They do this by manipulating the lines to entice action where they need it. If they have too much action coming in on one team, they will adjust the lines to pay out less for that team to deter more bets. At the same time, they will adjust the line for the other team to pay out more to entice more action on that side. This dance continues until the game starts to try and get the correct amount of money on each side of the contest.
According to an article in The Times dated 10 April 2009, approximately 30,000 spread bet accounts were opened in the previous year, and that the largest study of gambling in the UK on behalf of the Gambling Commission found that serious problems developed in almost 15% of spread betters compared to 1% of other gambling.[7] A report from Cass Business School found that only 1 in 5 gamblers ends up a winner.[8] As noted in the report, this corresponds to the same ratio of successful gamblers in regular trading.[9] Evidence from spread betting firms themselves actually put this closer to being 1 in 10 traders as being profitable, with a high number of clients suffering from the volatility that is supposed to be one of the benefits of spread betting.[citation needed]
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.
What does this mean for how you win a point spread bet? Glad you asked. To win a point spread bet, you pick the team that you think is going to "win" after the point spread differences are calculated in. Let's look at an example that will make this clearer. In the above chart, we see that you can bet the San Diego Chargers at -3. This means, as we already stated, that the sportsbook thinks the Chargers are the favorites and that they are going to win by three points. Here are three potential scores of the game:

‘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.
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.
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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. 

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.
To calculate your potential payout, you multiply the size of your bet by the decimal. That’s it. If you want to be $10 on the Heat, you would multiply $10 by 1.65 and get $16.50. Now, you may be freaking out right now saying that in our previous example we got $6.50 and now we’re getting $16.50. The difference here is that the decimal calculation will tell you your TOTAL payout which will include the return of your original wager. You will be receiving $6.50 in profit and the $10 from your original bet.
These are the point spread bets available for three preseason NFL football games. Let's start by identifying all of the elements of these bets so that you know what you're looking at. The first column is the two teams that are competing. This should be pretty straightforward. The next thing you will see is a plus or minus sign on each team's line. Teams with a minus sign in front of the number are the favorites and teams with the plus signs are the underdogs. In the above examples, the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Chargers are all the favorites. The Bengals, Broncos, and Cowboys are all underdogs.
For each NFL game the oddsmakers set a number of points in which the favored team is favored by. Bettors can then either choose for the favored team to win by more than the number of points set, or bet on the underdogs to lose by less than the number of points they are underdogs by or win the game straight up. For example, the spread could be set on the favored team at 6.5 points. This would mean in order for a bet on the favored team on the spread to win they would need to win by more than 6.5 points (7 or more) in order to win the bet. It also means that a bet on the underdog team would win if the underdogs lost by less than 6.5 points (6 or less) or won the game outright.

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.

Since betting on point spreads in the NFL is the most popular bet that people make, it is probably pretty important that you know what you are doing. The point spreads in the NFL are always alot closer then college football because you are dealing with the best of the best. You will almost never see a team favored by more then two touchdowns in the NFL, and most of the NFL point spreads are less then one touchdown. So, here is are best try at helping you understand how to read point spreads in NFL games.


In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.
The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite.
A common mistake that new bettors will do is to bet every single game. Unfortunately, this is not a winning strategy no matter how sharp you are. Stick to betting the games where you actually see value. Here's what we mean by value. Let's say in our earlier example that you agree with the sportsbook that the Florida Gators should win the game by seven. You should not bet this game then no matter what if the line is -7. If you're right, the best you can do is tie on your bet. When you pick a side, you're basically going to be guessing and flipping a coin. Theoretically, you'll win as many times as you lose, but you'll be paying the house percentage every single bet and slowly bleeding your money and profits away.
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.

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:
Technically, probability should always be a number between 0 and 1. It's often expressed as a percentage though, which makes things easier for the purposes of betting. 0.7059 converted into a percentage (i.e. multiplied by 100) gives us 70.59%. What this means is that the odds suggest the Celtics have a 70.59% chance of winning. If we believe the Celtics have an even greater chance of winning, then we should back them at odds of -240.
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.
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.
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.
Since draws are more common in soccer, most soccer markets offer 3-way spreads. When making a Soccer Spread wager, the team you wager on must cover/beat the goal spread. This means that the favored team must win by more than the outlined number of goals or the underdog will receive that number of goals as a head start. If you wager on the spread draw, you are wagering that the game will end in a draw when the spread value is applied to home team. (The team displayed first)
For example, imagine a game where the odds were -550 for the favorite and +450 for the underdog. A bettor shopping around for lines might be delighted to see the same favorite offered at -490 and enthusiastically back the team at those odds simply because those are the best odds available. However, if we removed the vig from -550 and +450, we'd see that the fair odds are actually -466 and +466. So, placing a wager at odds of -490 doesn't actually offer any value.
When wagering on a driver matchup, both drivers involved must start the race (cross the finish line) otherwise the wager is "No Action" and the money is refunded. In a case where the starting driver is replaced during the race with another driver from the same team (same car), the position the new driver finishes in will be awarded to the original driver. This holds for wagering on win odds and driver matchups.
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.
Another form of futures betting involves the over/under on the number of games a particular team will win in the regular season. This type of wager is typically found on pro football and major league baseball, and sometimes on pro basketball. For example, the over/under on the Yankees may be 93 wins. If the Yankees go on to win 94 or more games, the "over" is a winner. If they win 92 or fewer games, the "under" is a winner. If they win exactly 93, the bet is a push and tickets are refunded.
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