Sportsbetting Explained in Detail

Making Bets on Sports

1. What type of sports bets are available?

There are 3 main bets that can be wagered on sports.

1. Money Line Bet

A "line" penalizes the bettor for betting on the favorite. The bettor bets more to win less. Generally the odds are expressed in one of 2 ways:

a) Team A - Team B    6 1/2  -  7 1/2

This means that if you bet the favorite (Team A), you need to bet $7.50 to win $5.00. If you bet the

underdog (Team B), you bet $5 to win $6.50. This

b) Team A - Team B    +130-150

This means that you will need to bet $150 on Team A (the favorite is always listed first) to win $100 and

if you bet on the underdog you will need to bet $100 to win $130.

2. Point Spread Bet

In point spread betting the winning bet is determined by the final score rather than which team wins. For example if team A is favored by 7 points over team B, a bettor can still win even if team B were to lose. 

As long as team B loses by less than 7 points, then a bet on the underdog will win.  In the case that Team A wins by exactly 7 points, the bet is considered a "push" and all money is returned to the players.

 Games that go into overtime may be considered "push" bets. Check with your bookmaker to see what specific rules there are for tie games and overtime games.

All bets pay $10 for every $11 bet (about 10%). The dollar the bookmaker keeps is the commission or also called the "vig" and is how sportsbooks make money.  Note that you need to win at least 52.38% of any point-spread bets in order to break even.

A money line bet is useful if you like a favorite in an event but aren't sure it can cover the points.

3. Over / Under Bet

In this type of bet, the bettor bets on whether the combined score will exceed or be below the set points. If the combined score is the same as that set then it is considered a "push" and money is returned to the bettor.

4. Reverse Bets

See #8 below.

5. Parlays and Teaser Bets

See #8 below.

2. What are some general betting strategies?

- Select a few wagers rather than trying too many bets. Always choose a few quality bets rather than trying to win all the bets. Note that you as the bettor can choose to decline to bet at all.

- Research the teams and try to look for weaknesses in the handicapper's line due to factors that may not be accounted for. This requires some sort of "edge" such as very intimate knowledge of a particular team. If you have information that is valuable (eg. a last minute injury) be sure you act on that before the line makers adjust their lines.

- Specialize in one sport and one area rather than trying to be an expert on all sports.

- When betting basketball pros will play more true to form than college teams. College teams have more variables that affect performance and as a result may yield better betting opportunities for knowledgeable bettors.

- With baseball evaluate starting pitching above all other factors.

- With football look for the best quarterback. Also note high first and third down conversion percentages. Team strength is more important in football compared to other sports where a star player can make all the difference.

- Ensure you pick not only a reputable sportsbook but also one that offers a full range of betting options. For example some sportsbooks allow you to buy points on games which may make all the difference in sports such as football which typically have scores that are multiples of 3 or 7. Also note that different sportsbooks have slightly different lines. A single point can make a world of difference over the course of a season.

- Look to bet in an event far before the actual event as the line for an event is weakest long before the event occurs. As game time approaches the lines will move and become harder to beat as they will more accurately reflect the direction that money is moving.

- Do your homework to try to gain an advantage over the line makers. This includes checking weather conditions, injuries, insider insights (e.g. local news), historical records etc.

3. Where should I play my bets? 


Starting from most desirable to the least desirable:

- Other bettors where you can bet directly without paying a vig (commission). This is the absolute idea circumstance where you can find another player to bet against such as a friend. Unfortunately there are drawbacks which include disputes, payment and settlement issues.

- Small bookmakers using a fixed line (doesn't move the line according to betting changes) such as those published in newspapers. The reason for this is that newspapers go to press before the game when relatively little money has been wagered. As game times approaches this line may differ from the newspaper line by up to 1.5 points which provides tremendous advantages for the right bettor.

- Bookmaking offices that quote a line which is current and coincides with Vegas odds-services lines hours before the game but which is not changed thereafter. The same reason as the newspaper scenario described above but to a lesser extent, this type of bookmaker's line can be exploited hours before the game by the right bettor.

