What the sportsbook does to fix this is they "spot" the underdog team some points to make it fair. Obviously, these points aren't included in the actual score to determine who wins or loses the game, but they are calculated in to determine who "wins" the game in the sportsbook's eyes. If you ever played basketball as a kid against an older sibling or your dad, they would sometimes "spot" you some points to make it fairer. Let's say you were playing to 20 points, they might "spot" you 10 points to make it fairer. They would then have to score 20 points to win, but you would only have to score 10. This gives you a chance actually to win the game.
You can also bet straight winners and losers -- with no point spreads involved -- with money line wagers. When there is a minus number you bet that amount to win $100 in profit. When there is a plus number, that is your winning profit for every $100 wagered. So if the Cowboys have a money line of -250, you would have to bet $250 on them to win $100 in profit on any Dallas victory. If the Giants had a money line of +150, you would win $150 in profit with a winning $100 bet. If a money line is posted as even, you would win a $100 profit on a $100 winning bet.
This arrangement tells us a lot: which team is home (listed on bottom, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), which team is the underdog (listed with a plus sign next to their name, in this case the New England Patriots), we know which team is the favorite (listed with a minus sign next to their name, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), and we know the point spread (2.5 points).
The key here is to target the point spread five and seven, because these are virtually tied as the most common margins of victory. It's important to recognize that most betting sites are only willing to sell 2 or 3 half points for 10 cents each, after which point they start charging more. Some sites sell up to four half points at this price though.
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.
A quick word on that annoying half point in the point spread – most lines you’ll come across will use half points, but it’s not standard practice across the board. When you see a line with a full number instead of a number with a half point, your wager could end up as a push. In our example, if the line were 7 instead of 7.5 and the final difference in points was exactly 7, your wager is returned to you, and neither you nor the book makes money.
If you’d prefer to simplify things and only bet on whether a team wins or not, moneyline bets are going to be more of your style. A moneyline bet is a wager on which team wins the game. If the team you bet on wins, you win. If they lose, you lose. As we’ve stated earlier, the sportsbooks must do something to ensure they get as close to an even amount of money on both sides of a bet. With spread bets, they alter the number of points a team must win or lose by.
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.
For example, if you’re betting on teams A, B, and C to win outright, you’ll have two round robin options available. Your By 2’s option includes all possible 2-team parlays for these three wagers (A+B, B+C, and A+C). And your By 3’s option includes all possible 3-team parlays on these 3 wagers (A+B+C). If you wager $30 on the By 2’s option, that money will be split evenly among the 2-team parlays ($10 on each of the 3 wagers).
In most cases, the favorite will be the team with a negative moneyline (in some cases both teams can have a negative moneyline if they are both closely matched). A line of -160 means that you would have to bet $160 to win your base amount of $100. A team with a moneyline of -130 wouldn't be favored nearly as strongly as a team with a moneyline of -330.
All of this is exactly the same for betting on Southhampton except you use the spreads and odds payouts that are underneath their team. You can also bet on the tie in a lot of sports, especially soccer. In the above example, the spread points would be added to Southhampton for calculations. This means that if you bet +3, you would need Southhampton to lose by exactly three goals.
If the implied probability says that you have to win a bet 40% of the time to break even, and you think you’re likely to win the bet 45% of the time, then there is value in the bet. Remember, the sportsbook pays you more the less likely something is to happen. This means you’ll be getting paid as if the bet is only going to hit 40% of the time (more money), but the bet actually hits 45% of the time if you are right.
Let's take a look at a sample Asian handicap bet to make this make more sense. Some things are just better learned through getting your hands dirty. For example, imagine that you choose to bet Manchester United at (-1, -1.5). Half of your bet would be for Manchester United at -1, and a half would be at Manchester United -1.5. Let's say Manchester United wins the game by one goal. You would push on your first bet and lose on your second bet. If you bet $100 on this, you would receive $50 back for the push and lose on the other portion of your bet.
You may have noticed that we said earlier that it’s the amount of money bet on each side that is important to the sportsbook and not the number of bets. This is an important distinction to understand. If 100 people bet $10 on Team A, and then one person bets $10,000 on Team B, the line is going to shift to attract action onto Team A. Even though more people bet on Team A, more actual money came in on Team B.
We've already mentioned how moneyline wagers give you more control over the risk versus reward element of betting. There are also other reasons why you might choose this type of wager over a points spread. If you fully understand how both of these wagers work, you'll find that there are games when a moneyline wager is the right option, and games when the point spread wager is the right option. There are no definitive rules about which one you should use and when, only a general principle that you should try to follow.
There are four elements to the moneyline bet that you can see here. The first column is just an identifier of which bet is which for the sportsbook. When you place your bets, you can tell the sportsbook you want to bet on the Eagles to win or that you want to take bet 055. This number has nothing to do with the actual game and is just a code for the sportsbook to keep their bets organized.
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.