How to Read +/- When Betting on a Football Game

Just like the Super Bowl, March Madness, and World Cup, the NFL season kicks off in spectacular fashion with the opening NFL game of the year. While there is no denying that the NBA and the NHL are arguably more popular sports around the world, American football has always been a game that is most valued in its home, enjoying a prominent place on TV screens and social media across the country.

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How to Read +/- When Betting on a Football Game

The beginning of an NFL season is an exciting time for football fans across the country, bringing with it optimism for the upcoming playing season and lots of betting opportunities. It’s no secret that the majority of NFL games this year are being covered by online betting markets, creating the perfect opportunity for sports enthusiasts to get in on the action and make some cash. It’s also the perfect occasion to learn how to read +/- when betting on a football game, enabling you to determine how much of a chance you have of winning or losing based on the score of the game.

The Basics Of Baseball Betting

Betting on baseball is pretty straightforward, as the majority of games are low-scoring affairs that tend to end in a draw. This year’s American League Championship Series (ALCS) between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees was an example of a game that ended with just four runs being scored. Even in these low-scoring games, however, there is plenty of opportunity for a sports bettor to exploit, whether it’s the over/under for runs scored or the spread for the game.

While it is possible to make money betting on almost any sporting event, baseball is the most popular sport in the United States and one of the most popular sports worldwide. This makes it an attractive proposition for bettors, who can get odds that are favorable to them.

Making Sense Of The Odds

It’s always a good idea to check out the betting odds before putting your hard-earned money into any wager, as they can give you a good indication of how much profit (or loss) you are likely to make based on the result of the game. When betting on an NFL game, you will predominantly find odds that are made up of three parts:

  • The spread
  • The over/under
  • The commission

Each part and its role can be explained as follows:

  • The spread is the amount by which the visiting team (the team on the opposite side of the ‘stick’) is favored over the local team. In the example above, the New York Yankees are visiting Houston and the over/under is set at 6.5 runs.
  • The over/under is the amount by which the total amount of points is favored to fall. In the example above, the over/under for runs scored is set at 6.5 runs.
  • The commission is the percentage of gross profit (revenue less expenses) that the bookmaker will pay to the sports club.

The Difference In Profit

Remember: gambling is all about exploiting an advantage. In most cases, this will be based on the result of the game, but it could also be based on the weather, time of day, or any other relevant factor. Once you’ve identified the factors that give you an advantage, you can begin taking action, making the most of the situation.

The example above shows how the betting odds for the Astros vs. Yankees game broke down, with the Yankees being a 6.5-point favorite. This means that, on average, you would win 6.5 points for every $100 you wager. In this case, there is no indication of the spread, as the home team is favored in all aspects. In general, a bookmaker will offer more conservative odds (typically between 1/2 and 3/1) in exhibition games (games that do not count towards playoff qualification) and less likely to offer larger spreads in more important games. For instance, a Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series game has much larger betting odds than an American Football League (AFL) Championship game, as the former is considerably more significant than the latter. This is why it is often said that the favorite in an NFL game has the most value, since the spread for the game tends to be bigger than most other games. In case you were wondering, a 6.5-point spread in the above example would translate to a profit of $225 for the bookie (100 x 6.5 – 50).

Sportsbooks & Online Bookmakers

There are a variety of places where you can make sports bets, with sportsbooks being the most popular and simplest to use. A sportsbook is essentially a bookmaker that specializes in sports wagering. This means that, rather than offering standard odds for every event, they will only offer odds for sporting events. So, if you want to bet on the NFL, you will first need to locate a sportsbook that is specifically geared towards sports bet-ing on the NFL. Most sportsbooks also offer odds for the College Football, College Basketball, and College Baseball games, as well as the PGA Tour, which is the major league of golf. In addition to odds, sportsbooks also provide handy explanations for each team and its performance (run/pass ratio, etc.) to make it easier for novices to get a handle on the basics of sports betting. Betting on sports without looking into the basics (such as how to read the betting lines) can lead you down the wrong path of gambling, as you might very well lose more than you win if you don’t know how to read the betting lines.

The drawback to betting through a sportsbook is that you will be confined to their odds, which may or may not suit your needs. In some cases, you might want to bet on a game that is not offered by the bookmaker you have chosen, which is why it is important to do your research before making a purchase decision. The good thing about online bookmakers is that they offer a wider variety of sports than any single brick-and-mortar sportsbook, meaning you can always find the odds you are looking for. Most online sportsbooks are open around the clock and have live in-house bookmakers, enabling you to get your wagers in as soon as you’ve made them.

Making The Most Of Your Odds

There are a variety of ways that you can bet on an NFL game, with the most popular being:

  • Selecting against the spread
  • Taking the points
  • Taking the over
  • Taking the under

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try:

  • Taking a head-to-head matchup
  • Doing simultaneous betting on several games
  • Going for the upset
  • Paying close attention to injuries and other team performance indicators (Roughly 65% of games end in an upset, so it is not uncommon for bettors to try and find these ‘hidden’ games.)

The most successful gambler will be the one who is able to make the most of the situation, whether it is based on the result of the game or any other relevant factor. In an ideal world, you would want to be placing bets on virtually all sporting events, with the majority of your earnings coming from successful bets that you make on your own team. The more you play, the more you will learn, enabling you to become a better gambler and making you more likely to win.