For those just starting out in sports gambling, the most exciting time of the year is always mid-August. It’s only a few weeks away from NCAAF and a little bit after NFL kicks off. Below is a primer to get ready for what’s seen every autumn when opening up casino apps or looking up at Las Vegas odds boards. Compared to MLB or NHL, football is much more straight forward in terms of lines. Complicated options like player props are discussed in other articles, so these are “101” basics that everyone should intimately understand.
When looking at weekly pro football odds, three standard numbers are unquestionably found:
Total. Let’s break down what each means and what to examine before getting down.
Tampa Bay +270
New Orleans -300
A Moneyline is staking a team to win the game outright, point spreads totally irrelevant. In the above example, if placing $100 on Tampa Bay and they win, $270 is returned. Inversely, if wanting to earn $100 by backing New Orelans, risking $270 would be required. As mentioned when providing an explanation of baseball gambling lines, having multiple accounts at various books is vital as numbers can vary greatly, also fluctuating during the week based on injuries, news, and bookie liability.
Tampa Bay +6 -110
New Orleans -6 -110
When getting down on spreads, it’s staking whether a particular team will win or lose by a minimum amount of points. In the example above, New Orleans is favored to win by 6 points, so if staking this option they must be victorious by 7 or more to cash tickets. Alternatively, if backing Tampa Bay, they must lose by 5 points or less. If New Orleans wins by 6 exactly, stakes are refunded no matter which side is taken, known in the industry as a push. If primarily getting down at land-based operations, odds are commonly +100, -110, -115, or maybe -120, usually fluctuating depending on the hook, which is a half point added to either side.
If betting at U.S. offshore sportsbooks, a wide range of odds are frequently found, not necessarily every 5 cents, again reiterating the importance of shopping for value. Using the above example from November 5th, 2017, Website A offered NO -7 -110 and Website B had -6½ -110, which can be a massive difference in football.
Tampa Bay 54½ -115
New Orleans 54½ -105
Totals are when action is placed on the combined points for both teams, the above example displaying an Over/Under of 54½. Top numbers always correlate with the Over and bottom ones the Under. Often, both will be set at -110 but in this example, it’s
shaded to the Over, meaning a slightly higher price must be paid to take it. This happens when books are trying to get action on a particular side to even out their liability, as ideally for them, both options are backed equally. Typically, Over/Under is shaded one side before ultimately moving a half point in that direction.
Those three options are standard for NFL and NCAAF, however, several more are found such as team totals, first half, individual quarters and countless team and player props. Be aware that while NFL spreads range from Pick (PK), meaning squads are so even a point spread hasn’t been added, to -15 or higher depending on perceived discrepancy in teams matching up, NCAAF may be much larger due to the wider range of skill that occurs. College totals could also be vastly increased compared to pro football, but identical principles apply to both sports.