On a moneyline bet of -300, you’ll need to win your bet 75% of the time just to break even. When your odds jump even higher to -400, you’ll need to win your bet 80% of the time to show a profit. You are risking a lot to win very little and even though a large favorite will win most of the time, when they do lose, you will find yourself out a lot of money. I try to stay away from large favorite moneylines, because the amount risked is very high and the payoff is low.
You’ll see on the right-hand side of the teams a number with an “o” or a “u” before it. As you may have already gathered, the “o” stands for over and the “u” stands for under. Even though the over is on the Celtics line and the “u” is on the Mavericks line, it does not matter. They’re written that way for organizational sake and not because either bet is connected to either team. Remember, it only matters that the total score of the game is. One team can score all of the points, and you’ll still win your bet.
There is no such thing as a half point in sports, but there is in sports betting! The half point ensures that a side will win and that the match will not end in a push, where the spread equals the actual difference in points between the two teams. In a push all bettors get their money back, which is no good for the oddsmaker! Half points also give oddsmakers more control over lines, allowing them to set more specific values.
Because the spread is intended to create an equal number of wagers on either side, the implied probability is 50% for both sides of the wager. To profit, the bookmaker must pay one side (or both sides) less than this notional amount. In practice, spreads may be perceived as slightly favoring one side, and bookmakers often revise their odds to manage their event risk.
To help get you started, we’ve broken down the most popular and the need to know NBA bet types below. Make sure you take the time to read through each of these and figure out how they might play a role in your betting strategy. Remember, you are not required to use all of these bets. Many professional NBA sports bettors will only use one or two bet types and still crush the books. They prefer to keep things simple and work with what works for them. We suggest you do the same.
Many people will say that the odds on a spread bet are even, paying 1:1. But this is not true. The actual odds are 0.90:1. For every dollar bet, you can win 90 cents. When checking out the spread, you’ll usually see a number listed next to each spread. That number, which is your stake, is posted as -110. This number tells you how much you have to bet to win $100. If you put $110 on either team, you stand to win $100. If you bet $11.00, you can win $10.00. Every NFL point spread works this way.
If you were correct though but getting paid at the sportsbooks rate, you would lose the bet 55.6 times (-$5560) and win the bet 44.4 times (44.4 x $250 = $11,100). You would profit over $5,000 for betting on bets that you thought you were going to lose! This is finding value. Value bets are great as a part of a long term winning strategy and are the key to conquering the “simple” moneyline/win bets.
Now Arkansas can lose by up to eight points, and you can still win a bet on Arkansas. As the Arkansas line gets more appealing, more people will start to bet that side. The sportsbook will continue to manipulate the line this way up until game time to try and get the bets as even as possible. While they won't be perfect about it, they can usually get it close enough in most situations. It's also important to note that the line will sometimes shift by half points and it's also capable of shifting back in the other direction if too much money comes in on the other side.
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.
The first number in the listing pertains to the order this game appears on a sportsbook’s board. The next NFL game would be listed as #103 for the road team and #104 for the home team. You can think of these numbers in the same way that each horse in a race has its own betting number. The next big takeaway from this listing is that the top team is always the road team (thus the odd number) and the bottom team is playing at home.
In our earlier example, the sportsbook would be devastated if 100% of the action came in on the Falcons. The book is not looking to gamble; they are looking for a sure thing. So, to try and entice more people to bet on the Bear Cubs and discourage people from betting on the Falcons, they will alter the payouts. They will make the amount you win for correctly selecting the Bear Cubs much larger and the amount that you win for correctly selecting the Falcons much smaller.
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.
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.
It’s common knowledge among bettors that the online gambling industry pays close attention to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a private company that handles the odds for casinos and newspapers. But the totals I set have to reflect our customers’ preferences for betting the over or under on certain teams in certain situations. Also, because LVSC lines are published early, I have to keep on top of injuries and potential changes in coaching strategy leading up to the game in question before I release any totals. This is doubly important in basketball, where pace determines how many shots will be taken in 48 minutes.
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.
When two teams square up for a matchup, whether that be on the gridiron or on the basketball court, one team is typically better than the other (for whatever reason you want to believe). Since sportsbooks are in the business of making money, they tag the better team with a point spread, thus making them the "favorites" to win that specific game. Normally, the favorite has a few favorable factors working for them like playing at home or being well rested or playing a revenge game against a team that previously beat them. Every factor counts in the world of betting, and it's up to you to decide if the "favorite' can, in fact, cover the point spread.
For example: New England –2.5 (–110) or Philadelphia +2.5 (–110) means you’d wager $110 for the chance to win an additional $100 if you bet on the point spread. Depending on which side is receiving the most action, a sportsbook will often move the line up or down in order to incentivize betting on the less popular side. Injuries or unforeseen changes can also impact a point spread gambling line. Point spreads are often listed with a half-point (ex: 2.5) in order to prevent the final margin from landing exactly on the point spread (ex: 10-point spread, final score of 20–10). A “push” or “tie” usually goes to the house or sportsbook, unless another arrangement has been agreed upon beforehand.
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.
We already know that the only thing that causes the moneyline to shift are the bets that are coming in. However, we should talk about what factors will cause the betting patterns of the public to change, and in turn, cause the moneylines to move. This will go hand in hand with the following betting strategy section. If you can master predicting when and how lines are going to move, you will crush sports betting and moneyline betting.
