But what if the basement-dweller team was spotted 24 points? That's the concept behind the point spread. When two teams meet on the football field or a basketball court, one team is typically better than the other. If all bettors had to do was to pick the winning team, everybody would simply wager on the best team and collect their money. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks, and bookies would soon go broke. 

The favorite team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to win. This side of the bet usually listed with a minus (-) sign. The underdog team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to lose. This side of the moneyline is usually listed with a plus (+) sign. These signs signify how either side of the wager will pay. The minus side will pay less than original wager while the plus side will pay more than the original wager.


Understand that negative odds indicate how much money your must spend to make $100. When betting on the favorite, you take less risk, and thus earn less. When betting on a favorite, the moneyline is the amount of money you need to spend to make $100 profit. In the previous example, in order to make $100 of profit betting for the Cowboys, you would need to spend $135. Like positive odds, you earn back your bet when winning.


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).
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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.
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.
For example: New England –2.5 (–110) or Philadelphia +2.5 (–110) means you’d wager $110 for the chance to win an additional $100 if you bet on the point spread. Depending on which side is receiving the most action, a sportsbook will often move the line up or down in order to incentivize betting on the less popular side. Injuries or unforeseen changes can also impact a point spread gambling line. Point spreads are often listed with a half-point (ex: 2.5) in order to prevent the final margin from landing exactly on the point spread (ex: 10-point spread, final score of 20–10). A “push” or “tie” usually goes to the house or sportsbook, unless another arrangement has been agreed upon beforehand.
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.
Bets on "Race to X Points / Race to X Goals..." and similar offers refer to the team/participant reaching the earliest particular tally of points. If the offer lists a timeframe (or any other period restriction) it will not include any other points tallied from other parts of the event which are not related to the mentioned time frame. Should the listed score not be reached within the stipulated time frame, all bets will be declared void, unless otherwise stated.
The one variance you might come across in any pointspread listing is the commission owed on a bet. Instead of moving the actual spread for a game, some books will try and direct money one way or the other by adjusting the juice. For example, if there was a (-120) next to the listed pointspread, you would now owe $120 on a losing $100 bet. Sometimes a book will reduce or eliminate the juice all together to move money towards a particular side of a matchup. In this case, you might see (-105) or (+100) next to the pointspread to signify the reduced or zero commission for that bet.
The sportsbook will sometimes move this line if they need to encourage more bets on one side of the game. Their end goal is to have the same amount of money bet on both sides of the game so that no matter who wins, they make money. For as much as they love to facilitate gambling and betting, they don’t like to leave things to chance for themselves.
Just like the minus and plus values on the point spread, those values designate underdogs and favorites in moneyline betting. In this case, Toronto is favored at -185 (bet $185 to win $100), and Baltimore is listed as the underdog at +165 (bet $100 to win $165). In explaining the concept of moneyline betting further, it might help to view the number 100 sitting between the favorite and underdog values: +165 +100 -185
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--Fractional odds are most commonly found in racing. A 10/1 payout should be read "$10 paid for every $1 wagered." When the bigger number is on the left, you will find that bet is normally an underdog in the race. Also note, however, that in case such as "Who will win the Super Bowl in the NFL?" you will see all the teams listed as "underdogs"… i.e. paying at least 2/1 (some up to 300/1 or more).
When a betting line is listed, it will contain the moneyline and spread information. If there are two teams and there is a spread of +6 and -6, betting on the favorite, which is the – spread, the score must be greater than the underdog’s score to win. For example. The score between the Patriots and Bengals is 20 to 10. So, 20-4 is 14, which is greater than the 10 points earned by the underdog, so the bet will win.
Used in high-scoring sports like NFL and NBA, the point spread is a handicap that is placed on the favorite team in terms of points for betting purposes. If 10 points favor the Broncos over the Seahawks the point spread is 10. The Broncos must win the game by 11 or more points for you to win your wager. If you’ve made your bet on the Seahawks, you’ll win your bet if your team wins the game or losses by nine points or less. If the Broncos manage to win by exactly 10 points then the bet will be a tie.
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.
So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.
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.

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Money line bets are particularly attractive to square bettors when they are looking at underdogs. They see a nice high positive number and think that the payoff is significant enough to be worth the risk. Unfortunately, underdogs are underdogs for a reason, and it’s usually because they aren’t very good. However, when the right opportunity presents itself, a money line bet on an underdog can grow your bankroll quicker than betting favorites would.

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.
Placing a point spread bet means gambling on how much a team will win or lose by. In our above example, the Cowboys are the favorite. How do we know that? The minus symbol in front of the point spread indicates that the bookmaker thinks the final score will have Dallas winning by 7.5 points or more. The underdog, in our example that’s the New York Giants, will always be indicated with a plus sign. If you wager on the Cowboys on the point spread, America’s Team will have to win by at least 8 points for your wager to pay off. Should the Cowboys win by less than 8 points, your bet is lost.
Is that each game will have a favorite and an underdog. Even in contests where it’s a toss-up, the sportsbook will select someone as the favorite and the underdog for betting purposes. Depending on how big of a favorite or underdog the team or player is, the payout will be adjusted. The bigger the favorite, the smaller the payout. The bigger the underdog, the larger the payout.
"Draw No Bet" is where it is possible to bet on either the home team or the away team. It is also common practice to refer to "Draw No Bet" in cases where no draw odds are offered. Should the specific match contain no winner (e.g. match ends as a draw), or the particular occurrence not happen (e.g. First Goal, Draw No Bet and match ends 0-0) the stakes will be refunded.

It's inevitable in sports and basketball that in each game one team is going to be better than the other. Betting would be a little pointless if you were able to make the exact same wager on each team. Everyone would just always bet the better team, and the sportsbook would quickly be out of money and have to close up shop. What point spread bets attempt to do is even the playing field and offer bets with the same risk level on both sides of the coin. They effectively aim to create a 50/50 even playing field.
Straight bet - Amid all the fancy and lucrative-looking bets that are available, never lose sight of the value in a standard straight bet. You probably should learn and practice this bet often before learning any others, and it should be noted that people who bet for a living or a large portion of their income place straight bets almost exclusively.

It's also important to consider whether or not there's any correlation between the point spread and the betting total. If they are, a parlay wager is a good way to get maximum value. For example, a college football point spread +24.5 parlayed with under 48 points in the same game might be a great parlay bet. If the +24.5 team covers the point spread, then there's an increased chance that the game also goes under the posted total of 48.

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