Additionally, we’ll discuss line movement, how the casino profits (important for you to understand), and moneyline betting strategies that can help you crush the books. These strategies will range from basic to advanced, so even the most seasoned of sports bettors should expect to get some value from this. Feel free to skip to a specific section if you came here for specific information. If you’re newer or it’s been a while since you’ve bet, we highly recommend reading this guide from top to bottom, as the sections will build on knowledge from previous sections.
The number-one key to success here (as it is with any type of sports bet) is understanding what value is and knowing when and how to take advantage of it. Value, in a nutshell, is finding sports bets that are paying you at a better rate than you think they should. If you place enough of these bets to overcome variance, you’re going to be a long-term winner.
If you place wagers on US sports, then chances are high that you've heard of point spreads. Here's how they work; if a game has Patriots -9.0 and Vikings +9.0, the Patriots are 9.0 point favorites and the Vikings are 9.0 point underdogs. Unless otherwise stated, no matter which team you bet on, you'll be required to risk $1.10 for each $1.00 you want to win. For Patriots bettors to prevail, they need their team to win by 10 or more points. A 9-point Patriot victory would be a push (a tie). For Vikings bettors to take home the victory, they need to either win the game or lose by less than 9 points.
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.
Money line bets are on offer on all major sports. In the NFL, baseball, the NBA and the NHL, the money line traditionally goes alongside the point spread bets – in many cases being the least popular, especially in football and basketball. In many sports there is no point spread, motor sport being a good example, so in a sport like this, the money line is the only way to bet on the outright winner. Sports with small margins of victory are also popular money line wagers – soccer being an example, where point spreads are possible, but because of the lack of goals, the money line wager is preferable (the same can apply to baseball and hockey – although puck lines and run lines are a way for the gambler to enjoy point spread betting in these).
Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.