While most football fans have seen a point spread before, not everyone understands how they work. There’s a common misconception that the oddsmakers are trying to outsmart their customers by posting the spread and getting people to bet on the wrong side. At the same time, many bettors think that their goal is to “beat the bookie.” This is false; as mentioned, the sportsbook is incentivized to keep the action on either team as balanced as possible, in order to limit exposure.
If your sports betting experience consists mostly of office pools during March Madness or a casual wager between you and a friend while you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning how to read betting lines. The biggest difference between making the kind of casual bets mentioned above and placing wagers with online sportsbooks or at brick-and-mortar bookshops is the use of sports betting lines. Casual wagers usually involve each person in the bet picking one team to win, then wagering an equal amount, say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges, and sports betting facilities in casinos have a more complex system for offering wagers on sporting events, in part to ensure profit on the part of the book, and in part to present a standardized representation of odds.
Because the spread is intended to create an equal number of wagers on either side, the implied probability is 50% for both sides of the wager. To profit, the bookmaker must pay one side (or both sides) less than this notional amount. In practice, spreads may be perceived as slightly favoring one side, and bookmakers often revise their odds to manage their event risk.
Two possibilities existed for Seahawks backers at this point – either the team would win the game by at least three points or not. There was no possibility for a push, thanks to the use of a half-point. It’s impossible to score a half-point in football, so thanks to the magic of rounding, there’s no room for a tie outcome. Those who backed the Patriots were looking at two possible outcomes, too – either New England would pull off the upset or they would lose by just a point or two. Both would turn out in a win.
“In the event that internet gaming is authorized within the State, the State and the Tribe agree that they will reopen good faith negotiations to evaluate the impact, if any, of internet gaming and consider adjustments to the Compact. The parties understand and agree that it is not possible to determine at this time what, if any, adjustments to the Compact would be necessary.”
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.
Bovada gives all first time college football bettors a 50% to $250 bonus when they make their first deposit which only allows you to wager on more spreads. Bovada welcomes USA players and has many great deposit methods to boot. Players are able to instantly add funds to their accounts using a variety of methods that include credit cards (Visa/MC/Amex), debit cards (Visa/MC), several brands of prepaid gift cards, cash wire transfers (Western Union + MoneyGram), and even payment through accepted Bitcoin wallets.
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.
As the numbers grow larger each way – the small numbers get smaller or the positive numbers get larger – that indicates that those options are bigger and bigger favorites, or bigger underdogs. That’s particularly relevant when you’re looking at something like the odds to win the Super Bowl. The teams with smaller numbers are deemed as having a better chance of winning and then as the numbers grow larger, those teams are deemed bigger and bigger longshots.
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.
A sharp bettor is viewed as a professional in the world of sports betting. Even the best bettors over time are not going to win more than in the mid-50 percent range, with general public losing more than they win. A sharp bettor is viewed as someone who has a proven record of success, and so when they place a bet on a game, a sportsbook will suspect they know something the general public might not. The point spread can change with a large amount of public money bet on a game, but it can also move with a smaller bet by sharps.
Let’s start with the basics: what do sports bettors mean when they talk about a ‘line?’ The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, can refer to either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s take a look at an imaginary line the way you’d read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports betting lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s imagine a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s NFL betting line might look something like this:
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
For example: If it is universally believed that Alaska State is better than Hawaii Tech, a standard win/loss wager wouldn't work, since most likely people would bet more money on Alaska State. Therefore, the Sports Book could put the point spread on Alaska State at 6.5 points. This would mean if you bet on Alaska State, not only would they have to win the game, they'd have to win by at least 7 points to make you a winner, otherwise a ticket on Hawaii Tech, even though the team might have loss, would be a winner.
The odds given on the spread are usually -110 unless otherwise noted. It is not uncommon to see one side of the spread being -105, with the other side being -115. If you don’t see any odds listed for each side of NFL spreads you are supposed to assume the odds are -110 on each. Not sure how to read NFL betting odds? Check out our Sports Betting Odds guide.
