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.
One of the biggest mistakes that bettors make is trying to make a judgement on every single game that's taking place. This is especially true of those who only focus on the NFL. There aren't that many games each week, and bettors think they stand the best chance of making money if they can predict the outcomes in all of them. This is not an approach we recommend.
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:

This is because different bookmakers and betting sites price up games differently. So the odds they offer are not always the same. Remember the Packers versus Cardinals game we showed earlier as an example? We used the actual odds from a real betting site for that example. The following odds were also available for the same game, from various other sites.
Point spread and handicap betting are one of the most popular forms of sports bets that you can place. The reason we say "one" of the most popular forms instead of "two" is that these bets are effectively the same thing. These bets are a lot of fun because they allow you to root for teams that you still think are going to lose. With point spread and handicap bets, the team you're betting on can lose the game, and you can still win your bet. In contrast, the team you are betting on can win the game, and you can still lose your bet. Now that we've thoroughly confused you let's build up your knowledge, so you're an expert on the bet type. This is like sports betting boot camp; we confuse you and break you down and then build you back up as a betting machine!

By this point, you should be feeling pretty well versed in all things NBA betting. We’ve walked you through how to use our free expert picks, where to place your bets, the strategies you need that are specific to the NBA, and the different types of bets you have at your disposal. Whether or not you become a successful NBA sports bettor now is up to you. If you study this material, do your research, and put in some hard work, you can be on the road to crushing the books in no time. We wish you the best of luck and are always here if you ever need any additional help.
Sports betting has become a popular pastime and with the offering of many online sportsbooks, punters from all over the world can engage in exciting betting action and can have amazing opportunities to collect payouts. There are many different types of bets that are supported at betting sites and most punters will be familiar with moneyline and spread bets. These are the two most popular betting options for experienced punters, so they are options at just about every operating sportsbook.
With NFL odds the over/under can vary but usually it’s somewhere between 35 and 47 points. Let’s say in the Colts and Bengals game that the total is posted at 37.5. If Indy scores 27 and Cincy gets 13 points, the total would be at 40 and the over would win. But if the Colts rack up 35, and they shut out the Bengals, the total of 35 would be under.
Let's say you think Liverpool is going to win the game, but you think they are only going to win by three goals. If the first bet were the only bet available, you wouldn't be able to bet on this game unless you were a maniac. This handicap bet gives you more options, though! The next rectangle down is a similar bet except for this time it is Liverpool at -2, getting paid 13 to 5. If you take this wager, you need Liverpool to only win by three or more goals now, instead of four. If this happens, you will get paid at 13 to 5 or $260 for every $100 you wager. As you can see, this is more likely to happen, so you are going to be paid less for the bet. However, it does give you an option to bet what you want.
Let’s start with the basics: what do sports bettors mean when they talk about a ‘line?’ The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, can refer to either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s take a look at an imaginary line the way you’d read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports betting lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s imagine a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s NFL betting line might look something like this:
A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. Spread betting has been a major growth market in the UK in recent years, with the number of gamblers heading towards one million.[1] Financial spread betting (see below) can carry a high level of risk if there is no "stop".[2] In the UK, spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority rather than the Gambling Commission.[3]
Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
Before we go any further, we want to point out some of the reasons moneyline bets are so popular and are utilized so frequently by professionals worldwide. You should always understand the importance of something before you dedicate your time and effort into learning about it. Let’s take a look at the benefits of moneyline bets in your future winning sports betting strategy.
This is a type of betting line which lays out the amount a player must wager in order to win $100.00, or the amount the player wins on a wager of $100.00. There is no point spread or handicap in this line.  In order to win a moneyline bet, the team wagered on simply has to win the game. Payoffs are based on true odds rather than fixed odds. The amount the player lays or takes may vary from game to game.
As we mentioned in the close of the last section, sportsbooks try their best to get the same amount of total money bet on both sides of a game. If they can accomplish this, then they are guaranteed to make a profit no matter who wins or loses the game. The way a sportsbook goes about doing this is by manipulating the point spread to make the less bet side more enticing.
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.
One way to make money from sports betting is to open an account at an online betting site and take advantage of their sign up bonus. This gives you extra money to wager with, and since point spreads are so straightforward, it can be relatively easy to meet the associated wagering requirements and still come out ahead. Repeating this process at multiple betting sites will maximize your potential returns! We just ask that you please stick with reputable sites, like any of the ones that we recommend.
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.
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.
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.

For example, in a cricket match a sports spread betting firm may list the spread of a team’s predicted runs at 340 – 350. The gambler can elect to ‘buy’ at 350 if they think the team will score more than 350 runs in total, or sell at 340 if they think the team will score less than 340. If the gambler elects to buy at 350 and the team scores 400 runs in total, the gambler will have won 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake. But if the team only scores 300 runs then the gambler will have lost 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake.
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.

To calculate your potential payout, you multiply the size of your bet by the decimal. That’s it. If you want to be $10 on the Heat, you would multiply $10 by 1.65 and get $16.50. Now, you may be freaking out right now saying that in our previous example we got $6.50 and now we’re getting $16.50. The difference here is that the decimal calculation will tell you your TOTAL payout which will include the return of your original wager. You will be receiving $6.50 in profit and the $10 from your original bet.
This arrangement tells us a lot: which team is home (listed on bottom, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), which team is the underdog (listed with a plus sign next to their name, in this case the New England Patriots), we know which team is the favorite (listed with a minus sign next to their name, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), and we know the point spread (2.5 points).

One of the main reasons that sports bettors like to bet is the action and excitement of winning and losing. Many sports bettors would rather take the risk of winning or losing than having the option of pushing (a tie) on their bets. For this reason, many sportsbooks offer what are called no draw handicap match bets. These are bets on an individual match that are designed so that there is never going to be a tie. In the standard handicap bet examples we used above, you saw that all of the bet options were in whole numbers. This allows for there to be draws.
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 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.
Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.
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.
To counteract this, the sportsbook decides by how many points they think the Mavericks will win. In this case, they think the Mavericks should win by 4 ½ points. On the same token, they think the Celtics should lose the game by 4 ½ points. 4 ½ points is known as the line or the spread. If you bet on the Mavericks with a spread bet, they have to win by MORE than 4 ½ points for you to win your bet. If they win by 5 points, you win. If they win by 20 points, you win. If they win by 4 points, you lose.
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.
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:

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.
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.
Obviously, the first three letters on the top two lines of the three-line package of symbols represents a team in the game you’re wagering on; NYG stands for the New York Giants, while DAL stands for the Dallas Cowboys. The number next to each team’s name is known as the spread or the point spread. Wagers on the point spread are among the most popular sports wagers in the world. The reason this wager is popular is that it doesn’t matter which team wins or loses; what matters is the amount of points the teams score, and whether or not the team you place your money on beats the difference in points (the ‘spread’) or not.
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.