In most football games there is a favorite and an underdog. Very occasionally there are games where the two team are completely evenly matched, but for the most part one team is favored over the other to win. With point spreads, the idea is to create an even money proposition when betting on the game. So the favorite has to win by at least a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful, and the underdog has to lose by no more than a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful. The bigger the gap in quality between the two teams, the bigger the point spread.
If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.
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.
The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.
"Winning Margin" (aka Result Betting) is where it is possible to bet on the final result of a game or event and select the correct ‘band’ of points between the winning team and losing team. For example, if you think the Patriots will win, but the game will be close, pick the New England Patriots 1-6 Points Winning Margin (where the Patriots winning by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 points results in a winning selection).

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.
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.

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.
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.
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).
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.
So to solve the first fraction for the Heat, we do 13 divided by 20 and get 0.65. Let’s look at our calculations for the $10 bet and the $250 bet. If we bet $10, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $10 and get $6.50. This is our correct profit! If we bet $250, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $250 and get $162.50. This is out correct profit!

A Parlay is a wager which combines several legs in a wager where the winnings from each selection roll onto the next. For a Parlay to be successful, all individual legs in the Parlay need to be winning selections. In the event of a tie in one of your selections in a parlay, the parlay is reduced to the next lowest number of teams. For example, if you have a 4 team parlay and one of the selections is a tie (only on 2 way markets), the leg would be considered a "push". In this instance, the 4 team parlay would then become a 3 team parlay and would be settled at reduced odds to reflect a winning 3 team parlay.
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.
To show how this can be exploited, take a point spread of -8.5 at odds of -110. This is a 50/50 proposition. Let's assume you've purchased enough points to move the spread to -6.5 at odds of -150. Now, you'd win instead of lose 6.24% of the time they win by 8, and 6.59% of the time they win by 7. Add these together with the 50% from the original proposition, and we get 62.83%.
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:
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.
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 general purpose of spread betting is to create an active market for both sides of a binary wager, even if the outcome of an event may appear prima facie to be biased towards one side or the other. In a sporting event a strong team may be matched up against a historically weaker team; almost every game has a favorite and an underdog. If the wager is simply "Will the favorite win?", more bets are likely to be made for the favorite, possibly to such an extent that there would be very few betters willing to take the underdog.