If you’re betting in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, though, you’re going to have to figure this information out yourself. The book will print on your ticket how much you stand to win, but they aren’t going to let you come up and ask a million times what the payout is going to be. You’ll need to calculate it yourself (or head online to place your bets).
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 Patriots are set to take on the Rams in the greatest show on turf and money has been flowing into both sides of the Super Bowl 53 point spread. The Patriots are -3 for SB LIII according to most legal online sportsbooks but some have them listed only at -2.5. The Rams and Patriots are both offensive minded, and capable of scoring quickly; therefore, the winner will likely be whoever scores last in the game (-180). There is still no discussion of whether the roof will be open or closed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, so weather may or may not play a factor here. Either way, make sure to get in your bet on the spread for Super Bowl 53, whether you choose the Patriots or Rams, before the 6:30 EST kickoff on Sunday, February 3rd.
The first thing you’ll notice with moneyline odds is that there is either a positive or negative sign in front of the number. What that sign denotes is how much you’ll win betting on each side. If there’s a positive sign next to the odds, that indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet $100. If the odds on a tennis player said +150, that means that for a $100 bet, you would win $150. Now if there is a minus sign in front of the odds, that is the number that you would have to bet in order to win $100. For example, if a football team was -250, that means you’d have to bet $250 to win $100.
The odds given on the spread are usually -110 unless otherwise noted. It is not uncommon to see one side of the spread being -105, with the other side being -115. If you don’t see any odds listed for each side of NFL spreads you are supposed to assume the odds are -110 on each. Not sure how to read NFL betting odds? Check out our Sports Betting Odds guide.
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.
We need to figure out how much profit we will get per dollar we are going to bet and then multiply that by how many dollars we are going to bet. If we divide the moneyline number by 100, it will tell us how much profit we will get for every $1 we bet. So, 145/100 = $1.45. For every $1 we wager, we will get paid $1.45 in profit for a correct prediction.
A wager on the Giants on the spread does not mean that New York has to win the game in order for you to win cash. All the G-Men have to do is come within 8 points of the ‘boys, and you’re a winner. You determine a winning or losing point spread by adding or subtracting 7.5 from the final score, depending on which side you laid your bet. If you’re confident that New York will at least come within a touchdown of beating the Cowboys, or beating them outright, then you’d wager on the spread in favor of New York.
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.

To help get you started, we’ve broken down the most popular and the need to know NBA bet types below. Make sure you take the time to read through each of these and figure out how they might play a role in your betting strategy. Remember, you are not required to use all of these bets. Many professional NBA sports bettors will only use one or two bet types and still crush the books. They prefer to keep things simple and work with what works for them. We suggest you do the same.
Because the Blue Jays are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on baseball favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($185 based on -185) in order to win $100. On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on the Orioles. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $165 (+165) on Baltimore.

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).
Piggybacking on the simplicity of moneyline bets is the ease with which you can properly assess value. Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t say “Easy to Find Value,” and that is because it’s never easy to find value in sports betting. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it for a living. What it says, though, is that it is easier to find value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.

Betting on the point spread is completely different from betting on teams to win a game outright. Known as "betting on the moneyline", instead of using points to handicap each side of the wager, the sportsbook will use greater payouts versus the amount risked to reflect their relative perceptions; teams not expected to win (underdogs) pay more, sometimes exponentially, than when betting on the favorite to win when wagering on moneylines.
We go in depth on this in the advanced guide on understanding value that we referenced earlier, but we will give you a brief intro on it here. If you’re able to calculate the percentage chance that you have to win in order to break even, and you can figure out the percentage chance that you think you’re going to win the bet, you can figure out very quickly if there is value.
For those of you who are looking to better your bettor abilities when it comes to the NBA, this is where you want to be. We’ve picked the brains of all of our experts and compiled the tips and strategies they say work the best for beating the books betting on the NBA. While just reading these strategies is not going to make you an expert, it will put you on the right road to becoming one.

If you bet on sporting events, you must be able to read odds and understand what they mean. Furthermore, you need to quickly calculate the potential winnings for different bets, especially if the odds are changing while the event unfolds. Odds tell you the likelihood that an event will occur (a team wins, a boxer makes it a certain round) and how much will be paid out if you win. There are, however, multiple ways to convey this information.
"Winning Margin" (aka Result Betting) is where it is possible to bet on the final result of a game or event and select the correct ‘band’ of points between the winning team and losing team. For example, if you think the Patriots will win, but the game will be close, pick the New England Patriots 1-6 Points Winning Margin (where the Patriots winning by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 points results in a winning selection).
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.

The last types of bets that you should be aware of when betting on the NBA are proposition bets. A prop bet is a wager in which you bet on whether or not something is going to happen in a particular game. For example, will a certain player make more than four 3-pointers in a game? Which team will score first? Which team will win the opening tip-off? Will a certain team shoot over X % from the field? All of these are examples of prop bets that you can make on a particular NBA game.
If you like favorites, you're going to be betting a lot to win a little. The money line will always be listed to the right of the point spread on the odds board in a sports book. In the above example, the money line would probably be Chicago -250 and Detroit +200. To bet Chicago simply to win, you must wager $250 to win $100, while a $100 bet on Detroit would pay $200 if the Lions come through.
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.
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