This is four different games you can bet on, right? Wrong. These are several different handicap bets that you can make on a single game of soccer. Each of the individual rectangles is the same as the point spread bets we talked about earlier. For example, the first rectangle is betting on Liverpool at -3, getting paid 6 to 1. This means that if you take this bet you need Liverpool to win by four or more goals and you will get paid 6 to 1, or $600 for every $100 you wager.

That’s easy to understand because of the payouts. If a team is heavily favored, that means they’re perceived as having a better chance of winning. If that’s the case, then you would win less money betting on them. The opposite is true for the underdog: they’re deemed as having a smaller chance of winning, which means you would get a bigger payout if you bet on them (and they won).
One important assumption is that to be credited with a win, either team only needs to win by the minimum of the rules of the game, without regard to the margin of victory. This implies that teams in a winning position will not necessarily try to extend their margin—and more importantly, each team is only playing to win rather than to beat the point spread. This assumption does not necessarily hold in all situations. For example, at the end of a season, the total points scored by a team can affect future events such as playoff seeding and positioning for the amateur draft, and teams may "run up" the score in such situations. In virtually all sports, players and other on-field contributors are forbidden from being involved in sports betting and thus have no incentive to consider the point spread during play; any attempt to manipulate the outcome of a game for gambling purposes would be considered match fixing, and the penalty is typically a lifetime banishment from the sport, such is the lack of tolerance for gambling in sport.
At a site that offers a free play bonus, you'd bet $100 free play on the Grizzlies at +210. At another site, where you have a cash balance, you bet $150 cash on the Celtics at -240. If the Grizzlies won, you'd win $210 cash from your free play but lose your $150 cash. That's a profit of $60. If the Celtics won, you'd win $62.51 from your cash bet and lose only your free play credit. That's a profit of $62.51
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.
In the UK and some other European countries the profit from spread betting is free from tax. The UK and some other European countries tax authorities designate financial spread betting as gambling and not investing, meaning it is free from capital gains tax and stamp tax, despite the fact that its regulated as a financial product by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. Most traders are also not liable for income tax unless they rely solely on their profits from financial spread betting to support themselves. The popularity of financial spread betting in the UK and some other European countries, compared to trading other speculative financial instruments such as CFDs and futures is partly due to this tax advantage. However, this also means any losses cannot be offset against future earnings for tax calculations.
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.

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.
We mentioned we would touch on the -3500 bet in this section. If you calculate the implied probability of -3500, you see that it is 97.2%. This means that the bet will have to hit 97.2% of the time for you to break even. Now, if you think that the bet is actually 100%, then it might be a smart bet to make. You’re still going to have to put up a lot of money to see any real sort of profit, which might not be desirable based on your personal preferences.

Betting against the spread or ATS, as it's known in the sports betting industry, is among the toughest bets to turn a profit in over the long run. When looking at a team's record, the only thing that matters to them is winning the game outright and moving up in the regular-season standings. Teams like Golden State or the New England Patriots are generally always among the best teams in the league (straight up) but are typically a bad bet to make ATS. The reason for this is because the better the team is, the more public attention they draw and the higher the point spread is. Sportsbook know which teams the public darlings are and as such inflate the spreads in order to take advantage of how overvalued the public makes them. A team like the Patriots could go 14-2 every season but they could be a dismal 7-9 or 6-10 against the spread because they are laying more than 10 points in every game.
This should hopefully make perfect sense to you. Successful betting, on any sport, is all about finding value, so you should always look to get the best value that you can. If a moneyline wager offers the best value on a football game, then that's the wager you should be placing. If a point spread seems the best option, then go down that route. There may even be occasions where it's viable to place both wagers on the same game.
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.
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.
In sports like football and basketball, the moneyline is considered as the secondary option next to point spreads. Points spreads are the way that most people get their action in on basketball betting and football betting because the payouts are near doubling your money and it’s a fun way to handicap the game. Betting the moneyline in those sports is less popular because you might have some big mismatches and then it becomes too challenging to have faith in the underdog winning outright or too costly to bet the favorite.
Point spreads focus on a margin of victory between the two teams and again, what you’re looking for is the positive and negative signs. If there is a minus sign next to a team’s spread, that suggest that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points. For example: let’s say that the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots are -5.5 and the Bills are therefore +5.5. If you bet the Patriots, they have to win by six points or more to cover. If you bet the Bills, they can lose by five points or less, or they can win the game outright and you would still win your bet.
Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.
Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
Some professional or seasoned bettors only use the point spread bets and are wildly successful. Their success comes from making correct picks, not from overcomplicating the situation. We're going to walk you through the basics, and the mechanics of a basketball point spread bet, discuss the popularity and benefits, and offer some tips and strategies to help get you moving in the right direction towards profitability with these bet types.

But what if the basement-dweller team was spotted 24 points? That's the concept behind the point spread. When two teams meet on the football field or a basketball court, one team is typically better than the other. If all bettors had to do was to pick the winning team, everybody would simply wager on the best team and collect their money. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks, and bookies would soon go broke. 

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.
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.
Conversely, in most other countries financial spread betting income is considered taxable. For example, the Australian Tax Office issued a decision in March 2010 saying "Yes, the gains from financial spread betting are assessable income under section 6-5 or section 15-15 of the ITAA 1997".[6] Similarly, any losses on the spread betting contracts are deductible. This has resulted in a much lower interest in financial spread betting in those countries.
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As an example, let’s consider a matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. In our scenario, the Bengals are the home team, which means they will be listed last and the Colts, as the visitors, will be on the odds slip first. If Indy’s rotation number is 101, then Cincy’s rotation mark would be 102. When you place a bet live at a Vegas sportsbook or over the phone, you would say the number of the team on which you want to wager and not the name.


As we mentioned in the close of the last section, sportsbooks try their best to get the same amount of total money bet on both sides of a game. If they can accomplish this, then they are guaranteed to make a profit no matter who wins or loses the game. The way a sportsbook goes about doing this is by manipulating the point spread to make the less bet side more enticing.
If you’d prefer to simplify things and only bet on whether a team wins or not, moneyline bets are going to be more of your style. A moneyline bet is a wager on which team wins the game. If the team you bet on wins, you win. If they lose, you lose. As we’ve stated earlier, the sportsbooks must do something to ensure they get as close to an even amount of money on both sides of a bet. With spread bets, they alter the number of points a team must win or lose by.
A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. Spread betting has been a major growth market in the UK in recent years, with the number of gamblers heading towards one million.[1] Financial spread betting (see below) can carry a high level of risk if there is no "stop".[2] In the UK, spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority rather than the Gambling Commission.[3]
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