If you are able to interpret NFL odds and know what the various terms mean, such as the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under, you’ll have a basic understanding on what you are betting. Prior to wagering make sure you see our NFL odds page, which carries all the latest odds from the top online sportsbooks. Remember that the odds makers are attempting to even the out the bets on each game. The sports bettor has to analyze each game and the odds and make their bets accordingly in order to win cash.
If you bet on the point spread, you’ll often see -110 placed next to each betting option. That means that you have to bet $110 to win $100. The $10 difference is effectively a fee you are paying to place the bet. It can be referred to as the juice or the vig (short for vigorish, which originates from the Russian word for winnings). If there is an even amount of money bet on both sides of the line, the juice guarantees a profit for the house.
In a different study released by FDU’s PublicMind in October 2011, results showed that New Jersey voters thought legalizing sports betting in New Jersey was a good idea. Half of New Jersey voters (52%) said that they approved the idea of legalizing sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, 31% opposed it. In addition, there was a significant gender split: a majority of men approved of the idea by a wide margin (65-21), while only 39% of women approved and 41% opposed.[9] The October results were stable, reflecting an earlier poll in April 2011 where New Jersey voters approved the legalization of sports betting in the state by a margin of 53%-30%. However, nearly two-thirds (66%) of voters were not aware of the upcoming statewide referendum on the issue. Age proved to be a divide: voters between the ages 18 and 34 were more likely to approve of sports betting than were older voters. Dr. Woolley commented: "But... younger voters... are far less likely to vote than other voters... As always, a lot depends on who actually shows up to vote."[10]
The concept of betting on totals, or Over/Under (O/U), is quite simplistic. The bettor wagers on whether the TOTAL points scored in a game will fall over or under a pre-determined number set by the sportsbook. Much like the point spread, game totals can be swayed by public opinion. The example below, from the SI Archive, shows the opening totals line for Superbowl XLV:

The point spread, which is sometimes referred to as the “handicap”, is the number of points taken from the favorite, or given to the underdog, in order to open up the chances of either team winning the wager evenly. In most games, there’s usually a team that is more likely to win, based on a number of statistical factors. If the only kind of wager available was on who would win between a very strong team and a poor team, it wouldn’t be all that exciting. The point spread was designed to make betting much more interesting, since it allows a bet on the losing team to win you money. How? Let’s break down an example:
What may look like a jumble of words, numbers, and punctuation is actually a precise and easy-to-read breakdown of the various odds and point spread details your book is offering. Here is a breakdown of each unit of information given above. Once you understand each part of the jumbled details above, you’ll be able to read a sports betting line with confidence.
For the purposes of a halftime bet, the game essentially restarts at 0 to 0. According to the halftime spread, the Arizona Cardinals are expected to be outscored by the St. Louis Rams by 3 points throughout the entire 2nd half. A halftime bet of $110 dollars on the Arizona Cardinals would lead to a profit of $100, because, not only did the Cardinals beat the spread, they won the game outright. These bets are taken during halftime, leaving a small window for the bets to be placed. You can track halftime odds easily using our Sportsbook Insider live odds software.

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.


Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.
As already mentioned, there have been sports bets since the first sports events. There is evidence that bets were placed on the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece. The bet was placed on the winner of a race or the winner in wrestling. The more matches there were to the games, the more bets there were. The Romans made bets on almost everything that was possible. Among them also the bloody gladiator fights and chariot races. From the very beginning, fraud and manipulation were a means of winning a competition. The Roman Emperor Nero even bribed so much at the Olympic Games in his own country that he won in six different disciplines. One of them was the car race and that although he fell off the car, which normally leads to disqualification. The Olympic Games were then discontinued, but not the sports betting. In the last century there was again a time when sport, especially boxing and horse racing, fell into the hands of criminal gangs. The image of sports betting had to suffer a lot from this bad influence, also because Hollywood used the topic as the basis for many films, as a result of which perception in society drifted further into the negative.
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)

A quick word on that annoying half point in the point spread – most lines you’ll come across will use half points, but it’s not standard practice across the board. When you see a line with a full number instead of a number with a half point, your wager could end up as a push. In our example, if the line were 7 instead of 7.5 and the final difference in points was exactly 7, your wager is returned to you, and neither you nor the book makes money.
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.

