So, you want to get into sports betting? America is starting to embrace sports betting as it becomes more mainstream across the country. Perhaps those on the fence may want to begin their betting careers. Well, allow us to show you the ropes. There are multiple ways to make a bet. We go through each avenue here and how those bets go about cashing. This is a Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting!
What is the Spread?
The spread is the number of points that Vegas expects the favorite to win by. For example, the Cincinnati Bengals are 6.5-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season. This is shown through the (-6.5) number when looking at the matchup. The number is saying that even if the Falcons were gifted six points by kickoff, they still would expect the Bengals to win the game. In order for you to win money, the Bengals would have to win by more than 6.5 points. If the line was Bengals -6, and the Bengals won by six, then you would push and get your money back.
What are the Odds?
Every game typically has roughly the same odds when it comes to point spreads. Most spread odds come in at around (-110) or (-115). This means that in order to win $100 off of a bet, a bettor has to put down $110 if the line looks like this: (-110). The number inside the parenthesis refers to the amount of money a bettor needs to bet in order to win 100 dollars. If you place a $110 bet at -110 odds, you’d win $100 in addition to getting your initial $110 back.
Different point spreads have different odds. Most books allow you to buy half a point, a full point, or 1.5 points. The odds shift to somewhere around (-125) to (-140). Meaning, instead of betting $110 to win $100, you’d have to bet $125 or $140 to win. You also don’t have to bet to win exactly $100 back, but it is the way Vegas sets its lines.
Remember that Bengals-Falcons game we mentioned? The odds for both teams against the spread are -110 according to PlayerProfiler EDGE. So, if you think the Bengals win by seven or more points, you can win $100 by betting $110. If you don’t think so, you can earn the same by choosing the Falcons +6.5.
Show Me the Moneyline
The moneyline is cut and dry. The moneyline cuts out the spread and is asking you ‘who do you think will win?’ No spreads, no nothing. However, the odds shift. The smaller the point spread is, the better your odds will be. The larger the point spread is, the worse your odds will be. That makes sense, right? If Vegas has a game with a one-point spread, that indicates they think the game will be close. But a seven-point spread? That means that Vegas has a good gist of who they think is going to win. The odds of the underdog winning are much lower. This means you can get more money if they happened to pull off the upset.
Let’s find examples to better explain. Let’s go back to that Bengals-Falcons game. The Bengals’ moneyline is -278 on PlayerProfiler EDGE. Without the spread to level the playing field, you have to pay up $278 to get the same $100 back for betting on the Bengals simply to win the game. On the other end, the Falcons are +225 on the moneyline. If you think the Falcons straight up win the game, a $100 bet would net you $225 in addition to recouping that initial $100.
However, every game is different. Take the New York Jets and Denver Broncos game, for example. The spread is only one point in Denver’s favor. With the game being essentially a toss-up, the moneyline doesn’t swing in any particular direction. The Jets, the underdog in this matchup, are -105 on the moneyline. The Broncos are -115. The closer the spread, the shorter the discrepancy in odds on the moneyline.
Let’s say there are multiple games you like on the slate. You can bet on multiple games individually, but you can also parlay them and boost your odds. For example, let’s go back to those Bengals-Falcons and Broncos-Jets games. If you like the spreads for the Bengals and Jets, then you can bet on both of them to cover for much more favorable odds. A $100 bet at -110 odds for each spread as a parlay could net you $264.46. But you’d need both spreads to cover. If only one covers, you lose all your money.
Don’t Tease Me
Teases work in a similar manner, but there’s a catch. With teases, you can buy points for each game you choose to bet on to help you cover. You won’t get as better odds as you would a parlay, but it’s a nifty and creative tool to help you cover a bet hinging on multiple games. Say you bet on three games, and their initial spreads were -6.5, -1, and -10. If you took a 10-point tease, then these become the spreads your teams now have to cover: +3.5, +9, and even money (AKA: they just need to win). These are helpful to get you slimmer spreads for multiple big favorites in a given week.
If point spreads aren’t your thing, then you could also dabble on over/unders. Essentially, Vegas projects how many points will be scored in a given game, and you can bet if you think the game will exceed that total or dip below. Take for example the Bengals-Falcons matchup. Vegas projects 47.5 points to be scored. If you think more will be scored, you can bet the over at -110 odds. In a scenario where both teams score 48 or more points, you win. If 47 or fewer are scored, the under wins. You can buy points, parlay, or tease over/under the same way you would point spreads.
Team totals work in a similar fashion. Vegas implies and projects a point total for each team in a given game. This essentially works like over/unders, but for only one team. If we go back to the Bengals-Falcons game, the Bengals have an implied point total of 27 points. The Falcons? 20.5. These two totals combine to form the game’s over/under the total. If you bet over on the Bengals’ team total, you need them to score 28 or more points to win. The Falcons would need to score 21 or more.
These are the bare bones of sports betting against the spread. There are other forms of betting, like alt-lines for example, but this should cover the basics. Hopefully, this helps and informs you how this works. Remember to always bet responsibly. Good luck!