This is because different bookmakers and betting sites price up games differently. So the odds they offer are not always the same. Remember the Packers versus Cardinals game we showed earlier as an example? We used the actual odds from a real betting site for that example. The following odds were also available for the same game, from various other sites.
The first part of each line tells you who you are betting on. The first line is a bet on Mike Tyson and the second line is a bet on Old Man River. Next, you’ll see a plus or a minus sign. The plus sign signifies the fighter who is an underdog, and the minus sign signifies the fighter who is the favorite. As you can see, Mike Tyson is the favorite and Old Man River is the underdog.
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Remember that every spread still has a moneyline attached to it. While that might be a bit confusing, all that refers to is the cost of betting the spread; not how the outcome will be decided. For example, if someone says to you that “the Patriots are laying three points but I have low juice, so my moneyline is -104”, what they are referring to is the price of betting the spread. That merely means that they are betting the spread but the moneyline attached to betting that spread is -104.
Betting against the spread or ATS, as it's known in the sports betting industry, is among the toughest bets to turn a profit in over the long run. When looking at a team's record, the only thing that matters to them is winning the game outright and moving up in the regular-season standings. Teams like Golden State or the New England Patriots are generally always among the best teams in the league (straight up) but are typically a bad bet to make ATS. The reason for this is because the better the team is, the more public attention they draw and the higher the point spread is. Sportsbook know which teams the public darlings are and as such inflate the spreads in order to take advantage of how overvalued the public makes them. A team like the Patriots could go 14-2 every season but they could be a dismal 7-9 or 6-10 against the spread because they are laying more than 10 points in every game.
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.
As the numbers grow larger each way – the small numbers get smaller or the positive numbers get larger – that indicates that those options are bigger and bigger favorites, or bigger underdogs. That’s particularly relevant when you’re looking at something like the odds to win the Super Bowl. The teams with smaller numbers are deemed as having a better chance of winning and then as the numbers grow larger, those teams are deemed bigger and bigger longshots.
The way the sportsbook does this is by putting out a betting line that is based on how many points they think the better team is going to win by. This is a lot like how our older siblings would "spot us" a few points when we played each other in basketball as kids. For example, let's say that Florida Gators are playing the Arkansas Razorbacks. Let's also say that Florida is the better team and the sportsbook thinks they are going to win the game by seven points. They can't just let everyone bet evenly, or everyone would bet Florida and clean them out. Enter the point spread. The sportsbook would set the point spread on this game at -7 for Florida to win. The negative sign before the number signifies that this team is the favorite to win. This means that if you want to bet on Florida, they have to win by more than 7 points for you to win your bet.
Many novice bettors fail to understand the impact of home advantage when wagering on sport events. When looking at the board for potential wagers, these bettors tend to get excited and bet on lots of superior teams favored on the road against weaker opponents. The betting market is so much more advanced than this, and for the most part point spreads are always going to be 50/50 propositions.
When betting the point spread, there is almost always a winner and a loser. However, in some instances sportsbook decide to put out a whole number such as -3 for bettors to bet on. If the final score ends with a differential of three points - no matter who wins - the bet is considered a "push" and all money is refunded to both sides since neither team covered the spread.
Let’s say that a ton of bets pour in on the Mavericks. In order to encourage more bets on the Celtics and even things out, they might move the line to 5 ½. This means that a bet on the Mavericks would now win only if they won by more than 5 ½ points instead of 4 ½. This would discourage more people from betting on the Mavericks, as they would have to perform much better to get you the victory.
The level of the gambler’s profit or loss will be determined by the stake size selected for the bet, multiplied by the number of unit points above or below the gambler’s bet level. This reflects the fundamental difference between sports spread betting and fixed odds sports betting in that both the level of winnings and level of losses are not fixed and can end up being many multiples of the original stake size selected.
Of course, it wouldn’t be. Everyone would bet on Mike Tyson, and the sportsbook would lose all of their money and close the next day. So what the sportsbooks do is they assess who is the favorite and who is the underdog and assign a value to how much in each direction they think they are. Let’s look at what the odds might look like for our fictitious fight and break down what everything means.
Remember with bets like this you can still be profitable by betting several options. Let's say you think Chelsea is going to win, but you also think Manchester United, Liverpool, and Everton also have a shot. If you were to place a $100 wager on all four of these teams, you would still turn a profit! Let's pretend you did this and say that your last pick Everton pulls it off and wins the regular season according to the sportsbook. Remember, they don't have actually to win, they just need to be on top after the sportsbook makes the point spread/handicap adjustments to the final rankings.
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.
While we're going to cover this extensively in the moneyline section of the Basketball Betting Guide, we'll touch briefly on what the -110 means here. -110 refers to the moneyline payout for a particular bet. If you were to bet $100 on a basketball point spread paying -110 and win, you would be paid out a profit of $90.90. The easy way to figure out the amount you will get paid with minus moneyline odds is to divide your bet size by the absolute value of the betting odds and multiply that number by 100.
The -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.