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.
For beginners, the moneyline bet on an underdog is a great choice as it will allow bettors to win 50% of the bets and still earn a profit. Each of these bets have benefits and drawbacks. With moneylines, punter shave the appeal of betting on a winning side. This is a great choice for die-hard fans. Many people find it more appealing to bet on a winner of a game instead of betting on the end score of the game. Spread betting does offer some nice benefits. They are simple yes or no bets. Either the team covers the spread or they don’t. However, moneyline bets typically offer the chance to win more than is bet, so these are often the choice for many bettors online.
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.
First, however, a word of caution: Sports betting can be a fun and profitable venture. However, like most good things in life there are pitfalls to be aware of. You should be able to enjoy many positive experiences as long as you bet in moderation and under control. We know you have heard this before but it definitely bears repeating: don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose, either emotionally or financially. If you or someone you know shows signs of compulsive gambling, one place to find help is Gamblers Anonymous.
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.
--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).
If you're just getting started with NFL betting, the most important thing you need to do is learn how the lines work. But this is easier said than done because NFL lines can seem like learning Greek to new bettors. Fortunately, learning football betting lines won't take you nearly as long to master as the Greek language. In fact, you should have a good understanding of the matter just by looking at the following information on how NFL betting lines work.
Let's look at a different option. We bet the Cowboys +3, and the final score is Chargers 21, Cowboys 19. Even though the Cowboys lost the game, we still win our bet because they lost by less than three points. How much are we going to get paid on this bet? Well, we look in the parenthesis and see we will get paid at -120. This means that for every $100 we bet, we will get paid $83.33 in profit.
Rotation numbers are standard from sportsbook to sportsbook. The number becomes a way to refer to the game and team without mentioning the teams name. It’s a sort of shorthand. Also, the rotation number allows each book to list the games in the same order—numerically. It is, in essence, a way to keep all of the games that are posted each day and throughout the week organized. That makes it easy for the bettor and the bookie.
This is four different games you can bet on, right? Wrong. These are several different handicap bets that you can make on a single game of soccer. Each of the individual rectangles is the same as the point spread bets we talked about earlier. For example, the first rectangle is betting on Liverpool at -3, getting paid 6 to 1. This means that if you take this bet you need Liverpool to win by four or more goals and you will get paid 6 to 1, or $600 for every $100 you wager.
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covering a spread - When a team surpasses the expectations of a point spread set by football experts. For instance, if a team is expected to win by 10 points, and they actually win by 11 or more, this is called 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by nine or less, or they lose the game, this is called NOT 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by exactly 10 points, this results in a push or tie.
A teaser is a bet that alters the spread in the gambler's favor by a predetermined margin – in American football the teaser margin is often six points. For example, if the line is 3.5 points and bettors want to place a teaser bet on the underdog, they take 9.5 points instead; a teaser bet on the favorite would mean that the gambler takes 2.5 points instead of having to give the 3.5. In return for the additional points, the payout if the gambler wins is less than even money, or the gambler must wager on more than one event and both events must win. In this way it is very similar to a parlay. At some establishments, the "reverse teaser" also exists, which alters the spread against the gambler, who gets paid at more than evens if the bet wins.
On the other hand, betting which team is going to score first is a bit of a crapshoot. Sure, you could try and predict who has the better chance of winning the opening toss, but even then it’s going to be a bit of a gamble to predict which team scores first. If you’re betting on this bet, you’ll only be guessing, and therefore have no way to exert an edge over your competition.
This may sound confusing, but spread betting is one of the easiest forms of sports betting offered. It also offers better odds when betting on the favorite team and the normal odds are 10/11 or -110. When one chooses to bet on the underdog that team does not have to win, they just have to cover the spread. Spread betting is pretty simple and it allows punters to enjoy an exciting form of betting that can lead to some significant wins.
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.
Let’s say that the Mavericks and the Magic are playing in an upcoming game, and both teams are equal counterparts. Let’s say that the odds for that game are as follows. You will never see these odds, though, because in this example, the sportsbook is not set to make any money if they achieve their goal of getting money on both sides of the bet. But we need to look at it for you to better understand things.
Score three is usually the one that confuses people. Remember, when betting on point spreads, the favorite has to win by more than the number of points they are projected to win by. The underdog can lose the game, and you can still win your bet as long as they don't lose by more points than they are spotted. In the above example, if you were to bet on the Chargers at +3, you can imagine that like you have three bonus points to play with. You can lose by one point or by two points and still win the bet. If you bet the Chargers at +3 and lose by three points, it is a tie.
Hopefully, by now you are an absolute expert on point spread and handicap bet types. If you're still confused on anything, take your time and reread through the examples we posted and it should slowly become clearer to you. Sometimes the math can be a bit confusing to people, so take your time. If you are ever confused with a bet, you are making online or at a casino, just ask support of the agent for help to clarify. They will be more than happy to assist you in making sure you've bet on exactly what it is that you want to bet on. Don't worry, no one will laugh at you or give you a hard time because you are confused. We all were new to this one day, and they are specifically paid to help new bettors like you understand everything and have a much better betting experience.
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.
The reason why you will typically see a (-110) line next to a point spread is simple. This is the commision in which the sportsbooks charge for you to place your wager. This is how the casino makes their money. Think of it as a commission. You make a bet, they charge 10% for you to do so. Bookmakers call this “Vigorous or Vig” it’s also known as the “Joice”
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.
So to solve the first fraction for the Heat, we do 13 divided by 20 and get 0.65. Let’s look at our calculations for the $10 bet and the $250 bet. If we bet $10, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $10 and get $6.50. This is our correct profit! If we bet $250, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $250 and get $162.50. This is out correct profit!
