As you can see, there’s another number in our example above. The –110 in parentheses refers to the juice; this figure is expressed in the same fashion as moneyline odds, with either a negative or positive sign in front of the number. In this case, in order to place a wager on either side, you would have bet $110 to win $100. If the juice on Kansas City had been +110, you would have bet $100 to win $110. Most NFL game lines ask you to pay the standard –110 vigorish. If you don’t see any particular figure attached to the spread, the usual –110 vig applies.
Most online sportsbooks will list their odds in what is called “American Odds”. There are a couple different versions of sports betting odds, but these American Odds are the most common odds used. Reading and understanding sports betting odds can bet a little confusing to beginners, so we have provided an example below using two NFL football teams:
The most important takeaway is the actual pointspread, which is seven points in this example. The plus sign is always in front of the spread for the underdog and the minus sign is used to signify the favorite. Next to the pointspread in this example is (-110). This number reflects the actual commission (or juice) that the sportsbook is charging to book this bet. If you wager $100 on New England as the favorite and the Patriots go on to win my more than seven points, you would win $100. If they won by fewer than seven points or lost the game outright, you would owe this betting outlet $110. If New England wins by exactly seven points, the bet is considered to be a PUSH and no money exchanges hands. You only pay the 10 percent commission on losing bets.
Before I go on, let me clarify some terminology. Despite it being probably the most popular way to bet, there is no particular term for a bet against the spread. Many people call this a "straight bet." However, this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money line bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. For purposes of this page, I call such bets a "point spread" bet, and invite the rest of the world to adopt this terminology.
Sports betting has been around since 1000 B.C in China, where betting on animal fights was commonplace. In ancient Rome, one could wager on the Gladiatorial games. The idea of betting on sports is as old as organized sport itself. But up until the 1940s, bettors were fairly limited in what kind of bets they could make. The standard system of odds would allow bets on, for example, the 3-1 odds that the Steelers would beat the Browns.
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.
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
The spread on offer will refer to the betting firm’s prediction on the range of a final outcome for a particular occurrence in a sports event e.g. the total number of goals to be scored in a football match, the number of runs to be scored by a team in a cricket match or the number of lengths between the winner and second-placed finisher in a horse race.
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