When wagering against the spread, you bet on the team that will cover the betting line, and not necessarily win the game. Obviously by taking the favorite, a bettor believes that team will not only win the game, but also win the game by a certain number of points to cover the betting line. But when wagering on the underdog, that team does not necessarily have to win the game to cover the line. For examples of point spreads and how those bets are won, please keep reading below where we explain betting odds for the spread in detail.
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.
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.
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.

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.


You have three choices for the three betting options: Home, Away, or Draw (tie). The result of the game is decided after regulation play (90 minutes plus injury time). Overtime, the Golden Goal rule, and penalty kicks are not taken into consideration for soccer bets unless otherwise stipulated. You can usually bet on a winner or advancement (including OT & shootouts) but with different odds would be given.
You’ll see on the right-hand side of the teams a number with an “o” or a “u” before it. As you may have already gathered, the “o” stands for over and the “u” stands for under. Even though the over is on the Celtics line and the “u” is on the Mavericks line, it does not matter. They’re written that way for organizational sake and not because either bet is connected to either team. Remember, it only matters that the total score of the game is. One team can score all of the points, and you’ll still win your bet.
One of the biggest factors you will see change the moneyline odds is the news media. The news does a great job of sensationalizing stories as well as reporting changes that may or may not have an effect on an upcoming game. Recreational bettors have a tendency to overreact to news stories, especially ones that pull on the heartstrings. This can create some really awesome betting opportunities for you to jump on. Expert bettors and sportsbook executives always say that if you can be on the opposite side of the general public on a bet, you’re probably in a good spot.
You can bet the money line option in every single sport that is offered up. It is the simplest form of betting and it is also the primary way to bet sports in which a point spread isn’t available (think hockey or baseball). Money line wagers are also available in football and basketball, but the point spread wager is much more popular. It is also used in tennis, golf, boxing, MMA, cricket, table tennis, and any other sport you can think of that has a winner at the end of the game.
Linemakers who work for the sportsbooks must put out lines that will entice the "favorite" bettors to lay the points and take the favorite or entice the underdog bettors to take the points with the underdog. Because each sportsbook is operated under their own rules, guidelines and stipulations, they are free to put out whatever line they feel is competitive and charge whatever vig they want to based on how much action that specific line is taking.
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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.
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.
These bets are less popular as of now, but most sportsbooks are starting to offer them as they are growing in popularity. The reason for the growth is that more people are starting to understand them and see that they can help you cut down some variance and risk, while still ensuring that there is no draw. The reason for the name is that these bets are growing extremely quickly in popularity in the Asian countries and betting markets. Most online sportsbooks are starting to offer these fairly regularly now.
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.
These are the point spread bets available for three preseason NFL football games. Let's start by identifying all of the elements of these bets so that you know what you're looking at. The first column is the two teams that are competing. This should be pretty straightforward. The next thing you will see is a plus or minus sign on each team's line. Teams with a minus sign in front of the number are the favorites and teams with the plus signs are the underdogs. In the above examples, the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Chargers are all the favorites. The Bengals, Broncos, and Cowboys are all underdogs.
Money line bets are on offer on all major sports. In the NFL, baseball, the NBA and the NHL, the money line traditionally goes alongside the point spread bets – in many cases being the least popular, especially in football and basketball. In many sports there is no point spread, motor sport being a good example, so in a sport like this, the money line is the only way to bet on the outright winner. Sports with small margins of victory are also popular money line wagers – soccer being an example, where point spreads are possible, but because of the lack of goals, the money line wager is preferable (the same can apply to baseball and hockey – although puck lines and run lines are a way for the gambler to enjoy point spread betting in these).
The first thing you’ll notice with moneyline odds is that there is either a positive or negative sign in front of the number. What that sign denotes is how much you’ll win betting on each side. If there’s a positive sign next to the odds, that indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet $100. If the odds on a tennis player said +150, that means that for a $100 bet, you would win $150. Now if there is a minus sign in front of the odds, that is the number that you would have to bet in order to win $100. For example, if a football team was -250, that means you’d have to bet $250 to win $100.
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.
The number that follows the plus or minus sign will indicate how big of a favorite or an underdog the team is. The larger the number is, the bigger the favorite or the underdog the team is. For example, a team that is -300 is a bigger favorite than a team that is -150. A team that is +240 is a bigger underdog than a team that is +130. Remember, this is not the sportsbook’s actual prediction on who they think will win; it’s in relation to the money that has been bet on the game. It is more depictive of who the betting public thinks is going to win the game.

