In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.
This is because different bookmakers and betting sites price up games differently. So the odds they offer are not always the same. Remember the Packers versus Cardinals game we showed earlier as an example? We used the actual odds from a real betting site for that example. The following odds were also available for the same game, from various other sites.
Without a points handicap, it would not make sense to pay both sides of a wager the same amount when it's clear that not all teams are on equal footing. In fact, it is entirely possible for a team to lose the game in real-life but still win a bet if they only lose by less than a set number of points. Vice versa, a team can win a game, but lose the wager if they do not win by more points than what was predicted.
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.
What this means is that in each contest, there is going to be a favorite and an underdog. It’s important to point out that when you look at a moneyline bet, and you see that a team is a favorite or an underdog, this is only in relation to the money that is being bet. While these numbers will usually be in line with which team is the actual favorite and underdog, it could be different. Remember, the betting lines are tweaked so that the sportsbook can get the right amount bet on each side of the contest.

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 the Cowboys are 6-point favorites, their odds are -6. If the Giants are 6-point underdogs, their odds are +6. From the oddsmakers' perspective, the Giants are starting the game with a 6-0 lead, while from the Dallas side, the Cowboys are starting with a 0-6 deficit. If you bet on the Cowboys and they win 34-30, they failed to cover the spread by two points. If you bet on the Giants, they beat the spread by two points.
Although the potential payouts look tempting - many sports bettors have dreamt of cashing in nearly $10,000 by nailing a $10, 10-teamer at 850/1 - they are a bad bet because they are difficult to hit and do not pay anywhere near true odds. This is how the sportsbooks make a lot of their money. For instance, let's say you want to bet a two-team parlay. For two games, there are four different possible combinations of outcomes, thus the true odds are 4/1. However, the sportsbook is only going to pay you 2.6/1 for your efforts, thus giving them a "juice" or vigorish in their favor. However, if you only have $20 to your name for a football bankroll and really like two games, the two-teamer might be the way to go because you could win $52 for your $20 wager.
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.
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.
So, how do you sign up for these picks? Do we need a credit card? NOPE! All of this is completely free and doesn’t require you to sign up for anything. We know that normally this level of information is charged for, but we’re fans of shaking up the game. Click the link below, and you’ll be whisked away to see all of the real-time picks our expert bettors are currently making or planning to make on upcoming games. Bookmark that page, as the picks are updated daily throughout the NBA season and post-season.
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.
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You’ll see on the right-hand side of the teams a number with an “o” or a “u” before it. As you may have already gathered, the “o” stands for over and the “u” stands for under. Even though the over is on the Celtics line and the “u” is on the Mavericks line, it does not matter. They’re written that way for organizational sake and not because either bet is connected to either team. Remember, it only matters that the total score of the game is. One team can score all of the points, and you’ll still win your bet.

Spreads are frequently, though not always, specified in half-point fractions to eliminate the possibility of a tie, known as a push. In the event of a push, the game is considered no action, and no money is won or lost. However, this is not a desirable outcome for the sports book, as they are forced to refund every bet, and although both the book and its bettors will be even, if the cost of overhead is taken into account, the book has actually lost money by taking bets on the event. Sports books are generally permitted to state "ties win" or "ties lose" to avoid the necessity of refunding every bet.


The term moneyline is actually somewhat misused in sports betting as it really just means a type of odds format. Technically, it is a way to represent the odds/payouts for a win bet, but we’re not going to split hairs. What we’d like to point out is that the odds on each participant in a sporting contest can be listed in one of three different formats.
Betting against the spread - In the sports betting industry the acronym ATS is used to label a team's record when betting against the spread. ATS records are a valuable tool in sports handicapping. A team may be playing great straight-up, winning a lot of games but at the same time they could have a dreadful ATS record because they are overvalued by the general public and the oddsmakers. And, conversely, a team could be losing a lot of games but playing in a lot of close games as underdogs and have a good ATS record going. 

The first part of each line tells you who you are betting on. The first line is a bet on Mike Tyson and the second line is a bet on Old Man River. Next, you’ll see a plus or a minus sign. The plus sign signifies the fighter who is an underdog, and the minus sign signifies the fighter who is the favorite. As you can see, Mike Tyson is the favorite and Old Man River is the underdog.
Oddsmakers do more than pick the winners and losers of each game. They weigh myriad factors to determine which team is favored by how many points. They set an early point spread on each game, then adjust it up or down based on betting patterns. If the Dallas Cowboys are 6-point favorites over the New York Giants, they must win by seven or more points to pay off winning bets. If you wagered on the Giants, you win your bet if New York either beats Dallas outright or loses by five points or fewer.
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 point spread is a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes only, it has no place in the game itself. It's designed to give both teams an equal chance at winning in the context of wagers. Think of it this way: If last season's Super Bowl champion was playing a basement-dweller team that hadn't won a game all year, that's a shoo-in bet. Of course, you're going to take the Super Bowl champs, and in all likelihood, you're going to win. What's the fun in that? Even your bragging rights would be next to nil.
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.

Within the world of betting on the NBA, there are a lot more betting options available to you than just being able to pick a winner. Most people who are new to sports betting think that your only option is to pick who is going to win or else you can’t make a bet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to online sportsbooks and innovations within the betting industry, you now have a ton of different options to choose from. These options will help you to leverage all of your predictions, whether they have a direct outcome on the winner of the game or not.
The first part of each line tells you who you are betting on. The first line is a bet on Mike Tyson and the second line is a bet on Old Man River. Next, you’ll see a plus or a minus sign. The plus sign signifies the fighter who is an underdog, and the minus sign signifies the fighter who is the favorite. As you can see, Mike Tyson is the favorite and Old Man River is the underdog.
To counteract this, the sportsbook decides by how many points they think the Mavericks will win. In this case, they think the Mavericks should win by 4 ½ points. On the same token, they think the Celtics should lose the game by 4 ½ points. 4 ½ points is known as the line or the spread. If you bet on the Mavericks with a spread bet, they have to win by MORE than 4 ½ points for you to win your bet. If they win by 5 points, you win. If they win by 20 points, you win. If they win by 4 points, you lose.
The only real downside to betting basketball point spreads is that the sportsbook charges a vig. While this is a downside, it is to be expected and is no different from placing any other sports bet. Obviously, the sportsbook has to make money somehow because they have to pay employees, pay for their servers or equipment, and pay for their customer service to keep you happy. This really isn't a negative about point spread bets, but just something that you should be aware of.

These bets are extremely popular and a lot of fun to make. They allow you to bet on teams that you want to root for, but you know they aren't going to win the game outright. It all comes down to betting on how you think the team will perform in regards to what the sportsbook thinks. If you can find teams that you think the sportsbook is undervaluing or overvaluing, you can make a lot of money by betting on your findings.
If you are betting on a sport where there are multiple entrants, like in a race or tournament, you may find that every entrant is paying out at favorite odds. This is because it’s much more challenging to pick a winner from a large field, and the sportsbook will be rewarding you for that. Just know that when you see the plus sign, you will be getting paid better than even money for a correct pick.
It is a very good idea to shop around to find the best line when you are betting on sports. Books may offer slightly different lines, and you might be able to gain a point or half a point in your favor on certain markets. Consider an NBA game between the Heat and the Lakers – one firm has the Heat 9.5 point favorites and another have the Heat as 8.5 point favorites. You back the Heat with the second firm and they win by exactly nine points. Here you’ve gone from a loss to a win simply by shopping around, and in the long run this will make a big difference to your bottom line.
The first number (56.5 in our sample line) is the book’s predicted total score, while the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is how much a punter has to bet in order to win $100. If you were to bet the over-under on this game, you’ll have to decide whether you think the combined score of both teams will be higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you bet the over, assuming the game will be a shootout between two talented offenses, you’re hoping that the final score will be anything that totals 57 or more. It could be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination that adds up to 57 or more and your bet will win. Betting the under means that the two teams cannot score more than 56 points combined, or else you lose your bet.
Having set the point spread, this is the point where the gambling public can influence the line. You might have noticed that a line five days before a game might look very different to the line an hour before the kickoff. Barring some major line-up changes due to injuries or suspensions, the line will most likely be moved by weight of money. If the majority of money is coming in on one side of the point spread, the book will move the line to make the bet a little less attractive, which will help them level the book up somewhat.
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.
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).

It's inevitable in sports and basketball that in each game one team is going to be better than the other. Betting would be a little pointless if you were able to make the exact same wager on each team. Everyone would just always bet the better team, and the sportsbook would quickly be out of money and have to close up shop. What point spread bets attempt to do is even the playing field and offer bets with the same risk level on both sides of the coin. They effectively aim to create a 50/50 even playing field.
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.
You may be wondering how we determined which of the two teams was the favorite and which was the underdog. You may also be wondering how much you get paid out for a bet on either side of this game. If you look at the odds above (this is a screenshot from an actual online sportsbook), you’ll see that all of that information is given to you. Before the spread number of 4 ½, you’ll see a plus or minus sign. The plus sign indicates the underdog and the minus sign indicates the favorite.

Linemakers who work for the sportsbooks must put out lines that will entice the "favorite" bettors to lay the points and take the favorite or entice the underdog bettors to take the points with the underdog. Because each sportsbook is operated under their own rules, guidelines and stipulations, they are free to put out whatever line they feel is competitive and charge whatever vig they want to based on how much action that specific line is taking.


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.
With NFL odds the over/under can vary but usually it’s somewhere between 35 and 47 points. Let’s say in the Colts and Bengals game that the total is posted at 37.5. If Indy scores 27 and Cincy gets 13 points, the total would be at 40 and the over would win. But if the Colts rack up 35, and they shut out the Bengals, the total of 35 would be under.
It is a very good idea to shop around to find the best line when you are betting on sports. Books may offer slightly different lines, and you might be able to gain a point or half a point in your favor on certain markets. Consider an NBA game between the Heat and the Lakers – one firm has the Heat 9.5 point favorites and another have the Heat as 8.5 point favorites. You back the Heat with the second firm and they win by exactly nine points. Here you’ve gone from a loss to a win simply by shopping around, and in the long run this will make a big difference to your bottom line.

This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.
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.

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.


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).
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.
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.
When betting the point spread, there is almost always a winner and a loser. However, in some instances sportsbook decide to put out a whole number such as -3 for bettors to bet on. If the final score ends with a differential of three points - no matter who wins - the bet is considered a "push" and all money is refunded to both sides since neither team covered the spread.
Especially in major tournaments, some sports books offer odds on unusual golf propositions, such as the over/under on the winning score, the over/under on the lowest round by any golfer or the over/under on the finishing position by a particular golfer. For example, the over/under on Woods' finishing position may be 3 1/2. If he finishes first, second or third in the tournament, the "under" wins; if he finishes fourth or worse, the "over" tickets cash.
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