Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
Have you ever heard of moneyline betting? It's an American term that's traditionally associated with betting on the major US sports. These wagers are available in other parts of the world too, but they're typically referred to as win bets. The same principle applies though. When you correctly select which team will win a match, you'll get paid out at the relevant odds.
Point spread lines can be tricky in the fact that they can help shape our views of a game just by looking at them. You may have no opinion of a game until you look at a point spread and then your brain immediately starts looking for evidence to back up the line. This can cause you to build your view of a game off of what the sportsbook thinks and not what you think. The best advice here is to have an idea of what you think the line is before you look at the sportsbook's lines. This will protect you from being influenced by what they came up with and help you to spot bad lines.
As we did with the underdogs, we need to figure out how much we will profit for each $1 that we wager. For underdogs, we divided the moneyline number by 100. For favorites, it is the exact opposite. We will take 100 and divide it by the money line number. So, for this example, we will take 100 and divide by 155 and get about $0.645 or about $0.65 in profit for every dollar that we bet.
For those who are just starting to place sports wagers online, moneylines can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. They differ from point spreads, which are more concerned with the winner and by how much they win. With moneylines, the winning bet will be based on who wins and that is it. These types of bets are usually placed when betting on low-scoring games such as hockey or baseball, but they can also be an option with boxing and some mixed martial arts. The key to understanding moneyline betting is learning how to read the lines. Bettors will usually see a + and a – amount after the listed teams. The – indicates the favoured team. Let’s say there is a moneyline of +120 and -130. The -130 is the favoured team and will cost $130 in bets to collect $100 on a win. If punters choose to bet the underdog at +120, they will bet $100 and will win $120. Basically, one will have to wager more on the favoured team to come out ahead.
When unforeseen events occur such as weather, power outages, or any other unanticipated event once the game has started, many people wonder how that will affect the wager. If an event has not started, all wagers should have no action and be refunded. But if the event has started and is interrupted and not completed it gets a little more complicated. The following will examine the special rules for each sport and give you a better idea of what to expect should the event not be completed on the same night. Always check with your book to know any special rules that may apply but according to the letter of the law: the following is how each event should be interpreted.
Earlier, we explained how the implied probability of -240 is 70.59% and how the implied probability of +210 is 32.36%. Notice these two probabilities total 102.95%. The extra 2.95% is the bookmaker's advantage. It's called vig, and it's basically a commission that they charge customers for placing wagers. By removing the vig, you can see what the fair odds on the game would be.
There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
The first number (56.5 in our sample line) is the book’s predicted total score, while the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is how much a punter has to bet in order to win $100. If you were to bet the over-under on this game, you’ll have to decide whether you think the combined score of both teams will be higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you bet the over, assuming the game will be a shootout between two talented offenses, you’re hoping that the final score will be anything that totals 57 or more. It could be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination that adds up to 57 or more and your bet will win. Betting the under means that the two teams cannot score more than 56 points combined, or else you lose your bet.
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.
They do this by manipulating the lines to entice action where they need it. If they have too much action coming in on one team, they will adjust the lines to pay out less for that team to deter more bets. At the same time, they will adjust the line for the other team to pay out more to entice more action on that side. This dance continues until the game starts to try and get the correct amount of money on each side of the contest.
The team that has the minus sign, which is the favorite, has points deducted from its final score, while the dog, with the plus sign, has points added. The favorite must beat the spread, which means they have to win by more than the negative number to pay off. The underdog pays off in two instances—if they win outright or if they lose by less than the spread.
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.
This arrangement tells us a lot: which team is home (listed on bottom, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), which team is the underdog (listed with a plus sign next to their name, in this case the New England Patriots), we know which team is the favorite (listed with a minus sign next to their name, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), and we know the point spread (2.5 points).
Armed with the knowledge of how to remove vig, it's now possible to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes that the majority of bettors make. Most bettors understand the importance of line shopping (i.e. comparing the lines and odds at different bookmakers and betting sites). However, if they fail to also understand how moneylines and vig work, then they're probably going to make wagers where they think there's positive expected value (+EV), even though there's not.
