If the Cowboys are 6-point favorites, their odds are -6. If the Giants are 6-point underdogs, their odds are +6. From the oddsmakers' perspective, the Giants are starting the game with a 6-0 lead, while from the Dallas side, the Cowboys are starting with a 0-6 deficit. If you bet on the Cowboys and they win 34-30, they failed to cover the spread by two points. If you bet on the Giants, they beat the spread by two points.

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.
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.
As we mentioned, moneyline/win bets take into account who the favorites and who the underdogs are and will pay out winning bets accordingly. Here’s a quick example that will make this clear. Imagine that Mike Tyson (one of the greatest boxers of all time) is going to fight against an 80-year-old man. If the sportsbook let you bet on either side of the fight and paid you the same, would that be fair?
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Let’s say that a ton of bets pour in on the Mavericks. In order to encourage more bets on the Celtics and even things out, they might move the line to 5 ½. This means that a bet on the Mavericks would now win only if they won by more than 5 ½ points instead of 4 ½. This would discourage more people from betting on the Mavericks, as they would have to perform much better to get you the victory.
In the UK and some other European countries the profit from spread betting is free from tax. The UK and some other European countries tax authorities designate financial spread betting as gambling and not investing, meaning it is free from capital gains tax and stamp tax, despite the fact that its regulated as a financial product by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. Most traders are also not liable for income tax unless they rely solely on their profits from financial spread betting to support themselves. The popularity of financial spread betting in the UK and some other European countries, compared to trading other speculative financial instruments such as CFDs and futures is partly due to this tax advantage. However, this also means any losses cannot be offset against future earnings for tax calculations.

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.
This is a huge difference. The potential profit on the moneyline wager ($143) is over 40% greater than that of the point spread wager ($100). You're a little less likely to win, as there is a chance that Seattle would lose by one or two points, but there's a more than fair chance that if they did cover they would actually win the match. And, of course, if they lost by three or more then you'd have lost either way.
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.
You may have noticed that we said earlier that it’s the amount of money bet on each side that is important to the sportsbook and not the number of bets. This is an important distinction to understand. If 100 people bet $10 on Team A, and then one person bets $10,000 on Team B, the line is going to shift to attract action onto Team A. Even though more people bet on Team A, more actual money came in on Team B.
If you bet $100 on the Magic, you would get $105 in return. If you bet $100 on the Mavericks, you would get $90.91 in return. You might be asking yourself why they aren’t paying out the same amount on both sides of the game. The reason is that the difference is the house rake. Sometimes referred to as the vig or the juice, this is the small percentage that the sportsbook takes off the top for facilitating the action. The percentage that the house takes will vary, and different sides of the bet will pay for it.
The most important takeaway is the actual pointspread, which is seven points in this example. The plus sign is always in front of the spread for the underdog and the minus sign is used to signify the favorite. Next to the pointspread in this example is (-110). This number reflects the actual commission (or juice) that the sportsbook is charging to book this bet. If you wager $100 on New England as the favorite and the Patriots go on to win my more than seven points, you would win $100. If they won by fewer than seven points or lost the game outright, you would owe this betting outlet $110. If New England wins by exactly seven points, the bet is considered to be a PUSH and no money exchanges hands. You only pay the 10 percent commission on losing bets.
Sometimes a line will move far enough to create a “middle” opportunity. Say the Texas Longhorns end up facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of March Madness. If you have Texas early as a 5-point favorite, and I move the line to Texas –7 later in the week, then you can also place a bet on Wisconsin +7. If Texas happens to win by six points, both your bets cash in. Texas winning by either five or seven gives you a win and a push. Any other result creates a win and a loss, so you’re only risking the vigorish.

‘Extra-Time’ wagers apply to 30 minutes of play according to the match officials, plus any added injury or stoppage time. However extra-time and penalty shoot-outs are not included. In ‘Extra-Time’ markets, wagers apply to the result during the extra-time period only. For the purposes of this market the score shall be deemed to be 0-0 at the start of the extra-time period.


From time to time, DraftKings might decide to publish offerings referring either to the single performance of a participant or team; or offerings which combine the potential outcomes of 2 or more participants at higher odds than those normally available, also known as ‘Bet of the Day’. DraftKings reserves the right to withdraw such offers, edit the respective odds, and effect any further changes that might deem necessary at its sole discretion.
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
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.
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.
Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.

