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.

Sometimes a line will move far enough to create a “middle” opportunity. Say the Texas Longhorns end up facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of March Madness. If you have Texas early as a 5-point favorite, and I move the line to Texas –7 later in the week, then you can also place a bet on Wisconsin +7. If Texas happens to win by six points, both your bets cash in. Texas winning by either five or seven gives you a win and a push. Any other result creates a win and a loss, so you’re only risking the vigorish.
These are the handicap bets that we have already talked about. These are your straightforward bets that pay out according to the spread and odds posted. Draws are treated as a loss with this format. If you just scrolled to this section first, scroll up and read the general section about handicap bets because this type is addressed extensively with some great examples there.
covering a spread - When a team surpasses the expectations of a point spread set by football experts. For instance, if a team is expected to win by 10 points, and they actually win by 11 or more, this is called 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by nine or less, or they lose the game, this is called NOT 'covering' the point spread. If the team wins by exactly 10 points, this results in a push or tie.
While we aren't exactly sure at which dollar amounts or what formulas sportsbooks use to determine when they shift the lines, we do know why they do it. It is their attempt to minimize their risk as much as possible and guarantees sportsbook profit. Lines will also move if something major happens (like Lebron breaking his leg or something) so keep an eye out for this. Ultimately, the shift in the line is done for the exact same reason to keep the same amount of money on both sides of the game. As you'll see in the strategy and tips section, shifting lines do present some interesting opportunities for sports bettors.
You can also bet straight winners and losers -- with no point spreads involved -- with money line wagers. When there is a minus number you bet that amount to win $100 in profit. When there is a plus number, that is your winning profit for every $100 wagered. So if the Cowboys have a money line of -250, you would have to bet $250 on them to win $100 in profit on any Dallas victory. If the Giants had a money line of +150, you would win $150 in profit with a winning $100 bet. If a money line is posted as even, you would win a $100 profit on a $100 winning bet.
The number-one key to success here (as it is with any type of sports bet) is understanding what value is and knowing when and how to take advantage of it. Value, in a nutshell, is finding sports bets that are paying you at a better rate than you think they should. If you place enough of these bets to overcome variance, you’re going to be a long-term winner.
Of course, it wouldn’t be. Everyone would bet on Mike Tyson, and the sportsbook would lose all of their money and close the next day. So what the sportsbooks do is they assess who is the favorite and who is the underdog and assign a value to how much in each direction they think they are. Let’s look at what the odds might look like for our fictitious fight and break down what everything means.
In cases when there is a point spread and moneyline offered on an event, such as an NFL football game, many bettors will place a wager on the moneyline and point spread of an underdog they feel has a chance to pull the upset. They will safely bet the point spread because they feel the game will be close, but will also put themselves in line for a nice payday if the underdog wins straight-up.
If the public comes out and bets really hard on one side, the line is going to move a lot making the odds worse on that side and a lot better on the other side. If you’re planning to bet against the public, you should wait to bet until the line moves as far as you think it is going to. Be careful, though, if you wait too long and some big money bettors bet, they can move the line back.
This highlights a notable advantage of the moneyline wager. You get to control, to some extent, the risk versus reward. For example, you might be quite certain that the Cardinals are going to win this game, but not convinced that they're going to cover the spread. So a moneyline wager is the safe option. There's less money to be made, but less chance of losing. On the other hand, you might think that the Packers are going to cause an upset. Rather than betting on them to cover the spread, you can bet on them to win outright. There's less chance of winning such a wager, but the potential returns are much greater.
Oftentimes a point spread will not be a whole number, and will be accompanied by a decimal point and a half number. This can be significant for a point spread. Essentially what it comes down to is that a whole number point spread gives the opportunity for a wager to push. A push means that if the favorite is favored by 10 points and wins by 10 points, bettors get their money back. Just like when betting on the over/under total for points, the spread is a half-point in addition to the whole number, there is no chance to push.
The most common NFL spreads are usually set between about 2.5-10.5 points, but you will also almost always have games each week with spreads lower than 2.5 and higher than 10.5. In the event that the oddsmakers feel the game doesn’t need a spread, it would be set at 0 or what some call a pick’em (both teams are given even odds to win for this type of bet).
In the United States, most bookmakers use the moneyline format to express the odds they offer for wagers. Thus, moneyline odds are also commonly referred to as American odds. They can be either a positive number or a negative number. A positive number shows how much profit a winning wager of $100 would make, while a negative number shows how much needs to be staked to win $100.
Parlays - these might be the most popular bets out there, especially among novice and amateur bettors, perhaps because of the lure of betting a small amount for a potentially big payoff. But they are fool's gold at best. Parlays involve wagering on two or more games on the same bet following the casino's pre-determined payout scale. Each game on a parlay must win for the bet to be a winner.
Before we had the options of wagering on future bets, parlays, teasers, alternative lines, Asian lines, prop bets and each-way, there was one betting option that reigned supreme. It was the money line bet. From a non-gambling perspective, winning a game in any sports will make a team happy. However, depending on the score, that win may not please bettors. That’s because the point spread betting option has taken over as the popular option, leaving the money line far behind. If you are the kind of person who bets on your favorite team each and every game, this is the bet for you. There is nothing worse than watching your team win the game, but lose you money by not covering the point spread.

Parlays - these might be the most popular bets out there, especially among novice and amateur bettors, perhaps because of the lure of betting a small amount for a potentially big payoff. But they are fool's gold at best. Parlays involve wagering on two or more games on the same bet following the casino's pre-determined payout scale. Each game on a parlay must win for the bet to be a winner.
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