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.
The main goal for each sportsbook is to set the best line possible in order to create even action on both sides of the game. In a perfect world, the book would have 50 percent of the handle come in on the favorite and 50 percent of the action come in on the underdog. If this happens, the sportsbook would be guaranteed a profit because of the 10 percent vig they charge on most point spread wagers. When a book has serious one-sided action, they will attempt to counter that by moving the line in the direction that's taking the most money and try to entice bettors into betting on the other side.
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.
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.
Proline will set a point spread for each game of either -0.5 / +.05, -1.0 / +1.0, or -1.5 / +1.5. If you choose -0.5 the team must win by 1 goal or more to win your wager. If you choose +0.5 your team must win or tie the game. Note that OLG Proline includes the shoot-out for point spreads so there are never any ties for the -0.5 / +0.5 spreads. If you choose the -1.0 spread your team must win by 2 or more goals to win the bet. If they win by 1 goal exactly it is a push. If you choose the +1.0 spread your team must win the game by 1 or more goals. If they lose by 1 goal it is a push. If you choose the -1.5 spread your team must win by 2 or more goals. If you choose the +1.5 spread your team must win the game, tie, or lose by 1 goal to win the bet.
These are the handicap bets that we have already talked about. These are your straightforward bets that pay out according to the spread and odds posted. Draws are treated as a loss with this format. If you just scrolled to this section first, scroll up and read the general section about handicap bets because this type is addressed extensively with some great examples there.
Another form of futures betting involves the over/under on the number of games a particular team will win in the regular season. This type of wager is typically found on pro football and major league baseball, and sometimes on pro basketball. For example, the over/under on the Yankees may be 93 wins. If the Yankees go on to win 94 or more games, the "over" is a winner. If they win 92 or fewer games, the "under" is a winner. If they win exactly 93, the bet is a push and tickets are refunded.
Point spreads focus on a margin of victory between the two teams and again, what you’re looking for is the positive and negative signs. If there is a minus sign next to a team’s spread, that suggest that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points. For example: let’s say that the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots are -5.5 and the Bills are therefore +5.5. If you bet the Patriots, they have to win by six points or more to cover. If you bet the Bills, they can lose by five points or less, or they can win the game outright and you would still win your bet.
There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
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We go in depth on this in the advanced guide on understanding value that we referenced earlier, but we will give you a brief intro on it here. If you’re able to calculate the percentage chance that you have to win in order to break even, and you can figure out the percentage chance that you think you’re going to win the bet, you can figure out very quickly if there is value.
In the UK and some other European countries the profit from spread betting is free from tax. The UK and some other European countries tax authorities designate financial spread betting as gambling and not investing, meaning it is free from capital gains tax and stamp tax, despite the fact that its regulated as a financial product by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. Most traders are also not liable for income tax unless they rely solely on their profits from financial spread betting to support themselves. The popularity of financial spread betting in the UK and some other European countries, compared to trading other speculative financial instruments such as CFDs and futures is partly due to this tax advantage. However, this also means any losses cannot be offset against future earnings for tax calculations.
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.
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.
When betting on the favorite, simply divide the negative moneyline by 100 to get a decimal. If you were planning to bet on the Celtics in the above example, this would give you 2.40 (ignore the negative). Now all you have to do is divide your stake by that number in order to see what your potential payouts would be. Let's say you wanted to stake $650. When you divide that number by 2.40, you'd see that your potential payout is $270.83.
Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
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.