When you bet on the money line, you are betting on one side to simply win. Any time you see a money line, the minus sign (-) indicates the favorite while the plus sign (+) indicates the underdog. For example: Chicago Bears –240 vs. Minnesota Vikings +210. Using $100 as the base, it will take $240 wagered on the Chicago Bears to win $100. For a bettor wagering on the underdog Minnesota Vikings in this scenario, $100 will win $210. With the money line you just have to hope your team wins rather than cover a point spread. Of course, the one downside is having to risk more money to return the same amount that a point spread bet would net you.
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.
When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.
Several factors influence a point spread. It starts with power rankings. The media creates power rankings throughout the year, but those can be entirely subjective based more on feelings and emotions than actual raw data. An oddsmaker creates power rankings based on a host of statistics, some more complex than others. The rankings will include record, strength of schedule, and various offensive, defensive, and special teams metrics. They might use Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics, they might use expected points added, or they might use a host of other internal and external options. The idea being to develop as objective an assessment as possible as to how good or bad a given team is compared to the rest of the NFL.
A parlay basically combines several different wagers into one. For example, a parlay could be made up of five point spread wagers on five separate games. The payout for such a wager could be very attractive, but only if ALL the wagers were correct. Just one wrong pick would mean the whole wager failing. That's why these are considered quite risky. They're a bit more complex than the previous wagers mentioned, but we won't go into any more detail here. We do on the following page though.
What this spread means is that, for the purposes of wagering, the Chargers will have 3.5 points deducted from their final score. For a bet on them to be successful, they would therefore have to win by four points or more. The Colts, on the other hand, will have 3.5 points added to their final score. A bet on them would be successful if they won the game, or lost by 3 points or less.
Many novice bettors fail to understand the impact of home advantage when wagering on sport events. When looking at the board for potential wagers, these bettors tend to get excited and bet on lots of superior teams favored on the road against weaker opponents. The betting market is so much more advanced than this, and for the most part point spreads are always going to be 50/50 propositions.
But what if the basement-dweller team was spotted 24 points? That's the concept behind the point spread. When two teams meet on the football field or a basketball court, one team is typically better than the other. If all bettors had to do was to pick the winning team, everybody would simply wager on the best team and collect their money. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks, and bookies would soon go broke. 
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Total: Also called the over/under, it is a number set by the sportsbooks that proposes a number of points that will be scored in the game by both teams combined. Then, fans predict whether there will be more points or less points than the ‘total.’ If you bet the under 41.5, you are hoping for a tough defensive battle with lots of running game. Pick the over, and presumably you feel this will be a high-scoring game. In short, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than (over) or less than (under) the total.
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