*Let’s start with the basics: what do sports bettors mean when they talk about a ‘line?’ The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, can refer to either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s take a look at an imaginary line the way you’d read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports betting lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s imagine a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s NFL betting line might look something like this:*

The last format we want to look at is fractional odds. Personally, we aren’t a huge fan of fractional odds because they’re the most challenging to work with. The formula is almost the same as with decimal odds, but it gives your profit instead of total money returned. It also requires you to solve a fraction, which may be a nightmare for a lot of people. Regardless, we are going to walk you through how to do it with the same bet we’ve been working with.

The term moneyline is actually somewhat misused in sports betting as it really just means a type of odds format. Technically, it is a way to represent the odds/payouts for a win bet, but we’re not going to split hairs. What we’d like to point out is that the odds on each participant in a sporting contest can be listed in one of three different formats.

^{This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline. }

Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.

##### This used to be impossible or extremely time-consuming when only land based sportsbooks and casinos existed. You would have to drive hundreds of miles if you wanted to get to another casino and then hope they still had the different line. This would cost you travel money as well as time. Online sportsbooks make this extremely easy now. You can check several sportsbooks lines on a game within a matter of seconds or minutes. It doesn't cost you any additional money, just a few minutes of your time and can have a huge impact on the outcome of your bets.

^{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. }

`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.`

**We go in depth on this in the advanced guide on understanding value that we referenced earlier, but we will give you a brief intro on it here. If you’re able to calculate the percentage chance that you have to win in order to break even, and you can figure out the percentage chance that you think you’re going to win the bet, you can figure out very quickly if there is value.**

__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.__

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.

Bovada gives all first time college football bettors a 50% to $250 bonus when they make their first deposit which only allows you to wager on more spreads. Bovada welcomes USA players and has many great deposit methods to boot. Players are able to instantly add funds to their accounts using a variety of methods that include credit cards (Visa/MC/Amex), debit cards (Visa/MC), several brands of prepaid gift cards, cash wire transfers (Western Union + MoneyGram), and even payment through accepted Bitcoin wallets.

^{If you’re betting in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, though, you’re going to have to figure this information out yourself. The book will print on your ticket how much you stand to win, but they aren’t going to let you come up and ask a million times what the payout is going to be. You’ll need to calculate it yourself (or head online to place your bets). }

^{Another thing to consider is popular winning margins, which are particularly applicable to football. Consider that many tight games may finish with either a three point or a seven point margin. If the point spread is around either of these marks, make every attempt to be the right side. For example, if you were to back a team that is either 2.5 or 3 point favorites, you’d want to back them at the 2.5 mark, as if they were to win by 3 you’d win as opposed to a push. }

**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.**

**This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.**

*There is no magic formula for moneyline betting, you’ll simply need to pick your spots wisely and balance your risk versus your potential reward. In general, I think this means taking higher upside picks, such as underdogs rather than taking large favorites. However, bettors should analyze each game independently looking for value in both favorite and underdog moneylines.*

*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.*

Below we have also put together an infographic explaining all of the information on this page. This is a useful tool for someone who wants to see a visual explanation of how to calculate your payouts when using moneyline odds in your betting. You can save this graphic for your own personal use or use the embed feature to put it up and share with others.

`For example, in a cricket match a sports spread betting firm may list the spread of a team’s predicted runs at 340 – 350. The gambler can elect to ‘buy’ at 350 if they think the team will score more than 350 runs in total, or sell at 340 if they think the team will score less than 340. If the gambler elects to buy at 350 and the team scores 400 runs in total, the gambler will have won 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake. But if the team only scores 300 runs then the gambler will have lost 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake.`

`Piggybacking on the simplicity of moneyline bets is the ease with which you can properly assess value. Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t say “Easy to Find Value,” and that is because it’s never easy to find value in sports betting. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it for a living. What it says, though, is that it is easier to find value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.`

**You could even take it a step further and take the next rectangle down and bet Liverpool +1. This means that Liverpool can tie or win by any amount of goals and you win your bet. As Liverpool is a huge favorite, you won't be paid very well at all for this bet, but you can still turn a profit when you are right. You would be paid at 1 to 10 which means you would get $1 for every $10 you bet. If you bet $100, you would get a $10 profit on this 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.*

This also comes into play on games that you think the line is correct. For example, let's say you think the line of Florida -7 is correct, so you elect not to bet it because there is no value. This doesn't mean you should never look at this game again. If the line happens to shift in either direction, you can make a bet that has value. If the line moves to Florida -6, you place a bet on Florida because you originally thought they would win by seven. If the line moves to Florida -8, then you place a bet on Arkansas at +8 because you originally thought Florida would win by seven and Arkansas would lose by seven. The next strategy tip is a good idea to help you be ready for these situations.

*"Point Spread" or "Handicap" odds are when it is possible to bet on whether the chosen outcome will be victorious once the listed handicap is added or subtracted to the game to which the bet refers to. In the circumstances where the result after the adjustment of the handicap line is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. Example: a bet on -3.0 points will be declared void if the team chosen wins the match by exactly 3 goals difference. Any reference in this section to the term "margin" is intended to be understood as the outcome emerging from the subtraction of the points scored by the 2 opponents.*

If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.

*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.*

*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.*

_{Point spreads are more common in the United States, but you can see them throughout the world. A point spread, in theory, is the sportsbooks attempt to create a "level playing field." Let's look at an exaggerated example that will make this clearer. Let's say the New England Patriots are playing a game against a junior varsity high school football team. They're also using deflated footballs, and the Patriots get to see the high school team's playbook before the game. If a sportsbook were to allow you to bet on which team would win, everyone would bet on the Patriots as they would probably annihilate this other team. }

The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite.

