Online sportsbooks offer as much excitement for your NFL betting dollar as virtually any other form of gambling. Putting $25 bucks down on a four team parlay can keep you on the edge of your seat for hours... and hitting for a big win is guaranteed to make you come out of your seat!
Perhaps the most confusing part of sportsbook betting is the variety of bets offered ... the types of wagers can get pretty creative. You can make bets for your team to win the game. You can bet on which team will win the Super Bowl (a "future"), you can make bets where you pick a number of games, (parlays) and much more.
You can get "points" which means after the game is over, you can add (or have to subtract) a certain number of points from your team's total score to see if you won the bet. This type of betting lets two teams that have different skill levels on the playing field be "even" on the "gambling field". These points are known as the "point spread".
The point spread, or "points" or "spread", is set by the "odds makers". These guys are very skilled at what they do. An important part of sportsbook betting is to understand the job of the odds makers. Their job is not to pick the wiiners and losers for the games.
Their job is to balance the bets so that the same amount is wagered on each side. A casino makes money on taking a percentage from the payoff of a bet. For example, if you make a bet of $100 and win, you'll get back your original $100, plus $90 that you won. The $10 share for the casino is known as the "vigorish" or "juice".
Good spread makers know things such as the public will bet more often on home teams and usually a 3 point advantage is needed to even out any home field advantage, in the eyes of the betting public. Knowing how the public will bet is a major requirement for a odds maker.
What the sportsbook hopes to do is to pay you $100 out of the $110 someone else lost by betting on the other team. In essence, they are being "middle men" for betting action. They do not want to gamble, although sometimes the casinos really take a beating when they don't get the amount of money evenly bet on both sides. In reality, you are not betting against the casino, you're betting against other gamblers, with the casino being the "broker".
The line can "move" or change, depending on current circumstances. Let's say the Rams are playing the 49ers next Monday night. The week before the line has St. Louis favored by 10 points, meaning they must win by 11 points or more to win the bet.
On Friday, the Rams announce that Kurt Warner and Marshall
Faulk ran into each other during practice and are both
injured and out for the week. Obviously, these events
will affect the outcome of the game. More importantly
to the sportsbooks, these recent developments will also
impact how we bettors bet the game. So, the sportsbooks
adapt and now make the game even. The thinking is, to
have people bet on the Rams after all the injuries,
the casinos will now have to give some incentive for
bettors to bet on the
We now have a 10 point "middle"! Had we bet the 49ers when getting 10 points, then bet the same amount on the Rams, after the spread dropped 10 points, then we bet them at even, only two things can now happen: We either win both bets, or we win one, and lose one! This is sportsbook heaven!!!
Remember, your bet is paid on the spread at the time of your bet, not the spread at game time.