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.
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.
Additionally, we’ll discuss line movement, how the casino profits (important for you to understand), and moneyline betting strategies that can help you crush the books. These strategies will range from basic to advanced, so even the most seasoned of sports bettors should expect to get some value from this. Feel free to skip to a specific section if you came here for specific information. If you’re newer or it’s been a while since you’ve bet, we highly recommend reading this guide from top to bottom, as the sections will build on knowledge from previous sections.

One important assumption is that to be credited with a win, either team only needs to win by the minimum of the rules of the game, without regard to the margin of victory. This implies that teams in a winning position will not necessarily try to extend their margin—and more importantly, each team is only playing to win rather than to beat the point spread. This assumption does not necessarily hold in all situations. For example, at the end of a season, the total points scored by a team can affect future events such as playoff seeding and positioning for the amateur draft, and teams may "run up" the score in such situations. In virtually all sports, players and other on-field contributors are forbidden from being involved in sports betting and thus have no incentive to consider the point spread during play; any attempt to manipulate the outcome of a game for gambling purposes would be considered match fixing, and the penalty is typically a lifetime banishment from the sport, such is the lack of tolerance for gambling in sport.

In the brackets after the last two games, you will see the odds associated with each of the bets. Let's say we made our earlier example bet of the Chargers -3 and the final score of the game was Chargers 21, Cowboys 14. Looking at this, we already know that we won our bet, but just how much money are we going to get paid? For this bet, we will get paid even money because that is what is posted in the parenthesis. This means that if we bet $100, we will profit $100 for winning our bet.
For example, let’s say that two players are playing a tennis match and one player is +250. You think that this player has a MUCH better chance than that but still is an underdog. Most people would tell you that you are crazy to make a bet on someone that you think is going to lose. The thing is, though, underdogs do win and if you’re getting paid more than you should when they do, you’re going to be profitable. Here’s a simple math breakdown.
In general, the betting public tends to gravitate towards favorites when betting the games regardless of the actual pointspread. This is especially true with high-profile teams such as Dallas and Green Bay in the NFL and Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA. The sportsbooks are well aware of this phenomenon and often times they will adjust the betting spreads accordingly. This, in turn, actually adds some value to the underdog when you consider that a pointspread is nothing more than a handicapping tool that is designed to even out the match.
For beginning sports gamblers, moneylines (sometimes called money lines or American odds) can be confusing. Unlike point spreads, which are concerned with who wins and by how much, a moneyline is solely dependent upon who wins. Moneylines are used most commonly in low-scoring games like baseball or hockey, but they may also be used in boxing and other sports.
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).
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.

For UK spread betting firms, any final outcome that finishes in the middle of the spread will result in profits from both sides of the book as both buyers and sellers will have ended up making unit point losses. So in the example above, if the cricket team ended up scoring 345 runs both buyers at 350 and sellers at 340 would have ended up with losses of five unit points multiplied by their stake.

With money line bets the goal is to pick the outright winner of a game or event without the use of a point spread. While money line betting is available for sports where point spreads are used, they’re most popular in sports like baseball and soccer where very few points are scored. Money lines are also used for sports where points do not determine the winner or loser, as in auto racing or tennis.
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. 

Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
For example, let’s say you’re thinking about betting on something that is -3500. You are almost 100% sure that you’re going to win this bet. If you bet $100 on this bet, you’re going to see a profit of $2.86. Again, this might be worth it to you. An almost 3% return on a sure thing might be something that you’re interested in. However, if you’re looking to make any meaningful profit, you’re going to have to risk a lot of money. To win $100, you’re going to have to risk $3500.
The simplest way to think about a moneyline is to consider a base bet of $100. A moneyline is a number larger than 100, and it is either positive or negative. A line with a positive number means that the team is the underdog. If the line, for example, was +160 then you would make a profit of $160 if you were to bet $100. Obviously, then, the team is a bigger underdog the bigger the number is - a +260 team is perceived to be less likely to win than a +160 team.
Because the Blue Jays are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on baseball favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($185 based on -185) in order to win $100. On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on the Orioles. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $165 (+165) on Baltimore.

A good rule of thumb with sports betting is that the sportsbook is going to put more time, effort, and resources into setting their lines on the sports and leagues that have the most action. This is a completely smart move on their part as it's where they stand to lose the most money if they make a mistake. What this means is that the smaller sports and leagues are much more likely to have bad lines or lines that don't respond as quickly to trends as they should. Regarding basketball, this means you may have more luck looking into college basketball or even the smaller European leagues. If you do choose to go this route, make sure that you do all of your homework and are not just jumping into a new league blind. College basketball and Euro league betting are NOT the same as NBA betting even though they are the same sport. This does not mean you can't bet the NBA and that you won't find great lines; it just means that the bad lines are more likely to be corrected quicker as the sharp bettors will jump all over them, and the sportsbook will adjust.

