There are very few periods of time throughout the year when there isn't a game or event that is garnering national media attention and bettors are clamoring to lay down a wager. Off the top of my head, the only period I can think of is during the MLB All-Star break, where it's slim pickings to lay down a wager. Sure, the Home Run Derby and All-Star game are closely watched and people do bet on them, but it's done more so to have a little action on the game to make it semi-watchable. However, the rest of the year is littered with massive, high-stakes, high-drama type events. These are what the industry called "hot games" Read More >>
When reading college football odds, the first thing you will see on the left is the time and date of the game. Next, you’ll see two numbers and the team names. Each team is assigned a rotation number. These numbers are standard on all sportsbooks and do a few things. First, it creates a certain order for the games as each matchup is listed in numerical order. The other thing the number does is it allows bettors to refer to the game and team without having to mention the team name or anything else.
Many people will say that the odds on a spread bet are even, paying 1:1. But this is not true. The actual odds are 0.90:1. For every dollar bet, you can win 90 cents. When checking out the spread, you’ll usually see a number listed next to each spread. That number, which is your stake, is posted as -110. This number tells you how much you have to bet to win $100. If you put $110 on either team, you stand to win $100. If you bet $11.00, you can win $10.00. Every NFL point spread works this way.
Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
In 1919, the Chicago White Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. This series would go down as one of the biggest sports scandals of all time. As the story goes, professional gambler Joseph Sullivan paid eight members of the White Sox (Oscar Felsch, Arnold Gandil, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Charles Risberg, George Weaver, and Claude Williams) around 10,000 dollars each to fix the World Series. All eight players were banned from playing professional baseball for the rest of their lives.[56] Pete Rose, the all-time MLB leader in hits, was similarly banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on games while he was an MLB manager.
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.
In November 2014, a poll found that there had been a major shift in attitudes towards sports betting in the United States, showing that 55% of Americans now favored legal sports betting, while 66% of respondents agreed that this should be regulated by state laws, as opposed to federal legislation.[17] The poll also suggested that 33% of respondents disagreed with the notion of legalization.
For example, a negative value (-11.5) next to a team indicates that they are favored by that many points. So you must deduct 11.5 points from their score to determine if they won the game or not. On the other hand, a positive value on the same game (+11.5) means the underdog starts with an 11.5-point lead before the game even begins. In NFL betting, the favorite must win by 12 points or more to cover the NFL spread. The underdog is able to lose by 11 points and still cover the spread.
Futures bets are exactly what they sound like, a wager placed on an event that will occur in the future. As you can imagine, the most popular futures bet in the NFL is who will win the Superbowl. In fact, the Team Odds to win it all are released within a week after the previous year’s championship. It is not uncommon to see last year’s worse team to be 100/1 dogs or worse. Naturally, Futures are not limited to simply who will win the big game. Much like proposition (prop) bets for any particular contest, you can place several futures bets on potential outcomes, from who will win what division to who will win the league’s MVP. Futures Odds can be found at nearly any reputable sportsbook, but some have a limited selection of wagers they will actually take.

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.
Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
TheSportsGeek.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes. Sports betting and gambling laws vary by jurisdiction. We are not able to verify the legality of the information we provide, or your ability to use any sites that are linked to on this site, for every combination of your location, the sites’ location, and the type of service those sites provide. It is your responsibility to verify such matters and to know and follow your local laws.
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:
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).
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:

“Permitted Class III Gaming. The Tribe may conduct, only on Indian Lands, subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, any or all forms of Class III Gaming” (emphasis added). The agreement between the state government and Tribal governments seemingly grants the tribes, subject to the compact, extensive authority to authorize Class III gaming at their facilities.
If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.
The general purpose of spread betting is to create an active market for both sides of a binary wager, even if the outcome of an event may appear prima facie to be biased towards one side or the other. In a sporting event a strong team may be matched up against a historically weaker team; almost every game has a favorite and an underdog. If the wager is simply "Will the favorite win?", more bets are likely to be made for the favorite, possibly to such an extent that there would be very few betters willing to take the underdog.
Identify the favorite: Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.
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.
×