Like many high scoring sports, NFL wagering is dictated by the point spread. The spread, or line, is a type of side bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager. The line offered for any given team will be accompanied with a – or + symbol to indicate whether a team is a favorite or an underdog. The example below displays the spread from the Sports Insights archives at the time of kickoff:
As you can see above, the combined score for Superbowl XLV was 56, and since this line was offered at reduced juice, a wager on the over at 44.5 of only $105 would yield a profit of $100. This line closed at a high of 46 points at some books, demonstrating how the public, who tend to show a proclivity for high scoring games, can increase an O/U line.

In this instance, the Dodgers are the favored team, as signified by the negative numeral. It would cost you $130 in order to collect a $100 payout on a Dodgers victory (plus the original wager of $130). But if you bet $100 on the Cubs, you'd collect $120 if they win (plus the original wager). In other words, you'll have to wager more money on Los Angeles than you would Chicago in order collect $100 on a bet.
In today's world, online shopping is all the rave. Sites like eBay and Amazon have taken the world by storm and people do whatever they can to avoid setting foot in a retail store. Unfortunately, there will be times where you receive your order and it's completely wrong or it looks nothing like you saw in the picture. Thankfully, you have the ability to get your money back and try again. To put that situation into sports betting context, let's talk about baseball. Baseball offers a unique bet called "listed pitchers" where your bet only goes live if the listed pitchers start the game. If not, just like Amazon, you will get a refund. Read More >>
There are very few (if any)people in this world that have the ability to predict the future. I'm thinking maybe some of the prophets who lived hundreds of years ago and maybe the person who writes for The Simpsons since they seem to get every world event nearly spot on. Sports bettors like to think they are in that class which is why sportsbooks give bettors the option to place a Future Bet. A future bet is a bet that is made well in advance of the culmination of any sporting season or world event that is set to occur - think Super Bowl and thePresidential Election. Read More >>

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.


Often big games will have "proposition" bets on things not directly related to the final score of the game. These are usually abbreviated to "prop" bets. For example, in football whether or not the first score will be a touchdown. In baseball whether a run will be scored in the first inning. In hockey/soccer, whether anybody will score a hat trick. The odds on these are expressed like point spread bets. For example, as I write this the Golden Nugget has the following proposition bet on Super Bowl 49:
A listed odd with a – sign in front of it, such as the -140 in our example above, shows us how much money you would need to wager in order to win $100. So using the -140, this would show us that you would need to bet $140 in order to win $100 in profits. You can easily substitute the $100 bet for a $10 bet by moving the decimal place over one spot, showing us that you would need to wager $14 in order to win $10 in profits.

There is no such thing as a half point in sports, but there is in sports betting!  The half point ensures that a side will win and that the match will not end in a push, where the spread equals the actual difference in points between the two teams.  In a push all bettors get their money back, which is no good for the oddsmaker!  Half points also give oddsmakers more control over lines, allowing them to set more specific values.
If you bet on sporting events, you must be able to read odds and understand what they mean. Furthermore, you need to quickly calculate the potential winnings for different bets, especially if the odds are changing while the event unfolds. Odds tell you the likelihood that an event will occur (a team wins, a boxer makes it a certain round) and how much will be paid out if you win. There are, however, multiple ways to convey this information.
All this means to someone betting on New England is that in order for them to win their wager the Patriots must win by more than four points. For another bettor placing his money on Seattle, the Seahawks must either win the game outright or lose by less than four points. If the outcome of the game were to be decided by exactly four points, it what result in what is called a “push” where both bettors would neither win or lose their wager.
Sportsbooks also offer wagering on the total or Over/Under – the cumulative number of points scored by both teams in a game. You can bet on if the final score will go either Over or Under that set total. For example, in a game pitting Team A vs. Team B, the total is 48. A wager on Over wins if the total points scored exceeds 48, and a wager on Under wins if the total points scored falls below 48. If the total lands on 48, it’s a push and wagers are refunded.
Odds for different outcomes in single bet are presented either in European format (decimal odds), UK format (fractional odds), or American format (moneyline odds). European format (decimal odds) are used in continental Europe, Canada, and Australia. They are the ratio of the full payout to the stake, in a decimal format. Decimal odds of 2.00 are an even bet. UK format (fractional odds) are used by British bookmakers. They are the ratio of the amount won to the stake - the solidus "/" is pronounced "to" for example 7/1 "seven to one". Fractional odds of 1/1 are an even bet. US format odds are the amount won on a 100 stake when positive and the stake needed to win 100 when negative. US odds of 100 are an even bet.
In this example, we have a favorite to win, and an underdog. The Packers are the favorites, and that is shown by the (–) value in front of the 6. Underdogs are represented by the (+) value.  The 6 point value is how many points either team could win, or lose by. If you think the Packers will win by MORE than 6 points, then you’d bet on the favorite in this case, meaning that the Packers have to win by 7 or more points in order for you to win your bet.

When you see a moneyline value associated with the point spread, it is the percentage amount you must pay in order to book the bet. Also known as the juice or vig, if you see -11.5 (-115), it means you have to bet $115 to win $100 — a 15 percent commission for the sportsbook. The underdog may see a value such as +11.5 (+105), which means you’ll have to bet $100 to win $105 if your team successfully covers the spread.
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