Sports betting would be easy — or maybe just easier — if all that was required was to correctly pick the winning team. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks and bookies fall back on point spreads to make the process a little more difficult and to create the ultimate wagering challenge. You'll need a solid understanding of the point spread system if you hope to have a profitable season.
Typically, if you’ve made a bet on sports in the past amongst friends or at the casino, you probably made a moneyline bet, and you didn’t even know it. “I bet you $10 the Broncos are going to win tonight.” That’s a moneyline bet. You may also hear the bet referred to as a to-win bet in some circles, but just know that they are referring to the same type of bet.
The term moneylines can have two definitions: a type of bet and also the odds attached to certain bets. Starting with the type of bet, moneyline bets simply focus on the outright winner of a game. With point spreads, you have to consider a margin of victory. With totals, you’re looking at the combined score of the two sides involved in the game. But if you’re betting on the moneyline, your only focus is who will win the game outright. There is no tying; just winning or losing. But there is more to understanding the moneyline, including the odds and what they tell you. Read on below to get a better idea of how they work.
Remember earlier when we said that most point spread bets in basketball pay out at -110? Well, this is where the vig is located. Sportsbooks will work to get equal amounts of money on both sides of a game and make their money off of the vig. If they are successful in doing so, it does not matter to them who wins the game. For example, let's look at our earlier example. Here are what the odds would look like at the sportsbook:
If the public comes out and bets really hard on one side, the line is going to move a lot making the odds worse on that side and a lot better on the other side. If you’re planning to bet against the public, you should wait to bet until the line moves as far as you think it is going to. Be careful, though, if you wait too long and some big money bettors bet, they can move the line back.
The sportsbook is not going to have props conveniently labeled as “skilled NBA props” and “gamble, gamble props,” so it’s up to you to use your common sense to decide which bets you should be getting involved with and which you should be avoiding. Remember, unskilled entertainment prop bets are not bad as long as you know that they can’t be beaten long-term unless through sheer dumb luck.
If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.
Without losing you with the math, the implied probability (or how often you should win) of a +250 bet is 28.6%. This means that you should win this bet 28.6 out of 100 times. This is what the sportsbook thinks will happen. You, however, think it should be +125. The implied probability of that is 44.4% meaning that you think you should win the bet about 44.4 out of 100 times.
We need to figure out how much profit we will get per dollar we are going to bet and then multiply that by how many dollars we are going to bet. If we divide the moneyline number by 100, it will tell us how much profit we will get for every $1 we bet. So, 145/100 = $1.45. For every $1 we wager, we will get paid $1.45 in profit for a correct prediction.
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:
You can never rule out the weather in sports. If there is a team or contestant who does better in certain conditions but worse in others, you’re going to see a line movement if the conditions change. For example, a football team that has a strong passing attack might become less of a favorite if rain pops up in the forecast. Often, the line does not shift as quickly as it should in response to changing weather conditions, which can create some good opportunities to find value.
If you're seeing 15 or 25 instead of 15/1 or 25/1, you're seeing a decimal form of odds, as opposed to fractional. Multiplying your stake by decimal odds gives your total return, not your profit(which is total return -stake). To get to fractional from decimal, add 1. So 3/1 fractional = 4 decimal (just 4). 4/6 frac = (4/6+1) dec = 10/6 = 5/3, or 1.666, which is rounded to 1.67 by bookies. To go from decimal to fractional, subtract 1(which makes sense from profit = total return - stake) So 15 dec = 14/1 frac. 2.33... dec = 1.33/1, or 133/100.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
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.
Conversely, in most other countries financial spread betting income is considered taxable. For example, the Australian Tax Office issued a decision in March 2010 saying "Yes, the gains from financial spread betting are assessable income under section 6-5 or section 15-15 of the ITAA 1997". Similarly, any losses on the spread betting contracts are deductible. This has resulted in a much lower interest in financial spread betting in those countries.
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.
From time to time, DraftKings might decide to publish offerings referring either to the single performance of a participant or team; or offerings which combine the potential outcomes of 2 or more participants at higher odds than those normally available, also known as ‘Bet of the Day’. DraftKings reserves the right to withdraw such offers, edit the respective odds, and effect any further changes that might deem necessary at its sole discretion.
At a site that offers a free play bonus, you'd bet $100 free play on the Grizzlies at +210. At another site, where you have a cash balance, you bet $150 cash on the Celtics at -240. If the Grizzlies won, you'd win $210 cash from your free play but lose your $150 cash. That's a profit of $60. If the Celtics won, you'd win $62.51 from your cash bet and lose only your free play credit. That's a profit of $62.51
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.