Actually handicapping games is far from simple though. Or, at least, handicapping them well is. There are all kinds of different factors that can affect the outcome of a game, and you need to take as many of them as possible into account. You also need to assess just how much of an impact those factors will have, and try to accurately evaluate just how likely a team is to win. For more advice on how to do this, please see the following article.
As we mentioned in the close of the last section, sportsbooks try their best to get the same amount of total money bet on both sides of a game. If they can accomplish this, then they are guaranteed to make a profit no matter who wins or loses the game. The way a sportsbook goes about doing this is by manipulating the point spread to make the less bet side more enticing.

Bets on "Race to X Points / Race to X Goals..." and similar offers refer to the team/participant reaching the earliest particular tally of points. If the offer lists a timeframe (or any other period restriction) it will not include any other points tallied from other parts of the event which are not related to the mentioned time frame. Should the listed score not be reached within the stipulated time frame, all bets will be declared void, unless otherwise stated.
In sports like football and basketball, the moneyline is considered as the secondary option next to point spreads. Points spreads are the way that most people get their action in on basketball betting and football betting because the payouts are near doubling your money and it’s a fun way to handicap the game. Betting the moneyline in those sports is less popular because you might have some big mismatches and then it becomes too challenging to have faith in the underdog winning outright or too costly to bet the favorite.
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.
The money line bet always relates to bets of $100. A favorite will be represented by a negative money line figure such as -180. This means that in order to profit $100 off your winning bet, you would need to risk $180 dollars. But as I’m sure you already know, you can risk any amount you are comfortable with and the payment (should you win) will be in proportion to the odds. For example, a $50 bet on a -180 line would win you $27 dollars.
In North American sports betting many of these wagers would be classified as over-under (or, more commonly today, total) bets rather than spread bets. However, these are for one side or another of a total only, and do not increase the amount won or lost as the actual moves away from the bookmaker's prediction. Instead, over-under or total bets are handled much like point-spread bets on a team, with the usual 10/11 (4.55%) commission applied. Many Nevada sports books allow these bets in parlays, just like team point spread bets. This makes it possible to bet, for instance, team A and the over, and be paid if both team A "covers" the point spread and the total score is higher than the book's prediction. (Such parlays usually pay off at odds of 13:5 with no commission charge, just as a standard two-team parlay would.)
Another form of futures betting involves the over/under on the number of games a particular team will win in the regular season. This type of wager is typically found on pro football and major league baseball, and sometimes on pro basketball. For example, the over/under on the Yankees may be 93 wins. If the Yankees go on to win 94 or more games, the "over" is a winner. If they win 92 or fewer games, the "under" is a winner. If they win exactly 93, the bet is a push and tickets are refunded.
The odds given on the spread are usually -110 unless otherwise noted. It is not uncommon to see one side of the spread being -105, with the other side being -115. If you don’t see any odds listed for each side of NFL spreads you are supposed to assume the odds are -110 on each. Not sure how to read NFL betting odds? Check out our Sports Betting Odds guide.
Although the potential payouts look tempting - many sports bettors have dreamt of cashing in nearly $10,000 by nailing a $10, 10-teamer at 850/1 - they are a bad bet because they are difficult to hit and do not pay anywhere near true odds. This is how the sportsbooks make a lot of their money. For instance, let's say you want to bet a two-team parlay. For two games, there are four different possible combinations of outcomes, thus the true odds are 4/1. However, the sportsbook is only going to pay you 2.6/1 for your efforts, thus giving them a "juice" or vigorish in their favor. However, if you only have $20 to your name for a football bankroll and really like two games, the two-teamer might be the way to go because you could win $52 for your $20 wager.
Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
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.
The number that comes after the plus or minus sign is how significant of a favorite or underdog the teams are, regarding points. In the first game, the Bengals are a 1.5 point underdog. This means that the sportsbook thinks the Bengals are going to lose the game by 1.5 points. This means, by default, that the Chiefs are a 1.5 point favorite. This means the sportsbook thinks the Chiefs are going to win the game by 1.5 points.
‘Extra-Time’ wagers apply to 30 minutes of play according to the match officials, plus any added injury or stoppage time. However extra-time and penalty shoot-outs are not included. In ‘Extra-Time’ markets, wagers apply to the result during the extra-time period only. For the purposes of this market the score shall be deemed to be 0-0 at the start of the extra-time period.
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.
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.

