If you’re betting in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, though, you’re going to have to figure this information out yourself. The book will print on your ticket how much you stand to win, but they aren’t going to let you come up and ask a million times what the payout is going to be. You’ll need to calculate it yourself (or head online to place your bets).
Before we had the options of wagering on future bets, parlays, teasers, alternative lines, Asian lines, prop bets and each-way, there was one betting option that reigned supreme. It was the money line bet. From a non-gambling perspective, winning a game in any sports will make a team happy. However, depending on the score, that win may not please bettors. That’s because the point spread betting option has taken over as the popular option, leaving the money line far behind. If you are the kind of person who bets on your favorite team each and every game, this is the bet for you. There is nothing worse than watching your team win the game, but lose you money by not covering the point spread.
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.
With NFL odds the over/under can vary but usually it’s somewhere between 35 and 47 points. Let’s say in the Colts and Bengals game that the total is posted at 37.5. If Indy scores 27 and Cincy gets 13 points, the total would be at 40 and the over would win. But if the Colts rack up 35, and they shut out the Bengals, the total of 35 would be under.
Notice that point spreads adjust the score for the favorite team. This is easiest to see with an example: If the New York Knicks are playing the Boston Celtics, and Boston is favored to win by a 4-point spread, then a bet on Boston only pays out if Boston wins by more than 4 points. A bet on New York pays out if New York wins or if they lose by less than 4 points.
Futures betting also is offered on the major events in horse racing, such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. In horse racing futures, if your horse does not start the race due to injury or any other reason, you lose the bet -- there are no refunds. On the other hand, the odds on your horse racing futures bet also are "locked in," regardless of the horse's odds on race day.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
The money line bet is the simplest form of betting in the industry. A “money line” bet is a way of betting on which team is going to win the game outright, or which individual will win an event. With a money line bet, the margin of victory or the total number of points a team scores do not matter. If you like the Patriots to win outright versus the Browns, a 3-0 win would win you just as much money as a 77-0 win.
A quick word on that annoying half point in the point spread – most lines you’ll come across will use half points, but it’s not standard practice across the board. When you see a line with a full number instead of a number with a half point, your wager could end up as a push. In our example, if the line were 7 instead of 7.5 and the final difference in points was exactly 7, your wager is returned to you, and neither you nor the book makes money.