For those of you that are smart, you know that this is probably the most valuable section of this entire guide. We’ve decided to give you free access to our expert team of NBA bettors and all of their game picks. You’ll get to see exactly who they’re betting on, what odds they’re taking the bets at, and any other information they deem pertinent. Not only that, but these picks will be written in a blog-style format which means you’ll get a full breakdown of why they are choosing the teams and bets they are. This will allow you to get inside the minds of the experts and start to learn and be able to mimic their winning habits.
A point spread (or line) is a tool used by sportsbooks to attract wagers on both sides of a game. The line is most commonly used in football and basketball games. Because it’s rare for two teams in a pro sports game to be completely evenly-matched, one team will have an advantage, another will be seen as the underdog. The point spread is the handicap offered to the underdog to level the playing field, so to speak.
This is the format that terrifies people the most. We can promise you that fractions aren’t as scary as they seem if they’re explained properly. Here is the easiest way to calculate your profits and payouts with fractional odds. Solve the fraction and then multiply that number by your bet size to get your potential profit. If you can’t remember how to solve fractions, it’s ok. Don’t look at it as a “fraction” but more as a division problem. 13/20 is the same as 13 divided by 20. 29/20 is the same as 29 divided by 20.
For each NFL game the oddsmakers set a number of points in which the favored team is favored by. Bettors can then either choose for the favored team to win by more than the number of points set, or bet on the underdogs to lose by less than the number of points they are underdogs by or win the game straight up. For example, the spread could be set on the favored team at 6.5 points. This would mean in order for a bet on the favored team on the spread to win they would need to win by more than 6.5 points (7 or more) in order to win the bet. It also means that a bet on the underdog team would win if the underdogs lost by less than 6.5 points (6 or less) or won the game outright.
We went into detail earlier about what causes moneylines to move. The better you can get about predicting when these movements will occur and in what direction, the more profitable you’re going to be as a sports bettor. If you find a bet that you like, but you predict it’s going to move more in your favor, you can intelligently wait to bet and lock up a potentially much more profitable opportunity.
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.
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.
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.
The point spread is essentially a handicap towards the underdog. The wager becomes "Will the favorite win by more than the point spread?" The point spread can be moved to any level to create an equal number of participants on each side of the wager. This allows a bookmaker to act as a market maker by accepting wagers on both sides of the spread. The bookmaker charges a commission, or vigorish, and acts as the counterparty for each participant. As long as the total amount wagered on each side is roughly equal, the bookmaker is unconcerned with the actual outcome; profits instead come from the commissions.
A Parlay is a wager which combines several legs in a wager where the winnings from each selection roll onto the next. For a Parlay to be successful, all individual legs in the Parlay need to be winning selections. In the event of a tie in one of your selections in a parlay, the parlay is reduced to the next lowest number of teams. For example, if you have a 4 team parlay and one of the selections is a tie (only on 2 way markets), the leg would be considered a "push". In this instance, the 4 team parlay would then become a 3 team parlay and would be settled at reduced odds to reflect a winning 3 team parlay.
It is a pretty simple concept once you get the hang of it, and you will also start to see profitable opportunities in football and hoops where wagering on the moneyline makes more sense than betting the point spread. If you really like an 8-point underdog in the NFL and think they will win, you can take the 8 points and hope they cover the spread. Or you can check out the moneyline option where they might be +280 and make more money betting them to win ($280) than on the point spread ($100).
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.
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.
For example, let’s say you’re thinking about betting on something that is -3500. You are almost 100% sure that you’re going to win this bet. If you bet $100 on this bet, you’re going to see a profit of $2.86. Again, this might be worth it to you. An almost 3% return on a sure thing might be something that you’re interested in. However, if you’re looking to make any meaningful profit, you’re going to have to risk a lot of money. To win $100, you’re going to have to risk $3500.
The last format we want to look at is fractional odds. Personally, we aren’t a huge fan of fractional odds because they’re the most challenging to work with. The formula is almost the same as with decimal odds, but it gives your profit instead of total money returned. It also requires you to solve a fraction, which may be a nightmare for a lot of people. Regardless, we are going to walk you through how to do it with the same bet we’ve been working with.
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.
In our earlier example, the sportsbook would be devastated if 100% of the action came in on the Falcons. The book is not looking to gamble; they are looking for a sure thing. So, to try and entice more people to bet on the Bear Cubs and discourage people from betting on the Falcons, they will alter the payouts. They will make the amount you win for correctly selecting the Bear Cubs much larger and the amount that you win for correctly selecting the Falcons much smaller.
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.
For example, in a cricket match a sports spread betting firm may list the spread of a team’s predicted runs at 340 – 350. The gambler can elect to ‘buy’ at 350 if they think the team will score more than 350 runs in total, or sell at 340 if they think the team will score less than 340. If the gambler elects to buy at 350 and the team scores 400 runs in total, the gambler will have won 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake. But if the team only scores 300 runs then the gambler will have lost 50 unit points multiplied by their initial stake.
