If you've ever found yourself cursing the game line or completely dumbfounded at how a basketball total from the Serbian basketball league lands right on the "over/under" number, I can assure you that you are not alone. Setting the right number is the heartbeat of any sportsbook which is why they hire the sharpest minds in the betting game and task them with calculating the lines. It's not often you come across a line that is far off from what actually happens in the game. Sportsbooks have the utmost trust in their linemakers, so that when they post their lines to the betting public they aren't vulnerable to big losses. Read More >>
The key here is to target the point spread five and seven, because these are virtually tied as the most common margins of victory. It's important to recognize that most betting sites are only willing to sell 2 or 3 half points for 10 cents each, after which point they start charging more. Some sites sell up to four half points at this price though.
If you wanted to bet the underdog Orlando to win the game, their money line odds are +280. Whenever a "+" is listed for odds, the number after it is how much you will win for betting $100. So in this example, a $100 bet would win $280 if the Magic win the game. This definitely seems like a way better deal than betting $340 to win $100, but remember that Orlando has a small chance of beating the best team in the league. Some bettors may see value in this, but you should never blindly bet an underdog - or any side for that matter (just talk to the thousands that bet on Conor McGregor last August).

For example, the Golden State money line above is listed at -340 odds. Using the same principles we just discussed, $340 needs to be bet in order to win $100. Again, this is just the bet to winnings ratio - $34 will win $10, $17 will win $5, $20 will win $5.88, etc. This may seem unfair at first but it is logical. The Warriors are by far the best team in the league and have a much better chance of winning the game. Therefore, sportsbooks even this out by placing the odds at a high price for bettors to win a little.

The second number in our example (-110 for both teams) tells you how much you have to wager in order to win $100. It’s an easy way to calculate how much you’ll win if your bet pays off, presented in units of $100 at a time for simplicity’s sake. Most of the time, these two numbers will be the same, because oddsmakers want to set lines so that they get as much action on the underdog as on the favorite, guaranteeing them a profit. If a book gets a single bet of $110 (by a customer hoping to win $100) on the Cowboys and a single bet of $110 on the Giants, it will have taken in $220, but will only have to pay back $210 to whichever customer wins the bet. That’s a guaranteed profit of $10, and since sportsbooks take far more than a single bet in either direction, they stand to earn that seemingly small amount of profit many times over. The $10 difference between what you wager and what you win is known as juice or vig in the sports betting industry, and it’s the way books earn their bread and butter.
Absolutely. When the lines go up for the NFL, or for the first game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there are several days in between the open and the game itself where movement can take place. You’ll find that the betting public tends to pile in on their favorite teams once they get home from work on Friday. You can anticipate these line movements and time your bet accordingly to take advantage.
The -110 listed is the actual odds given for these bets, and the odds determine how much you win based on the amount of your wager. This is why the odds are often called the price of a bet. When you see -110 odds, you need to bet $110 to win $100. Of course, you don't need to literally bet $110; that is just the ratio of the amount bet to the amount won. You can bet $11 to win $10, $20 to win $18.18, etc.

*Betting $110 to win $100 obviously is not an even bet. The extra $10 (or 10%) is the sportsbook’s commission, also known as the vigorish or juice. This commission is reduced to 5% with 5Dimes and other reduced juice books, but this commission is found everywhere. You are given this back when you win, but is obviously kept by the house when you lose.


Spreads are frequently, though not always, specified in half-point fractions to eliminate the possibility of a tie, known as a push. In the event of a push, the game is considered no action, and no money is won or lost. However, this is not a desirable outcome for the sports book, as they are forced to refund every bet, and although both the book and its bettors will be even, if the cost of overhead is taken into account, the book has actually lost money by taking bets on the event. Sports books are generally permitted to state "ties win" or "ties lose" to avoid the necessity of refunding every bet.
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