The negative (-) sign indicates that the Cowboys are the favorites, while the positive (+) sign indicates that the New York Giants are the underdogs. With the spread set at 2.5 points, a bet on the Cowboys would mean that they would have to win by more than 2.5 points (3 or more) in order for you to win that bet. A bet on New York would mean that the Giants would have to either lose by 2.5 or less points (2 or less) or win the game outright in order for your bet to win.

These bets are extremely popular and a lot of fun to make. They allow you to bet on teams that you want to root for, but you know they aren't going to win the game outright. It all comes down to betting on how you think the team will perform in regards to what the sportsbook thinks. If you can find teams that you think the sportsbook is undervaluing or overvaluing, you can make a lot of money by betting on your findings.


The point spread is essentially a handicap towards the underdog. The wager becomes "Will the favorite win by more than the point spread?" The point spread can be moved to any level to create an equal number of participants on each side of the wager. This allows a bookmaker to act as a market maker by accepting wagers on both sides of the spread. The bookmaker charges a commission, or vigorish, and acts as the counterparty for each participant. As long as the total amount wagered on each side is roughly equal, the bookmaker is unconcerned with the actual outcome; profits instead come from the commissions.

Typically, if you’ve made a bet on sports in the past amongst friends or at the casino, you probably made a moneyline bet, and you didn’t even know it. “I bet you $10 the Broncos are going to win tonight.” That’s a moneyline bet. You may also hear the bet referred to as a to-win bet in some circles, but just know that they are referring to the same type of bet.
--Fractional odds are most commonly found in racing. A 10/1 payout should be read "$10 paid for every $1 wagered." When the bigger number is on the left, you will find that bet is normally an underdog in the race. Also note, however, that in case such as "Who will win the Super Bowl in the NFL?" you will see all the teams listed as "underdogs"… i.e. paying at least 2/1 (some up to 300/1 or more). 

Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.
It is a pretty simple concept once you get the hang of it, and you will also start to see profitable opportunities in football and hoops where wagering on the moneyline makes more sense than betting the point spread. If you really like an 8-point underdog in the NFL and think they will win, you can take the 8 points and hope they cover the spread. Or you can check out the moneyline option where they might be +280 and make more money betting them to win ($280) than on the point spread ($100).
At a site that offers a free play bonus, you'd bet $100 free play on the Grizzlies at +210. At another site, where you have a cash balance, you bet $150 cash on the Celtics at -240. If the Grizzlies won, you'd win $210 cash from your free play but lose your $150 cash. That's a profit of $60. If the Celtics won, you'd win $62.51 from your cash bet and lose only your free play credit. That's a profit of $62.51
A money line, used in baseball and hockey, takes the place of a point spread. Money line betting is simply wagering on the contest based on a given price rather than a point spread. The team wagered on has to win the game outright, regardless of the score. The minus sign (e.g.-130) always indicates the favorite and the amount you must bet to win $100. The plus sign (e.g.+120) always indicates the underdog and the amount you win for every $100 bet. Using this example, therefore, you would bet $130 to win $100 on the favorite, while for the underdog you would bet $100 to win $120.
This is a huge difference. The potential profit on the moneyline wager ($143) is over 40% greater than that of the point spread wager ($100). You're a little less likely to win, as there is a chance that Seattle would lose by one or two points, but there's a more than fair chance that if they did cover they would actually win the match. And, of course, if they lost by three or more then you'd have lost either way.
Without point spread betting, placing a wager on our team to win these games would be financial suicide. Point spreads create an even playing field for sports bettors. Even if your team is supposed to lose by 20 points, you can still bet on them if you think they're going to have a better day than predicted. If you've ever wondered why someone was still cheering and going nuts at the end of a blowout, you can bet they were sweating a point spread bet.