- Big offices and high volume that utilize odds services and adjust their lines based on changes in public perception as reflected in line moves in Vegas. There is little to be exploited here as the bet is adjusted right up until game time.

- Nevada sports books. These lines are adjusted almost instantaneously to changes in betting patterns.

4. What is the blindfold method?

This is an example of a sports betting system that does not require you to pick teams based on your knowledge of them and the sport. The system is about exploiting the differences in the lines set by various bookmakers. To implement this method you need at least 3 betting opponents. They should be a combination of the type listed above (#3).

The bets you make under this method do not require you to bet on every game rather you will be placing bets only in those situations where there is a difference in the lines available to you.

To objective is to search for a "soft line" which is a point spread or money line on an event that is different from that which is the most common number used by bookmakers for that game.

For example in a football event the idea is to get quoted lines from a number of sources including newspapers, sportsbooks, bookmakers and television. Any source that you are not actually betting with will do. Determine the "mode" which is the number that occurs most often among those quoted services. If a mode appears twice use the midpoint as the mode.

The mode is used as a yardstick against which we will measure the desirability of the points spreads with which we will actually bet. We then choose a bookmaker that you actually use and find the one quoting the greatest deviation from the mode determined above. The "difference" is the difference between the mode and the bookmaker with the greatest deviation.

Once you have calculated the "difference" and the "greatest deviation" then you can start applying the rules. This difference is your "edge" , the advantage you have and requires you to exploit the "soft line". Note that 1-unit below refers to any betting sum such as $10, $100 or $1000, any sum the bettor is comfortable with.

Betting point spreads

Football: When the mode is 7 or greater make 1-unit bets on teams in which the difference between the greatest deviation is more than 1 point. Make 2 unit bets when the difference is 2 points or more. When the mode is higher than 7 make 1 unit bets when the difference between the greatest deviation and the mode is more than 1.5 points. Make 2 unit bets when the difference is 2.5 points or more. Notice that discrepancies in lines occur more often in college football than pro football which has more betting volume and consequently tighter lines among linemakers.

Basketball: Make 1 unit bets on teams in which the difference is 1.5 points or more. Make 2 unit bets when the difference is 2.5 points or more.

Betting total points:

Football: bet 1 unit when the difference between the greatest deviation game total and the mode is 2 points or more. Bet 2 units when the difference is more than 3 points. Never bet split lines.

Basketball: bet 1 unit when the difference is 3 points or more and bet 2 units when the difference is 4.5 points. Never bet split lines.

Betting money lines:

MMA, Boxing Baseball and Hockey: The same system exists except instead of using point spread modes you use money line spreads and find the greatest deviation in terms of dollars not points. When the best difference is $1 then bet 1 unit. When the difference is more than $1 bet 2 units.

5. Buying points in football

Many large bookmakers will allow bettors to adjust point spreads on football in exchange for an increased commission on the bet. In general you should not buy points except under special circumstances.

Buy half points in football only when the unadjusted point spread is 3. The way points are awarded in football there is a 1 in 7 chance that games will be decided by 3 points. Although in football scores are by 3 and 7 points (touchdown) 3 point margins are twice as common as 7 point margins.

6. Are there any advantages in betting far before the event occurs?

Particularly in football where lines are set early in the week and betting takes place throughout the week, a sharp handicapper will believe a point spread will move during that week. That bettor will make his bet early in the week in order to take advantage of his gut feel on the movement on the points spread. Occasionally his instincts will prove wrong.

In the blindfold method the early line advantage is taken in terms of simple probability and value. In the case of football it states to bet on early lines on the favorite at exactly either 2.5 points or 6.5 points provided there has been no prior movement. The reasoning behind this is that if the line moves, the move from 6.5 points to 7 points (or 2.5 to 3 points) is far more significant than a move from 6.5 points to 6 points due to the nature of the game's scoring.


7. Is it possible to take advantage of a disparity in point spreads among bookmakers?

This is called "middling" a bet and to middle a bet you need to find 2 separate sportsbooks that are putting out different lines. Although this does not happen very often, you may find this on college games where less information is available. For example if one team is favored by 1 point with one sportsbook and 3 points with another sportsbook then you may lay 1 point with the first and take the underdog in B. If the game ends with the favorite winning by 2 points you would collect on both ends. If the favorite wins by 1 or 3, one would tie and you win the other. Middling a bet occurs through wagering at two establishments. Middling may also occur by buying back a bet at the same or different establishment.