Betting against the spread - In the sports betting industry the acronym ATS is used to label a team's record when betting against the spread. ATS records are a valuable tool in sports handicapping. A team may be playing great straight-up, winning a lot of games but at the same time they could have a dreadful ATS record because they are overvalued by the general public and the oddsmakers. And, conversely, a team could be losing a lot of games but playing in a lot of close games as underdogs and have a good ATS record going.
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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.
The money line bet is the simplest form of betting in the industry. A “money line” bet is a way of betting on which team is going to win the game outright, or which individual will win an event. With a money line bet, the margin of victory or the total number of points a team scores do not matter. If you like the Patriots to win outright versus the Browns, a 3-0 win would win you just as much money as a 77-0 win.
This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.
If you've never set foot in an actual sportsbook before or logged into an online sportsbook, the chances of you getting overwhelmed when you actually do is very high. In an actual Las Vegas sportsbook, there is typically a lot of commotion and the odds and lines are displayed on a massive digital board for everyone to see. When a novice sports bettor looks at the massive digital signage, they will see a bunch of numbers, both positive and negative, some two digits, some three digits. They also won't have a clue what any of it means. The same can be said for the online sportsbooks. It looks like a massive spreadsheet with negative and positive numbers beside each teams' name.
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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.
You may be wondering how we determined which of the two teams was the favorite and which was the underdog. You may also be wondering how much you get paid out for a bet on either side of this game. If you look at the odds above (this is a screenshot from an actual online sportsbook), you’ll see that all of that information is given to you. Before the spread number of 4 ½, you’ll see a plus or minus sign. The plus sign indicates the underdog and the minus sign indicates the favorite.
The sportsbook is not going to have props conveniently labeled as “skilled NBA props” and “gamble, gamble props,” so it’s up to you to use your common sense to decide which bets you should be getting involved with and which you should be avoiding. Remember, unskilled entertainment prop bets are not bad as long as you know that they can’t be beaten long-term unless through sheer dumb luck.
You'll also usually be given the option to wager on the game with the money line in football and basketball. In this case, all you have to do is pick the winner of the contest, but there's one drawback. If you bet on the team that's expected to win, you can find yourself risking much more money than you stand to win. Each team is assigned odds, much like in a horse race where a 2-1 favorite will pay out much less than a 15-1 longshot. This method also evens the playing field for bookies, sportsbooks and other gambling institutions.
Notice that point spreads adjust the score for the favorite team. This is easiest to see with an example: If the New York Knicks are playing the Boston Celtics, and Boston is favored to win by a 4-point spread, then a bet on Boston only pays out if Boston wins by more than 4 points. A bet on New York pays out if New York wins or if they lose by less than 4 points.
Something that all of our pro bettors on staff preach is that there is no reason to make anything more complicated than it needs to be. Specifically, they are referring to the awful trend of aspiring sports bettors thinking that you must make more complex bets in order to make a living betting sports. The reason we say it’s an awful trend is because this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Only bet games where you have a clear prediction on a team covering the spread. Look for lines that you think are incorrect and put your money there. The idea here is to be making intelligent picks that you actually believe will win. If you're betting every game, you're just gambling and no longer letting your skill and knowledge base shine through.

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.
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.

This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.

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.
Point spread lines can be tricky in the fact that they can help shape our views of a game just by looking at them. You may have no opinion of a game until you look at a point spread and then your brain immediately starts looking for evidence to back up the line. This can cause you to build your view of a game off of what the sportsbook thinks and not what you think. The best advice here is to have an idea of what you think the line is before you look at the sportsbook's lines. This will protect you from being influenced by what they came up with and help you to spot bad lines.

Let’s say that people think the Mavericks are going to crush the Magic, and the money starts to pour in on the Mavs. Obviously, the sportsbook likes seeing a lot of bets come in, but they need them to come in evenly. So, to slow down the money coming in on the Mavericks and entice people to bet on the Magic, they will shift both lines. The new line might look something like this:
While we're going to cover this extensively in the moneyline section of the Basketball Betting Guide, we'll touch briefly on what the -110 means here. -110 refers to the moneyline payout for a particular bet. If you were to bet $100 on a basketball point spread paying -110 and win, you would be paid out a profit of $90.90. The easy way to figure out the amount you will get paid with minus moneyline odds is to divide your bet size by the absolute value of the betting odds and multiply that number by 100.
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.
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