As you can see, understanding the -110 in sports betting is pretty basic once you realize what it represents. You can also apply this knowledge to other odds as well, such as the money line. This kind of bet is different because you are betting who will win the game straight-up, which causes the odds to be different for each game (instead of -110 for everything).
So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.
Before I go on, let me clarify some terminology. Despite it being probably the most popular way to bet, there is no particular term for a bet against the spread. Many people call this a "straight bet." However, this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money line bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. For purposes of this page, I call such bets a "point spread" bet, and invite the rest of the world to adopt this terminology.
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.
I’ve titled this Sports Betting For Dummies. It’s a tutorial for those who want to start betting on sports or those who want to gain a better understanding of some of the terminology and theory behind it. We’ve all been in the position of learning something new, so please don’t be embarrassed if you don’t grasp these concepts. Instead, contact me via the form at the bottom of this page, and I’ll help you in any way I can.
Point Spread: The point spread remains the favorite way to wager on pro football, regardless of how many new forms of wagering come on stream. It’s called the line or spread and it’s known as betting ‘sides.’ The common misconception is that Las Vegas sets the spread as its best guess at the margin of victory. But really, it's a number they feel that is a perfect balance and will see an equal number of people to bet the underdog as on the favorite. A negative value like -6.5 means that team is favored by 6.5 points. So deduct 6.5 points from their total score. A positive value on the same game would be +6.5 (add 6.5 points to their final score) and would make that team an underdog of 6.5 points. The favorite must win by at least seven points to cover the spread. The underdog can lose by six points and still cover.
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