Money line bets are on offer on all major sports. In the NFL, baseball, the NBA and the NHL, the money line traditionally goes alongside the point spread bets – in many cases being the least popular, especially in football and basketball. In many sports there is no point spread, motor sport being a good example, so in a sport like this, the money line is the only way to bet on the outright winner. Sports with small margins of victory are also popular money line wagers – soccer being an example, where point spreads are possible, but because of the lack of goals, the money line wager is preferable (the same can apply to baseball and hockey – although puck lines and run lines are a way for the gambler to enjoy point spread betting in these).
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.
Here’s an analogy. Remember when you played basketball growing up with your older brother or the older kid from down the street? It wasn’t fair if you played straight up, so they would spot you a few points to try and even things out. For example, let’s say you decided that you would play to 10 points. They might spot you 5 points in order to try and make things fairer.
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:
Let’s say that people think the Mavericks are going to crush the Magic, and the money starts to pour in on the Mavs. Obviously, the sportsbook likes seeing a lot of bets come in, but they need them to come in evenly. So, to slow down the money coming in on the Mavericks and entice people to bet on the Magic, they will shift both lines. The new line might look something like this:
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.
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.
covering a spread - When a team surpasses the expectations of a point spread set by football experts. For instance, if a team is expected to win by 10 points, and they actually win by 11 or more, this is called 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by nine or less, or they lose the game, this is called NOT 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by exactly 10 points, this results in a push or tie.
You'll also usually be given the option to wager on the game with the money line in football and basketball. In this case, all you have to do is pick the winner of the contest, but there's one drawback. If you bet on the team that's expected to win, you can find yourself risking much more money than you stand to win. Each team is assigned odds, much like in a horse race where a 2-1 favorite will pay out much less than a 15-1 longshot. This method also evens the playing field for bookies, sportsbooks and other gambling institutions.
For example: New England –2.5 (–110) or Philadelphia +2.5 (–110) means you’d wager $110 for the chance to win an additional $100 if you bet on the point spread. Depending on which side is receiving the most action, a sportsbook will often move the line up or down in order to incentivize betting on the less popular side. Injuries or unforeseen changes can also impact a point spread gambling line. Point spreads are often listed with a half-point (ex: 2.5) in order to prevent the final margin from landing exactly on the point spread (ex: 10-point spread, final score of 20–10). A “push” or “tie” usually goes to the house or sportsbook, unless another arrangement has been agreed upon beforehand.
In most cases, the favorite will be the team with a negative moneyline (in some cases both teams can have a negative moneyline if they are both closely matched). A line of -160 means that you would have to bet $160 to win your base amount of $100. A team with a moneyline of -130 wouldn't be favored nearly as strongly as a team with a moneyline of -330.
We need to figure out how much profit we will get per dollar we are going to bet and then multiply that by how many dollars we are going to bet. If we divide the moneyline number by 100, it will tell us how much profit we will get for every $1 we bet. So, 145/100 = $1.45. For every $1 we wager, we will get paid $1.45 in profit for a correct prediction.
NFL games are popular moneyline games because the specific outcomes can sometimes be difficult to predict for casual players. Moneyline games are also profitable when they win, which is one reason why the NFL is a favorite among sports gamblers. An example of a money line is: New York Giants (-120) vs. New Orleans Saints (+130). In this game, a bet of $120 on the Giants is necessary to win $100, while a bet of $100 would win $130 in the case of a Saints win. The team with the minus sign is the favorite and indicates how much a player must put down in order to win $100. The team with the plus sign is the underdog and indicates how much a player would win for a bet of $100.
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.
With some betting sites odds, certain games are priced differently than risking $1.10 to win $1.00 (which is called -110 odds). For example, you might see the Giants priced at -105 and +7 in a game against the Jets. Now, you only have to risk $1.05 to win $1.00. This is obviously better odds, but it's very likely that they will lose by exactly seven to give you a push. Taking -110 and +7.5 with an alternative bookmaker is actually the better bet.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has always been a staple of the sports betting community. As a part of one of the big four sports, bettors have been working to develop systems to best the basketball betting industry for decades. Some have succeeded and enjoyed the spoils, while some have fallen. Our guess is that most of those who have fallen did so due to a lack of effort, a lack of information, or just no knack for the sport.
Is there value there? Yes. Are you going to make money off that bet? Well, it depends. If you’re only able to make a bet like this once, then you’re most likely going to lose. In order to realize that value, you’ll need to be in a lot of similar opportunities. If you have a very long-term betting strategy, then you can probably get away with making this bet. But if you’re looking for some more regular profit, you might want to steer clear of this. The odds say that the team is only going to win the game a little under 3 times for every 100 times they play. There is value there, but it depends on your betting strategy if you want to make that bet.
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.
This also comes into play on games that you think the line is correct. For example, let's say you think the line of Florida -7 is correct, so you elect not to bet it because there is no value. This doesn't mean you should never look at this game again. If the line happens to shift in either direction, you can make a bet that has value. If the line moves to Florida -6, you place a bet on Florida because you originally thought they would win by seven. If the line moves to Florida -8, then you place a bet on Arkansas at +8 because you originally thought Florida would win by seven and Arkansas would lose by seven. The next strategy tip is a good idea to help you be ready for these situations.
You should already know that the Eagles are the favorite to win and that you should expect less than even money on a correct pick here. You should also know that the Falcons are the favorite, and you should expect better than even money on a correct pick here. Having this in mind every time before you start your calculations will protect you from making a mistake and calculating the completely wrong direction.
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Another popular form of golf betting involves matchup propositions, in which two golfers are paired against each other in a head-to-head wager, with a betting line on each golfer set by the oddsmaker. The golfer with the better (lower) score wins the matchup. (If one golfer continues play in the tournament after his opponent misses the cut, the golfer who continues play wins the matchup.)