Three of the most popular forms of wagers are moneyline, point spreads and totals (over/under). The articles below explain each these bets in simple easy to understand terms.
A money line bet is a wager on which team will win a game and is the most popular way to bet on hockey and baseball, but exists also for basketball, football and other sports.
In this type of wager, the payout is the same regardless of how many runs or points the team you wagered on wins by. Now if you’re brand new to sports betting you need to understand American odds, because this is a huge part of money line betting.
American odds always use a 3 or more digit whole number expressed as either positive or negative. When dealing with a negative money line this represents how much a bettor must stake to win $100.
For example, a line of -180 requires $180 to win $100, so here if your bet is successful you keep the $180.00 you staked plus get back $100 in winnings. When dealing with a positive money line this how much a $100 stake will pay.
For example, if you stake $100 on a line of +160, if your bet wins you keep the $100 you staked plus receive $160 in winnings.
The reason there are positive and negative money lines is that the two teams are often not equally matched.
To state an example, if Tiger Woods is facing off against your local high school golf champion in a one-on-one match Tiger might be -100000 and your friend +50000.
Point Spread Bets
Point spread betting is said to have been invented in the 1940’s by Charles K. McNeil of Chicago. He was a math professor who used it in his own bookmaking operation.
Whether or not this true is irrelevant; today point spread betting is the most popular way to wager on America’s two most frequently wagered upon sports, football and basketball.
The basic idea behind a point spread is in order to make the game closer to a 50/50 proposition a handicap is added.
For example, the opening round of the 2011/12 NFL playoffs had Detroit Lions +10.5 / New Orleans Saints -10.5. How this works is if you wager on Lions at the end of the game you add 10.5 points to the Lions score and then compare it to Saints actual score to determine who wins.
Alternatively, if you bet on New Orleans Saints then at the end of the game you would subtract 10.5 points from the Saints score and then compare it with the actual Lions score to determine which team wins.
Important to note is that all point spread wagers also have a price. With most all bookies and Las Vegas sports books if the price is not otherwise stated then -110 is assumed (Risk $110 to win $100, which simplifies as $1.10 staked for every dollar you wish to win).
This extra price you’re charged is referred to as vig or juice and is how the betting sites and bookies make their profit. When betting online you’ll find prices often are listed and they’re not the same for both sides.
For example you might find Detroit Lions -115 / New Orleans Saints -105. The reason for the difference is that bookies strive to find 50/50 propositions on betting lines, but sometimes this isn’t possible as one side is slightly more likely to cover at that point spread than the other.
There a few things about point spreads worth noting. In cases where point spreads have half points involved (example -2.5 / +2.5) there is no way for the game to tie. Point spread do not always use half points, however.
In times the point spread is a whole number if the game results in a handicap tie it is considered a push, also referred to as no action. In this case all bets are off and stakes are returned.
Additionally, I should conclude by informing while point spreads are most popular in football and basketball they are available for other sports as well. For example in hockey and baseball alternatives to the money line are offered called the puck line and run line which are bets that use a point spread.
Now that we’ve covered betting on the point spread, it’s time to look at one of the easiest types of bets to understand, totals or over/under betting.
Totals – Over/Under Bets
The final wager type is the easiest to understand, this is called totals betting.
Here you’re wagering on whether the total number of points scored by both teams will be over or under the posted betting total.
For example, in baseball this bet might be over/under 8.5 runs, in hockey over/under 5.5 scores, in football over/under 40.5 points, in basketball over/under 200 points.
The same as is true for point spread, unless otherwise stated these bets are assumed to be offered at -110 (risk $110 to win $100), though at online betting sites are usually stated.
It’s also quite common