How to Read Betting Lines

You may have heard about betting lines, and how they can sometimes be helpful when betting on sports events. Many bookmakers offer these lines, so you might get the sense that they’re just there to give you that extra information regarding the odds of each team winning. But that’s not always the case, and sometimes they can be a bit deceiving. That’s why it’s best to understand what these betting lines are and how to read them before placing a bet or asking a question about them.

What Are Betting Lines?

Let’s start with the basics: what are betting lines and how do they work? A betting line is simply the agreed-upon price for an event, such as a football game or a horse race. If you were to bet on a soccer game, you might place a bet agreeing to pay $2.50 to win $2.00. In that case, the betting line for that game would be +105/-105 (you are betting on the West Ham United Football Club to win the match, and the line is 105/-105, meaning you will need to wager $105 to win $100).

The advantage of using betting lines is that the bookmaker knows you’re a prospective customer; therefore, they’re more inclined to give you favorable odds. Remember: when determining the odds of an event, consider all relevant information, including the betting line. That being said, there are occasions when relying on just the betting line can be problematic. Here are some examples:

Examples Of When To Use Your Gut Feelings And Not Betting Lines

A few years ago, the Tennessee Titans faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL Divisional Playoff game. The betting line at the time was heavily in favor of the Steelers in this matchup, and many bookmakers even offered odds on whether or not the underdog Titans would cover the point spread in this game. The consensus was that the Titans wouldn’t cover, and many people placed wagers along those lines. Just before the start of the game, word came down from Nashville that head coach Mike Munchak had been fired, and Mike Shanahan was brought in to replace him. After the coaching change was completed, the betting line on the Titans-Steelers game soon reverted back to its pre-Shanahan price, and many people who had made wagers based on the coaching change lost their money.

While gut feelings can be useful in specific cases like this one, it’s usually best to use more accurate information. Of course, the same goes for all kinds of wagering, not just on sporting events. Using betting lines is usually the best approach.

How Do Bookmakers’ Betting Lines Change?

Nowadays, most sportsbooks will update their betting lines after each event, like a game or a tennis match. Sometimes this can cause problems for sports bettors who rely on those lines for various reasons, as discussed above. Remember, though, that not all sportsbooks do this, so you should research the policies of the book you’re using before placing a bet.

In the case of the Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game, all bets were canceled after the coaching change, but you’ll often see this scenario play out differently, depending on the circumstances.

For instance, if the coaching change had occurred a month before the game, most people would have forgotten about it by now. But since the change was only announced a few days before the game, those betting on the Steelers might still be affected by the news. In that case, the bookmakers would have no choice but to change the betting line to match the new status quo. In many situations, this would then make the Titans a better betting option than the Steelers, especially since the point spread in the game was heavily in favor of the visitors, Pittsburgh.

In another scenario, a college football team might lose a key player to a torn ACL before a big game. If that happens and the team finds themselves scrambling for a replacement, the coach might decide to put an undrafted free agent from the team’s own secondary in at quarterback. Suddenly, the bookmakers at a given sportsbook might have to adjust their betting lines to reflect the change in circumstances. In this case, the team that was previously underdogs could now be viable betting options.

These are just a few examples of how betting lines can change based on unforeseeable events that are out of the control of the bookmakers. But the fact is that betting lines can change for a variety of reasons, and it’s usually best to be aware of this fact and make the necessary adjustments, if necessary.

Why Do Some Bookmakers Like To Imply Certainties And Uncertainties?

Although odds are generally used to quantify the notion of winning or losing when placing a wager or asking a question about a wager, there are times when a bookmaker might want to imply certainty or uncertainty regarding the event. Consider, for example, the odds for the upcoming season of the Tennessee Titans. Most people believe the Titans will have a good season and might even make the playoffs. But perhaps the most successful team from the other AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars, will dethrone the Titans and win the South title.

In that case, the line for the Titans could be -130/+120, meaning you’ll need to wager $130 to win $120. But if the most successful team from the other AFC South division is the Houston Texans, who have not lost a game since their inaugural season, the line might become -195/-165, which means you’ll need to wager $195 to win $165.

The point is that there are many variables that might affect the outcome of a sporting event, and that’s what makes it fun and exciting to wager on games, especially when those variables are beyond the control of the bookmaker. But just because there’s uncertainty, that doesn’t mean you have to rush into action. Consider all available information, and make the wager or question that’s in your best interest, not necessarily because the betting line makes sense in isolation.

Why Aren’t Lines Generally Used For Future Events?

Many books have odds for future events, and sometimes these odds can be incredibly tempting, especially if the line is ever so slightly in your favor, as in the case of the Houston Texans. One of the things that makes sportsbooks different from casinos is that sportsbooks don’t generally accept wagers on future events. This is generally because bookies don’t predict future events with nearly the same level of confidence as they do past events. It comes down to a matter of integrity and bookmakers’ solvency. Even in the case of the Houston Texans, who might make the playoffs this year, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll make it all the way to the Superbowl. So it’s not hard to understand why sportsbooks don’t like taking wagers on future events, especially since they don’t always offer as much financial incentive to do so as they do for taking wagers on past events.

How Do You Interpret Football Scores When Placing A Wager?

If you’re handicapping or just doing some casual wagering, you might see football scores and want to know what the final score was, especially if you’re an ardent sports fan. But in most cases, that final score doesn’t mean much, since it doesn’t necessarily reflect how the game went. That’s why it’s best to look at other aspects of team performance, like their point spread and whether or not they covered the spread.

Generally speaking, when you see a football score of 56-24, you might think the team who scored the most points won. But in reality, it might have been a low-scoring game, where both teams scored a lot of points. Consider all available information, not just what’s in front of you, before placing a wager.

When Will The Scores Go Up?

If you’re looking to place a wager on the results of an event, like a football game or a horse race, then you’ll need to consider when the scores might go up. In general, games that are close usually have higher scores, and since you’re a betting man or woman you’d like to win your wager, you might also favor games that are close. But that doesn’t always make sense. For example, if you’re trying to wade through the hundreds of MMA fights that happen every year, you might want to avoid those championship fights that are usually close. They’ll be over soon enough, and you won’t be able to make the right calculation for your wager.