How to Read Sportsbook Betting Lines

Reading Sportsbook Betting Lines is very important when you decide to make any bets on any sports. Under our guide, you will know how to read and place bet.

If your sports betting experience includes office pools during March Madness or a casual bet between you and a friend when you watch the Super Bowl, the transition to serious sports betting means learning the way to read Sportsbook Betting Lines. The obvious difference between making the kind of casual wagers mentioned above and making bets with online sportsbooks or at land based bookshops is the use of sportsbook betting lines. Casual bets usually involve every person in the bet choosing one team to be the winner, then betting an equal amount, let’s say $20 or $30. Professional bookmakers, online sports betting exchanges in casinos have a more complicated system for providing bets on sporting events, in part to guarantee profit on the part of the book, and in part to show a standardized representation of odds.

Sportsbook Betting Lines

Sportsbook Betting Lines

Let’s begin with the basic things: what do sports gamblers mean when they talk about a line? The word line, in the language of a sportsbook, means either the odds and/or a point spread in any sports contest. Let’s have a look at an imaginary line the way you would read it off the board sitting in a Vegas sports wagering lounge or on the screen at your online book. Let’s take an example between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Your book’s line may look something like this:

DAL -7.5-110 -405

NYG +7.5-110 +300

56.5 ov-110

What might look like a jumble of words, numbers, and punctuation is indeed an accurate and easy-to-read breakdown of the different odds and point spread details your book is providing. Here is a breakdown of each unit of information given above. When you understand each part of the jumbled details above, you can read a sportsbook betting lines confidently.

The Point Spread in Sportsbook Betting Lines

Obviously, the first 3 letters on the top two lines of the 3-line package of symbols indicates a team in the game you are going to bet on; NYG is the short form for the New York Giants, whereas DAL is the Dallas Cowboys. The number beside each team’s name is the spread or the point spread. Bets on the point spread are the most common sports bets in the world. The reason this bet is common is that it does not matter which team will win or lose; thing matters is how many points the teams score, and whether or not the team you make your money on beats the difference in points (the ‘spread’) or not.

Making a point spread bet means gambling on the amount a team wins or loses by. In our above instance, the Cowboys are the favorite. Why do we know that? The (-) sign in front of the point spread shows that the bookmaker expects the final score will have Dallas gaining by 7.5 points or more. The underdog, in our instance, that is the New York Giants, is indicated with a (+) sign. If you bet on the Cowboys on the point spread, America’s Team has to win by at least eight points for your bet to pay off. Should the Cowboys win by less than eight points, you lose your bet.

A bet on the Giants on the spread doesn’t mean that New York must win the game in order for you to get cash. All the G-Men has to do is come within eight points of the ‘boys, and you will win. You know a winning or losing point spread by adding or subtracting 7.5 from the final scores, depending on what side you place your bet. If you are confident that New York will at least come within a touchdown of beating the Cowboys, or beating them outright, then you would bet on the spread in favor of New York.

What’s the second number in the Sportsbook Betting Lines?

The second number in our instance above (-110 for both teams) tells you how much you need to bet to get $100. It is a simple way to work out how much you will win if your bet pays off, shown in units of $100 at a time for convenience. Most of the time, these two numbers are the same, since oddsmakers would like to set lines so that they get as much action on the underdog as on the favorite, ensuring them profits. If a book gets a single bet of $110 (by a client expecting to win $100) on the Cowboys and a single bet of $110 on the Giants, it will take in $220, but will only need to pay back $210 to whichever client wins the bet. That is an ensured profit of $10, and since sportsbooks betting lines take far more than a single bet in two directions, they can earn that seemingly small amount of profit many times over. The $10 difference between what you bet and what you gain is known as juice or vig in the sports betting, and it is the way books gain their advantage.

What does the last number in Sportsbook Betting Lines mean?

The last number in the top two rows of our example is the money line. If you are not keen on betting on the point spread, you can bet on a team to gain outright. The (+) sign beside the underdog (in our case, the Giants) shows the amount of money you will get for every $100 you wager on the money line. Conversely, the (-) sign beside the favorite’s line shows you the amount of money you need to bet  to get $100. In our instance above, a $100 bet on the Giants gains you $300 should they pull off the upset, whereas a bet of $405 on the Cowboys gains you an additional $100. Representing odds in units of $100 makes laying different size bets simple; if you wish to bet $10 on the Giants, you can get $30 if they win, whereas a $40.50 bet on the Cowboys gains you an extra $10.

What does the bottom row of numbers and letters in Sportsbook Betting Lines mean?

The final line of information in our example for Sportsbook Betting Lines is the over-under. Bets laid on the over-under have nothing to do with which team wins or the difference between the points they get, but rather the combined number of points both teams will score in the game.

The first number – 56.5 in our example is the book’s estimated total score, whereas the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is the amount a punter needs to bet to get $100. If you bet the over-under on this game, you will need to decide whether you expect the combined score of both teams is higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you place bet on the over, supposing the game is a shootout between two talented offenses, you are hoping that the final score will be anything which totals 57 or more. It can be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination which adds up to 57 or more and your bet wins. Betting the under means that the 2 teams can not score more than 56 points combined, or else your bet is lost.

Understanding sportsbook betting lines becomes more simple with practice and experience with various sporting events. The more experienced you are in watching and gambling on numerous sports, the faster you can read sportbook betting lines.


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