For those that live outside the United States, this may look even more strange since -110 is in American odds format. In Decimal odds, which is common in Europe, -110 translates to 1.91 odds. I'm not going to dive into Decimal odds (or other formats) since this article is about American odds, but the Decimal system is pretty straightforward. The odds listed represent a bettor's total return for a winning wager as you simply multiply the odds by the amount you wish to risk. If someone risks $100 at 1.91 odds and win, they receive $91 plus their initial $100 risked ($91 + $100 = $191).
If you aspire to become an avid bettor and are serious about learning the trade, the first thing I recommend doing is to come up with several angles and legitimate reasons why betting on a specific team is going to make you money. I understand that angles and reasoning can only take you so far before what happens on the court or field is out of your control but playing the angles is a key part of sports betting that isn't going away any time soon. One of the better angles I look to play is a bet called the First Half Bet. Read More >>
The odds listed are a primary way of gauging the play in the game. There are hundreds of mismatches every single year and the leveling of the playing field has been very helpful in resolving that particular problem. With the use of odds, bookies are able to acquire an equal number of wagers on each team, which assures them that they get money regardless of who wins.
The divisional round of the NFL playoffs concludes on Sunday, and we’ll know which four teams have a chance to win Super Bowl LIII after two must-watch games. Tom Brady and the Patriots will try to earn their fourth consecutive AFC Championship berth, but is it finally Philip Rivers’ year? In the NFC, Nick Foles led the Eagles to a stunning upset of the Bears, but can the defending Super Bowl champions take down the No. 1 Saints?
Check these sites out and see which one fits you best. Maybe you will take advantage of the bonuses at those sites and then decide which one you want to continue to use. I prefer to use multiple sites, so I have a selection of lines to choose from to get the best available payout! Whether you want to bet $1 or $500, any of these sites will work just fine for you and pay you quickly when you win. If you want more details and options, just go to the sportsbook reviews and ratings page.
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.
If you place wagers on US sports, then chances are high that you've heard of point spreads. Here's how they work; if a game has Patriots -9.0 and Vikings +9.0, the Patriots are 9.0 point favorites and the Vikings are 9.0 point underdogs. Unless otherwise stated, no matter which team you bet on, you'll be required to risk $1.10 for each $1.00 you want to win. For Patriots bettors to prevail, they need their team to win by 10 or more points. A 9-point Patriot victory would be a push (a tie). For Vikings bettors to take home the victory, they need to either win the game or lose by less than 9 points.
Since more people wager on football than any other sports it’s usually the easiest game to figure out how to bet. If you don’t know what to do, you can probably ask anyone in the sports book for instructions. The people visiting the casino might not know everything but they can give you the basics. Here’s a fairly thorough look at the different ways you can wager on football in Las Vegas.
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.
It today's world, the English language has taken a back seat to slang. Whether it be on social media, instant messaging platforms, through text or email, every body is using some sort of slang which saves them the slightest bit of time and makes them sound like a goof. In sports betting, it is no different. There is a short form or synonym for just about any topic you can think of. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes, like in this article, it really doesn't. Read More >>
Even if you’re brand-new to betting on football, you’ve probably seen NFL spreads published in the paper or talked about on TV. The point spread levels the playing field, making betting on either the favorite or the underdog equally attractive. Either the favorite has to win by the margin listed, or the underdog has a buffer to lose the game by that margin, or win it outright.
The bookmaker functions as a market maker for sports wagers, most of which have a binary outcome: a team either wins or loses. The bookmaker accepts both wagers, and maintains a spread (the vigorish) which will ensure a profit regardless of the outcome of the wager. The Federal Wire Act of 1961 was an attempt by the US government to prevent illegal bookmaking.[2] However, this Act does not apply to other types of online gambling.[3] The Supreme Court has not ruled on the meaning of the Federal Wire Act as it pertains to online gambling.
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.
Point Spread – This is the margin of victory for a game determined by the oddsmaker. Sportsbooks use this to create action on both teams. The favorite will have to win by more than the margin the oddsmakers set. If the Broncos are favored by 2.5 against the 49ers, they must win by 3 points or more for a win. If they only win by 2, they didn’t cover the spread and those who bet the 49ers will win.

