The point spread bet is a bet designed to give each team an equal chance of winning a particular game. Obviously, not all teams are equal, so the sports-books have devised a mechanism to even up the teams, and that is by taking points/runs/goals off the team who is favored. The more a team is favored, the more the gambling site will take off them, enough to theoretically make the game a 50/50 chance.

Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.
When wagering against the spread, you bet on the team that will cover the betting line, and not necessarily win the game. Obviously by taking the favorite, a bettor believes that team will not only win the game, but also win the game by a certain number of points to cover the betting line. But when wagering on the underdog, that team does not necessarily have to win the game to cover the line. For examples of point spreads and how those bets are won, please keep reading below where we explain betting odds for the spread in detail.
Let’s take a quick step back and talk about what the sportsbook’s goal is with any game they are offering action on. Ideally, the sportsbook wants to take the perfect amount of action (money bet) on each side of a game so that regardless of who wins, they make money. Their profit comes from taking a small percentage off of the top as a house fee for facilitating the action.
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.
If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.

Let's use our example from earlier, but this time let's say you think that Florida will cover the -7 spread. Should you place this bet? Maybe. Yes, this is good value bet and one that you should bet, but maybe not right away. Let's say you think the public is improperly going to dump a lot of money onto Arkansas. If this happens and you wait to place your bet, the line might move in your favor. By waiting, you may be able to get Florida at -6.5 to win. This means that if you bet right away, you would only tie if they won by seven points. By waiting, you will win your bet now if Florida wins the game by seven points.


If you were correct though but getting paid at the sportsbooks rate, you would lose the bet 55.6 times (-$5560) and win the bet 44.4 times (44.4 x $250 = $11,100). You would profit over $5,000 for betting on bets that you thought you were going to lose! This is finding value. Value bets are great as a part of a long term winning strategy and are the key to conquering the “simple” moneyline/win bets.
You see, people too frequently get caught up on their win-loss rate, which actually has no real effect on their bottom line. You can win more bets than you lose and still be losing money. On the other side of things, you can lose more bets than you win and be wildly profitable at sports betting. It all comes down to successfully finding value and pouncing on it when you see it.
All point spreads are set by the pool administrator. NOTE: The administrator has the power to change the point spreads at any time up until 15 minutes before the start of the first game, so make sure you know when the administrator will make the final changes. For your own information you should also find out where the administrator is getting their point spreads.
The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you literally everything you’ve ever wanted to know about moneyline bets and then a whole lot more. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned bettor, we’ve got something here for you. We’ll walk you through the basics of what a moneyline bet is, why you would want to make one, and how to interpret the different numbers, payouts, and presentation formats you’ll see.
Something that all of our pro bettors on staff preach is that there is no reason to make anything more complicated than it needs to be. Specifically, they are referring to the awful trend of aspiring sports bettors thinking that you must make more complex bets in order to make a living betting sports. The reason we say it’s an awful trend is because this couldn’t be further from the truth.

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).
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).
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.
Now that we’ve covered a lot of the basics concerning moneyline bets, let’s talk about the fun stuff – how much you’re going to make on your next correct moneyline bet. Remember, most online sportsbooks will automatically calculate the amount you are going to make on a moneyline bet before you even make the bet. You’re able to put in the amount you want to bet, and they will tell you immediately how much you would win from a correct pick.

The key to successful betting lies in quality and not quantity. Your overall chances of winning are much greater if you pick your spots carefully, and only bet when you find real value. There isn't a huge number of NFL games each week, but there's enough that it's simply not realistic to think you can handicap them all. And if you're also betting on college games then this is even more of an issue.
In most football games there is a favorite and an underdog. Very occasionally there are games where the two team are completely evenly matched, but for the most part one team is favored over the other to win. With point spreads, the idea is to create an even money proposition when betting on the game. So the favorite has to win by at least a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful, and the underdog has to lose by no more than a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful. The bigger the gap in quality between the two teams, the bigger the point spread.
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.
"Point Spread" or "Handicap" odds are when it is possible to bet on whether the chosen outcome will be victorious once the listed handicap is added or subtracted to the game to which the bet refers to. In the circumstances where the result after the adjustment of the handicap line is exactly equal to the betting line, then all bets on this offer will be declared void. Example: a bet on -3.0 points will be declared void if the team chosen wins the match by exactly 3 goals difference. Any reference in this section to the term "margin" is intended to be understood as the outcome emerging from the subtraction of the points scored by the 2 opponents.
TheSportsGeek.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes. Sports betting and gambling laws vary by jurisdiction. We are not able to verify the legality of the information we provide, or your ability to use any sites that are linked to on this site, for every combination of your location, the sites’ location, and the type of service those sites provide. It is your responsibility to verify such matters and to know and follow your local laws.

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.
The money line bet always relates to bets of $100. A favorite will be represented by a negative money line figure such as -180. This means that in order to profit $100 off your winning bet, you would need to risk $180 dollars. But as I’m sure you already know, you can risk any amount you are comfortable with and the payment (should you win) will be in proportion to the odds. For example, a $50 bet on a -180 line would win you $27 dollars.