The odds listed are a primary way of gauging the play in the game. There are hundreds of mismatches every single year and the leveling of the playing field has been very helpful in resolving that particular problem. With the use of odds, bookies are able to acquire an equal number of wagers on each team, which assures them that they get money regardless of who wins.
All connotations related to the bet must be fully and unquestionably complied with for the bet to be deemed as winning, regardless of any possible conflict with the sport-specific rules, or with any potential interpretation based on previous or current presentation of offers related to events in that particular sport and the way these are normally presented in DraftKings Sportsbook. Bets will be settled as void should it still be impossible to determine a winning outcome.
In this game between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks, you’re given the option to bet on either team. Going into this game, you know that Mavericks are favored to win. If the sportsbook didn’t adjust something (the line or the payouts), everyone would bet on the Mavericks, and no bets would come in on the Celtics. If the Mavericks were to win, the sportsbook would be out of money and have to shut their doors.

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.
While we aren't exactly sure at which dollar amounts or what formulas sportsbooks use to determine when they shift the lines, we do know why they do it. It is their attempt to minimize their risk as much as possible and guarantees sportsbook profit. Lines will also move if something major happens (like Lebron breaking his leg or something) so keep an eye out for this. Ultimately, the shift in the line is done for the exact same reason to keep the same amount of money on both sides of the game. As you'll see in the strategy and tips section, shifting lines do present some interesting opportunities for sports bettors.
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.
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.
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.
Piggybacking on the simplicity of moneyline bets is the ease with which you can properly assess value. Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t say “Easy to Find Value,” and that is because it’s never easy to find value in sports betting. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it for a living. What it says, though, is that it is easier to find value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.
The second number in our example (-110 for both teams) tells you how much you have to wager in order to win $100. It’s an easy way to calculate how much you’ll win if your bet pays off, presented in units of $100 at a time for simplicity’s sake. Most of the time, these two numbers will be the same, because oddsmakers want to set lines so that they get as much action on the underdog as on the favorite, guaranteeing them a profit. If a book gets a single bet of $110 (by a customer hoping to win $100) on the Cowboys and a single bet of $110 on the Giants, it will have taken in $220, but will only have to pay back $210 to whichever customer wins the bet. That’s a guaranteed profit of $10, and since sportsbooks take far more than a single bet in either direction, they stand to earn that seemingly small amount of profit many times over. The $10 difference between what you wager and what you win is known as juice or vig in the sports betting industry, and it’s the way books earn their bread and butter.
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.
This highlights a notable advantage of the moneyline wager. You get to control, to some extent, the risk versus reward. For example, you might be quite certain that the Cardinals are going to win this game, but not convinced that they're going to cover the spread. So a moneyline wager is the safe option. There's less money to be made, but less chance of losing. On the other hand, you might think that the Packers are going to cause an upset. Rather than betting on them to cover the spread, you can bet on them to win outright. There's less chance of winning such a wager, but the potential returns are much greater.
If all the money at one sportsbook comes in on Team A and all the money comes into a second sportsbook on Team B, they’re both going to adjust their lines accordingly to what is going on in their book. This means that if you want to bet on Team A, you should go to the second sportsbook where the line will be great. If you want to be on Team B, you should go to the first sportsbook where the line will be better.
As we mentioned, moneyline/win bets take into account who the favorites and who the underdogs are and will pay out winning bets accordingly. Here’s a quick example that will make this clear. Imagine that Mike Tyson (one of the greatest boxers of all time) is going to fight against an 80-year-old man. If the sportsbook let you bet on either side of the fight and paid you the same, would that be fair?
If the team is an underdog, then the moneyline number represents exactly how much you would get paid in profit for a correct pick. So if we were to bet $100 on the Boston Celtics and won, we would get paid $145 in profit. Seems easy enough, but you may already be asking what happens if you don’t want to bet in increments of $100. This is totally fine and still straight forward to figure out.
That was all before Charles McNeil, a math teacher from Chicago, invented the concept of the point spread. An avid gambler, McNeil created what he called “wholesaling odds” and started his own bookmaking operation in the 1940s. He started out offering this new style of betting on football, but his business model grew to include basketball.  McNeil changed the way sports betting was done, and his legacy lives on today in what we now call the point spread.
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