^{For years the sports handicappers at Maddux Sports have been making money for us and our clients betting the strongest sports picks on the Internet. Maddux Sports feels that in this industry the best sports handicappers can charge less for their picks than the big name scamdicappers. Maddux Sports makes its money from repeat sports bettors that know the value of their bankroll. Featured on: }

A Parlay is a wager which combines several legs in a wager where the winnings from each selection roll onto the next. For a Parlay to be successful, all individual legs in the Parlay need to be winning selections. In the event of a tie in one of your selections in a parlay, the parlay is reduced to the next lowest number of teams. For example, if you have a 4 team parlay and one of the selections is a tie (only on 2 way markets), the leg would be considered a "push". In this instance, the 4 team parlay would then become a 3 team parlay and would be settled at reduced odds to reflect a winning 3 team parlay.

_{First, however, a word of caution: Sports betting can be a fun and profitable venture. However, like most good things in life there are pitfalls to be aware of. You should be able to enjoy many positive experiences as long as you bet in moderation and under control. We know you have heard this before but it definitely bears repeating: don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose, either emotionally or financially. If you or someone you know shows signs of compulsive gambling, one place to find help is Gamblers Anonymous. }

^{Without a points handicap, it would not make sense to pay both sides of a wager the same amount when it's clear that not all teams are on equal footing. In fact, it is entirely possible for a team to lose the game in real-life but still win a bet if they only lose by less than a set number of points. Vice versa, a team can win a game, but lose the wager if they do not win by more points than what was predicted. }

`One of the biggest factors you will see change the moneyline odds is the news media. The news does a great job of sensationalizing stories as well as reporting changes that may or may not have an effect on an upcoming game. Recreational bettors have a tendency to overreact to news stories, especially ones that pull on the heartstrings. This can create some really awesome betting opportunities for you to jump on. Expert bettors and sportsbook executives always say that if you can be on the opposite side of the general public on a bet, you’re probably in a good spot.`

**All relative events must be completed within the same day/session as listed in conjunction with the offer. Should this not be the case, bets placed on the offer will be fully refunded except for those offers whose outcomes were decided prior to the abandonment and could not possibly be changed regardless of future events, which will be settled according to the decided outcome.**

`When betting on American sports such as NBA or NFL, there are usually two main categories that appeal to punters. These are the point-spread or the moneyline. With spread betting there is a 50% chance to win on either side since the spread is actually a handicap that is given to the underdog to even out the chances for both teams on a game or a match. The majority of the time, punters will win just about the amount they bet on a point spread. Moneyline bets can be a bit more complicated and there is no point spread involved. In fact, it is a simple bet to place as one will simply be choosing who will win the game.`

All point spreads are set by the pool administrator. NOTE: The administrator has the power to change the point spreads at any time up until 15 minutes before the start of the first game, so make sure you know when the administrator will make the final changes. For your own information you should also find out where the administrator is getting their point spreads.

**The simplest way to think about a moneyline is to consider a base bet of $100. A moneyline is a number larger than 100, and it is either positive or negative. A line with a positive number means that the team is the underdog. If the line, for example, was +160 then you would make a profit of $160 if you were to bet $100. Obviously, then, the team is a bigger underdog the bigger the number is - a +260 team is perceived to be less likely to win than a +160 team.**

^{Remember with bets like this you can still be profitable by betting several options. Let's say you think Chelsea is going to win, but you also think Manchester United, Liverpool, and Everton also have a shot. If you were to place a $100 wager on all four of these teams, you would still turn a profit! Let's pretend you did this and say that your last pick Everton pulls it off and wins the regular season according to the sportsbook. Remember, they don't have actually to win, they just need to be on top after the sportsbook makes the point spread/handicap adjustments to the final rankings. }

*Oddsmakers do more than pick the winners and losers of each game. They weigh myriad factors to determine which team is favored by how many points. They set an early point spread on each game, then adjust it up or down based on betting patterns. If the Dallas Cowboys are 6-point favorites over the New York Giants, they must win by seven or more points to pay off winning bets. If you wagered on the Giants, you win your bet if New York either beats Dallas outright or loses by five points or fewer.*

_{Let’s say that a ton of bets pour in on the Mavericks. In order to encourage more bets on the Celtics and even things out, they might move the line to 5 ½. This means that a bet on the Mavericks would now win only if they won by more than 5 ½ points instead of 4 ½. This would discourage more people from betting on the Mavericks, as they would have to perform much better to get you the victory. }

*TheSportsGeek.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes. Sports betting and gambling laws vary by jurisdiction. We are not able to verify the legality of the information we provide, or your ability to use any sites that are linked to on this site, for every combination of your location, the sites’ location, and the type of service those sites provide. It is your responsibility to verify such matters and to know and follow your local laws.*

`This means that the people betting the big bucks are going to end up shifting the line considerably. A lot of times, you will see a moneyline released, and then it will quickly shift. Usually, this is a skilled big bettor taking advantage of what they think is an opportunity. Ideally, you’ll want to jump on bets before these skilled bettors get ahold of it.`

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.

_{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. }

**A point spread in sports is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. The “favorite” team (labeled with a “-” sign) would be at the disadvantage as they would need to win the game by a set number of points while the “underdog” team (labeled with a “+” sign) would be given an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points. The reason oddsmakers do this is to provide betting interest for both sides due to one team typically being better than the other.**