We go in depth on this in the advanced guide on understanding value that we referenced earlier, but we will give you a brief intro on it here. If you’re able to calculate the percentage chance that you have to win in order to break even, and you can figure out the percentage chance that you think you’re going to win the bet, you can figure out very quickly if there is value.
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:
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.
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.
You see, people too frequently get caught up on their win-loss rate, which actually has no real effect on their bottom line. You can win more bets than you lose and still be losing money. On the other side of things, you can lose more bets than you win and be wildly profitable at sports betting. It all comes down to successfully finding value and pouncing on it when you see it.
Spreads are frequently, though not always, specified in half-point fractions to eliminate the possibility of a tie, known as a push. In the event of a push, the game is considered no action, and no money is won or lost. However, this is not a desirable outcome for the sports book, as they are forced to refund every bet, and although both the book and its bettors will be even, if the cost of overhead is taken into account, the book has actually lost money by taking bets on the event. Sports books are generally permitted to state "ties win" or "ties lose" to avoid the necessity of refunding every bet.
Moneyline bets can be presented in three different formats including moneyline, decimal, and fractional. While these will look very different, they will tell you the exact same information about the bet including who you are betting on, who the favorite or underdog is, and what the potential payout you would receive from a correct pick. We will cover all of this in the next few sections.

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.


For example, let’s say you’re thinking about betting on something that is -3500. You are almost 100% sure that you’re going to win this bet. If you bet $100 on this bet, you’re going to see a profit of $2.86. Again, this might be worth it to you. An almost 3% return on a sure thing might be something that you’re interested in. However, if you’re looking to make any meaningful profit, you’re going to have to risk a lot of money. To win $100, you’re going to have to risk $3500.
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.
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.
One of the biggest mistakes that bettors make is trying to make a judgement on every single game that's taking place. This is especially true of those who only focus on the NFL. There aren't that many games each week, and bettors think they stand the best chance of making money if they can predict the outcomes in all of them. This is not an approach we recommend.
This is a very common occurrence throughout the sports betting industry. Sportsbooks have the right to shift the spread or odds for any given match prior to it starting. Many factors play a huge role in this decision, and they include injuries, weather, the volume of bets on one side, and anything in between. Depending on the time you place your wager, the bettor may also have an advantage or disadvantage based on which way the spread has shifted.

So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.


As an illustration, let's look at Super Bowl futures. Sports books list each NFL team with corresponding odds to win the Super Bowl. For example, the Ravens may be 5-1, the Redskins 12-1, the Cardinals 100-1, etc. If you place $10 on the Redskins and they go on to win the Super Bowl, you collect $120 plus your $10 back for a total payoff of $130. It does not matter whether your team covers the point spread in the Super Bowl. For the purposes of future book betting, the team has to win only the Super Bowl.
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