The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.
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Betting on the point spread is completely different from betting on teams to win a game outright. Known as "betting on the moneyline", instead of using points to handicap each side of the wager, the sportsbook will use greater payouts versus the amount risked to reflect their relative perceptions; teams not expected to win (underdogs) pay more, sometimes exponentially, than when betting on the favorite to win when wagering on moneylines.
The line opened two weeks ago with the Los Angeles Rams favored by one point. It took about an hour for the line to swing to the New England Patriots. It settled at Patriots as 2.5-point favorites for most of the past two weeks at sportsbooks tracked by OddsShark. Bovada and William Hill both offered a field goal, although William Hill came down to 2.5 over the weekend.
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.
The money came in heavily on the Patriots for the 11 days following the conference championship games. Over the weekend, we started to see money come in on the Rams, but it was mostly on the moneyline. The Patriots are closing as -127 or -137 favorites at most sportsbooks (bet $127 or $137 to win $100), with Bovada going up to -140. Las Vegas online sportsbooks are setting at -135, although MGM Mirage is up at -145. The Rams are between +115 and +120 underdogs (bet $100 to win $115 or $120), although again at MGM Mirage, you can get them higher at +125.
With the over/under or total, bets are being made on what the total score may be. In our example which features two solid defenses and good offenses, the total might be around 41. If OSU scores 24 and Wisconsin 20, the total would be 44 or over the 41. If the Buckeyes scored 21 and the Badgers 14, then the total would be 35 so the under would win. Once again sometimes, if the total is a whole number, the result may be a push. That results in all bets simply being returned.
This arrangement tells us a lot: which team is home (listed on bottom, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), which team is the underdog (listed with a plus sign next to their name, in this case the New England Patriots), we know which team is the favorite (listed with a minus sign next to their name, in this case the Seattle Seahawks), and we know the point spread (2.5 points).
No. The point spread is not a prediction of the final score, but rather is created to generate an equal amount of betting on both sides. In a perfect world, a sportsbook will get the same amount of money bet on the Rams to cover as they get on the Patriots to cover. If there is an even amount of money bet on both sides, the house is guaranteed to profit because of the juice (more on that below) placed on bets.
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