The number-one key to success here (as it is with any type of sports bet) is understanding what value is and knowing when and how to take advantage of it. Value, in a nutshell, is finding sports bets that are paying you at a better rate than you think they should. If you place enough of these bets to overcome variance, you’re going to be a long-term winner.
This should hopefully make perfect sense to you. Successful betting, on any sport, is all about finding value, so you should always look to get the best value that you can. If a moneyline wager offers the best value on a football game, then that's the wager you should be placing. If a point spread seems the best option, then go down that route. There may even be occasions where it's viable to place both wagers on the same game.
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.
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.
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:
Only bet games where you have a clear prediction on a team covering the spread. Look for lines that you think are incorrect and put your money there. The idea here is to be making intelligent picks that you actually believe will win. If you're betting every game, you're just gambling and no longer letting your skill and knowledge base shine through.
One of the main reasons that sports bettors like to bet is the action and excitement of winning and losing. Many sports bettors would rather take the risk of winning or losing than having the option of pushing (a tie) on their bets. For this reason, many sportsbooks offer what are called no draw handicap match bets. These are bets on an individual match that are designed so that there is never going to be a tie. In the standard handicap bet examples we used above, you saw that all of the bet options were in whole numbers. This allows for there to be draws.
The favorite team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to win. This side of the bet usually listed with a minus (-) sign. The underdog team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to lose. This side of the moneyline is usually listed with a plus (+) sign. These signs signify how either side of the wager will pay. The minus side will pay less than original wager while the plus side will pay more than the original wager.
This may sound confusing, but spread betting is one of the easiest forms of sports betting offered. It also offers better odds when betting on the favorite team and the normal odds are 10/11 or -110. When one chooses to bet on the underdog that team does not have to win, they just have to cover the spread. Spread betting is pretty simple and it allows punters to enjoy an exciting form of betting that can lead to some significant wins.
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.
These are the handicap bets that we have already talked about. These are your straightforward bets that pay out according to the spread and odds posted. Draws are treated as a loss with this format. If you just scrolled to this section first, scroll up and read the general section about handicap bets because this type is addressed extensively with some great examples there.