Today’s average sports fan at some time in their life has bet on a sporting event. It may have been college basketball during March Madness, the NFL during the Super Bowl, or maybe even at a horse track. This bet may have been a friendly wager between friends, at a casino, or even offshore through a sportsbook. Some have never placed a bet on a game or a horse and it seems enticing but find it too intimidating. Wagering on a sport or a horse takes more than just understanding the game itself. It takes an understanding of the lines, the money, and the business of betting.
On any given day a sports fan can open a newspaper or turn on ESPN and see lines sprawled across the paper or scrolling on the bottom of the screen. The first step to betting on a sport is to understand the line. The average sports bettor usually is already familiar with the sport itself and they have a pretty good idea of the team they think will win the game. This is where the line comes in.
The line is the difference-maker in most sports and there are two ways to have a line displayed the money line and the spread. The money line is in a negative or a positive format and will show the bettor how much they have to risk on a wager and how much they can return on a wager. For example, if the San Diego Padres are a favorite and the money line is listed at -1.30, that simply means that the bettor that wants to be on the Padres must risk $1.30 for every $1.00 they want to win. If the Padres are the underdog and are at +1.30 then this means for every $1.00 that a bettor places on the Padres they will get a return of +$1.30. The money line in baseball is often called a dime line because the favorite and the underdog are separated by ten cents unless it is a favorite that exceeds a certain amount.
Using our previous example of the Padres being a -1.30 favorite and they are playing the Atlanta Braves then the Braves will be a +1.20 underdog, the separation is the dime line. This dime line spread will grow as the favorite grows and this is a variable that is chosen by the sportsbook owner. All sports have a money line for each game but the more popular line in sports is the spread.
The spread is the most accepted form of betting and is used in the most popular sport to bet on, the NFL. The spread makes the game more about picking a winner and allows the bettor to test the accuracy of the bet. For example, if the Packers are playing the Vikings and they are four-point favorites (-4) that indicate that if a bettor takes the Packers–to win the bet the Packers not only have to win but they have to win by more than four points. The Packers need to win by 5 points or more for the bettor to collect on the wager. If the bettor were to wager on the Vikings in this scenario then they would need the Vikings to win or lose by 4 points or less. If the difference in the final score is 4 points exactly, the wager is graded a push and no money is exchanged. In a nutshell, you add or subtract the spread to the team that is wagered on at the end of the game to determine the outcome. The spread has made games more exciting for the bettors and has increased sports betting every year since it was introduced. The spread or the money line is not the only way to bet on sports there is also betting on the total.