_{Financial spread betting is a way to speculate on financial markets in the same way as trading a number of derivatives. In particular, the financial derivative Contract for difference (CFD) mirrors the spread bet in many ways. In fact, a number of financial derivative trading companies offer both financial spread bets and CFDs in parallel using the same trading platform. }

# The betting public as a whole is not very smart. There is a reason it is such a lucrative business to be in for the sportsbooks. The public loves to bet popular teams, great story lines, and trends that don't have a lot of merits. If you think that the public is going to bet a lot and shift the line more in your favor, just wait. In these situations, the worst that might happen is the line doesn't move, and you then take the bet right before the game at the original line that you still thought had value. Yes, there is a possibility of the point spread moving the other direction. If this happens, you just don't make a bet on this game and wait for the next one.

###### When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).

*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.*

^{The optimal situation for bookmakers is to set odds that will attract an equal amount of money on both sides, thus limiting their exposure to any one particular result. To further explain, consider two people make a bet on each side of a game without a bookmaker. Each risks $110, meaning there is $220 to be won. The winner of that bet will receive all $220. However, if he had made that $110 bet through a bookmaker he would have only won $100 because of the vig. In a perfect world if all bookmaker action was balanced, they would be guaranteed a nice profit because of the vig. }

^{It is a pretty simple concept once you get the hang of it, and you will also start to see profitable opportunities in football and hoops where wagering on the moneyline makes more sense than betting the point spread. If you really like an 8-point underdog in the NFL and think they will win, you can take the 8 points and hope they cover the spread. Or you can check out the moneyline option where they might be +280 and make more money betting them to win ($280) than on the point spread ($100). }

You should already know that the Eagles are the favorite to win and that you should expect less than even money on a correct pick here. You should also know that the Falcons are the favorite, and you should expect better than even money on a correct pick here. Having this in mind every time before you start your calculations will protect you from making a mistake and calculating the completely wrong direction.

Another thing to consider is popular winning margins, which are particularly applicable to football. Consider that many tight games may finish with either a three point or a seven point margin. If the point spread is around either of these marks, make every attempt to be the right side. For example, if you were to back a team that is either 2.5 or 3 point favorites, you’d want to back them at the 2.5 mark, as if they were to win by 3 you’d win as opposed to a push.

^{The second way is “eyeballing it.” If two teams play 10 times, how many times do you think a certain team is going to win? If you say they are going to win 6 times, then you think they are going to win 60% (6/10) times. Looking at it as a series of multiple games makes it a lot simpler for you to grasp and predict. Then, you just convert that number to a percentage and compare it with the implied probabilities offered at the sportsbooks. If there is value, go for it. }

Settlement of bets which make reference to terms such as "decisive goal" will be settled based on the scorer of the goal that at the end of the match/tie,) proves to be the one that has produced an unassailable lead, following which any further goals would prove to be irrelevant towards the final outcome. For a bet to be settled as "YES", the listed player's team must be declared the winner of that particular match or progressing to the next round or winning the competition. Goals scored in Regular Time and Extra Time count but Penalty Shoot outs do not.

*Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.*

##### In this example the Jets are listed as four-point favorites (-4) over the Bills and the 49ers are three-point underdogs (+3) against the Seahawks. So, if you bet $110 on the favored Jets, they must defeat the Bills by more than four points in order to win $100. If you bet $110 on the underdog 49ers you will win $100 if they win outright or lose by less than the three-point spread. If the final score happens to end up exactly on the number it's a tie, or 'push,' and you get your money back.

For example, if you’re betting on teams A, B, and C to win outright, you’ll have two round robin options available. Your By 2’s option includes all possible 2-team parlays for these three wagers (A+B, B+C, and A+C). And your By 3’s option includes all possible 3-team parlays on these 3 wagers (A+B+C). If you wager $30 on the By 2’s option, that money will be split evenly among the 2-team parlays ($10 on each of the 3 wagers).

