As you might guess, you’re mainly going to see American odds in American sportsbooks. The other two formats are much more prominent in Europe and Asia. If you’re betting online, most sportsbooks give you the ability to change all of the odds on the site into the format that you prefer. No format is different regarding payouts; it’s just a different way of presenting the information.

Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.
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.
There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
Oftentimes a point spread will not be a whole number, and will be accompanied by a decimal point and a half number. This can be significant for a point spread. Essentially what it comes down to is that a whole number point spread gives the opportunity for a wager to push. A push means that if the favorite is favored by 10 points and wins by 10 points, bettors get their money back. Just like when betting on the over/under total for points, the spread is a half-point in addition to the whole number, there is no chance to push.
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.
Conversely, in most other countries financial spread betting income is considered taxable. For example, the Australian Tax Office issued a decision in March 2010 saying "Yes, the gains from financial spread betting are assessable income under section 6-5 or section 15-15 of the ITAA 1997".[6] Similarly, any losses on the spread betting contracts are deductible. This has resulted in a much lower interest in financial spread betting in those countries.
Let's use this formula to calculate the implied probability of the Celtics winning their game against the Grizzlies. We know the odds are -240, which means we'd have to risk $240 for a total potential return of $340 (the initial stake plus the $100 winnings). So the calculation here is $240 divided by $340. This gives us an implied probability of 0.7059.

In the United States, most bookmakers use the moneyline format to express the odds they offer for wagers. Thus, moneyline odds are also commonly referred to as American odds. They can be either a positive number or a negative number. A positive number shows how much profit a winning wager of $100 would make, while a negative number shows how much needs to be staked to win $100.
In our earlier example, the sportsbook would be devastated if 100% of the action came in on the Falcons. The book is not looking to gamble; they are looking for a sure thing. So, to try and entice more people to bet on the Bear Cubs and discourage people from betting on the Falcons, they will alter the payouts. They will make the amount you win for correctly selecting the Bear Cubs much larger and the amount that you win for correctly selecting the Falcons much smaller.
Moneyline parlays are growing in popularity. A parlay is a single wager that is comprised of multiple results. The payout for a parlay is greater than an individual wager on each player or game. Underdog moneyline parlays are becoming popular because the payouts can be very large. Moneyline parlays are becoming popular because of the perceived ease of choosing multiple favorites to win. Choosing one winner is difficult and multiple winners at the same time is even more difficult.
You can never rule out the weather in sports. If there is a team or contestant who does better in certain conditions but worse in others, you’re going to see a line movement if the conditions change. For example, a football team that has a strong passing attack might become less of a favorite if rain pops up in the forecast. Often, the line does not shift as quickly as it should in response to changing weather conditions, which can create some good opportunities to find value.
In this example the Jets are listed as four-point favorites (-4) over the Bills and the 49ers are three-point underdogs (+3) against the Seahawks. So, if you bet $110 on the favored Jets, they must defeat the Bills by more than four points in order to win $100. If you bet $110 on the underdog 49ers you will win $100 if they win outright or lose by less than the three-point spread. If the final score happens to end up exactly on the number it's a tie, or 'push,' and you get your money back.
The "Total Points", also known as Goals or Runs, is a 2 selection odds based on the total number of points scored in a game or event by the competitors. The "Total" is set at a specific line with outcomes listed as either Over or Under the listed amount. As with Point Spread/Handicap betting, in those circumstances where the result of the game or event Total point scored is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. “Totals” can also be set on any number of predefined occurrences (e.g. goals, points, corners, rebounds, penalty minutes, etc.).
Now Arkansas can lose by up to eight points, and you can still win a bet on Arkansas. As the Arkansas line gets more appealing, more people will start to bet that side. The sportsbook will continue to manipulate the line this way up until game time to try and get the bets as even as possible. While they won't be perfect about it, they can usually get it close enough in most situations. It's also important to note that the line will sometimes shift by half points and it's also capable of shifting back in the other direction if too much money comes in on the other side.
Before we go any further, we want to point out some of the reasons moneyline bets are so popular and are utilized so frequently by professionals worldwide. You should always understand the importance of something before you dedicate your time and effort into learning about it. Let’s take a look at the benefits of moneyline bets in your future winning sports betting strategy.
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.

Remember, these calculations are for your profit. Profit is different than the total money returned that you will get from the sportsbook. If you correctly bet the Falcons to win, the sportsbook will return you $340. This will be your $240 in profit as well as your $100 bet that you made. Make sure that you pay attention to this when working with these numbers because we see people get confused all the time as different sportsbooks will give you different numbers.


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.
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.
Armed with the knowledge of how to remove vig, it's now possible to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes that the majority of bettors make. Most bettors understand the importance of line shopping (i.e. comparing the lines and odds at different bookmakers and betting sites). However, if they fail to also understand how moneylines and vig work, then they're probably going to make wagers where they think there's positive expected value (+EV), even though there's not.

Understand that negative odds indicate how much money your must spend to make $100. When betting on the favorite, you take less risk, and thus earn less. When betting on a favorite, the moneyline is the amount of money you need to spend to make $100 profit. In the previous example, in order to make $100 of profit betting for the Cowboys, you would need to spend $135. Like positive odds, you earn back your bet when winning.
These are the handicap bets that we have already talked about. These are your straightforward bets that pay out according to the spread and odds posted. Draws are treated as a loss with this format. If you just scrolled to this section first, scroll up and read the general section about handicap bets because this type is addressed extensively with some great examples there.
The first number (56.5 in our sample line) is the book’s predicted total score, while the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is how much a punter has to bet in order to win $100. If you were to bet the over-under on this game, you’ll have to decide whether you think the combined score of both teams will be higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you bet the over, assuming the game will be a shootout between two talented offenses, you’re hoping that the final score will be anything that totals 57 or more. It could be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination that adds up to 57 or more and your bet will win. Betting the under means that the two teams cannot score more than 56 points combined, or else you lose your bet.

Another way to beat football point spreads is to shop for off market prices. For example, let's say you're shopping online betting sites and see every site is offering Vikings +7.0. Then, you stumble upon one site that's offering +7.5. There's a good chance that this is a +EV wager, simply because it is out of sync with every other site. Please note that this strategy isn't quite the same as simply shopping for the best lines. Here, you're specifically looking for wagers that are +EV because they're against the market.
As you may already be assuming, adjustments are made if you want to bet on the Razorbacks. The point spread for the Razorbacks would be set at +7. It will always be the exact opposite of the other team. As the negative sign represents the favorite, the plus sign here represents the underdog. If you were to bet on the Razorbacks, they can actually still lose, and you win your bet.
Having a choice between the money line and the point spread gives the bettor more options. Consider a scenario where there is a strong favorite for a game. You might want to guarantee a smaller return by betting on the favorite to win on the money line – or you might want to almost double your money by betting on that team to not only win, but win by more than a certain margin. Conversely by backing the dog, on the money line you’ll receive a better return for your money but by backing the same team against the spread you have the insurance of still being able to win even if the team don’t.

The point spread - also called "the line" or "the spread" - is used as a margin to handicap the favorite team. For betting purposes, the oddsmaker predicts that the favored team will win by a certain number of points. This number of points is the point spread. The favorite is always indicated by a minus sign (e.g. -5.5) and the underdog by a plus sign (e.g.+5.5). If you bet on the favorite, you win your bet if the favorite wins AND their margin of victory is greater than the point spread. If you bet on the underdog, you win if the underdog wins, ties, or if the favored team wins but fails to exceed the point spread. It is standard for point spread bets in most sports that you wager $110 to win $100.
The -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.
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