through the betting sites rating guide in order to find the sportsbook that better fits your minimum and maximum limits.
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]
Let’s start with the basics: what do sports bettors mean when they talk about a ‘line?’ The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, can refer to either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s take a look at an imaginary line the way you’d read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports betting lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s imagine a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s NFL betting line might look something like this:
A point spread (or line) is a tool used by sportsbooks to attract wagers on both sides of a game. The line is most commonly used in football and basketball games. Because it’s rare for two teams in a pro sports game to be completely evenly-matched, one team will have an advantage, another will be seen as the underdog. The point spread is the handicap offered to the underdog to level the playing field, so to speak.
Once the Southeastern Conference gets going on Labor Day weekend, people can bet on the outcome of each game. Or they can make proposition bets on who wins the coin toss, which team will score first and whether the first points will come from a touchdown or a field goal. With proposition bets, fans don’t have to wait until the end of the game to win or lose.
The bookmaker functions as a market maker for sports wagers, most of which have a binary outcome: a team either wins or loses. The bookmaker accepts both wagers, and maintains a spread (the vigorish) which will ensure a profit regardless of the outcome of the wager. The Federal Wire Act of 1961 was an attempt by the US government to prevent illegal bookmaking.[2] However, this Act does not apply to other types of online gambling.[3] The Supreme Court has not ruled on the meaning of the Federal Wire Act as it pertains to online gambling.
SportsInsights.com’s general betting articles discuss the intricacies of sports betting as it pertains to each major U.S. sport. This article will concentrate on how to bet on the NFL. We will try to utilize that “neck up” part of our bodies to gain an edge on the linesmakers, but first we must know the basics. The NFL is by far the most popular bet of all major American sports, culminating with the most popular game of the year, the Superbowl. This article will shed light on each football wager type including spread, moneyline, totals, parlays/teasers, halftimes, and futures.
Even if you’re brand-new to betting on football, you’ve probably seen NFL spreads published in the paper or talked about on TV. The point spread levels the playing field, making betting on either the favorite or the underdog equally attractive. Either the favorite has to win by the margin listed, or the underdog has a buffer to lose the game by that margin, or win it outright.

The National Football League is fully against any sort of legalization of sports betting, strongly protesting it as to not bring corruption into the game. On the other hand, the CEO of the International Cricket Council believe sports betting, in particular in India, should be legalized to curb illegal bookies where match fixing has occurred from nontransparent bookmakers. Many of the illegal proceeds also allegedly go to fund terror, drugs and other illegal activities.[citation needed]
When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).
When wagering against the spread, you bet on the team that will cover the betting line, and not necessarily win the game. Obviously by taking the favorite, a bettor believes that team will not only win the game, but also win the game by a certain number of points to cover the betting line. But when wagering on the underdog, that team does not necessarily have to win the game to cover the line. For examples of point spreads and how those bets are won, please keep reading below where we explain betting odds for the spread in detail.
This is a very common occurrence in sports betting and sportsbooks have the full right to shift the spread or odds for any given match prior to it starting. Many factors can influence a change of the spread such as injuries, the number of bets coming in for either team or the weather, to name a few. Depending on the timing of placing the bet, the bettor can also have an advantage or a disadvantage depending on which way the spread has shifted.
Even if you’re brand-new to betting on football, you’ve probably seen NFL spreads published in the paper or talked about on TV. The point spread levels the playing field, making betting on either the favorite or the underdog equally attractive. Either the favorite has to win by the margin listed, or the underdog has a buffer to lose the game by that margin, or win it outright.
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.
Parlay bets are a good and popular way to potentially win big with a small wager. The way they work is the bettor picks two or more events, which all must win or push to win the bet. One or more loss will cause the whole parlay bet to lose. In the event of a push, that "leg" of the parlay bet will be ignored and the win will be reduced to whatever it would pay if that selection were never made.
On June 11, 2018, New Jersey became the third state to legalize sports betting, after Nevada and Delaware, with Gov. Phil Murphy signing the legislation into law.[21][23] Sports betting in New Jersey began when a sportsbook opened at Monmouth Park Racetrack on June 14, 2018.[27] Following this, sportsbooks opened at the casinos in Atlantic City and at Meadowlands Racetrack.[28][29]
The wager is that the two teams will combine to score more or less than 43 points. If the total score is 43, then the wager is a push and you get your money back. It doesn’t matter which team scores the points. It could be 24-20 for either teams and “Over” wins the wager. Likewise, the final score could be Jets 45-0 (Yeah!) and the “Over” wins. On the flip side, the score can be 21-20 and the “Under” wins. Likewise, the Jets could win 42-0 (Yeah!) and the “Under” also wins.
Once the Southeastern Conference gets going on Labor Day weekend, people can bet on the outcome of each game. Or they can make proposition bets on who wins the coin toss, which team will score first and whether the first points will come from a touchdown or a field goal. With proposition bets, fans don’t have to wait until the end of the game to win or lose.
With the over/under or total, bets are being made on what the total score may be. In our example which features two solid defenses and good offenses, the total might be around 41. If OSU scores 24 and Wisconsin 20, the total would be 44 or over the 41. If the Buckeyes scored 21 and the Badgers 14, then the total would be 35 so the under would win. Once again sometimes, if the total is a whole number, the result may be a push. That results in all bets simply being returned.
The team is now 6-1 since rookie Lamar Jackson, the former Heisman winner, took over as the starting quarterback. Jackson is only the fifth rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win six of his team’s final seven games. Baltimore won at the Chargers in Week 16, 22-10. The Ravens defence completely dominated, holding L.A. to just 198 yards and forcing three turnovers. Our complete preview of this game can be read here.

