The second number in our example (-110 for both teams) tells you how much you have to wager in order to win $100. It’s an easy way to calculate how much you’ll win if your bet pays off, presented in units of $100 at a time for simplicity’s sake. Most of the time, these two numbers will be the same, because oddsmakers want to set lines so that they get as much action on the underdog as on the favorite, guaranteeing them a profit. If a book gets a single bet of $110 (by a customer hoping to win $100) on the Cowboys and a single bet of $110 on the Giants, it will have taken in $220, but will only have to pay back $210 to whichever customer wins the bet. That’s a guaranteed profit of $10, and since sportsbooks take far more than a single bet in either direction, they stand to earn that seemingly small amount of profit many times over. The $10 difference between what you wager and what you win is known as juice or vig in the sports betting industry, and it’s the way books earn their bread and butter.
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.
Each week you'll submit who you think will cover each football game based on the point spread entered by your pool administrator (see below for an explanation of point spreads). For the last game of the week (usually Monday night) you will specify the total number of points you think will be scored in that game. For each game you choose correctly, you will receive 1 point. The player with the most games chosen correctly will win the pool for that week. If there is a tie, the player that is closest to the actual total points scored in the last game of the week will win the tiebreaker. If there is a tie after that, the winnings will be split up between those players.
The first number in the listing pertains to the order this game appears on a sportsbook’s board. The next NFL game would be listed as #103 for the road team and #104 for the home team. You can think of these numbers in the same way that each horse in a race has its own betting number. The next big takeaway from this listing is that the top team is always the road team (thus the odd number) and the bottom team is playing at home.
Hopefully, by now you are an absolute expert on point spread and handicap bet types. If you're still confused on anything, take your time and reread through the examples we posted and it should slowly become clearer to you. Sometimes the math can be a bit confusing to people, so take your time. If you are ever confused with a bet, you are making online or at a casino, just ask support of the agent for help to clarify. They will be more than happy to assist you in making sure you've bet on exactly what it is that you want to bet on. Don't worry, no one will laugh at you or give you a hard time because you are confused. We all were new to this one day, and they are specifically paid to help new bettors like you understand everything and have a much better betting experience.
The last number in the top two rows of our sports line example is known as the money line. If you’re not interested in betting on the point spread, you can wager on a team to win outright. The plus sign next to the underdog (in our case, the Giants) indicates how much money you’ll earn for every $100 you bet on the money line. Conversely, the minus sign next to the favorite’s line tells you how much you have to wager in order to win $100. In our example, a $100 wager on the Giants earns you $300 should they pull off the upset, while a bet of $405 on the Cowboys will net you an extra $100. Representing odds in units of $100 makes placing different size bets easy; if you want to bet $10 on the Giants, you stand to earn $30 if they win, while a $40.50 bet on the Cowboys will net you an additional $10.

Why is this important? If you’re only looking for a fun sweat, it does not matter at all. But, if you’re looking to be a winner and making money long-term is important, then this becomes critical. For those of you profit-minded bettors, make sure that you are only betting on the prop bets that require quite a bit of skill. These bets will be the ones that your knowledge, research, and expertise will help you win over the long run.


Is there value there? Yes. Are you going to make money off that bet? Well, it depends. If you’re only able to make a bet like this once, then you’re most likely going to lose. In order to realize that value, you’ll need to be in a lot of similar opportunities. If you have a very long-term betting strategy, then you can probably get away with making this bet. But if you’re looking for some more regular profit, you might want to steer clear of this. The odds say that the team is only going to win the game a little under 3 times for every 100 times they play. There is value there, but it depends on your betting strategy if you want to make that bet.
Baseball, soccer, and ice hockey are mostly moneyline betting, since these sports do not have point spreads moneylines are the default way of wagering. Football and basketball do have moneylines in addition to point spreads. In recent years, football moneylines have become extremely popular among sports bettors. Moneyline betting is based on the amount bet per $100. Let’s look at look an example of a baseball moneyline:
These are the point spread bets available for three preseason NFL football games. Let's start by identifying all of the elements of these bets so that you know what you're looking at. The first column is the two teams that are competing. This should be pretty straightforward. The next thing you will see is a plus or minus sign on each team's line. Teams with a minus sign in front of the number are the favorites and teams with the plus signs are the underdogs. In the above examples, the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Chargers are all the favorites. The Bengals, Broncos, and Cowboys are all underdogs.
It is a very good idea to shop around to find the best line when you are betting on sports. Books may offer slightly different lines, and you might be able to gain a point or half a point in your favor on certain markets. Consider an NBA game between the Heat and the Lakers – one firm has the Heat 9.5 point favorites and another have the Heat as 8.5 point favorites. You back the Heat with the second firm and they win by exactly nine points. Here you’ve gone from a loss to a win simply by shopping around, and in the long run this will make a big difference to your bottom line.

Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
Let us be clear before we go any further with this strategy tip. If there is value in a bet, go ahead and make it. What we want to talk about, though, are bets where you are risking an abnormally high amount of money to win a very small amount of money. While this is still technically profitable, you might not get enough opportunities to push through the variance and realize your value.
Let's say you think Liverpool is going to win the game, but you think they are only going to win by three goals. If the first bet were the only bet available, you wouldn't be able to bet on this game unless you were a maniac. This handicap bet gives you more options, though! The next rectangle down is a similar bet except for this time it is Liverpool at -2, getting paid 13 to 5. If you take this wager, you need Liverpool to only win by three or more goals now, instead of four. If this happens, you will get paid at 13 to 5 or $260 for every $100 you wager. As you can see, this is more likely to happen, so you are going to be paid less for the bet. However, it does give you an option to bet what you want.

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.
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