*If you’re loving some of our expert picks or have a few hot tips of your own, you’re probably itching to get your bet in before the lines move. To help you out, our team has compiled a list of the absolute best and most trusted online sportsbooks offering action on the NBA. It’s important that we note that none of these sites can pay for a better review or recommendation from us. We take our reviews seriously and our integrity even more seriously. If we allowed sites to barter or pay their way onto our lists, we’d be serving you up advertisements and not recommendations.*

*Here’s a less extreme example. Let’s say that Fighter A is fighting Fighter B and you think that Fighter A is going to annihilate Fighter b. Like you don’t even think it’s going to be close. Let’s say you decide that you would be willing to bet even if the odds were -400 on Fighter A. You’d only be getting $25 back on your bet, but that’s what you think is fair.*

You can also bet straight winners and losers -- with no point spreads involved -- with money line wagers. When there is a minus number you bet that amount to win $100 in profit. When there is a plus number, that is your winning profit for every $100 wagered. So if the Cowboys have a money line of -250, you would have to bet $250 on them to win $100 in profit on any Dallas victory. If the Giants had a money line of +150, you would win $150 in profit with a winning $100 bet. If a money line is posted as even, you would win a $100 profit on a $100 winning bet.

Had you initially bet $100 on the Mavericks, you would walk away with a profit of $90.91. Now, if you bet on the Mavericks, you will see a profit of only $76.92. On the other side of the bet, an earlier bet on the Magic would have paid you $105. Now that same $100 bet will get you $125 if the Magic win the game. Ideally, this will entice more people to bet on the Magic and the action on the Mavericks to slow down.

_{In cases when there is a point spread and moneyline offered on an event, such as an NFL football game, many bettors will place a wager on the moneyline and point spread of an underdog they feel has a chance to pull the upset. They will safely bet the point spread because they feel the game will be close, but will also put themselves in line for a nice payday if the underdog wins straight-up. }

###### On a moneyline bet of -300, you’ll need to win your bet 75% of the time just to break even. When your odds jump even higher to -400, you’ll need to win your bet 80% of the time to show a profit. You are risking a lot to win very little and even though a large favorite will win most of the time, when they do lose, you will find yourself out a lot of money. I try to stay away from large favorite moneylines, because the amount risked is very high and the payoff is low.

### The "Total Points", also known as Goals or Runs, is a 2 selection odds based on the total number of points scored in a game or event by the competitors. The "Total" is set at a specific line with outcomes listed as either Over or Under the listed amount. As with Point Spread/Handicap betting, in those circumstances where the result of the game or event Total point scored is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. “Totals” can also be set on any number of predefined occurrences (e.g. goals, points, corners, rebounds, penalty minutes, etc.).

*The secret to winning sports bets is finding value and picking winners. There is absolutely zero correlation between the complexity of a bet and how likely you are to win. In fact, you could say that there is a negative correlation because a lot of bettors don’t fully understand the complex bets they are making, meaning they are more likely to make mistakes and incorrectly assess value.*

_{Some people consider sports gambling a disease which is why it is outlawed everywhere in the United States besides Las Vegas. However, many Americans still bet on sports illegally with various overseas bookies. Because of this, many Americans believe sports gambling should be made legal throughout the United States because the country is missing out on millions of potential tax dollars by sports gamblers using overseas bookies. }

^{When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under. }

In football the money line is often a popular choice for bettors who have been burned by last-second scoring that actually had no actual affect on the outcome of the game. With the money line you just have to hope your team wins rather than cover a point spread. Of course, the one downside is having to risk more money to return the same amount that a point spread bet would net you.

_{The team that has the minus sign, which is the favorite, has points deducted from its final score, while the dog, with the plus sign, has points added. The favorite must beat the spread, which means they have to win by more than the negative number to pay off. The underdog pays off in two instances—if they win outright or if they lose by less than the spread. }

*What this means is that in each contest, there is going to be a favorite and an underdog. It’s important to point out that when you look at a moneyline bet, and you see that a team is a favorite or an underdog, this is only in relation to the money that is being bet. While these numbers will usually be in line with which team is the actual favorite and underdog, it could be different. Remember, the betting lines are tweaked so that the sportsbook can get the right amount bet on each side of the contest.*

_{While we aren't exactly sure at which dollar amounts or what formulas sportsbooks use to determine when they shift the lines, we do know why they do it. It is their attempt to minimize their risk as much as possible and guarantees sportsbook profit. Lines will also move if something major happens (like Lebron breaking his leg or something) so keep an eye out for this. Ultimately, the shift in the line is done for the exact same reason to keep the same amount of money on both sides of the game. As you'll see in the strategy and tips section, shifting lines do present some interesting opportunities for sports bettors. }

