Betting on Sports: What Does -5.5 Mean?

Sports betting odds are one of the main reasons people visit sportsbooks. While you may not always want to bet on the games you love the most, there’s no denying that it’s exciting to bet on the outcome of sporting events. Whether you’ve always wanted to try your hand at gambling or you’ve just learned about odds and betting, this article will tell you everything you need to know about placing (and avoiding) bets on sports.

Why Do Sportsbooks Exist?

The line between sports gambling and sports betting is somewhat blurry, which is why most states have laws against the two activities. However, sportsbooks exist to provide you with the information you need to place a wager on a game. They do this by taking bets from people like you who are interested in betting on sports. Most sportsbooks operate from an online casino or a land-based casino, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they’ll have specialists who work from a separate office called the ‘area’ or ‘store’ who handle in-person wagers. The location of the sportsbook is often a key consideration. Land-based sportsbooks are generally found in bigger cities, while online sportsbooks are open to anyone with an internet connection.

The Spread

The spread is a term used in sports to define the amount of action (score difference) between two teams. For instance, if a football game was played between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, and the Giants scored a touchdown in the third quarter, the point spread would be +3 at the time the bet was placed. That’s because the score was tied at three points in the fourth quarter. The reason for this is simple. People who bet on the spread are hoping for one team to beat the spread and the other to lose. The first team to reach a total spread of 10 points wins, regardless of the final score.


You may know that you can’t always trust the odds given by a bookmaker, particularly if you’re getting the ‘in-play’ odds – these are the odds that appear while the game is still in progress. You can get yourself in a bit of a pickle if you bet on a game and the outcome turns out to be the opposite of what you were betting on. This is where the use of odds comes in handy. Instead of depending on the bookmaker’s odds, you can use them to calculate the exact odds of winning or losing a wager. For example, if you’d like to bet on the Indianapolis Colts vs. the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, you might check the odds for New England at +1000 and the odds for Indianapolis at +700, giving you a winning (or losing) chance of 70% (28/40).


Finally, we come to the fun part, which is calculating your winnings and losses after the games have been determined. For instance, if you bet $100 on the Colts and they win, the payout would be ($100 x 2) + $100, giving you a win of $200. Remember, your winnings should be the same no matter what game you choose, even if it’s a game that you didn’t bet on (but the team you root for wins). This is called ‘fluky’ or ‘casino’ betting and it can be quite the head-scratcher if you don’t understand how the odds and payout work together. Fortunately, most sportsbooks will be more than happy to help you out with this. Do your best to work out any winnings and losses on your own, and only ask the bookmaker for help if you’re utterly stumped.

As you can see, placing a bet on sports is far from easy, which is why it’s usually best to follow a few simple guidelines. First of all, make sure you’re not breaking the law where you live. There are plenty of states where gambling is totally legal, but online betting is still prohibited. In these situations, you might have to go ahead and place your bet in a different state. Even in states where sports betting is officially legal, there are often restrictions on the type of stakes you can place and how often you can place them. For example, you can’t usually place a wager on a game that isn’t being played in person. Keep all of this in mind as you choose your next betting destination.