Actually handicapping games is far from simple though. Or, at least, handicapping them well is. There are all kinds of different factors that can affect the outcome of a game, and you need to take as many of them as possible into account. You also need to assess just how much of an impact those factors will have, and try to accurately evaluate just how likely a team is to win. For more advice on how to do this, please see the following article.

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:
A “Win/Place” or “Each Way” bet (aka EW) refers to a bet where the chosen selection must either win or place within the payout terms. The bet is divided in two parts,the “Win” part and the “Place” part of an equal stake or wager. Settlement of such bets will take into account the applicable rules governing the "Win" and "Place" bets, namely the Sport-specific rules as well as any applicable ‘Dead Heat Reductions’.
Here you can see that the Rams are +3.5, while the Cowboys are -3.5.  So for this example the Cowboys are 3.5 point favorites, while the Rams are underdogs of 3.5 points.  If you were to bet on St Louis you would need them to lose by 3 or fewer points or just win the game outright.  If you were to bet on Dallas you would need the Cowboys to win by 4 or more points.
We've already mentioned how moneyline wagers give you more control over the risk versus reward element of betting. There are also other reasons why you might choose this type of wager over a points spread. If you fully understand how both of these wagers work, you'll find that there are games when a moneyline wager is the right option, and games when the point spread wager is the right option. There are no definitive rules about which one you should use and when, only a general principle that you should try to follow.
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.
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.

The negative (-) sign indicates that the Cowboys are the favorites, while the positive (+) sign indicates that the New York Giants are the underdogs. With the spread set at 2.5 points, a bet on the Cowboys would mean that they would have to win by more than 2.5 points (3 or more) in order for you to win that bet. A bet on New York would mean that the Giants would have to either lose by 2.5 or less points (2 or less) or win the game outright in order for your bet to win.
If the implied probability says that you have to win a bet 40% of the time to break even, and you think you’re likely to win the bet 45% of the time, then there is value in the bet. Remember, the sportsbook pays you more the less likely something is to happen. This means you’ll be getting paid as if the bet is only going to hit 40% of the time (more money), but the bet actually hits 45% of the time if you are right.
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.
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.

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.
A lot of people who are new to online betting aren’t aware of prop bets, because a lot of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks just don’t have the resources to allow them. These bets are a great way for you to make some extra money off of predictions that might not have a direct outcome on the winner of the game. For example, let’s say you think that the Warriors are going to shoot lights out from the field, but you think for some reason they aren’t going to get a lot of looks and are going to lose the game. Your only option without prop bets would be to bet on the team they are playing against, but that might not be a great value bet.
The house vigorish - and your chances of winning - get worse with the more teams you add. So while some sportsbooks will let you place a 15-teamer with astronomical odds, you probably have a better chance of being struck by lighting - twice - before winning one. You are much better off sticking to two-team parlays exclusively, if you insist on taking poor odds and placing parlay wagers. 

As you can see, each team is listed, followed by the adjustment or line change for each team, and then the odds that you would be paid out. If you notice, Chelsea has the word scratch next to their name. This is because they are the league favorite to win and all other adjustments are made about them. If your team is in first place at the end of the regular season after the adjustments are made, you will win your bet and be paid the posted odds. As you can see, the odds pay out fairly well on these bets as they are season long and are more difficult to win.

If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.

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 Spread" or "Handicap" odds are when it is possible to bet on whether the chosen outcome will be victorious once the listed handicap is added or subtracted to the game to which the bet refers to. In the circumstances where the result after the adjustment of the handicap line is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. Example: a bet on -3.0 points will be declared void if the team chosen wins the match by exactly 3 goals difference. Any reference in this section to the term "margin" is intended to be understood as the outcome emerging from the subtraction of the points scored by the 2 opponents.
We already know that the only thing that causes the moneyline to shift are the bets that are coming in. However, we should talk about what factors will cause the betting patterns of the public to change, and in turn, cause the moneylines to move. This will go hand in hand with the following betting strategy section. If you can master predicting when and how lines are going to move, you will crush sports betting and moneyline betting.
You’ll need to know how the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under are used and what each means. Each of these terms may be called by another name. The rotation number if often referred to as the number or the rotation mark, moneyline becomes line, point spread is called the spread, and over/under becomes the total. When you come down to it, these are the major terms that can be lumped under the heading odds.
Understanding NFL betting lines is just the first step towards making profits with football wagering. Once you've got the basics down, it's important to continue learning sports betting strategy to improve your long-term chances of winning. If you're able to win more than 52.4% of the time, you'll be well on your way towards being a profitable NFL bettor.
A “Win/Place” or “Each Way” bet (aka EW) refers to a bet where the chosen selection must either win or place within the payout terms. The bet is divided in two parts,the “Win” part and the “Place” part of an equal stake or wager. Settlement of such bets will take into account the applicable rules governing the "Win" and "Place" bets, namely the Sport-specific rules as well as any applicable ‘Dead Heat Reductions’.
In football the money line is often a popular choice for bettors who have been burned by last-second scoring that actually had no actual affect on the outcome of the game. With the money line you just have to hope your team wins rather than cover a point spread. Of course, the one downside is having to risk more money to return the same amount that a point spread bet would net you.
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:
You’ll need to know how the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under are used and what each means. Each of these terms may be called by another name. The rotation number if often referred to as the number or the rotation mark, moneyline becomes line, point spread is called the spread, and over/under becomes the total. When you come down to it, these are the major terms that can be lumped under the heading odds.
The one variance you might come across in any pointspread listing is the commission owed on a bet. Instead of moving the actual spread for a game, some books will try and direct money one way or the other by adjusting the juice. For example, if there was a (-120) next to the listed pointspread, you would now owe $120 on a losing $100 bet. Sometimes a book will reduce or eliminate the juice all together to move money towards a particular side of a matchup. In this case, you might see (-105) or (+100) next to the pointspread to signify the reduced or zero commission for that bet.