We do want to make sure to point out that this is total money returned and not your profit. We went over the difference above when discussing the American odds. Let’s take a look at the same bet again, but this time with decimal odds. We should be expecting to see a profit of $33.33 for an Eagles bet and $240 for a Falcons bet since we know that the bets are the exact same and are just presented in a different format.
So to solve the first fraction for the Heat, we do 13 divided by 20 and get 0.65. Let’s look at our calculations for the $10 bet and the $250 bet. If we bet $10, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $10 and get $6.50. This is our correct profit! If we bet $250, we multiply our solved fraction of 0.65 by $250 and get $162.50. This is out correct profit!
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.
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When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).
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.
If you bet on sporting events, you must be able to read odds and understand what they mean. Furthermore, you need to quickly calculate the potential winnings for different bets, especially if the odds are changing while the event unfolds. Odds tell you the likelihood that an event will occur (a team wins, a boxer makes it a certain round) and how much will be paid out if you win. There are, however, multiple ways to convey this information.
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.
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.
If you are betting on a sport where there are multiple entrants, like in a race or tournament, you may find that every entrant is paying out at favorite odds. This is because it’s much more challenging to pick a winner from a large field, and the sportsbook will be rewarding you for that. Just know that when you see the plus sign, you will be getting paid better than even money for a correct pick.
By this point, you should be feeling pretty well versed in all things NBA betting. We’ve walked you through how to use our free expert picks, where to place your bets, the strategies you need that are specific to the NBA, and the different types of bets you have at your disposal. Whether or not you become a successful NBA sports bettor now is up to you. If you study this material, do your research, and put in some hard work, you can be on the road to crushing the books in no time. We wish you the best of luck and are always here if you ever need any additional help.
Now, just to point out, the fractional odds and the moneyline/American odds give us our profit. The decimal odds give us our full payout which includes the return of our original bet. You are still getting your original bet back with the moneyline/American and decimal odds, it’s just not reflected in that calculation. If you want to see your full payout (basically how much money they should hand you), simply add your original bet amount to your profit number.
Hopefully, by now you are an absolute expert on point spread and handicap bet types. If you're still confused on anything, take your time and reread through the examples we posted and it should slowly become clearer to you. Sometimes the math can be a bit confusing to people, so take your time. If you are ever confused with a bet, you are making online or at a casino, just ask support of the agent for help to clarify. They will be more than happy to assist you in making sure you've bet on exactly what it is that you want to bet on. Don't worry, no one will laugh at you or give you a hard time because you are confused. We all were new to this one day, and they are specifically paid to help new bettors like you understand everything and have a much better betting experience.
In this baseball matchup, the St. Louis Cardinals are the moneyline favorite. For the bettor to win $100, he will need to wager $150, risking $150 to win $100. If the Patriots lose, the bettor will lose his original stake of $150. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the moneyline underdog in this matchup. A $100 dollar wager will win the bettor $140, risking $100 to win $140. Again, if the Pirates lose the bettor will lose his original stake of $100.
The first number (56.5 in our sample line) is the book’s predicted total score, while the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is how much a punter has to bet in order to win $100. If you were to bet the over-under on this game, you’ll have to decide whether you think the combined score of both teams will be higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you bet the over, assuming the game will be a shootout between two talented offenses, you’re hoping that the final score will be anything that totals 57 or more. It could be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination that adds up to 57 or more and your bet will win. Betting the under means that the two teams cannot score more than 56 points combined, or else you lose your bet.
We went into detail earlier about what causes moneylines to move. The better you can get about predicting when these movements will occur and in what direction, the more profitable you’re going to be as a sports bettor. If you find a bet that you like, but you predict it’s going to move more in your favor, you can intelligently wait to bet and lock up a potentially much more profitable opportunity.
Moneyline parlays are growing in popularity. A parlay is a single wager that is comprised of multiple results. The payout for a parlay is greater than an individual wager on each player or game. Underdog moneyline parlays are becoming popular because the payouts can be very large. Moneyline parlays are becoming popular because of the perceived ease of choosing multiple favorites to win. Choosing one winner is difficult and multiple winners at the same time is even more difficult.
When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.
Apply the spread. In point-spread betting, the actual final score of the game is only the starting point. Say Chicago beats Detroit 24-17. Because Chicago was the favorite, you subtract the point spread from its final score. That's the purpose of the minus sign in the spread. The spread was 6, so you take 6 points away from Chicago's point total, giving you an "adjusted" score of Chicago 18, Detroit 17. If you'd bet on Chicago, you'd have won the bet. Now, say Chicago won the game 20-17. Subtracting the 6 points from Chicago's total gives you a final score of Detroit 17, Chicago 14. If you'd bet on Chicago, you'd have lost.
The point spread is basically used to create a 50/50 betting proposition. In this example, the Celtics are theoretically just as likely to win by six points or more as the Grizzlies are to lose by less than six points. This is reflected in the odds, which are typically -110 on both sides of the wager. You have to risk $110 for the chance of winning $100.
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.
The last types of bets that you should be aware of when betting on the NBA are proposition bets. A prop bet is a wager in which you bet on whether or not something is going to happen in a particular game. For example, will a certain player make more than four 3-pointers in a game? Which team will score first? Which team will win the opening tip-off? Will a certain team shoot over X % from the field? All of these are examples of prop bets that you can make on a particular NBA game.
The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.