Let’s start with the basics: what do sports bettors mean when they talk about a ‘line?’ The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, can refer to either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s take a look at an imaginary line the way you’d read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports betting lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s imagine a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s NFL betting line might look something like this:
For example, a negative value (-11.5) next to a team indicates that they are favored by that many points. So you must deduct 11.5 points from their score to determine if they won the game or not. On the other hand, a positive value on the same game (+11.5) means the underdog starts with an 11.5-point lead before the game even begins. In NFL betting, the favorite must win by 12 points or more to cover the NFL spread. The underdog is able to lose by 11 points and still cover the spread.
Once you understand how the NFL point spread works, you can make smarter choices when it comes to your NFL picks. The most important takeaway: It’s not you against the bookie. Think of NFL spread betting in terms of a marketplace, where customers tend to overvalue some teams and undervalue others. Figure out which teams those are, and you’ll find where the profit margin is.
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).

Edit My Bet. The ‘edit bet’ feature can be used by gamblers to ‘unsettle straight accumulators’ before matches have started or whilst they are in-play. The feature can also be used for to swap single bets for new bets, and the gambler is given a new bet selection valued at the bookie's cash out price to reflect live market/game odds for the original bet.[1]
Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
A point spread (or line) is a tool used by sportsbooks to attract wagers on both sides of a game. The line is most commonly used in football and basketball games. Because it’s rare for two teams in a pro sports game to be completely evenly-matched, one team will have an advantage, another will be seen as the underdog. The point spread is the handicap offered to the underdog to level the playing field, so to speak.
Teasers are similar to parlays except the point spread on each game moves a certain number of points in the player's favor. In football the player gets 6 to 7 points, and in basketball, 4 to 5 points. The player pays for this in the form of much lower winnings. For example, if the Vikings were part of a 6-point teaser, then they would only need to win by more than 4 points to cover. If the Rams were part of a teaser, they could win, or lose by less than 16, and cover.
Spread betting are wagers that are made against the spread. The spread, or line, is a number assigned by the bookmakers which handicaps one team and favors another when two teams play each other and one is perceived as being more likely to win. The favorite "takes" points from the final score and the underdog "gives" points. This number can also be in increments of half-a-point (.5) even though very few sports have .5 point scoring (i.e., The Ryder Cup)
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.

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).


Once the Southeastern Conference gets going on Labor Day weekend, people can bet on the outcome of each game. Or they can make proposition bets on who wins the coin toss, which team will score first and whether the first points will come from a touchdown or a field goal. With proposition bets, fans don’t have to wait until the end of the game to win or lose.
While most football fans have seen a point spread before, not everyone understands how they work. There’s a common misconception that the oddsmakers are trying to outsmart their customers by posting the spread and getting people to bet on the wrong side. At the same time, many bettors think that their goal is to “beat the bookie.” This is false; as mentioned, the sportsbook is incentivized to keep the action on either team as balanced as possible, in order to limit exposure.

Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
This is where you simply wager on which team will win the game outright, no point spreads, no BS…just the straight up winner. Although this may appear to be easier, you will pay for it as the odds (payout) will reflect the lack of a point spread. If you wager on a favorite, then you will win less than with a point spread, but if you wager on the underdog…and win…you will receive and even greater win amount based on the higher risk taken.
When reading college football odds, the first thing you will see on the left is the time and date of the game. Next, you’ll see two numbers and the team names. Each team is assigned a rotation number. These numbers are standard on all sportsbooks and do a few things. First, it creates a certain order for the games as each matchup is listed in numerical order. The other thing the number does is it allows bettors to refer to the game and team without having to mention the team name or anything else.

If you aspire to become an avid bettor and are serious about learning the trade, the first thing I recommend doing is to come up with several angles and legitimate reasons why betting on a specific team is going to make you money. I understand that angles and reasoning can only take you so far before what happens on the court or field is out of your control but playing the angles is a key part of sports betting that isn't going away any time soon. One of the better angles I look to play is a bet called the First Half Bet. Read More >>


For example, in NFL wagering you’ll have a pool of 12-14 quarterbacks, running backs, etc. and you can choose who will have the most fantasy points, 2nd most fantasy points, 3rd most fantasy points. Each player starts the week with certain odds that change as money wagered on different players. Your payout is based on the closing odds like parimutuel horse wagering.
One of the first rules of gambling is that nothing is ever certain. There's one thing that's almost certain though; you will make mistakes as a beginner. This is nothing to worry about, and in fact making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. That doesn't mean you need to make unnecessary ones though. There are a few mistakes that are routinely made by beginners, and it pays to be aware of these.

Remember that betting on NFL games with an online sportsbook or offline is not legal in all jurisdictions. So if you are planning on using FootballLOCKS.com's NFL selections to gamble on various NFL games, such as betting the NFL Super Bowl spread with an online NFL sportsbook, it might be wise to check if NFL gambling is legal in your specific jurisdiction.
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