Let's use our example from earlier, but this time let's say you think that Florida will cover the -7 spread. Should you place this bet? Maybe. Yes, this is good value bet and one that you should bet, but maybe not right away. Let's say you think the public is improperly going to dump a lot of money onto Arkansas. If this happens and you wait to place your bet, the line might move in your favor. By waiting, you may be able to get Florida at -6.5 to win. This means that if you bet right away, you would only tie if they won by seven points. By waiting, you will win your bet now if Florida wins the game by seven points.
A quick word on that annoying half point in the point spread – most lines you’ll come across will use half points, but it’s not standard practice across the board. When you see a line with a full number instead of a number with a half point, your wager could end up as a push. In our example, if the line were 7 instead of 7.5 and the final difference in points was exactly 7, your wager is returned to you, and neither you nor the book makes money.
If the bookmaker was only confident enough to give Seattle a field goal’s lead on the Patriots, it was clearly going to be a tight game. Oddsmakers aren’t often that wrong about flagship games like the Super Bowl. All things being equal, it’s likely the betting public would have taken the Seahawks to win the game and have been done with it. But throw in the point spread that gave the Patriots 2.5 points, and the proposition seems more equal.
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.
The first number in the listing pertains to the order this game appears on a sportsbook’s board. The next NFL game would be listed as #103 for the road team and #104 for the home team. You can think of these numbers in the same way that each horse in a race has its own betting number. The next big takeaway from this listing is that the top team is always the road team (thus the odd number) and the bottom team is playing at home.
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.
Bookmaker's interest - In order to guarantee a profit for the house, a bookie needs to create even action on both sides of a particular game. In a perfect world the bookie would have 50 percent of the handle come in on the underdog and 50 percent on the favorite. This ensures that the sports books are guaranteed a profit because of the 10 percent commission or "vigorish" charged on most sports wagers. This is why there is "movement" on the point spread. If one side on a game is being bet more heavily, the bookie must move the number in order to attract interest on the other side in order to balance action.

We went into detail earlier about what causes moneylines to move. The better you can get about predicting when these movements will occur and in what direction, the more profitable you’re going to be as a sports bettor. If you find a bet that you like, but you predict it’s going to move more in your favor, you can intelligently wait to bet and lock up a potentially much more profitable opportunity.
If you’re new to sports betting or are a seasoned bettor looking to make some tweaks to your strategy, including moneyline bets could be a great move. They’re simple to learn and provide a fantastic way to add serious profit to your betting strategy. Don’t let their simplicity fool you. It still takes quite a bit of skill to beat them. But if you take the information we gave you here and really search for value opportunities, you’re hopefully going to be able to come out on top. Remember, sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint, so make sure to think long-term.
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.
Bets on "Race to X Points / Race to X Goals..." and similar offers refer to the team/participant reaching the earliest particular tally of points. If the offer lists a timeframe (or any other period restriction) it will not include any other points tallied from other parts of the event which are not related to the mentioned time frame. Should the listed score not be reached within the stipulated time frame, all bets will be declared void, unless otherwise stated.
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.
On a moneyline bet of -300, you’ll need to win your bet 75% of the time just to break even. When your odds jump even higher to -400, you’ll need to win your bet 80% of the time to show a profit. You are risking a lot to win very little and even though a large favorite will win most of the time, when they do lose, you will find yourself out a lot of money. I try to stay away from large favorite moneylines, because the amount risked is very high and the payoff is low.
In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.
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