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.
Bookmakers use odds to even out the bets, getting gamblers to wager on both sides of the line by leveling the playing field. Although there is overall parity in the NFL, there are teams that are haves and others that are have-nots. Indianapolis is still superior to Cincinnati but when they play each other the bookies have to get about half of the bettors to put cash on the Bengals. This covers the sportsbooks ensuring they’ll make a decent amount of cash on just about every game.
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.
Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
The key to successful betting lies in quality and not quantity. Your overall chances of winning are much greater if you pick your spots carefully, and only bet when you find real value. There isn't a huge number of NFL games each week, but there's enough that it's simply not realistic to think you can handicap them all. And if you're also betting on college games then this is even more of an issue.

However, there are some good values with teaser bets if you know how and where to find them. For instance, the six-point teaser is an especially effective bet in the NFL, where most games are tightly contested and six points can make a world of difference. For instance, in our previous example, the Bears would go from laying six points to simply needing to win if you put them on a teaser bet. Conversely, Detroit backers could get 12 points instead of the starting six. (Source: Doc's Sports Service)
Understanding NFL betting lines is just the first step towards making profits with football wagering. Once you've got the basics down, it's important to continue learning sports betting strategy to improve your long-term chances of winning. If you're able to win more than 52.4% of the time, you'll be well on your way towards being a profitable NFL bettor.
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.
The point spread is a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes only, it has no place in the game itself. It's designed to give both teams an equal chance at winning in the context of wagers. Think of it this way: If last season's Super Bowl champion was playing a basement-dweller team that hadn't won a game all year, that's a shoo-in bet. Of course, you're going to take the Super Bowl champs, and in all likelihood, you're going to win. What's the fun in that? Even your bragging rights would be next to nil.
If you’d prefer to simplify things and only bet on whether a team wins or not, moneyline bets are going to be more of your style. A moneyline bet is a wager on which team wins the game. If the team you bet on wins, you win. If they lose, you lose. As we’ve stated earlier, the sportsbooks must do something to ensure they get as close to an even amount of money on both sides of a bet. With spread bets, they alter the number of points a team must win or lose by.

At a site that offers a free play bonus, you'd bet $100 free play on the Grizzlies at +210. At another site, where you have a cash balance, you bet $150 cash on the Celtics at -240. If the Grizzlies won, you'd win $210 cash from your free play but lose your $150 cash. That's a profit of $60. If the Celtics won, you'd win $62.51 from your cash bet and lose only your free play credit. That's a profit of $62.51
Some professional or seasoned bettors only use the point spread bets and are wildly successful. Their success comes from making correct picks, not from overcomplicating the situation. We're going to walk you through the basics, and the mechanics of a basketball point spread bet, discuss the popularity and benefits, and offer some tips and strategies to help get you moving in the right direction towards profitability with these bet types.
We need to figure out how much profit we will get per dollar we are going to bet and then multiply that by how many dollars we are going to bet. If we divide the moneyline number by 100, it will tell us how much profit we will get for every $1 we bet. So, 145/100 = $1.45. For every $1 we wager, we will get paid $1.45 in profit for a correct prediction.
According to an article in The Times dated 10 April 2009, approximately 30,000 spread bet accounts were opened in the previous year, and that the largest study of gambling in the UK on behalf of the Gambling Commission found that serious problems developed in almost 15% of spread betters compared to 1% of other gambling.[7] A report from Cass Business School found that only 1 in 5 gamblers ends up a winner.[8] As noted in the report, this corresponds to the same ratio of successful gamblers in regular trading.[9] Evidence from spread betting firms themselves actually put this closer to being 1 in 10 traders as being profitable, with a high number of clients suffering from the volatility that is supposed to be one of the benefits of spread betting.[citation needed]
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