When someone asks me for advice about betting, my first question is always: “What are you betting on?”
The answer, it seems, requires a bit of an introduction.
What is Betting?
If you’re not familiar, betting is the practice of wagering on the outcome of a certain event. The term comes from the old English verb bet, which means “to stake or risk; to challenge”.
In most cases, you’ll find that people are betting on sports teams, especially the National Football League (NFL). The odds of winning are usually either “over” or “under” a certain number, and you can decide whether to bet on the run of the mill team or the superior team.
To give you an idea of how betting lines work and how to read them, here’s an example of the spread for a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys:
- The opening line for this game is: NYG -3 DAL
- This means that if you wager $100 that the New York Giants will win the game, you’ll win $300 ($100 x 3), minus 3 times the $100 you wagered, or $300 in all.
- The money placed on this game will be referred to as “winnings to be paid out” or “wagering” and the $100 you wagered will be called a “bet” or “stake”. The $300 in winnings is the “profit”.
- In some cases, the winnings may be paid out in cash, but in most cases they will be credited to your account as payment for your bet.
- If you are betting outside the U.S., check with your country’s equivalent of the IRS to confirm that betting is legal in your jurisdiction.
How Do Betting Lines Work?
In the above example, you’ll notice that the opening line for the game is “NYG -3 DAL”. This means that the New York Giants are favored to win the game by 3 points and you’ll win a total of $300, minus 3 times your bet, or $300 in all. ($100 x 3)
So, how do the betting lines work?
Most bookmakers will offer betting lines for just about any sporting event, as long as they have an Internet connection and a lot of people are interested in wagering on that event. If you look at the section of the site devoted to NFL games, you’ll notice that they usually offer a large number of betting lines, both for the games themselves and for the following week’s games as well.
If you look at the odds for the following week’s games, you’ll see that they aren’t always favorable to the home team, because there are so many people interested in wagering on the home game. In this case, the bookmaker is actually making money from those placing bets on the away team, so they will often offer incredibly unfavorable betting lines for those games.
Why Do Bookmakers Offer Unfavorable Lines?
One of the more interesting things about betting lines is the fact that they aren’t always as favorable as you might think. This is due to the fact that people placing bets sometimes have an ulterior motive. They might want to keep the winner’s circle small, so they can charge more for the big winnings in the long run. Or, perhaps, they’re trying to keep the games close so they can goose their profit margins in the short term.
In any case, if you’re looking for an edge, you might want to consider trying some of the more popular props or props that are available for the games that you like to bet on. For example, if you like to bet on the Cleveland Browns, the sportsbooks will often offer props for Bob Aviles’ health, so you’ll never have to worry about him missing a game because of an injury. Or, if you like to bet on the Chicago Bears, you might want to try betting on whether or not they will score a touchdown on the next drive, because the betting odds will be much more favorable if the Bears are able to move the ball down the field.
If you place a bet on a game and it comes in under the spread, you’ll win the amount of the spread. For example, if the spread is 3 points and the final score of the game is 28-24, you’ll win 3 points ($100).
On the other hand, if the spread is 5 points and the final score is 31-25, you’ll lose 5 points ($100).
This is sometimes called a win of profit or a win of total. Basically, it is a combination of the two. For example, if the spread is 3 points and your team wins by 2 points, you’ll win 3 points, plus whatever money is in your pocket from bets placed earlier in the game. (This is typically between 10% and 20% of your total bet.)
Additionally, if the spread is 3 points and your team wins by 6 points, you’ll win 6 points, plus whatever is in your pocket from bets placed earlier in the game. (This is typically between 20% and 30% of your total bet.)
And finally, if the spread is 5 points and your team wins by 12 points, you’ll win 12 points, plus whatever is in your pocket from bets placed earlier in the game. (This is typically between 30% and 40% of your total bet.)
Most people who bet on sports never worry about the spread, since they assume that the bookmaker knows what they are doing. However, if you are a serious gambler and want to get the best possible return on your investment, it’s important to understand how the spread functions.