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.
In general, the betting public tends to gravitate towards favorites when betting the games regardless of the actual pointspread. This is especially true with high-profile teams such as Dallas and Green Bay in the NFL and Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA. The sportsbooks are well aware of this phenomenon and often times they will adjust the betting spreads accordingly. This, in turn, actually adds some value to the underdog when you consider that a pointspread is nothing more than a handicapping tool that is designed to even out the match.
Betting against the spread or ATS, as it's known in the sports betting industry, is among the toughest bets to turn a profit in over the long run. When looking at a team's record, the only thing that matters to them is winning the game outright and moving up in the regular-season standings. Teams like Golden State or the New England Patriots are generally always among the best teams in the league (straight up) but are typically a bad bet to make ATS. The reason for this is because the better the team is, the more public attention they draw and the higher the point spread is. Sportsbook know which teams the public darlings are and as such inflate the spreads in order to take advantage of how overvalued the public makes them. A team like the Patriots could go 14-2 every season but they could be a dismal 7-9 or 6-10 against the spread because they are laying more than 10 points in every game.
Anybody who wagers on the 49ers would need them to win by 7 points or more for a winning bet. Those betting on the Rams (+6.5) would need them to lose by 6 points or less (or win) for a winning wager. It's also worth mentioning that a half point is used in many point spreads (such as the -6.5/+6.5) to prevent pushes because no team can score half a point.
Just like the minus and plus values on the point spread, those values designate underdogs and favorites in moneyline betting. In this case, Toronto is favored at -185 (bet $185 to win $100), and Baltimore is listed as the underdog at +165 (bet $100 to win $165). In explaining the concept of moneyline betting further, it might help to view the number 100 sitting between the favorite and underdog values: +165 +100 -185
The optimal situation for bookmakers is to set odds that will attract an equal amount of money on both sides, thus limiting their exposure to any one particular result. To further explain, consider two people make a bet on each side of a game without a bookmaker. Each risks $110, meaning there is $220 to be won. The winner of that bet will receive all $220. However, if he had made that $110 bet through a bookmaker he would have only won $100 because of the vig. In a perfect world if all bookmaker action was balanced, they would be guaranteed a nice profit because of the vig.
When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.
The second way is “eyeballing it.” If two teams play 10 times, how many times do you think a certain team is going to win? If you say they are going to win 6 times, then you think they are going to win 60% (6/10) times. Looking at it as a series of multiple games makes it a lot simpler for you to grasp and predict. Then, you just convert that number to a percentage and compare it with the implied probabilities offered at the sportsbooks. If there is value, go for it.
Without losing you with the math, the implied probability (or how often you should win) of a +250 bet is 28.6%. This means that you should win this bet 28.6 out of 100 times. This is what the sportsbook thinks will happen. You, however, think it should be +125. The implied probability of that is 44.4% meaning that you think you should win the bet about 44.4 out of 100 times.
Let’s say that a ton of bets pour in on the Mavericks. In order to encourage more bets on the Celtics and even things out, they might move the line to 5 ½. This means that a bet on the Mavericks would now win only if they won by more than 5 ½ points instead of 4 ½. This would discourage more people from betting on the Mavericks, as they would have to perform much better to get you the victory.
Remember earlier when we said that most point spread bets in basketball pay out at -110? Well, this is where the vig is located. Sportsbooks will work to get equal amounts of money on both sides of a game and make their money off of the vig. If they are successful in doing so, it does not matter to them who wins the game. For example, let's look at our earlier example. Here are what the odds would look like at the sportsbook:
If you wager $100 cash on odds of +100, you are staking $100 cash to win $100 cash. Your total potential return is $200, which is your initial stake plus your winnings. If you wager $100 free play on +100, however, your total potential return is just the $100 winnings. Whether you win or lose, your free play is used up. Obviously, free play bonuses aren't worth as much as cash bonuses, so that means it's up to you to squeeze as much value out of them as possible.
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
"Grand Salami" is where you bet on the total number of listed occurrences, such as total goals or run, Happening during a collection of events. All relative events must be completed for bets to stand except for the outcomes of which have been decided prior to the abandonment and could not possibly be changed regardless of future events, which will be settled according to the decided outcome.
Now Arkansas can lose by up to eight points, and you can still win a bet on Arkansas. As the Arkansas line gets more appealing, more people will start to bet that side. The sportsbook will continue to manipulate the line this way up until game time to try and get the bets as even as possible. While they won't be perfect about it, they can usually get it close enough in most situations. It's also important to note that the line will sometimes shift by half points and it's also capable of shifting back in the other direction if too much money comes in on the other side.
For example, imagine a game where the odds were -550 for the favorite and +450 for the underdog. A bettor shopping around for lines might be delighted to see the same favorite offered at -490 and enthusiastically back the team at those odds simply because those are the best odds available. However, if we removed the vig from -550 and +450, we'd see that the fair odds are actually -466 and +466. So, placing a wager at odds of -490 doesn't actually offer any value.
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.
While we're going to cover this extensively in the moneyline section of the Basketball Betting Guide, we'll touch briefly on what the -110 means here. -110 refers to the moneyline payout for a particular bet. If you were to bet $100 on a basketball point spread paying -110 and win, you would be paid out a profit of $90.90. The easy way to figure out the amount you will get paid with minus moneyline odds is to divide your bet size by the absolute value of the betting odds and multiply that number by 100.
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.
For beginners, the moneyline bet on an underdog is a great choice as it will allow bettors to win 50% of the bets and still earn a profit. Each of these bets have benefits and drawbacks. With moneylines, punter shave the appeal of betting on a winning side. This is a great choice for die-hard fans. Many people find it more appealing to bet on a winner of a game instead of betting on the end score of the game. Spread betting does offer some nice benefits. They are simple yes or no bets. Either the team covers the spread or they don’t. However, moneyline bets typically offer the chance to win more than is bet, so these are often the choice for many bettors online.
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.
A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. Spread betting has been a major growth market in the UK in recent years, with the number of gamblers heading towards one million. Financial spread betting (see below) can carry a high level of risk if there is no "stop". In the UK, spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority rather than the Gambling Commission.