As you can see, the public seems to think that Florida is going to win this game by more than seven points. If the game started now, the sportsbook would stand to lose a lot of money if Florida did in fact win by more than seven points. They would stand to make a lot of money if Florida lost or won by less than seven points. Regardless of how the sportsbook thinks the game will go, they are not in the business of gambling. They want to guarantee profit as often as they can.
Point spreads are determined by football 'experts' to even the playing field between two teams. Normally one team will be favored to win over another team. These 'experts' determine the number of points that one team will beat another team by. For example, Chicago is favored to beat Minnesota by 10 points. On the web site it will appear like the following:
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.
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.
Easily the most popular type of betting for NFL football is “spread” betting or more commonly known as betting against the spread. Bettors who are new to NFL betting or betting in general may be a little confused with NFL spread betting, but it is pretty easy to understand once it is explained to you. We will explain what betting against the spread means below.

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.


In this instance, the Dodgers are the favored team, as signified by the negative numeral. It would cost you $130 in order to collect a $100 payout on a Dodgers victory (plus the original wager of $130). But if you bet $100 on the Cubs, you'd collect $120 if they win (plus the original wager). In other words, you'll have to wager more money on Los Angeles than you would Chicago in order collect $100 on a bet.
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.

You may often notice that the spread is sometimes set at an even number such as 3, 6 , 10, etc. In this case if the favored team won by the exact amount set for the spread the bet would be pushed, and all bets would be returned. For example, if the Patriots were 3 point favorites and they won by a FG (3 points) than this would results in a push, meaning no matter which side you bet on you would get your money returned to you.
Moneylines are a viable alternative to point spreads when betting on football. If you're one of those bettors who only ever bets on the spread, then you could very well be missing out on some good opportunities to find better value. We don't recommend that you stop placing point spreads and only place moneyline wagers, but you should definitely consider both when betting on a game of football. Try to decide which one offers the better value, and then go with that option.
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.
Some professional or seasoned bettors only use the point spread bets and are wildly successful. Their success comes from making correct picks, not from overcomplicating the situation. We're going to walk you through the basics, and the mechanics of a basketball point spread bet, discuss the popularity and benefits, and offer some tips and strategies to help get you moving in the right direction towards profitability with these bet types.

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.
The only real downside to betting basketball point spreads is that the sportsbook charges a vig. While this is a downside, it is to be expected and is no different from placing any other sports bet. Obviously, the sportsbook has to make money somehow because they have to pay employees, pay for their servers or equipment, and pay for their customer service to keep you happy. This really isn't a negative about point spread bets, but just something that you should be aware of.
Let's take a look at a sample Asian handicap bet to make this make more sense. Some things are just better learned through getting your hands dirty. For example, imagine that you choose to bet Manchester United at (-1, -1.5). Half of your bet would be for Manchester United at -1, and a half would be at Manchester United -1.5. Let's say Manchester United wins the game by one goal. You would push on your first bet and lose on your second bet. If you bet $100 on this, you would receive $50 back for the push and lose on the other portion of your bet.
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.
With money line bets the goal is to pick the outright winner of a game or event without the use of a point spread. While money line betting is available for sports where point spreads are used, they’re most popular in sports like baseball and soccer where very few points are scored. Money lines are also used for sports where points do not determine the winner or loser, as in auto racing or tennis.

Bets on “Winner of Point”, “Scorer of Goal" and similar offers refer to the participant winning the listed occurrence. For the settlement of these offers, no reference to events happening prior to the listed occurrence will be taken into consideration. Should the listed event not be won within the stipulated time frame, all bets will be declared void, unless otherwise stated.


We already mentioned how using multiple betting sites allows you to take advantage of multiple bonus offers. That's not the only benefit either. Since point spreads vary between sites, one of the best ways to beat these wagers is to compare the different spreads in order to find which one is the most favorable. This doesn't take nearly as long as you might think, and it will make a huge difference to your bottom line over time.

Let's use this formula to calculate the implied probability of the Celtics winning their game against the Grizzlies. We know the odds are -240, which means we'd have to risk $240 for a total potential return of $340 (the initial stake plus the $100 winnings). So the calculation here is $240 divided by $340. This gives us an implied probability of 0.7059.

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.
As you can see, the public seems to think that Florida is going to win this game by more than seven points. If the game started now, the sportsbook would stand to lose a lot of money if Florida did in fact win by more than seven points. They would stand to make a lot of money if Florida lost or won by less than seven points. Regardless of how the sportsbook thinks the game will go, they are not in the business of gambling. They want to guarantee profit as often as they can.

Remember, these calculations are for your profit. Profit is different than the total money returned that you will get from the sportsbook. If you correctly bet the Falcons to win, the sportsbook will return you $340. This will be your $240 in profit as well as your $100 bet that you made. Make sure that you pay attention to this when working with these numbers because we see people get confused all the time as different sportsbooks will give you different numbers.


The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite. 

TheSportsGeek.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes. Sports betting and gambling laws vary by jurisdiction. We are not able to verify the legality of the information we provide, or your ability to use any sites that are linked to on this site, for every combination of your location, the sites’ location, and the type of service those sites provide. It is your responsibility to verify such matters and to know and follow your local laws.
Financial spread betting is a way to speculate on financial markets in the same way as trading a number of derivatives. In particular, the financial derivative Contract for difference (CFD) mirrors the spread bet in many ways. In fact, a number of financial derivative trading companies offer both financial spread bets and CFDs in parallel using the same trading platform.
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