Before you understand how betting lines work, it'd probably be helpful for you to know what they are, right? Right. Well, we'll try to keep this as simple as possible for you. Because even though betting lines aren't that difficult to understand, they're also what usually throws the average person off and deters them from wanting to learn more about sports gambling. So here are the four of the most common kinds of bets as well as what we hope are easy examples for each of them:
Point spread bets: By definition, a point spread is "a forecast of the number of points by which a stronger team is expected to defeat a weaker one." It's essentially a point total that illustrates how much better a sportsbook/Las Vegas oddsmaker/bookie thinks one team is better than another team. So for example, the Seahawks were an eight-point favorite against the Packers during the NFC Championship Game a couple weeks ago. That meant that if you wanted to bet on the Seahawks with the spread, you would have needed them to win by more than eight points to cash out, which they didn't since they only won 28-22. But if you had the Packers as an eight-point underdog in the game, you would have won your bet even though Green Bay lost the game. So as you can see, the point spread is designed to force you to make a decision. Do you want to bet on the team that should win a game even though they're going to need to win by a certain number of points or the team that probably won't win but that can win you money if they lose by less than a certain number of points?
Moneyline bets: Not up for the stress that betting the point spread can bring? We don't blame you. There's nothing worse than taking a team like the Seahawks -8 and watching them win in stunning fashion…by six points. It'll make you wish you had taken the moneyline, which is a betting line that involves you simply picking a team and cheering for them to win. It doesn't matter if they win by two or 52; if you bet their moneyline, you win. The catch (there's always a catch!) is that you have to lay more money—a lot more money in most cases—in order to turn a decent profit on a moneyline. For example, the Seahawks' moneyline was -280 when they played the Packers, which meant that you would have needed to bet $280 to win $100. By comparison, you would have only needed to bet $110 to win $100 if you had taken the point spread. And if you had taken the Packers moneyline, which was +240, you would have won $240 off a $100 bet. But after the game, you also would have been kicking yourself for not taking the Packers +8 since they ended up losing the game but covering the line.
Point total bets: Simply put, this type of bet involves betting on how many points total two teams will score during a given game. You can either bet that the total score will be over the point total or under the point total. The Seahawks/Packers point total was 45 at most sportsbooks just before kickoff. And those people who bet the "over" won since the final score, 28-22, equaled more than 45.
Proposition bets: You've probably heard a lot about prop bets this week because most sportsbooks create tons of them for the Super Bowl. However, prop bets are available for most sporting events and deal specifically with whether or not certain things will happen during a game. For example, "Will there be a safety?" or "Will Player A score a touchdown?" Some of the Super Bowl prop bets are a little bit more ridiculous—"What color will Bill Belichick's hoody be?"—but the concept behind them remains the same and each answer to the question comes with an assigned betting line.