Sports Betting Guide - Learn about Lines, Spreads and Odds

Publish Date:2022/3/12 13:12

This could very well be the year of sports betting. Every U.S. state has broken betting revenue records so far. But when it comes to sports betting language, it seems to be a completely different language.

The phone shows the three biggest sports betting apps above, and this year promises to be the biggest in the sports betting industry.

States have legalized sports betting since 2018. Currently, more than half of the states in the United States have started sports betting operations. 2021 brings record total stakes. In the first five weeks of operation, New York brought in $1.2B in bets. Pennsylvania is one of the largest markets in 2021, bringing in $393 million in total revenue in January alone.

With the rise of sports betting, it seems everyone wants a piece of the action, including bettors. Words like chalk, hook and juice are commonly used. But what does all this mean?

If you're just getting into the world of sports betting, there are four keywords you need to know right from the start. The four words are "moneylines", "point spreads", "favorites" and "underdogs".

money line

"Moneylines" is the easiest bet to understand. You are picking a winning team. If they win, your bet will pay off. If they lose, then you lose too. However, the more popular "spreads" in basketball and football tend to offer better value. Now let's look at an example of "moneyline" and "point spreads".

Let's assume this "money line" example is the Detroit Tigers playing against the Chicago White Sox in Major League Baseball. The "win line" in the game is -140 for Detroit and +110 for Chicago. In this case, Detroit is the "favorite" because they have a "-" next to the -140. Chicago are "losers" because they have a "+" next to +110. The "-" sign indicates how much risk you need to take to make $100. The "+" represents what you would win if you bet $100.

In this case, you would have to wager $140 to win $100 in Detroit, and you would risk $100 to win $110 in Chicago. Or, in dollar terms, you win $1 for every $1.40 you risk on the Tigers in this game. For every $1 you risk in Chicago, you win $1.10.


Once you're comfortable with what the numbers mean, you'll also notice that most sports have a "spread" that can be wagered on each game. Betting on "the spread" is the most popular form of betting in the United States. The "spread" is created because sports bets want to balance the number of bets they place on each team. Most people don't want to bet that a team will lose, so the "point difference" means that the team needs to win by a certain amount to "make up" the "point difference".

The "spread" balances the "odds" by making the "losers" wager and win (even if they don't win the game). Bookmakers will assign a number to each game, called a "spread", and it will be displayed next to the two teams. Favorites will have a "-" next to the spread, while losers will have a "+".

To place the hottest bet, the team needs to win the game by more than the "spread". However, if they win or lose by less than the "spread", the bet on the "loser" will win.

Let's use the recent Super Bowl as an example of "spread". The Los Angeles Rams are a -4 favorite against the Cincinnati Bengals. This means that if you bet on LA, they must win by more than 4 points to win. If you pick Cincinnati, they may win or lose by less than 4 points. If the game ends with Los Angeles at 4 points, it will be a "push" and bettors will get their money back.

What happened in the end was a perfect example of the team winning the game, not "covering" the "spread". The Rams won 23-20, meaning they won by 3 points, so there was no "covering" -4 "point difference". Cincinnati bettors will win on the "spread" as they get +4 points.

Now, hopefully the next time you walk into sports betting and look at all the numbers, you'll better understand what it all means.

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