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How to Read Sports Betting Lines

What is a betting line?

How do you know if you’re ready to get into sports betting? If you’ve done your research and you know the best teams, you might be ready to turn that knowledge into some fun—and some cold, hard cash.

There’s just one potential problem. You look at the betting lines and see something like this:

Falcons: +14.5 (-112) O 44.5 (-115) Money +700

Bills:       -14.5 (-108)  U 44.5 (-105)  Money -1200

If that looks more like an algebra equation to you than it does a betting line, you’re not alone. You just need to learn how to read sports betting lines.

So, how does sports betting work? This guide will tell you how to read sports all types of sports bets so you can quickly assess your sportsbook strategy and start betting. Let’s jump in!

Identifying the Spread

So, how does a point spread work? Taking this example above, let’s look at things from left to right. The Bills were playing the Falcons. The first number always tells us the point spread. In this case, the Bills are favored to win by 14.5 points. We know this because the “-” represents the favorite, whereas the “+” represents the underdog. So the Bills have to win by over 14.5 points to win the bet.

Some books may also identify the point spread by using the word “Line.”

Odds on the Spread

What are the numbers in parenthesis? These are the betting odds. In this case, to bet on the Falcons, you have to put down $112 to win $100. For a bet on the Bills, you have to place $108 to win $100. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Betting odds against the spread will often be -110 or close to that number. This is because the spread has evened the odds on both sides.
  • If you see odds such as +120, it means you can win $120 for a $100 sports bet. “-” shows how much you need to bet to win $100. “+” shows how much you win by betting $100.
  • In this example, the sports betting odds are in parenthesis next to the spread. You may also notice them placed below the spread or without parenthesis.

Over/Under

Next to the spread, we see the number 44.5 with an O next to it (and a U in the next line). This shows us the over/under number. An over/under is another type of sports bet in which you bet on the final score rather than the winner.

In this case, the final score has been set at 44.5. If you think the teams will combine to score more than that, bet the over. If you think they’ll score less, bet the under. Different books may label the over/under with either “o/u” or “total” above the over/under column.

Odds on the Over/Under

The odds here work the same way they did for the spread bets. You’ll need to bet $115 to win $100 on the over and $105 to win $100 on the under. Like the spread, odds on over/unders will often be somewhere around -110.

Moneyline

The final row is the moneyline. For a moneyline bet, you are betting purely on who will win the game. The spread is not a consideration in moneyline betting. If you bet on the Bills or New York Giants, they only need to win by 1 point for your bet to win.

Because the odds aren’t affected by a spread, the payouts are quite different. Since the Bills are favored, you have to bet $1,200 to win $100. On the other hand, you only have to bet $100 to win $700 on the Falcons. In short, you’re getting better value because it has been deemed unlikely that the Falcons will win the game.

Other Types of Odds

The line above uses Moneyline odds. Moneyline odds are the most common odds used in America, but you may see other forms, such as:

  • Fractional odds – These types of sports odds can be written one of three ways:
    • 5/1
    • 5 - 1
    • Five to one

With these odds, you potentially win $5 for every $1 you bet. This type of odd will sometimes be used in future bets or bets on large tournaments (like a golf tournament) since choosing the winner is difficult, and payouts are higher.

  • Decimal odds – In decimal odds, you’ll see a number next to the person or team you are betting on—for example, 1.3 or 2.7. This number represents how much you will be paid for every dollar you bet. So if your decimal odds are 1.3 and you bet $100, you will be paid $130 (meaning a profit of $30). Decimal odds are not very popular in America, but you may still see them in some books.

Place Your Bets at Tipico

Once you understand the basics of a sports betting line, you can see that it offers three options for betting from left to right—the spread, the over/under odds, and the moneyline odds.

Now that you know what you’re looking at, it’s time to place your bets and collect your winnings. And there’s no better option for placing bets than Tipico. We offer easy deposits and withdrawals on our sports betting site. For new customers, we’re offering a risk-free bet of up to $750. So what are you waiting for? If you have access to Tipico's sportsbook Colorado, sportsbook Ohio, or sportsbook New Jersey, then get it in the game today.

Sources:
Tipico. NFL. https://www.tipico.com/us/NFL
NJ.com. Types of Bets. https://www.nj.com/betting/academy/types-of-bets.html
Investopedia. How Do Odds Work in Betting? https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/042115/betting-basics-fractional-decimal-american-moneyline-odds.asp
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