Much like any business venture you embark on, the most important part of the journey (for most) is the bottom line. We live in a world where cash rules everything around us, so it is vital to turn a profit, not only for living purposes but to feel successful and accomplished. In the sports betting world, turning a profit seems to be a walk in the park for sportsbooks. They keep track of their billions of dollars by using a term called "handle" and nobody is aware of how big the handle is until the sportsbooks tell us. Read More >>

Using the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl matchup as our example, the Patriots are listed by most sportsbooks as a 2.5-point favorite. The Patriots are listed at -2.5, while the Rams are listed at +2.5. If you bet on the Patriots to cover the spread and they win by three points or more, you win. If you bet on the Rams to cover the spread and they lost by less than three points or win the game, you win.


To achieve this balance, the book can move the spread and/or the juice at any time after the first lines hit the NFL odds board, all the way up until kick-off. If there had been too much action on the Packers at Super Bowl 1, the oddsmakers could have made Kansas City a 15-point underdog (+15), in order to encourage more people to bet on the Chiefs. They also could have kept the spread at 14 points and moved the juice, perhaps to –105 for Kansas City and -115 for Green Bay. You’ll often see the books adjust the juice first when the spread is three points; since so many NFL games end in a winning margin of three points (roughly one in six games), moving the spread from 3 to 3.5 points is a pretty big deal, and it might tilt the balance too far in the other direction.
As the numbers grow larger each way – the small numbers get smaller or the positive numbers get larger – that indicates that those options are bigger and bigger favorites, or bigger underdogs. That’s particularly relevant when you’re looking at something like the odds to win the Super Bowl. The teams with smaller numbers are deemed as having a better chance of winning and then as the numbers grow larger, those teams are deemed bigger and bigger longshots.
While the National Basketball Association (NBA) was once active in preventing sports betting law relaxation, current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first major sports leader to break from previous administrative opposition to gambling. In 2014 he stated in a New York Times op-ed, "I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated."[44] In 2017, with support for legalization growing, he confirmed his belief that "legalized sports betting is inevitable".[45]
Often big games will have "proposition" bets on things not directly related to the final score of the game. These are usually abbreviated to "prop" bets. For example, in football whether or not the first score will be a touchdown. In baseball whether a run will be scored in the first inning. In hockey/soccer, whether anybody will score a hat trick. The odds on these are expressed like point spread bets. For example, as I write this the Golden Nugget has the following proposition bet on Super Bowl 49:

Two possibilities existed for Seahawks backers at this point – either the team would win the game by at least three points or not. There was no possibility for a push, thanks to the use of a half-point. It’s impossible to score a half-point in football, so thanks to the magic of rounding, there’s no room for a tie outcome. Those who backed the Patriots were looking at two possible outcomes, too – either New England would pull off the upset or they would lose by just a point or two. Both would turn out in a win.


Obviously, the first three letters on the top two lines of the three-line package of symbols represents a team in the game you’re wagering on; NYG stands for the New York Giants, while DAL stands for the Dallas Cowboys. The number next to each team’s name is known as the spread or the point spread. Wagers on the point spread are among the most popular sports wagers in the world. The reason this wager is popular is that it doesn’t matter which team wins or loses; what matters is the amount of points the teams score, and whether or not the team you place your money on beats the difference in points (the ‘spread’) or not.

Who will win the next Super Bowl? You can place futures bets at any time on the upcoming Super Bowl champion. Oddsmakers set lines and change them throughout the entire season, depending on a team’s success or lack thereof. For example, a first-place team in October may be +300 to win the title. This means a $100 bet would pay out a $300 profit if they go on to win the title. However, a 1-8 team may be set at +2000, where a $100 wager would pay $2,000 as a long shot. They can be profitable and it’s always fun to predict the winner so early in the season. Be careful, though — wagering a large amount on an NFL futures bet ties up your money for a long time.

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