Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.
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.
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.
For example, let’s say that two players are playing a tennis match and one player is +250. You think that this player has a MUCH better chance than that but still is an underdog. Most people would tell you that you are crazy to make a bet on someone that you think is going to lose. The thing is, though, underdogs do win and if you’re getting paid more than you should when they do, you’re going to be profitable. Here’s a simple math breakdown.
Although the examples from above are in $100 increments, you don’t actually have to bet those exact amounts. That’s just how the odds are set up so that everyone is on the same page. With a quick glance at the numbers, you can tell who is the favorite, who is the underdog and what type of payout you can expect on each. You’re free to bet $5, $500 or whatever amount fits your budget. If you want to find out the specific betting limits for each option, browse through the betting sites rating guide in order to find the sportsbook that better fits your minimum and maximum limits.
Another way to beat football point spreads is to shop for off market prices. For example, let's say you're shopping online betting sites and see every site is offering Vikings +7.0. Then, you stumble upon one site that's offering +7.5. There's a good chance that this is a +EV wager, simply because it is out of sync with every other site. Please note that this strategy isn't quite the same as simply shopping for the best lines. Here, you're specifically looking for wagers that are +EV because they're against the market.
Here you can see that the Rams are +3.5, while the Cowboys are -3.5. So for this example the Cowboys are 3.5 point favorites, while the Rams are underdogs of 3.5 points. If you were to bet on St Louis you would need them to lose by 3 or fewer points or just win the game outright. If you were to bet on Dallas you would need the Cowboys to win by 4 or more points.
The point spread, which is sometimes referred to as the “handicap”, is the number of points taken from the favorite, or given to the underdog, in order to open up the chances of either team winning the wager evenly. In most games, there’s usually a team that is more likely to win, based on a number of statistical factors. If the only kind of wager available was on who would win between a very strong team and a poor team, it wouldn’t be all that exciting. The point spread was designed to make betting much more interesting, since it allows a bet on the losing team to win you money. How? Let’s break down an example: