The most common way to bet football is against the pointspread (ATS), often called a side bet. This involves making a wager on either the favorite or the underdog. For example, Team A is a 7-point favorite (-7) against Team B, making Team B a 7-point underdog (+7). If you bet on Team A, it must win by more than seven points for you to win your bet. Conversely, if you bet on Team B, it must lose by less than seven points for you to win your bet. Of course, if Team B wins outright, you also win your bet. If Team A wins by exactly seven points, your bet pushes and your wager is refunded.

Sometimes with NFL odds you’ll see a spread posted as a whole number. Decimals or fractions are usually utilized to ensure there won’t be a tie. If in our example the spread was reset to 10 with the Colts favored and they win by 10, then the game is considered to be a tie, which in betting terms is called a push. If there is a push all bets are off and the sportsbooks return all wagers back to the bettors.


For example, the Golden State money line above is listed at -340 odds. Using the same principles we just discussed, $340 needs to be bet in order to win $100. Again, this is just the bet to winnings ratio - $34 will win $10, $17 will win $5, $20 will win $5.88, etc. This may seem unfair at first but it is logical. The Warriors are by far the best team in the league and have a much better chance of winning the game. Therefore, sportsbooks even this out by placing the odds at a high price for bettors to win a little.

Financial spread betting is a way to speculate on financial markets in the same way as trading a number of derivatives. In particular, the financial derivative Contract for difference (CFD) mirrors the spread bet in many ways. In fact, a number of financial derivative trading companies offer both financial spread bets and CFDs in parallel using the same trading platform.


Total: Also called the over/under, it is a number set by the sportsbooks that proposes a number of points that will be scored in the game by both teams combined. Then, fans predict whether there will be more points or less points than the ‘total.’ If you bet the under 41.5, you are hoping for a tough defensive battle with lots of running game. Pick the over, and presumably you feel this will be a high-scoring game. In short, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than (over) or less than (under) the total.
×