8. What are reverse bets, parlays "if" and round robin bets?

Parlay are a single bet that bets on the outcome of more than one sporting event. There are two types: point spread parlays and money-spread parlays that use point spread lines or money lines to determine the payout. Bookmakers charge an increased premium for parlays compared to straight bets since the bet is made on 2 events. The logic in the increased "vig" is that by betting parlays it would decrease the number of bets made thus requiring an increased premium. The vig in parlays is not as obvious as in straight bets and is built into the odds. In the case of an event in a point spread parlay resulting in a "push", the bet is treated as if it were a straight bet on the bettor's other selection. Round robin bets are

"If" bets are similar to parlays that a wager on one team is only valid if the initial bet wins. The amount of the second bet can range from a portion of the winnings of the first bet to the full amount. If the first bet is a loser then the second bet is automatically invalidated. The biggest difference between a parlay and an "if" bet is that in the parlay the entire amount of the first event is put on the second event (in the case the first event wins), whereas in the "if" bet you may control the amount wagered on the second event. This results in more control for the bettor on the amounts wagered. In an "if" bet, game times are irrelevant. "If" bets are popular also because it allows the bettor to see that a second event will be more likely to happen when a first event occurs. "If" bets are particularly effective late in the season when many teams are competing for a few playoff spots. Since some teams rely on other teams to lose in order to qualify for the playoffs, their motivation may vary according to the result of other games. Take advantage of "if" bets in situations such as these whenever possible since they can provide an edge to the bettor.

Reverse bets are composed of two "if" bets involving the same two teams.

Round robin bets is a way of designating a series of parlays. For instance, if a player asked for a $100, three-team Round Robin with teams A, B, and C, he/she is simply requesting a two-team parlay with teams A and B, another parlay with teams A and C, and another with teams B and C, for a total of 3 individual parlays, each for $100. The total amount risked would be $300.

Round Robins get more complex as the number of teams increases. A four-team Round Robin "by twos" for $100 would mean that the bettor wants four teams to be included in a combination of two-team parlays. This would be a total of six individual two-team parlays, for a total risk of $600. If the request is for a Round Robin "by threes", it would include a total of four possible combinations, for a risk of $400. The number of possible parlays can be calculated by the formula below:

Number of possible parlays = (N*N) - N / 2 where N is the number of teams you wish to include in your round robin.

Eg. A player requests a $100 four team Round Robin "by twos", with teams A, B, C and D. The possible combinations would be as follows:

Teams AB $100 to win $260 Teams AC $100 to win $260 Teams AD $100 to win $260 Teams BC $100 to win $260 Teams BD $100 to win $260 Teams CD $100 to win $260

If all four teams win, the player wins $1240, while risking only $600! If one game loses, there is still a profit, even though three of the parlays would lose. The three winners get back $780, plus the $100 laid for each parlay, for a total of $1080. After subtracting $300 for the 3 losers, the player profits $480!

nice post. Can't wait for football season to start..... yee-haw

awesome stuff... wish I had the time to do the research necessary to be sharp at betting... so much to learn in a field most people dismiss as pure luck...


Bringing this back to the Top for UFC 57 and Superbowl week.

Bringing this to the top for new bettors.

Quick question

I read somewhere about a calculation that can be made to figure the %'s derived from moneylines.

Hughes -274
Gracie +254

This line can be converted into a ratio, can someone show me how its done?

My gut tell me these odds would be a 70/30 split, but not sure.

Frills, not to sure if this will help you

nice post. thanks



should be something on here about never betting golf... hope no one else had phil to win it all...

TTT for the new guys. ( me included )

Thanks for the informative post, very helpful

TTT for UFC 79 and  2007-08 Bowl Games

time flys...


For MMA line shopping is key and placing your bets early if the lines are good.

Live betting has been very profitable for me this year too.