Typically, if you’ve made a bet on sports in the past amongst friends or at the casino, you probably made a moneyline bet, and you didn’t even know it. “I bet you $10 the Broncos are going to win tonight.” That’s a moneyline bet. You may also hear the bet referred to as a to-win bet in some circles, but just know that they are referring to the same type of bet.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
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.
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.
For example, imagine a game where the odds were -550 for the favorite and +450 for the underdog. A bettor shopping around for lines might be delighted to see the same favorite offered at -490 and enthusiastically back the team at those odds simply because those are the best odds available. However, if we removed the vig from -550 and +450, we'd see that the fair odds are actually -466 and +466. So, placing a wager at odds of -490 doesn't actually offer any value.
Only bet games where you have a clear prediction on a team covering the spread. Look for lines that you think are incorrect and put your money there. The idea here is to be making intelligent picks that you actually believe will win. If you're betting every game, you're just gambling and no longer letting your skill and knowledge base shine through.
Point spread and handicap betting are one of the most popular forms of sports bets that you can place. The reason we say "one" of the most popular forms instead of "two" is that these bets are effectively the same thing. These bets are a lot of fun because they allow you to root for teams that you still think are going to lose. With point spread and handicap bets, the team you're betting on can lose the game, and you can still win your bet. In contrast, the team you are betting on can win the game, and you can still lose your bet. Now that we've thoroughly confused you let's build up your knowledge, so you're an expert on the bet type. This is like sports betting boot camp; we confuse you and break you down and then build you back up as a betting machine!
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.
To show how this can be exploited, take a point spread of -8.5 at odds of -110. This is a 50/50 proposition. Let's assume you've purchased enough points to move the spread to -6.5 at odds of -150. Now, you'd win instead of lose 6.24% of the time they win by 8, and 6.59% of the time they win by 7. Add these together with the 50% from the original proposition, and we get 62.83%.
The point spread - also called "the line" or "the spread" - is used as a margin to handicap the favorite team. For betting purposes, the oddsmaker predicts that the favored team will win by a certain number of points. This number of points is the point spread. The favorite is always indicated by a minus sign (e.g. -5.5) and the underdog by a plus sign (e.g.+5.5). If you bet on the favorite, you win your bet if the favorite wins AND their margin of victory is greater than the point spread. If you bet on the underdog, you win if the underdog wins, ties, or if the favored team wins but fails to exceed the point spread. It is standard for point spread bets in most sports that you wager $110 to win $100.
Had you initially bet $100 on the Mavericks, you would walk away with a profit of $90.91. Now, if you bet on the Mavericks, you will see a profit of only $76.92. On the other side of the bet, an earlier bet on the Magic would have paid you $105. Now that same $100 bet will get you $125 if the Magic win the game. Ideally, this will entice more people to bet on the Magic and the action on the Mavericks to slow down.
Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.
Moneylines have a tendency to move quite a bit in both directions leading up to a game, match, or fight. It’s a delicate dance that you’re going to have to master if you want to find value and push your edges to the max. Sports betting is a profit source that is all about small edges. Finding and being able to capitalize on these small edges is the key to being profitable long-term.
Used in high-scoring sports like NFL and NBA, the point spread is a handicap that is placed on the favorite team in terms of points for betting purposes. If 10 points favor the Broncos over the Seahawks the point spread is 10. The Broncos must win the game by 11 or more points for you to win your wager. If you’ve made your bet on the Seahawks, you’ll win your bet if your team wins the game or losses by nine points or less. If the Broncos manage to win by exactly 10 points then the bet will be a tie.
For UK spread betting firms, any final outcome that finishes in the middle of the spread will result in profits from both sides of the book as both buyers and sellers will have ended up making unit point losses. So in the example above, if the cricket team ended up scoring 345 runs both buyers at 350 and sellers at 340 would have ended up with losses of five unit points multiplied by their stake.