Football Betting Terms Simplified: A Guide for Dummies

Money Line Bet

Money line bets are among the simplest forms of football betting. Among gamblers, they are also known as “straight up” bets because you make a selection against the point spread (or what’s more commonly known as the money line). When you make a money line wager, you’re simply betting on who you think will win the game without worrying about a point spread. Thus, when you make a money line bet, you can win your wager even if your team loses the game.

Understanding how a money line wager works is best demonstrated with an example. Let’s say, for example, you want to bet on an upcoming NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. The money line for this game might look something like this:

  • Philadelphia Eagles +105
  • Dallas Cowboys -115
  • The numbers in the brackets tell you which team is favored and by how much. Since the Cowboys are favored, the number (-115) is in the negative. That means for every $115 you bet on the Cowboys you will win $100. Likewise, the Eagles (at +105) are seen as the underdogs and for every dollar you bet on them you will receive a $1.05 return.

    In this instance, if you placed a $100 bet on the Cowboys and they win, you will receive a $86.96 payout ($100 bet + $86.96 return ($100 x 0.87) = $186.96). On the other hand, if you placed the same $100 on the Eagles and won, you would receive a $105 return ($100 bet – $105 return).

    Therefore, when looking at the money line it is important to remember that the plus sign (+) represents the underdogs, while the minus sign (-) represents the favorite. As such, you can clearly see that when placing a bet on a money line, you don’t have to worry about the point spread.

    Point Spread Bet

    Point spread bets are bets where you wager on the outcome of a game with the help of the point spread. The point spread is also known as the “line” and is the number of points the oddsmaker predicts the favorite will win by. For a point spread bet, the favorite must win by more points than the line predicts for the bet to be a winner. Conversely, a bet on the underdog wins if they either win the game or lose by less points than the spread predicts.

    To better understand the point spread, let’s take a look at the same NFL game example from before. If the point spread was set at Cowboys -4.5 and Eagles +4.5, it means that the oddsmaker expects the Cowboys to win by five points. A Cowboys bettor would have to bet $110 to win $100, while an Eagles bettor could win $100 with a $110 bet.

    Point spread betting is a bit more complex than money line bets, as the spread is intended to make the odds more even between two teams. Putting it simply, if the spread is four, the team that is the favorite must win by more than four for the bet to be a winner. Inversely, the underdog must win or lose by less than four points in order for the bet to be a winner.

    It is important to note that the point spread can change depending on how the public is betting. If the Cowboys are receiving the majority of the bets, the bookies may move the line up to -5.5 in order to balance the action. On the flip side, they may move it down to -3.5 if more bets are placed on the Eagles. This is why it is important to keep an eye on line movement before you place a bet.

    Totals Bet

    Totals (or Over/Under) bets are a type of football bet in which you’re predicting the total number of points scored in the game. To win, the final score must either go over or under the line set by the oddsmakers depending on the bet you’ve placed.

    Let’s look at our NFL game example once again. The line for a totals bet might be set at “Over/Under 46.5”. If you bet on the over, you will win if the final score is 47 or higher. Conversely, if you bet on the under, you will win if the final score is 46 or lower. You must remember that the half-point is important, as it serves as a way for the bookmaker to eliminate a push or a tie. Thus, if the actual total score is exactly 46.5, your wager will be refunded.

    For a totals bet, it’s important to check the weather forecast as it can be a determining factor when betting on the outcome of a football game. If the weather is expected to be hot and humid, for example, it might make sense to place a bet on the over. On the other hand, if rain is in the forecast, betting on the under could be the better option.

    Parlays Bet

    Parlays are a type of football bet in which you are combining multiple wagers into one. If you are successful in picking the outcomes of all of your individual bets, you will have won your larger parlay. The bigger your parlay, the more money you can win if it comes to fruition.

    For most parlays bets, you will need to risk more money than you will stand to make. This is because each individual leg of the parlay must be successful for the larger bet to win, and the more legs you add the harder it is for it to be successful. That said, the potential for big returns makes parlays a popular choice for many football bettors.

    Let’s take a look at a four-leg NFL parlay bet as an example. First, choose four games and place a point spread wager on each one. Let’s say you chose the following:

    • Ravens +1.5
    • Cardinals -2.5
    • Giants -3.5
    • 49ers +5.5

    If all four of the bets are correct, the parlay pays off. The bigger your parlay, the bigger the return.

    Parlay betting is a great way to add some excitement to the game, as you can win big returns with a minimal outlay. However, it’s important to remember that the odds of winning are much lower than when betting on a single event, and you will need to be very accurate if you want to make any money.

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