We're often asked a question along the lines of "why would I place moneyline wagers rather than point spread wagers?" There's no simple answer to this question really, as point spreads and moneylines shouldn't be viewed as "either/or" options as such. You don't have to decide that you're always going to bet on the spread, or that you're always going to bet moneylines. These are two different wager types that have their own merits, and any bettor should have them both in their arsenal.
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
As you may already be assuming, adjustments are made if you want to bet on the Razorbacks. The point spread for the Razorbacks would be set at +7. It will always be the exact opposite of the other team. As the negative sign represents the favorite, the plus sign here represents the underdog. If you were to bet on the Razorbacks, they can actually still lose, and you win your bet.
The first thing you’ll notice with moneyline odds is that there is either a positive or negative sign in front of the number. What that sign denotes is how much you’ll win betting on each side. If there’s a positive sign next to the odds, that indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet $100. If the odds on a tennis player said +150, that means that for a $100 bet, you would win $150. Now if there is a minus sign in front of the odds, that is the number that you would have to bet in order to win $100. For example, if a football team was -250, that means you’d have to bet $250 to win $100.
Score three is usually the one that confuses people. Remember, when betting on point spreads, the favorite has to win by more than the number of points they are projected to win by. The underdog can lose the game, and you can still win your bet as long as they don't lose by more points than they are spotted. In the above example, if you were to bet on the Chargers at +3, you can imagine that like you have three bonus points to play with. You can lose by one point or by two points and still win the bet. If you bet the Chargers at +3 and lose by three points, it is a tie.
If you've never set foot in an actual sportsbook before or logged into an online sportsbook, the chances of you getting overwhelmed when you actually do are very high. In an actual Las Vegas sportsbook, there is typically a lot of commotion and the odds and lines are displayed on a massive digital board for everyone to see. When a novice sports bettor looks at the massive digital signage, they will see a bunch of numbers, both positive and negative, some two digits, some three digits. They also won't have a clue what any of it means. The same can be said for the online sportsbooks. It essentially looks like a massive spreadsheet with negative and positive numbers beside each teams' name.
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 punter usually receives all dividends and other corporate adjustments in the financing charge each night. For example, suppose Lloyds Bank goes ex-dividend with dividend of 23.5p. The bettor receives that amount. The exact amount received varies depending on the rules and policies of the spread betting company, and the taxes that are normally charged in the home tax country of the shares.
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: