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.
Betting on the point spread is completely different from betting on teams to win a game outright. Known as "betting on the moneyline", instead of using points to handicap each side of the wager, the sportsbook will use greater payouts versus the amount risked to reflect their relative perceptions; teams not expected to win (underdogs) pay more, sometimes exponentially, than when betting on the favorite to win when wagering on moneylines.
If the public comes out and bets really hard on one side, the line is going to move a lot making the odds worse on that side and a lot better on the other side. If you’re planning to bet against the public, you should wait to bet until the line moves as far as you think it is going to. Be careful, though, if you wait too long and some big money bettors bet, they can move the line back.

What may look like a jumble of words, numbers, and punctuation is actually a precise and easy-to-read breakdown of the various odds and point spread details your book is offering. Here is a breakdown of each unit of information given above. Once you understand each part of the jumbled details above, you’ll be able to read a sports betting line with confidence.


Futures are wagers on long term events which generally won’t have a result for many weeks or even months. The most popular type of futureswager is placed on the outright market which basically means, who will win a league’s championship? FanDuel also offer many other markets outside of the championship, usually including divisional and conference wagering. The odds on futures change as the event gets closer and more is known about the teams. Very often odds will also be updated as the tournament or league progresses.
Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
This may sound confusing, but spread betting is one of the easiest forms of sports betting offered. It also offers better odds when betting on the favorite team and the normal odds are 10/11 or -110. When one chooses to bet on the underdog that team does not have to win, they just have to cover the spread. Spread betting is pretty simple and it allows punters to enjoy an exciting form of betting that can lead to some significant wins.
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 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.
Overtime and the shoot-out does count for NHL point-spread results in Ontario. Whenever you see a game -0.5 essentially both teams have a spread of -0.5 and your team has to win the game for you to win the bet. Lately there have been more -1.0 / +1.0 NHL spreads in Ontario. If you choose the -1.0 spread and the game goes to overtime you cannot win the bet. You can only push the bet if your team wins in overtime or the shoot-out. Conversely, if you choose the +1.0 spread and the game goes to overtime you cannot lose the bet but will push the bet if your team loses in overtime or the shoot-out.
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:
Point spreads focus on a margin of victory between the two teams and again, what you’re looking for is the positive and negative signs. If there is a minus sign next to a team’s spread, that suggest that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points. For example: let’s say that the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots are -5.5 and the Bills are therefore +5.5. If you bet the Patriots, they have to win by six points or more to cover. If you bet the Bills, they can lose by five points or less, or they can win the game outright and you would still win your bet.
For beginners, the moneyline bet on an underdog is a great choice as it will allow bettors to win 50% of the bets and still earn a profit. Each of these bets have benefits and drawbacks. With moneylines, punter shave the appeal of betting on a winning side. This is a great choice for die-hard fans. Many people find it more appealing to bet on a winner of a game instead of betting on the end score of the game. Spread betting does offer some nice benefits. They are simple yes or no bets. Either the team covers the spread or they don’t. However, moneyline bets typically offer the chance to win more than is bet, so these are often the choice for many bettors online.
If the public comes out and bets really hard on one side, the line is going to move a lot making the odds worse on that side and a lot better on the other side. If you’re planning to bet against the public, you should wait to bet until the line moves as far as you think it is going to. Be careful, though, if you wait too long and some big money bettors bet, they can move the line back.
As an example, let’s consider a matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. In our scenario, the Bengals are the home team, which means they will be listed last and the Colts, as the visitors, will be on the odds slip first. If Indy’s rotation number is 101, then Cincy’s rotation mark would be 102. When you place a bet live at a Vegas sportsbook or over the phone, you would say the number of the team on which you want to wager and not the name.
However, there are some good values with teaser bets if you know how and where to find them. For instance, the six-point teaser is an especially effective bet in the NFL, where most games are tightly contested and six points can make a world of difference. For instance, in our previous example, the Bears would go from laying six points to simply needing to win if you put them on a teaser bet. Conversely, Detroit backers could get 12 points instead of the starting six. (Source: Doc's Sports Service)
When betting on the underdog, the first step is the same. Divide the positive moneyline by 100, which in the case of the Grizzlies in the above example would give you 2.10. Then, multiply your stake by that number to get your potential winnings. $450 multiplied by 2.10 is $945. Essentially, this means if you risked $450 on the Grizzlies, you would stand to win $945.
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.
The secret to winning sports bets is finding value and picking winners. There is absolutely zero correlation between the complexity of a bet and how likely you are to win. In fact, you could say that there is a negative correlation because a lot of bettors don’t fully understand the complex bets they are making, meaning they are more likely to make mistakes and incorrectly assess value.
Just like the minus and plus values on the point spread, those values designate underdogs and favorites in moneyline betting. In this case, Toronto is favored at -185 (bet $185 to win $100), and Baltimore is listed as the underdog at +165 (bet $100 to win $165). In explaining the concept of moneyline betting further, it might help to view the number 100 sitting between the favorite and underdog values: +165 +100 -185
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
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.
For example, if you’re betting on teams A, B, and C to win outright, you’ll have two round robin options available. Your By 2’s option includes all possible 2-team parlays for these three wagers (A+B, B+C, and A+C). And your By 3’s option includes all possible 3-team parlays on these 3 wagers (A+B+C). If you wager $30 on the By 2’s option, that money will be split evenly among the 2-team parlays ($10 on each of the 3 wagers).
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.

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.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
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 point spread is a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes only, it has no place in the game itself. It's designed to give both teams an equal chance at winning in the context of wagers. Think of it this way: If last season's Super Bowl champion was playing a basement-dweller team that hadn't won a game all year, that's a shoo-in bet. Of course, you're going to take the Super Bowl champs, and in all likelihood, you're going to win. What's the fun in that? Even your bragging rights would be next to nil.
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.
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