This is a very common occurrence throughout the sports betting industry. Sportsbooks have the right to shift the spread or odds for any given match prior to it starting. Many factors play a huge role in this decision, and they include injuries, weather, the volume of bets on one side, and anything in between. Depending on the time you place your wager, the bettor may also have an advantage or disadvantage based on which way the spread has shifted.
It’s common knowledge among bettors that the online gambling industry pays close attention to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a private company that handles the odds for casinos and newspapers. But the totals I set have to reflect our customers’ preferences for betting the over or under on certain teams in certain situations. Also, because LVSC lines are published early, I have to keep on top of injuries and potential changes in coaching strategy leading up to the game in question before I release any totals. This is doubly important in basketball, where pace determines how many shots will be taken in 48 minutes.
This highlights a notable advantage of the moneyline wager. You get to control, to some extent, the risk versus reward. For example, you might be quite certain that the Cardinals are going to win this game, but not convinced that they're going to cover the spread. So a moneyline wager is the safe option. There's less money to be made, but less chance of losing. On the other hand, you might think that the Packers are going to cause an upset. Rather than betting on them to cover the spread, you can bet on them to win outright. There's less chance of winning such a wager, but the potential returns are much greater.
On the other hand, underdog moneylines can be lucrative wagering opportunities. Upsets happen more often than some of us think and moneyline betting is a great way to take advantage. For example, for a moneyline wager of +250, a bettor will only need to win about 28% of the time to break even and for a +300 wager the bettor would only need to win 25% of the time to break even. If you can spot upsets even decently well, moneyline wagers on underdogs can be profitable bets.
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.
Almost all point spread wagers are paid out at moneyline odds of -110. This is almost even money minus the percentage that is taken for the sportsbook's cut known as the vig. Sometimes you will see a bit of variation in the payout odds, but for the most part, you should expect to see -110. If you don't see the payout numbers posted but just the point spread, you can most likely assume that you are to interpret that as being paid out at -110. If you're ever curious, though, just ask for clarification or look at your betting slip.
Changes to the lineup for a game will have a big effect on the moneyline as well as any other bets you’re looking to place on that game. If a superstar is suddenly out, it’s going to have a big change on where the money is coming in, which will inevitably cause a big shift in the line. Sometimes the sportsbook will even adjust the line preemptively if they anticipate a large change in where the money is going to be coming in on a particular game.
An over-under bet in basketball is a wager on whether the total score for the game from both teams will be above or below a certain threshold. This is a great bet to utilize when you think that a game will be defense heavy and both teams will be shooting cold, or when you think that it’s going to be a barn burner with both teams shooting lights out.
The last format we want to look at is fractional odds. Personally, we aren’t a huge fan of fractional odds because they’re the most challenging to work with. The formula is almost the same as with decimal odds, but it gives your profit instead of total money returned. It also requires you to solve a fraction, which may be a nightmare for a lot of people. Regardless, we are going to walk you through how to do it with the same bet we’ve been working with.
A wager on the Giants on the spread does not mean that New York has to win the game in order for you to win cash. All the G-Men have to do is come within 8 points of the ‘boys, and you’re a winner. You determine a winning or losing point spread by adding or subtracting 7.5 from the final score, depending on which side you laid your bet. If you’re confident that New York will at least come within a touchdown of beating the Cowboys, or beating them outright, then you’d wager on the spread in favor of New York.
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.
Understanding how a moneyline wager pays isn’t simple but it’s not very complicated. That said, it might take running through a few examples before fully grasping the payouts. Moneylines for football and basketball games are often tied to the point spread. When a game has a large point spread it usually has a large moneyline. Both are separate bets but are shown together in a sports wagering app screen and in a brick and mortar sportsbook.
Why is this important? If you’re only looking for a fun sweat, it does not matter at all. But, if you’re looking to be a winner and making money long-term is important, then this becomes critical. For those of you profit-minded bettors, make sure that you are only betting on the prop bets that require quite a bit of skill. These bets will be the ones that your knowledge, research, and expertise will help you win over the long run.
If bettors were quick to jump on the Atlanta line at +4.5 when it first came out, they would have a distinct advantage over those who waited closer to kick off and were stuck with +2.5. The opposite holds true for Carolina. Bettors that were quick to pull the trigger are now laying two more points than they would if they were patient and saw the line movement before making their move.
If you want to bet on football, then you have plenty of options. There are not only lots of games you can bet on, there are also lots of different types of wagers you can place. Point spreads and totals are the most popular types, by quite a distance, and many football bettors stick solely to those. This isn't really the ideal approach, as some of the other wagers can be very useful in the right circumstances.
That’s easy to understand because of the payouts. If a team is heavily favored, that means they’re perceived as having a better chance of winning. If that’s the case, then you would win less money betting on them. The opposite is true for the underdog: they’re deemed as having a smaller chance of winning, which means you would get a bigger payout if you bet on them (and they won).
With moneyline bets, there is no point spread to manipulate. Instead, the sportsbook will alter the payouts you’ll receive for a correct pick. The bigger the favorite, the less you’ll get paid. The bigger the underdog, the more you’ll get paid for a correct wager. This line will fluctuate as the sportsbook needs it to in order to encourage or discourage bets on either side.
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.
Bookmakers use odds to even out the bets, getting gamblers to wager on both sides of the line by leveling the playing field. Although there is overall parity in the NFL, there are teams that are haves and others that are have-nots. Indianapolis is still superior to Cincinnati but when they play each other the bookies have to get about half of the bettors to put cash on the Bengals. This covers the sportsbooks ensuring they’ll make a decent amount of cash on just about every game.
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 -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.