When wagering against the spread, you bet on the team that will cover the betting line, and not necessarily win the game. Obviously by taking the favorite, a bettor believes that team will not only win the game, but also win the game by a certain number of points to cover the betting line. But when wagering on the underdog, that team does not necessarily have to win the game to cover the line. For examples of point spreads and how those bets are won, please keep reading below where we explain betting odds for the spread in detail.


To win $100 dollars wagering on the New York Giants one must lay $600. Whereas, a $100 bet on the Dallas Cowboys earns a profit of $450. Due to the high risk and low reward presented by betting on the NY Giants, bettors may choose to fade, or go against them, and place a smaller wager on the Cowboys. The Cowboys did indeed win this Week 10 shocker at the New Meadowlands by a score of 33-20.
The 3-digit numbers to the far right are the listed prices for these bets.  This is also called the odds, vig, or juice.  An easy way to think of it is the amount you must risk to win $100 on this wager.  In our example, -110 means you must risk $110 if you want to win $100.  -110 is pretty standard, but you will find different options.  We will cover those in more depth when we talk about money lines.  The price of the bet has no impact on which team is favored.  Only the plus or minus on the point spread matters.  This is handled differently when you bet strictly on the moneyline.
The rule against gambling in baseball is known as "Rule 21," which is publicly posted on dugout walls and states: "Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever on any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible." People permanently banned from Major League Baseball are also forever banned from entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, although most such people have been reinstated a few years later by a later Commissioner of Baseball. For instance, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were both banned from baseball in 1983 after taking jobs as casino greeters (which would have expelled them from the Hall of Fame had it been allowed to stand); they were reinstated two years later. Only Rose has yet to be reinstated.
The majority of bets on any sport are usually on the final outcome of the particular contest. However, for sports like the NFL and NBA, there are 1st quarter and 1st half lines offered as well. The quarter spread is used to determine who will be the winner at the end of the 1st quarter. The same is true for a 1st half line, only the wager ends when the first two quarters are completed. Generally, the 1st half spread will be close to half of the overall spread on the game.

Each week we see the volatility in the pro football point spread market with opening spreads often but not always moving and closing at a different number. In general the movements are caused by the weight of money on one side or the other however injury rumors or confirmation of an injury to a key player, unrest in a particular NFL team's management or any number of other reasons can contribute to a point spread line being reassessed and changed by the sportsbooks. The question is often asked then, is it better to place your NFL point spread wager early on the opening lines or wait until the hour or two before kick off? There are certainly pros and cons for both which are discussed further in The Football Lines .com's When to Place Your NFL Bet article however ultimately there isn't a definitive right or wrong answer as varying NFL betting situations can require a different and flexible approach.

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:
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.
One important assumption is that to be credited with a win, either team only needs to win by the minimum of the rules of the game, without regard to the margin of victory. This implies that teams in a winning position will not necessarily try to extend their margin—and more importantly, each team is only playing to win rather than to beat the point spread. This assumption does not necessarily hold in all situations. For example, at the end of a season, the total points scored by a team can affect future events such as playoff seeding and positioning for the amateur draft, and teams may "run up" the score in such situations. In virtually all sports, players and other on-field contributors are forbidden from being involved in sports betting and thus have no incentive to consider the point spread during play; any attempt to manipulate the outcome of a game for gambling purposes would be considered match fixing, and the penalty is typically a lifetime banishment from the sport, such is the lack of tolerance for gambling in sport.
There are also half bets, which are a wager placed on the odds posted for the first half or second half of a football game only.  All halftime wagers are calculated the same as a straight wager.  Another type of bet is a parlay which is a selection of 2 or more teams.  All teams wagered on in a parlay must win. If there is a tie on any bet you would be paid out on the next payoff.  For example, if you had a 5 team parlay and two teams tied, you would then be paid on a three team parlay if all the other teams won.  Another type of football bet is called a teaser, which is a selection of two or more teams in one wager in which the point spread is adjusted in your favor. The number of football teams selected and the number of points selected determines the odds for payout.
NFL moneyline betting continues to gain popularity as many begin to understand the value of moneyline bets, especially in betting the underdogs. In this type of bet, there is no spread to beat, your team needs only to win the game “straight up” (SU), and there is no requirement for how many points they need to win by. The juice is the only number you really have to pay attention to with moneyline, where the negative value indicates the favorite (-140) and a positive one means underdog (+120).
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