You don’t have layers of complexity to fight through to see if your prediction is a positive expected value move (one that is going to make you money). With some simple mathematical calculations, you can figure out whether or not there is value in a bet. Even if you don’t like math and would prefer not to use it when assessing value and making your picks, it’s still much easier to “eyeball” value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.
Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. Spread betting has been a major growth market in the UK in recent years, with the number of gamblers heading towards one million. Financial spread betting (see below) can carry a high level of risk if there is no "stop". In the UK, spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority rather than the Gambling Commission.
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.
Let's take a look at a sample Asian handicap bet to make this make more sense. Some things are just better learned through getting your hands dirty. For example, imagine that you choose to bet Manchester United at (-1, -1.5). Half of your bet would be for Manchester United at -1, and a half would be at Manchester United -1.5. Let's say Manchester United wins the game by one goal. You would push on your first bet and lose on your second bet. If you bet $100 on this, you would receive $50 back for the push and lose on the other portion of your bet.
How the point spread works - When two teams meet on the playing field or on the basketball court, one team is typically better than the other or in a more favorable position because of factors like playing at home. If all you had to do were pick the winning team in a game, everybody would simply wager on the best team or the home team in a even matchup and bypass all the lines and collect their winnings at a high rate.
Although the potential payouts look tempting - many sports bettors have dreamt of cashing in nearly $10,000 by nailing a $10, 10-teamer at 850/1 - they are a bad bet because they are difficult to hit and do not pay anywhere near true odds. This is how the sportsbooks make a lot of their money. For instance, let's say you want to bet a two-team parlay. For two games, there are four different possible combinations of outcomes, thus the true odds are 4/1. However, the sportsbook is only going to pay you 2.6/1 for your efforts, thus giving them a "juice" or vigorish in their favor. However, if you only have $20 to your name for a football bankroll and really like two games, the two-teamer might be the way to go because you could win $52 for your $20 wager.
This is the format that terrifies people the most. We can promise you that fractions aren’t as scary as they seem if they’re explained properly. Here is the easiest way to calculate your profits and payouts with fractional odds. Solve the fraction and then multiply that number by your bet size to get your potential profit. If you can’t remember how to solve fractions, it’s ok. Don’t look at it as a “fraction” but more as a division problem. 13/20 is the same as 13 divided by 20. 29/20 is the same as 29 divided by 20.
As you may already be assuming, adjustments are made if you want to bet on the Razorbacks. The point spread for the Razorbacks would be set at +7. It will always be the exact opposite of the other team. As the negative sign represents the favorite, the plus sign here represents the underdog. If you were to bet on the Razorbacks, they can actually still lose, and you win your bet.
You may often notice that the spread is sometimes set at an even number such as 3, 6 , 10, etc. In this case if the favored team won by the exact amount set for the spread the bet would be pushed, and all bets would be returned. For example, if the Patriots were 3 point favorites and they won by a FG (3 points) than this would results in a push, meaning no matter which side you bet on you would get your money returned to you.
We do want to make sure to point out that this is total money returned and not your profit. We went over the difference above when discussing the American odds. Let’s take a look at the same bet again, but this time with decimal odds. We should be expecting to see a profit of $33.33 for an Eagles bet and $240 for a Falcons bet since we know that the bets are the exact same and are just presented in a different format.
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.
You've probably noticed by now that in the first game there are no odds posted in parenthesis to the right of each team. This means that the sportsbook is paying out both bets at the standard odds for a point spread bet of -110. Some sportsbooks will write the -110 in, and some will just leave it blank assuming that you know they will be paying out at the standard odds rate.
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.
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.