Sports Betting Odds

While most novice bettors understand sports betting odds, only a small portion of the betting public has a full grasp on what they really mean. Most commonly, sports betting odds come in the form of a Point Spread, Money Line and a Game Total.

During Week 1 of the 2010 season the Chicago Bears were -7 point spread favorites over the Detroit Lions. Bears backers needed Chicago to win by eight or more points to cash a winning ticket. Bettors who took the Lions needed Detroit to win the game OR lose by six or less points to be on the winning side.

In that same game, if a bettor didn’t want to take or give the points, they could bet on the money line. The Bears came in with -330 ML odds while the Lions were posted with +270 ML odds. The game total odds for this game was set at 42 points leaving bettors to decide if combined points scored would be OVER or UNDER 42 total points.

Sports Betting Lines: What are they?

Sportsbooks, with their staff of experienced handicappers and number crunching computers, set the betting lines to attract equal action on both sides of any bet. Contrary to popular belief, most sportsbooks don’t have a routing interest on one side or the other. It’s a good day for the “house” when all the sports betting action splits down the middle.

In that scenario, the sportsbook picks up the vig (vigorish) that is more commonly known as the “Juice” or the “Commission”. Example: Bettor A wagers $100 on the Bears at -7 (-110) while Bettor B wagers $100 on the Lions at +7 (110). The sportsbook now has $200 in wagers but, with the additional -110 odds, they will only return the original $100 bet plus $90 to the winning bettor. The house collects $10, in risk free money, from this single sports bet.

How to read sports betting lines

Solid value can be gained by knowing how to read sports betting lines. On every sports betting line, that isn’t posted at EVEN, there is a favorite and an underdog. Favorites always carry negative numbers while underdogs always carry positive numbers. The Bears at -7 and -330 are the favorites while the Lions at +7 and +270 are the underdogs.

The spread betting lines come with additional odds that are generally -110 but this number will always fluctuate. The Bears at -7 (-120) odds means you have to bet 120 units to earn a 100 unit return. Conversely, if the Lions have +7 (+120) odds, a 100 unit bet would pay a 120 unit return.  These secondary odds are used in the same way with game total betting lines.

On the money line, neither squad receives any points but the bookies adjust the possible winnings to the amount bet. The Bears with -330 money line odds means a 330 unit would return a 100 unit profit. On the other side of the coin, the Lions with +270 money line odds would return 270 units on a 100 unit bet.

Knowing how to read and react to sports betting odds is a staple item in the arsenal of any successful and profitable sports handicapper.

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