Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned NFL spread? Not only does the point spread remain the king when it comes to wagering on pro football, it is a favorite among pro sports bettors and beginners alike. Also known as the line or spread and as betting “sides,” a common misconception is that sportsbooks set the spread as a predicted margin of victory. It’s actually the number oddsmakers predict would be a good balance between people who want to bet the underdog and those who want to bet the favorite.


Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.
This might be the most unlikely playoff matchup in NFL history. Why? Houston started the season 0-3 and Indianapolis began 1-5. Texans coach Bill O’Brien is probably fired if his team doesn’t win 37-34 in overtime at Indy in Week 4. The Colts won 24-21 in Houston in Week 14. The Texans claimed the AFC South title with Sunday’s 20-3 win over Jacksonville to reach the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons. The Texans have won at least one postseason game in three of their four all-time trips.
Sometimes the decimal point is left out, so 120 is the same as 1.20. If you want to bet on the favored team, the White Sox, you have to bet $1.20 for every $1 you want to win. If you want to bet on the underdog Astros, you have to bet $1 for every $1.10 you want to win. This is known as the dime line, because ten cents separate the favorite from the underdog. Most bookies offer a dime line, although it can increase to a 20 cent line or greater if one team is heavily favored.
“Permitted Class III Gaming. The Tribe may conduct, only on Indian Lands, subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, any or all forms of Class III Gaming” (emphasis added). The agreement between the state government and Tribal governments seemingly grants the tribes, subject to the compact, extensive authority to authorize Class III gaming at their facilities.

If you're seeing 15 or 25 instead of 15/1 or 25/1, you're seeing a decimal form of odds, as opposed to fractional. Multiplying your stake by decimal odds gives your total return, not your profit(which is total return -stake). To get to fractional from decimal, add 1. So 3/1 fractional = 4 decimal (just 4). 4/6 frac = (4/6+1) dec = 10/6 = 5/3, or 1.666, which is rounded to 1.67 by bookies. To go from decimal to fractional, subtract 1(which makes sense from profit = total return - stake) So 15 dec = 14/1 frac. 2.33... dec = 1.33/1, or 133/100.
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.
In a national poll released in December 2011, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind asked voters whether they “support or oppose changing the federal law to allow sports betting” in their respective states. Just as many voters approved (42%) as opposed (42%) allowing sports betting. However, voters who already live in households where family members (including themselves) engage in sports betting had a strongly favored legalization of sports betting (71%-23%), while voters in households where sports betting is not an activity, opposed legalization (46%-36%). Peter J. Woolley, professor of political science and director of the poll commented on the findings, “Gambling has become, for good or ill, a national industry, and you can bet that politicians and casinos all over the country are closely following New Jersey’s plans.”[8]
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.
Pools, cards, and parlays - A parlay is just a combination bet. Instead of making five separate bets on five different games, the bettor places a single parlay bet, hoping he or she can predict the outcome of all five games. If any one of the games is a loser, the entire parlay is a loser. The payout is better for parlays, because the odds of successfully picking multiple winners are much tougher to beat [ref]. Most people are familiar with parlays through office betting pools or football cards. If you've ever paid $5 to select your winners from a list of that week's football games (sometimes using the spread, sometimes using the straight scores) in hopes of winning the weekly prize, then you have made an informal parlay bet. Office pools don't usually involve actual bookies beyond the person who organizes the pool, and no one takes juice from the pool. All the money is distributed to the winner or winners.
Bookmakers use odds to even out the bets, getting gamblers to wager on both sides of the line by leveling the playing field. Although there is overall parity in the NFL, there are teams that are haves and others that are have-nots. Indianapolis is still superior to Cincinnati but when they play each other the bookies have to get about half of the bettors to put cash on the Bengals. This covers the sportsbooks ensuring they’ll make a decent amount of cash on just about every game.
Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
There’s only one DFS style game in Las Vegas casinos today. US Fantasy Sports can be found in about 14 casinos and it continues to grow. In this type of football betting, you wager on which player will rank 1st, 2nd or 3rd from a pool of players in specific positions. The wagering style is similar to horse racing where you can wager on win, place, and show. You can also make exacta and trifecta wagers. There’s also an option to place a $1 wager and pick winners from all pools to win $1,000,000.
The simplest way to think about a moneyline is to consider a base bet of $100. A moneyline is a number larger than 100, and it is either positive or negative. A line with a positive number means that the team is the underdog. If the line, for example, was +160 then you would make a profit of $160 if you were to bet $100. Obviously, then, the team is a bigger underdog the bigger the number is - a +260 team is perceived to be less likely to win than a +160 team.

Some people refer to sportsbooks as a sanctuary; a place they can go where they do their best thinking and enjoy the games and atmosphere. Some people refer to them as utter chaos and other than placing their bets at one, do everything in their power to get out before the games actually start. Whether you are one side of the fence, or the other, as long as the sportsbooks have your money tied up with them, they have you right where they want you. Sportsbooks are here to stay, so I suggest getting used to all the chaos. Read More >>


There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
For example, if you want to bet that -140 favorite, you’ll need to risk $140 in order to win $100. To bet on the +120 underdog we mentioned above, you’ll need to bet $100 to win $120 if the dog wins outright. In many cases, betting moneylines offers better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk. Check out our NFL Betting Guide to learn more about when you should bet a moneyline instead of a point spread.
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