Sports spread betting began in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s to offer an alternative form of sports wagering to traditional fixed odds, or fixed-risk, betting. With fixed odds betting, a gambler places a fixed-risk stake on stated fractional or decimal odds on the outcome of a sporting event that would give a known return for that outcome occurring or a known loss if that outcome doesn’t occur (the initial stake). With sports spread betting, gamblers are instead betting on whether a specified outcome in a sports event will end up being above or below a ‘spread’ offered by a sports spread betting firm, with profits or losses determined by how much above or below the spread the final outcome finishes at.
You see, people too frequently get caught up on their win-loss rate, which actually has no real effect on their bottom line. You can win more bets than you lose and still be losing money. On the other side of things, you can lose more bets than you win and be wildly profitable at sports betting. It all comes down to successfully finding value and pouncing on it when you see it.
Bookmaker's interest - In order to guarantee a profit for the house, a bookie needs to create even action on both sides of a particular game. In a perfect world the bookie would have 50 percent of the handle come in on the underdog and 50 percent on the favorite. This ensures that the sports books are guaranteed a profit because of the 10 percent commission or "vigorish" charged on most sports wagers. This is why there is "movement" on the point spread. If one side on a game is being bet more heavily, the bookie must move the number in order to attract interest on the other side in order to balance action.
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.
The -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.

Simply, bigger returns. On a point spread bet you would usually have to spend $105 or $110 to win $100. If you bet on the moneyline you may instead only have to spend $50, or even less, to win $100. You won't win as often, of course, because the underdog not only has to cover the spread, but it actually has to win the game outright. Upsets happen, though, and good handicapping will often isolate situations where the likelihood of an upset exceeds the risk of the bet. This is especially relevant in the NBA because the number of games, and the possibility for even the best teams to have a bad night mean that major upsets are far from rare and can be very profitable.
The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.
You may be wondering how we determined which of the two teams was the favorite and which was the underdog. You may also be wondering how much you get paid out for a bet on either side of this game. If you look at the odds above (this is a screenshot from an actual online sportsbook), you’ll see that all of that information is given to you. Before the spread number of 4 ½, you’ll see a plus or minus sign. The plus sign indicates the underdog and the minus sign indicates the favorite.

Two possibilities existed for Seahawks backers at this point – either the team would win the game by at least three points or not. There was no possibility for a push, thanks to the use of a half-point. It’s impossible to score a half-point in football, so thanks to the magic of rounding, there’s no room for a tie outcome. Those who backed the Patriots were looking at two possible outcomes, too – either New England would pull off the upset or they would lose by just a point or two. Both would turn out in a win.
"Half time/Full time" is where it is possible to bet on the result in half time as well as the final outcome of an event. For example, if at half time the score is 45-45 and the match ends 103-101, the winning outcome is Tie / Away Team (the team scoring 103). The bet is void if the regular time of the match is played in a different time format than those listed in the bet . For example, in baseball, half time is defined as the first 5 innings of a game.
In this example the Jets are listed as four-point favorites (-4) over the Bills and the 49ers are three-point underdogs (+3) against the Seahawks. So, if you bet $110 on the favored Jets, they must defeat the Bills by more than four points in order to win $100. If you bet $110 on the underdog 49ers you will win $100 if they win outright or lose by less than the three-point spread. If the final score happens to end up exactly on the number it's a tie, or 'push,' and you get your money back.
Many novice bettors fail to understand the impact of home advantage when wagering on sport events. When looking at the board for potential wagers, these bettors tend to get excited and bet on lots of superior teams favored on the road against weaker opponents. The betting market is so much more advanced than this, and for the most part point spreads are always going to be 50/50 propositions.
Now, just to point out, the fractional odds and the moneyline/American odds give us our profit. The decimal odds give us our full payout which includes the return of our original bet. You are still getting your original bet back with the moneyline/American and decimal odds, it’s just not reflected in that calculation. If you want to see your full payout (basically how much money they should hand you), simply add your original bet amount to your profit number.
The "Total Points", also known as Goals or Runs, is a 2 selection odds based on the total number of points scored in a game or event by the competitors. The "Total" is set at a specific line with outcomes listed as either Over or Under the listed amount. As with Point Spread/Handicap betting, in those circumstances where the result of the game or event Total point scored is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. “Totals” can also be set on any number of predefined occurrences (e.g. goals, points, corners, rebounds, penalty minutes, etc.).

In this baseball matchup, the St. Louis Cardinals are the moneyline favorite. For the bettor to win $100, he will need to wager $150, risking $150 to win $100. If the Patriots lose, the bettor will lose his original stake of $150. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the moneyline underdog in this matchup. A $100 dollar wager will win the bettor $140, risking $100 to win $140. Again, if the Pirates lose the bettor will lose his original stake of $100.


On the other hand, underdog moneylines can be lucrative wagering opportunities. Upsets happen more often than some of us think and moneyline betting is a great way to take advantage. For example, for a moneyline wager of +250, a bettor will only need to win about 28% of the time to break even and for a +300 wager the bettor would only need to win 25% of the time to break even. If you can spot upsets even decently well, moneyline wagers on underdogs can be profitable bets.
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.
The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.
The general purpose of spread betting is to create an active market for both sides of a binary wager, even if the outcome of an event may appear prima facie to be biased towards one side or the other. In a sporting event a strong team may be matched up against a historically weaker team; almost every game has a favorite and an underdog. If the wager is simply "Will the favorite win?", more bets are likely to be made for the favorite, possibly to such an extent that there would be very few betters willing to take the underdog.
×