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.
How the point spread works - When two teams meet on the playing field or on the basketball court, one team is typically better than the other or in a more favorable position because of factors like playing at home. If all you had to do were pick the winning team in a game, everybody would simply wager on the best team or the home team in a even matchup and bypass all the lines and collect their winnings at a high rate.
Let's look at a different option. We bet the Cowboys +3, and the final score is Chargers 21, Cowboys 19. Even though the Cowboys lost the game, we still win our bet because they lost by less than three points. How much are we going to get paid on this bet? Well, we look in the parenthesis and see we will get paid at -120. This means that for every $100 we bet, we will get paid $83.33 in profit.
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.
This is called line shopping and is an integral part of sports betting, especially with moneyline bets. Most good sports bettors will have accounts on lots of different sportsbooks so they can check the lines on every bet they are making. Whichever book has the best lines for them is where they’re going to place their bet. To be honest, with how easy it is to shop lines online, the only reason you wouldn’t is if you were too lazy and didn’t care enough about your bottom line.
--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).
One of the biggest mistakes that bettors make is trying to make a judgement on every single game that's taking place. This is especially true of those who only focus on the NFL. There aren't that many games each week, and bettors think they stand the best chance of making money if they can predict the outcomes in all of them. This is not an approach we recommend.
Let’s say you decide to bet $100 on the Packers to win by more 7 points and the final score is Packers 30, Seahawks 21. The Packers have won by 9 points, meaning they’ve covered the spread, and you’ve won the bet. The -110 means that your $100 bet will win you a total of $190. That total includes your original bet amount, so your total profit is $90.