In sports betting, there are two types of bets that you will encounter: line bets and total bets. Understanding the differences between these two wagering items will help you place better bets and make more profitable plays. This article will go over the differences between line and total betting and how to read betting lines so you can make educated decisions when placing your wagers.
Line Versus Total
The first and most obvious difference between line and total betting is the placement of the wager. Line betting is when you place your bet on every play, giving you the flexibility to bet on any outcome. If you place a line bet on a football game, you are saying that you will bet a certain amount on each play. For example, you might see an advertisement that promotes betting on the Seattle Seahawks and lists the line on their upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers as 3.5. You would then place a bet of three dollars on every play of the game, which you can see represented as $3.00 at the betting window. This is standard line betting.
Total betting, on the other hand, is when you bet on the total amount of points that will be scored in a specific game. If you are taking a total bet on the Seahawks and 49ers game, for example, you are saying that you are expecting one of the teams to score at least 42 points and you are placing a wager on that outcome. Your $3 would then be matched with the total amount of money wagered, so even if the game is a close one and the total amount of points scored is near 42, you would lose your $3 (plus whatever additional bets you make on that play).
Another fundamental difference between line and total betting is where you place your wager. With line bets, you can place your wager at any time during the game. If you are watching the game on TV and you see that the score is close and plays are even, you can make a play by hitting the “place bet” button as soon as the puck is dropped. As long as you do it before the end of the game, you will get your money back (plus whatever you bet on that play) plus interest.
With total bets, on the other hand, you need to place your wager at the very beginning of the game. If you are playing online, you can also put down your stake after the first 10 minutes, but doing so after that point greatly increases the likelihood that you will lose your money. Since you can’t move a total wager once it is placed, you have to be committed to backing the player you have selected – or, at least, you need to be willing to risk losing your money if they don’t win.
The placement of your wager is also an important factor when it comes to reading betting lines. When placing a line bet, you want to make sure that the numbers you are seeing are in reference to the total amount of money you have staked on the game. For example, if you have placed a $5 wager on the Seahawks and the line reads –3, it is saying that the odds of the Seahawks winning are three to five, which is very favorable. You can also use your common sense to figure out what numbers to look out for. If you are getting the oddsmakers’ point spread or odds, you should be able to find what the line is for your team easily.
Types Of Bets
There is also the matter of the type of bet you are making. Line bets come in several different varieties, including push bets, lay bets, and combo bets. Push bets are when you bet on the side that is favored in the game. For example, if you are taking a bet on the Seahawks against the 49ers and you see that the 49ers have a large lead at the end of the first quarter, you would want to push your wager on the Seahawks to win that game.
Lay bets are when you bet on the side that you think will win, but the game is too close to call. Combo bets are a combination of the two. For example, you might see an advertisement for the Oklahoma City Thunder and lay a bet of $150 on them to win the NBA championship this year. If they do in fact win, your $150 will be refunded (plus whatever additional bets you make on that play) plus interest.
All of these varieties of line bets have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, push bets are easy to place since you don’t have to wait for the end of the game to see if your team is going to win. The disadvantage is that you don’t know if the team you are backing will be able to produce the desired result.
Lay bets give you the flexibility to place a wager on any game, but the disadvantage is that you have to wait until the end to see if your team will win. Combo bets are the best of both worlds – you get to place your wager at any time during the game, but you will know whether your team is going to win or lose at the end. The disadvantage to combo bets is that you are committing to backing a certain team, which means you will lose if they lose.
Finally, you have the matter of the payout. Line bets are all-or-nothing bets, which means that you either win or lose the entire amount you staked. For example, if you bet $5 on the Seahawks and they win, you win your $5. If they lose, you lose your $5 plus whatever additional bets you made on that play. Since line bets are all-or-nothing propositions, you do not have to worry about getting your money back if the team you bet on does not win.
Total bets, on the other hand, can be broken down into either winners or losers. If your team wins the bet, you win your stake. If they lose, you lose your stake plus whatever additional bets you made on that play. In the example above, if the Seahawks win, you win your $5 plus whatever additional bets you made on that play. If they lose, you lose your $5 plus whatever additional bets you made on that play.
When you are familiar with the fundamental differences between line and total betting, it is easier to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wager. Here is a short list of some of the major differences between line and total betting:
- Line bets are flexible – you can change your mind and stop losing at any time
- Total bets are firm – you have to be committed to backing a certain team, or you risk losing your money
- Line bets are all or nothing – you either win or lose the entire amount you staked
- Total bets can be broken down into either winners or losers
- Line debts are usually good – you will win your money back (plus interest) if your team wins
- Total debts can be bad – if your team loses, you lose what you bet plus interest
- Combo bets are best of both worlds – you get to place your wager at any time during the game, but you will know whether your team is going to win or lose at the end
- Some forms of line bets require you to risk more money than you are actually waging – others require you to risk less
- Lines usually have higher variance (meaning there is more uncertainty in the outcome) than total bets
With line bets, you can make multiple plays on the same wager and change your mind about which team you are backing as often as you like. It is important to keep in mind the differences between line and total betting though, because you can easily fall into the wrong belief that one is the same as the other. If you are new to betting, start out simple and play it safe. Once you have gained experience, you can move on to more complex wagering. It is a good idea to read through the news articles or check out the social media posts from various teams and players to get a feel for what is going on during the game. You can also look up past games to see how the teams you are following are performing. Keep in mind that line betting can get very expensive if you are backing inferior teams.