The key to successful betting lies in quality and not quantity. Your overall chances of winning are much greater if you pick your spots carefully, and only bet when you find real value. There isn't a huge number of NFL games each week, but there's enough that it's simply not realistic to think you can handicap them all. And if you're also betting on college games then this is even more of an issue.


Apply the spread. In point-spread betting, the actual final score of the game is only the starting point. Say Chicago beats Detroit 24-17. Because Chicago was the favorite, you subtract the point spread from its final score. That's the purpose of the minus sign in the spread. The spread was 6, so you take 6 points away from Chicago's point total, giving you an "adjusted" score of Chicago 18, Detroit 17. If you'd bet on Chicago, you'd have won the bet. Now, say Chicago won the game 20-17. Subtracting the 6 points from Chicago's total gives you a final score of Detroit 17, Chicago 14. If you'd bet on Chicago, you'd have lost.
Since betting on point spreads in the NFL is the most popular bet that people make, it is probably pretty important that you know what you are doing. The point spreads in the NFL are always alot closer then college football because you are dealing with the best of the best. You will almost never see a team favored by more then two touchdowns in the NFL, and most of the NFL point spreads are less then one touchdown. So, here is are best try at helping you understand how to read point spreads in NFL games.
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.
All relative events must be completed within the same day/session as listed in conjunction with the offer. Should this not be the case, bets placed on the offer will be fully refunded except for those offers whose outcomes were decided prior to the abandonment and could not possibly be changed regardless of future events, which will be settled according to the decided outcome.
This means that the people betting the big bucks are going to end up shifting the line considerably. A lot of times, you will see a moneyline released, and then it will quickly shift. Usually, this is a skilled big bettor taking advantage of what they think is an opportunity. Ideally, you’ll want to jump on bets before these skilled bettors get ahold of it.

Bookmaker's interest - In order to guarantee a profit for the house, a bookie needs to create even action on both sides of a particular game. In a perfect world the bookie would have 50 percent of the handle come in on the underdog and 50 percent on the favorite. This ensures that the sports books are guaranteed a profit because of the 10 percent commission or "vigorish" charged on most sports wagers. This is why there is "movement" on the point spread. If one side on a game is being bet more heavily, the bookie must move the number in order to attract interest on the other side in order to balance action.
A “Win/Place” or “Each Way” bet (aka EW) refers to a bet where the chosen selection must either win or place within the payout terms. The bet is divided in two parts,the “Win” part and the “Place” part of an equal stake or wager. Settlement of such bets will take into account the applicable rules governing the "Win" and "Place" bets, namely the Sport-specific rules as well as any applicable ‘Dead Heat Reductions’.

The way the sportsbook does this is by putting out a betting line that is based on how many points they think the better team is going to win by. This is a lot like how our older siblings would "spot us" a few points when we played each other in basketball as kids. For example, let's say that Florida Gators are playing the Arkansas Razorbacks. Let's also say that Florida is the better team and the sportsbook thinks they are going to win the game by seven points. They can't just let everyone bet evenly, or everyone would bet Florida and clean them out. Enter the point spread. The sportsbook would set the point spread on this game at -7 for Florida to win. The negative sign before the number signifies that this team is the favorite to win. This means that if you want to bet on Florida, they have to win by more than 7 points for you to win your bet.

Hopefully, by now you are an absolute expert on point spread and handicap bet types. If you're still confused on anything, take your time and reread through the examples we posted and it should slowly become clearer to you. Sometimes the math can be a bit confusing to people, so take your time. If you are ever confused with a bet, you are making online or at a casino, just ask support of the agent for help to clarify. They will be more than happy to assist you in making sure you've bet on exactly what it is that you want to bet on. Don't worry, no one will laugh at you or give you a hard time because you are confused. We all were new to this one day, and they are specifically paid to help new bettors like you understand everything and have a much better betting experience.
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.
Understand that negative odds indicate how much money your must spend to make $100. When betting on the favorite, you take less risk, and thus earn less. When betting on a favorite, the moneyline is the amount of money you need to spend to make $100 profit. In the previous example, in order to make $100 of profit betting for the Cowboys, you would need to spend $135. Like positive odds, you earn back your bet when winning.

With moneyline bets, there is no point spread to manipulate. Instead, the sportsbook will alter the payouts you’ll receive for a correct pick. The bigger the favorite, the less you’ll get paid. The bigger the underdog, the more you’ll get paid for a correct wager. This line will fluctuate as the sportsbook needs it to in order to encourage or discourage bets on either side.


If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.
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.
Sports betting is not just about being able to pick out the winner and loser of a game. Because of the various different bet types, there is a lot of different strategies that goes into how you approach them. Point spread bets are no different. One of the biggest tips we can offer is to make sure that you fully understand what you are betting on. A great pick is only great if you actually put your money behind it correctly. Thankfully, this guide should have you fully prepared for that.
Oftentimes you’ll see a point spread that has a half-point added to the number. Of course, there’s no such thing as half a point in a football game, so why do we so often see point spreads with a (.5) attached to the score? Sportsbooks do this to make sure there isn’t a chance of a push.  Let’s take another look at our game from above with the half point added.
×