Most people who play sports betting know that there is more than one way to read a betting pool. Some people like to focus on the money line while others might like to examine the totals or the over/under. There are advantages to each approach and you should learn how to interpret different types of odds before placing any wagers.
The Money Line
If you’re new to sports betting or wagering, it’s probably a good idea to start out by learning to read the money line. It is the simple and most fundamental method of reading odds and it can be a little bit tricky to learn because there are so many different ways that the line can be presented. For example, the money line may be presented as follows:
- Oakland Raiders (-170) vs Houston Texans (–150)
- Raiders vs Texans (-170)
- Raiders (+125) vs Texans (-125)
- There, that’s five different ways that the line can be presented. Now you know what an Oakland Raider bet entails. When you’re reading betting odds, focusing on the money line is a good place to start.
While the money line focuses on the outcome of the game, the over/under line is most frequently used to gauge the likelihood of a specific number of games scoring a certain number of points. For example, the over/under line for the Super Bowl might be presented as follows:
- Philadelphia Eagles (-5) vs New England Patriots (–5)
- Eagles vs Patriots (-5)
- Eagles (-3) vs Patriots (+3)
- Eagles (-3) vs Patriots (–3)
As with the money line, there are several ways that the over/under line can be presented. However, the over/under is also used to indicate the amount of scoring that is expected in a particular game so it is very important that you learn to recognize the various point formats. For example, a common way of presenting the over/under is as follows:
- New England Patriots (–5) vs Philadelphia Eagles (–5)
- Patriots vs Eagles (–5)
- Patriots (–3) vs Eagles (–3)
- Patriots (–3) vs Eagles (–3)
(–3) represents three points above the over/under and (–3) three points below the over/under. The closer this number is to zero, the more likely it is that the game will be high scoring. The further this number is from zero, the more likely it is that the game will be low scoring. When reading the over/under line, it is important to remember that more often than not, this number will be modified by the bookmakers to reflect the current number of points that are expected to be scored in the game. To illustrate, if you were watching the Super Bowl and someone shouted “Eagles!” just as the referees were about to award the game to New England, the odds of there being three points scored by Philadelphia would become –3.
Totals can be used to predict the total number of points that will be scored in a game. This is usually done by adding up the points scored in each of the opposing teams’ games and then dividing the total by two. For example, if the totals for the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots were 30 and 35 points, respectively, the over/under would be 50 points. It should be noted that totals are almost always used in combination with one of the other reading methods because there is no unit that accurately predicts the outcome of a game based on the individual totals of each team involved. The main advantage of using totals is that they are relatively easy to learn and they don’t require that you learn to interpret different odds. However, if you are looking for an easy way to place a wager, totals can be a good choice because you are essentially just betting on the total number of points scored in the game.
It’s only fair to say that there is more than one way of reading betting odds. You should learn how to interpret all of them because there are times when one may be more suitable than the other depending on the situation. For example, if you are looking for an easy way to bet on the Super Bowl, the money line may be the way to go since there is no additional interpretation necessary and you’ll be able to easily place a bet. However, if you are trying to handicap the NFL season and want to know which teams have the better shot of winning the Super Bowl, you may want to consider using the over/under line because there are several variables that you would have to take into account to determine the outcome of the game. A close examination of the numbers would be necessary to determine the likelihood of each team winning the Super Bowl. If you don’t want to go through all of that interpretation, you can always use totals because at least with these odds, you know exactly what you are getting into.