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:
If you've never set foot in an actual sportsbook before or logged into an online sportsbook, the chances of you getting overwhelmed when you actually do is very high. In an actual Las Vegas sportsbook, there is typically a lot of commotion and the odds and lines are displayed on a massive digital board for everyone to see. When a novice sports bettor looks at the massive digital signage, they will see a bunch of numbers, both positive and negative, some two digits, some three digits. They also won't have a clue what any of it means. The same can be said for the online sportsbooks. It looks like a massive spreadsheet with negative and positive numbers beside each teams' name.
Moneylines have a tendency to move quite a bit in both directions leading up to a game, match, or fight. It’s a delicate dance that you’re going to have to master if you want to find value and push your edges to the max. Sports betting is a profit source that is all about small edges. Finding and being able to capitalize on these small edges is the key to being profitable long-term.
Linemakers who work for the sportsbooks must put out lines that will entice the "favorite" bettors to lay the points and take the favorite or entice the underdog bettors to take the points with the underdog. Because each sportsbook is operated under their own rules, guidelines and stipulations, they are free to put out whatever line they feel is competitive and charge whatever vig they want to based on how much action that specific line is taking.
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.
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.
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.
Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.
This means that the people betting the big bucks are going to end up shifting the line considerably. A lot of times, you will see a moneyline released, and then it will quickly shift. Usually, this is a skilled big bettor taking advantage of what they think is an opportunity. Ideally, you’ll want to jump on bets before these skilled bettors get ahold of it.

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).


Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
Moneyline bets are by far the most popular type of sports bet that you can make. What’s great about moneyline bets is that they are not only simple enough for beginner sports bettors to understand and utilize properly, but they are also heavily used by professional sports bettors to rake in huge wins every single day in sportsbooks all across the world. In fact, there are many wildly-successful professional sports bettors who exclusively use moneyline bets in their winning strategy.
Having set the point spread, this is the point where the gambling public can influence the line. You might have noticed that a line five days before a game might look very different to the line an hour before the kickoff. Barring some major line-up changes due to injuries or suspensions, the line will most likely be moved by weight of money. If the majority of money is coming in on one side of the point spread, the book will move the line to make the bet a little less attractive, which will help them level the book up somewhat.

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.
When it's not NFL season, BetOnline keeps on chugging along with point spreads for numerous other sports including men's + women's basketball (pro + college), along with run lines for baseball (full game + 5-inning), and they even have goal lines for several hockey leagues worldwide. BetOnline excels when it comes to betting on any sport, visit them today and give them a chance to prove it...it will not cost a cent!
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.

Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
Baseball, soccer, and ice hockey are mostly moneyline betting, since these sports do not have point spreads moneylines are the default way of wagering. Football and basketball do have moneylines in addition to point spreads. In recent years, football moneylines have become extremely popular among sports bettors. Moneyline betting is based on the amount bet per $100. Let’s look at look an example of a baseball moneyline:
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.
The two results above are the no-vig probabilities. If you're sharp, you'll notice that adding 68.57% and 31.43% up together will give you 100%. The extra 2.95% has been removed, so there's no more vig. We can now go to our odds converter and enter 68.57% into the implied probability field. This will give us moneyline odds of -218. If we enter 31.43%, we'll get moneyline odds of +218. The original moneyline market of the Celtics at -240 and the Grizzlies at +210 therefore has no-vig odds of the Celtics at -218 and the Grizzlies at +218.
Score three is usually the one that confuses people. Remember, when betting on point spreads, the favorite has to win by more than the number of points they are projected to win by. The underdog can lose the game, and you can still win your bet as long as they don't lose by more points than they are spotted. In the above example, if you were to bet on the Chargers at +3, you can imagine that like you have three bonus points to play with. You can lose by one point or by two points and still win the bet. If you bet the Chargers at +3 and lose by three points, it is a tie.
Why is this important? If you’re only looking for a fun sweat, it does not matter at all. But, if you’re looking to be a winner and making money long-term is important, then this becomes critical. For those of you profit-minded bettors, make sure that you are only betting on the prop bets that require quite a bit of skill. These bets will be the ones that your knowledge, research, and expertise will help you win over the long run.
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.
The two results above are the no-vig probabilities. If you're sharp, you'll notice that adding 68.57% and 31.43% up together will give you 100%. The extra 2.95% has been removed, so there's no more vig. We can now go to our odds converter and enter 68.57% into the implied probability field. This will give us moneyline odds of -218. If we enter 31.43%, we'll get moneyline odds of +218. The original moneyline market of the Celtics at -240 and the Grizzlies at +210 therefore has no-vig odds of the Celtics at -218 and the Grizzlies at +218.
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.

Because the Blue Jays are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on baseball favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($185 based on -185) in order to win $100. On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on the Orioles. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $165 (+165) on Baltimore.
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.
You don’t have layers of complexity to fight through to see if your prediction is a positive expected value move (one that is going to make you money). With some simple mathematical calculations, you can figure out whether or not there is value in a bet. Even if you don’t like math and would prefer not to use it when assessing value and making your picks, it’s still much easier to “eyeball” value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.
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.
Sports betting would be easy — or maybe just easier — if all that was required was to correctly pick the winning team. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks and bookies fall back on point spreads to make the process a little more difficult and to create the ultimate wagering challenge. You'll need a solid understanding of the point spread system if you hope to have a profitable season.
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.
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.
A teaser is a bet that alters the spread in the gambler's favor by a predetermined margin – in American football the teaser margin is often six points. For example, if the line is 3.5 points and bettors want to place a teaser bet on the underdog, they take 9.5 points instead; a teaser bet on the favorite would mean that the gambler takes 2.5 points instead of having to give the 3.5. In return for the additional points, the payout if the gambler wins is less than even money, or the gambler must wager on more than one event and both events must win. In this way it is very similar to a parlay. At some establishments, the "reverse teaser" also exists, which alters the spread against the gambler, who gets paid at more than evens if the bet wins.
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