In sports betting, a line is the wager made by the sportsbooks on the outcome of a sporting event. For example, the line for the New England Patriots – San Diego Chargers game might show the Patriots as a 4.5-point favorite. That means if you’re wagering money on the game, you’d have to bet $100 to win $100. The term “line” comes from the telegraphic transmissions used in the early days of sports betting. Back in those days, lines were often telegraphic “lines” of information: – Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets – Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City A’s – Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers – Oakland A’s vs. Seattle Mariners – San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds It was difficult to keep track of all those teams and sports! But, even with the best technology, trying to keep track of every line was cumbersome. After the telegraph lines were set up, operators would key in the first three letters of the school to get the first three lines: – USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins – Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Stanford Cardinal – Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys So, to save time and keep lines straight, the lines were simply assigned a “line number” and a “letter slot.” For example, the Oklahoma State Cowboys line might be assigned the number 10 and the A letter slot. That means you could look up the 10A line on your phone or tablet and find all the information you need about that game. The line for USC vs. UCLA is 12 and the B letter slot.
Why Are The Lines Different?
One of the reasons why the lines are different is because not all sportsbooks offer the same lines – some will only offer certain lines, and some will not offer any. There are several factors that go into having the various lines available, including public relations and the popularity of the teams in the respective markets. Some sportsbooks – typically the larger ones – will try to appeal to as many people as possible, leading them to offer the same lines in multiple locations. If a specific line is extremely popular (often times, the more popular a line is, the less likely it is to get “off”), then that sportsbook will have to find a way to get more people to lay down the cash for that line. Sometimes, this means offering a slightly different line in a different location. In some cases, this might mean adding more teams to the line or reducing the amount of teams involved in the game. For example, the Oakland A’s will sometimes offer a six-team NFL line but, if the A’s are involved in a minor league game at the same time, they will switch to a four-team college football line.
So, what does all of this mean for you as a bettor?
If you’re looking to put money on the Patriots – San Diego Chargers game, you’ll land in the 12A line at the New England books or, if you’re lucky, in the 8A line at the Los Angeles books (12A is the middle slot on the “A” letter line). In either case, you’ll have to bet $100 to win $100, but you’ll be happy to do so because you’re backing a team many people consider to be “America’s Team.”
As for the game itself, the Patriots are 8.5-point favorites (meaning if you bet $100 on them, you’d win $8.5). The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast on CBS. So, if you’re in the New York City area and want to watch the game, you can either head to a bar or restaurant and get your fix or, better yet, you can stay at home and watch it on TV. The choice is yours!
How To Make The Most Of This Information
While all this information can be a little overwhelming, it’s important to remember that it’s there for a reason. When you’re faced with the daunting task of trying to learn the ins and outs of betting on sports, it’s helpful to break down the information into more digestible chunks. For example, you can look at the line for a particular game as a general indication of the strength of that team or player. Or, you can use the letters and numbers to find the specific sportsbook’s page for that game. Remember, though, that these pages will only contain information for that particular game. If you need information for other games, you’ll have to go back and forth between pages or look on the internet for data.
It’s also important to remember that the teams and players change all the time, which means you have to keep on top of the relevant data if you want to be able to wager successfully. If you find that you’re constantly losing money because you don’t know what’s going on with the lines or the teams, then it’s time for a life change! Getting into sports betting, trading, and/or investing in securities related to teams and players is very risky, and you should only ever consider doing so if you’re confident you can handle the money you’re investing. It’s a good idea to start small and build up your bankroll slowly. Even then, trading on sports is not something to take lightly as there are a lot of risks involved and you could lose a lot of money if you’re not careful!