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.
The last type of handicap bet that we want to talk about is an Asian handicap bet. Don't worry, you don't have to be Asian to place this bet; it's open to everyone. This form of handicap bet is set up through the use of whole, and half number point spreads to ensure that no draws are possible. The difference between Asian handicap bets and no draw handicap bets is that the Asian handicap bets have the possibility of what is called a split handicap outcome. Your bet will have a whole number and a half number line that are treated effectively as two separate bets, but all in the same bet.
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:
As you can see, the public seems to think that Florida is going to win this game by more than seven points. If the game started now, the sportsbook would stand to lose a lot of money if Florida did in fact win by more than seven points. They would stand to make a lot of money if Florida lost or won by less than seven points. Regardless of how the sportsbook thinks the game will go, they are not in the business of gambling. They want to guarantee profit as often as they can.
This used to be impossible or extremely time-consuming when only land based sportsbooks and casinos existed. You would have to drive hundreds of miles if you wanted to get to another casino and then hope they still had the different line. This would cost you travel money as well as time. Online sportsbooks make this extremely easy now. You can check several sportsbooks lines on a game within a matter of seconds or minutes. It doesn't cost you any additional money, just a few minutes of your time and can have a huge impact on the outcome of your bets.
If you are betting on a sport where there are multiple entrants, like in a race or tournament, you may find that every entrant is paying out at favorite odds. This is because it’s much more challenging to pick a winner from a large field, and the sportsbook will be rewarding you for that. Just know that when you see the plus sign, you will be getting paid better than even money for a correct pick.
Absolutely. When the lines go up for the NFL, or for the first game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there are several days in between the open and the game itself where movement can take place. You’ll find that the betting public tends to pile in on their favorite teams once they get home from work on Friday. You can anticipate these line movements and time your bet accordingly to take advantage.
Let's use this formula to calculate the implied probability of the Celtics winning their game against the Grizzlies. We know the odds are -240, which means we'd have to risk $240 for a total potential return of $340 (the initial stake plus the $100 winnings). So the calculation here is $240 divided by $340. This gives us an implied probability of 0.7059.
On the other hand, betting which team is going to score first is a bit of a crapshoot. Sure, you could try and predict who has the better chance of winning the opening toss, but even then it’s going to be a bit of a gamble to predict which team scores first. If you’re betting on this bet, you’ll only be guessing, and therefore have no way to exert an edge over your competition.
--Fractional odds are most commonly found in racing. A 10/1 payout should be read "$10 paid for every $1 wagered." When the bigger number is on the left, you will find that bet is normally an underdog in the race. Also note, however, that in case such as "Who will win the Super Bowl in the NFL?" you will see all the teams listed as "underdogs"… i.e. paying at least 2/1 (some up to 300/1 or more).
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.
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.
The reason why you will typically see a (-110) line next to a point spread is simple. This is the commision in which the sportsbooks charge for you to place your wager. This is how the casino makes their money. Think of it as a commission. You make a bet, they charge 10% for you to do so. Bookmakers call this “Vigorous or Vig” it’s also known as the “Joice”
On a moneyline bet of -300, you’ll need to win your bet 75% of the time just to break even. When your odds jump even higher to -400, you’ll need to win your bet 80% of the time to show a profit. You are risking a lot to win very little and even though a large favorite will win most of the time, when they do lose, you will find yourself out a lot of money. I try to stay away from large favorite moneylines, because the amount risked is very high and the payoff is low.
An over-under bet in basketball is a wager on whether the total score for the game from both teams will be above or below a certain threshold. This is a great bet to utilize when you think that a game will be defense heavy and both teams will be shooting cold, or when you think that it’s going to be a barn burner with both teams shooting lights out.
Easily the most popular type of betting for NFL football is “spread” betting or more commonly known as betting against the spread. Bettors who are new to NFL betting or betting in general may be a little confused with NFL spread betting, but it is pretty easy to understand once it is explained to you. We will explain what betting against the spread means below.
Is that each game will have a favorite and an underdog. Even in contests where it’s a toss-up, the sportsbook will select someone as the favorite and the underdog for betting purposes. Depending on how big of a favorite or underdog the team or player is, the payout will be adjusted. The bigger the favorite, the smaller the payout. The bigger the underdog, the larger the payout.
It is important to note the difference between spreads in sports wagering in the U.S. and sports spread betting in the UK. In the U.S. betting on the spread is effectively still a fixed risk bet on a line offered by the bookmaker with a known return if the gambler correctly bets with either the underdog or the favourite on the line offered and a known loss if the gambler incorrectly bets on the line. In the UK betting above or below the spread does not have a known final profits or loss, with these figures determined by the number of unit points the level of the final outcome ends up being either above or below the spread, multiplied by the stake chosen by the gambler.