_{Before we had the options of wagering on future bets, parlays, teasers, alternative lines, Asian lines, prop bets and each-way, there was one betting option that reigned supreme. It was the money line bet. From a non-gambling perspective, winning a game in any sports will make a team happy. However, depending on the score, that win may not please bettors. That’s because the point spread betting option has taken over as the popular option, leaving the money line far behind. If you are the kind of person who bets on your favorite team each and every game, this is the bet for you. There is nothing worse than watching your team win the game, but lose you money by not covering the point spread. }

Without a points handicap, it would not make sense to pay both sides of a wager the same amount when it's clear that not all teams are on equal footing. In fact, it is entirely possible for a team to lose the game in real-life but still win a bet if they only lose by less than a set number of points. Vice versa, a team can win a game, but lose the wager if they do not win by more points than what was predicted.

_{The point spread bet is a bet designed to give each team an equal chance of winning a particular game. Obviously, not all teams are equal, so the sports-books have devised a mechanism to even up the teams, and that is by taking points/runs/goals off the team who is favored. The more a team is favored, the more the gambling site will take off them, enough to theoretically make the game a 50/50 chance. }

If you want to predict what will happen when Team A meets Team B, your best stats to analyze are those generated in their most recent head-to-head matchups at the same venue. The habits of the betting public are fairly constant, so ATS results in general have a longer shelf life, but don’t bother going too far back in time. The 2009 New York Yankees are going to look a lot different than the 2008 Yankees or the 2000 Yankees. (Source: The Sports Bookie Blog)

**In our earlier example, the sportsbook would be devastated if 100% of the action came in on the Falcons. The book is not looking to gamble; they are looking for a sure thing. So, to try and entice more people to bet on the Bear Cubs and discourage people from betting on the Falcons, they will alter the payouts. They will make the amount you win for correctly selecting the Bear Cubs much larger and the amount that you win for correctly selecting the Falcons much smaller.**

**We mentioned we would touch on the -3500 bet in this section. If you calculate the implied probability of -3500, you see that it is 97.2%. This means that the bet will have to hit 97.2% of the time for you to break even. Now, if you think that the bet is actually 100%, then it might be a smart bet to make. You’re still going to have to put up a lot of money to see any real sort of profit, which might not be desirable based on your personal preferences.**

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.

*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.*

`Remember that every spread still has a moneyline attached to it. While that might be a bit confusing, all that refers to is the cost of betting the spread; not how the outcome will be decided. For example, if someone says to you that “the Patriots are laying three points but I have low juice, so my moneyline is -104”, what they are referring to is the price of betting the spread. That merely means that they are betting the spread but the moneyline attached to betting that spread is -104.`

*In theory, sportsbooks don't care about the outcome of a game, although for those of you who bet on the Steelers (-5.5) last season versus the Chargers and saw a game winning TD returned by S Troy Palumalu as the game expired reversed, thus negating a seven point victory and putting the final at 11-10, you might think otherwise, but this is how it's supposed to be.*

What does this mean for how you win a point spread bet? Glad you asked. To win a point spread bet, you pick the team that you think is going to "win" after the point spread differences are calculated in. Let's look at an example that will make this clearer. In the above chart, we see that you can bet the San Diego Chargers at -3. This means, as we already stated, that the sportsbook thinks the Chargers are the favorites and that they are going to win by three points. Here are three potential scores of the game:

`The secret to winning sports bets is finding value and picking winners. There is absolutely zero correlation between the complexity of a bet and how likely you are to win. In fact, you could say that there is a negative correlation because a lot of bettors don’t fully understand the complex bets they are making, meaning they are more likely to make mistakes and incorrectly assess value.`

**The key to successful betting lies in quality and not quantity. Your overall chances of winning are much greater if you pick your spots carefully, and only bet when you find real value. There isn't a huge number of NFL games each week, but there's enough that it's simply not realistic to think you can handicap them all. And if you're also betting on college games then this is even more of an issue.**

*The level of the gambler’s profit or loss will be determined by the stake size selected for the bet, multiplied by the number of unit points above or below the gambler’s bet level. This reflects the fundamental difference between sports spread betting and fixed odds sports betting in that both the level of winnings and level of losses are not fixed and can end up being many multiples of the original stake size selected.*