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has also advocated the league changing its stance on sports betting, with both Manfred and Silver noting that the scale of illegal sports betting makes opposition to betting meaningless. He also stated a willingness to "try to shape" any future legislation at federal level. This was noted as a marked contrast to former Commissioner of the MLB Bud Selig, with Manfred going beyond tacit approval and stating, "There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting."[46]
The team that has the minus sign, which is the favorite, has points deducted from its final score, while the dog, with the plus sign, has points added. The favorite must beat the spread, which means they have to win by more than the negative number to pay off. The underdog pays off in two instances—if they win outright or if they lose by less than the spread.
Most gambling sites give away bonuses to new customers, and many of them offer additional rewards to existing customers too. You should always try to take advantage of these bonuses and rewards, as they are a great way to boost your bankroll. They're not exactly "free" money, as they come with terms and conditions such as having to wager certain amounts before being able to withdraw. Nonetheless, they can be very valuable.
A. It is unlawful for any person to, directly or indirectly, knowingly accept for a fee, property, salary or reward anything of value from another to be transmitted or delivered for gambling or pari-mutuel wagering on the results of a race, sporting event, contest or other game of skill or chance or any other unknown or contingent future event or occurrence whatsoever.
For those who are only really interested in wagering for a bit of fun, you'll be ready to go as soon as you've finished reading this page. For those of you with ambitions of making long term profits, we also point you towards a wide range of additional information and advice that will help you to achieve such goals. We're not promising that we'll make you an instant expert, but we'll certainly give you the chance to become one.
First, however, a word of caution: Sports betting can be a fun and profitable venture. However, like most good things in life there are pitfalls to be aware of. You should be able to enjoy many positive experiences as long as you bet in moderation and under control. We know you have heard this before but it definitely bears repeating: don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose, either emotionally or financially. If you or someone you know shows signs of compulsive gambling, one place to find help is Gamblers Anonymous.
For the player who wagers on San Francisco -5, San Fran must win by more than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. For the player who wagers on St. Louis +5, they must either win the game or lose by less than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. If the outcome falls on the number, the bet is declared a “Push” and your original stake amount gets refunded.

Hello! I'm Stephen and am the creator of Fast Break Bets. I'm a young Chicagoan with a huge passion for sports betting and analytics. My interest in betting started back in 2011, and I have been studying models and strategies ever since. Fast Break Bets launched in 2015 to primarily help others become a successful sports bettor and share my models' projections. So browse around, follow @FastBreakBets on Twitter, and feel free to ask me a question!
Most online sportsbooks will list their odds in what is called “American Odds”. There are a couple different versions of sports betting odds, but these American Odds are the most common odds used. Reading and understanding sports betting odds can bet a little confusing to beginners, so we have provided an example below using two NFL football teams:

One way to make money from sports betting is to open an account at an online betting site and take advantage of their sign up bonus. This gives you extra money to wager with, and since point spreads are so straightforward, it can be relatively easy to meet the associated wagering requirements and still come out ahead. Repeating this process at multiple betting sites will maximize your potential returns! We just ask that you please stick with reputable sites, like any of the ones that we recommend.

When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).
There are several very important terms and phrases you need to know if you have your sights set on becoming a sports bettor who has even the slightest idea of what you are about to bet on. Doc's Sports "How To" section has you covered for everything you need to know, but this may be one of the most important phrases to know when betting on sports that use a point-spread. Sure, money line, juice, totals, covering the spread and bad beat are all important words and phrase to know, but "laying the points" is something the general public loves to do. Read More >>
Teasers are similar to parlays except the point spread on each game moves a certain number of points in the player's favor. In football the player gets 6 to 7 points, and in basketball, 4 to 5 points. The player pays for this in the form of much lower winnings. For example, if the Vikings were part of a 6-point teaser, then they would only need to win by more than 4 points to cover. If the Rams were part of a teaser, they could win, or lose by less than 16, and cover.
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.
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