Oddsmakers do more than pick the winners and losers of each game. They weigh myriad factors to determine which team is favored by how many points. They set an early point spread on each game, then adjust it up or down based on betting patterns. If the Dallas Cowboys are 6-point favorites over the New York Giants, they must win by seven or more points to pay off winning bets. If you wagered on the Giants, you win your bet if New York either beats Dallas outright or loses by five points or fewer.
The only real downside to betting basketball point spreads is that the sportsbook charges a vig. While this is a downside, it is to be expected and is no different from placing any other sports bet. Obviously, the sportsbook has to make money somehow because they have to pay employees, pay for their servers or equipment, and pay for their customer service to keep you happy. This really isn't a negative about point spread bets, but just something that you should be aware of.
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.

This used to be impossible or extremely time-consuming when only land based sportsbooks and casinos existed. You would have to drive hundreds of miles if you wanted to get to another casino and then hope they still had the different line. This would cost you travel money as well as time. Online sportsbooks make this extremely easy now. You can check several sportsbooks lines on a game within a matter of seconds or minutes. It doesn't cost you any additional money, just a few minutes of your time and can have a huge impact on the outcome of your bets.


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.
The spread on offer will refer to the betting firm’s prediction on the range of a final outcome for a particular occurrence in a sports event e.g. the total number of goals to be scored in a football match, the number of runs to be scored by a team in a cricket match or the number of lengths between the winner and second-placed finisher in a horse race.
An over-under bet in basketball is a wager on whether the total score for the game from both teams will be above or below a certain threshold. This is a great bet to utilize when you think that a game will be defense heavy and both teams will be shooting cold, or when you think that it’s going to be a barn burner with both teams shooting lights out.
Here you can see that the Rams are +3.5, while the Cowboys are -3.5.  So for this example the Cowboys are 3.5 point favorites, while the Rams are underdogs of 3.5 points.  If you were to bet on St Louis you would need them to lose by 3 or fewer points or just win the game outright.  If you were to bet on Dallas you would need the Cowboys to win by 4 or more points.
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.
Ideally, the lines I release will balance the action equally, so that the winners get paid out from the pockets of the losers and we take the vigorish. That’s an ideal that rarely happens – especially in sports without a pointspread, like NASCAR and golf. If Team A is getting too much action, I’ll move the line toward Team B to try to achieve that balance. My personal preference is to tweak the vig from –110 to –105 or +100 before taking the bigger step of moving the spread a half-point or more. 

How the point spread works - When two teams meet on the playing field or on the basketball court, one team is typically better than the other or in a more favorable position because of factors like playing at home. If all you had to do were pick the winning team in a game, everybody would simply wager on the best team or the home team in a even matchup and bypass all the lines and collect their winnings at a high rate.
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?
The last type of handicap bet that we want to talk about is an Asian handicap bet. Don't worry, you don't have to be Asian to place this bet; it's open to everyone. This form of handicap bet is set up through the use of whole, and half number point spreads to ensure that no draws are possible. The difference between Asian handicap bets and no draw handicap bets is that the Asian handicap bets have the possibility of what is called a split handicap outcome. Your bet will have a whole number and a half number line that are treated effectively as two separate bets, but all in the same bet.
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 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.
Shopping betting lines is one of the most important things you can do when betting point spreads in basketball. While the majority of sportsbooks will have the same line, it's fairly common that you can find lines that are a half or full point different. This can have a huge impact on your bottom line. If you don't think a half point or one full point makes that big of a difference, just ask anyone who has bet sports for a while. They will inform you that getting an extra half point is like winning the sports betting lottery.
Money line bets are particularly attractive to square bettors when they are looking at underdogs. They see a nice high positive number and think that the payoff is significant enough to be worth the risk. Unfortunately, underdogs are underdogs for a reason, and it’s usually because they aren’t very good. However, when the right opportunity presents itself, a money line bet on an underdog can grow your bankroll quicker than betting favorites would.
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.
The optimal situation for bookmakers is to set odds that will attract an equal amount of money on both sides, thus limiting their exposure to any one particular result. To further explain, consider two people make a bet on each side of a game without a bookmaker. Each risks $110, meaning there is $220 to be won. The winner of that bet will receive all $220. However, if he had made that $110 bet through a bookmaker he would have only won $100 because of the vig. In a perfect world if all bookmaker action was balanced, they would be guaranteed a nice profit because of the vig.

Buying points: Changing the point spread in order to favor your chances of winning. The odds here are proportionally lowered. Buying points allows the option of moving the point-spread on totals in your favor when betting on football or basketball (college and pro). You’re able to move the line up to 2 points. For every ½ point you want to buy, you must risk 10% (10 cents) in extra juice (except when buying on/off of a 3 in NFL).
There is no magic formula for moneyline betting, you’ll simply need to pick your spots wisely and balance your risk versus your potential reward. In general, I think this means taking higher upside picks, such as underdogs rather than taking large favorites. However, bettors should analyze each game independently looking for value in both favorite and underdog moneylines.
Because the spread is intended to create an equal number of wagers on either side, the implied probability is 50% for both sides of the wager. To profit, the bookmaker must pay one side (or both sides) less than this notional amount. In practice, spreads may be perceived as slightly favoring one side, and bookmakers often revise their odds to manage their event risk.
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