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Football Betting

How Football Betting Works

By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Football betting can seem confusing to some There are a ton of different betting options. We’ll get to those later. Let’s focus on the basics. The far-and-away most popular wager is called a straight bet. Now the point-spread comes into the picture. In football, you have teams that just flat-out better than the other team. Sometimes it will all even out, but not very often. In the great majority of games, there is a team that is better or has more favorable playing conditions. It might be by a little or a lot and that’s where the point-spread comes into play.

In other words, everyone knows Alabama is going to beat Western Carolina. Something needs to be in place to make each side of the bet attractive. So when you make Alabama a 50-point favorite, now it’s not a no-brainer anymore. Here’s how it will be listed:

Alabama -50 (-110)
Western Carolina +50 (-110)

This is how it will be expressed by the book. Alabama is -50, meaning they are giving up 50 points. If Alabama won the game 62-14, you would subtract 50 from their final score, which would make it 14-12, meaning Alabama would not “cover the spread.” Western Carolina would have 50 points added to their total making it 64-62 and they would cover. That was a pretty extreme example. Let’s look at a more customary point-spread.

Kansas City Chiefs +3
Oakland Raiders -3

A plus sign always indicates an underdog. A minus sign always indicates a favorite. In the above listed game, Kansas City is a 3-point underdog and Oakland is a 3-point favorite. To win a bet on Oakland, they have to win by more than 3 points. For Kansas City to win, they can either win the game or lose by under 3 points. If Oakland wins by exactly 3 points, the bet is considered a “push” and everyone gets their bet money returned.

You will be making these bets on money line, meaning you have to bet a little more than you stand to win. The normal line is -110, which means you have to bet $110 to win $100. Try to find a -105 line meaning you only have to bet $105 to win $100. You can cut your vig in half and save a lot over time. (5Dimes Sportsbook offers reduced odds)

Much of the betting public likes favorites. They like prominent teams and it’s illustrated by how they bet. The bookie, of course, knows this. Therefore, he doesn’t really need to go out of his way to get people to bet on those teams. People are going to bet on teams like the Patriots, Packers, or the Giants--those teams have a big national following. The bookie might give a point-spread of lesser value to those teams than he would with a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, where it takes more to entice people to bet. Generally, the bookie doesn’t want one side getting all the action or they’d be on the hook if that side of the bet won.

Teams like the Patriots and Packers are usually pretty good, so they’re still going to win bets. The point is that there can be a lot of value found on teams that are not considered to be very good. Being a fan and a football bettor are two different things. With spreads, you can’t just blindly bet on the best teams and think everything is going to work out. You have to find which teams are getting point-spreads that are out-of-line, meaning they are being undervalued.

You will hear a lot of people trying to give you tips, but be careful whose advice you take to heart. As a betting man, you have a completely different set of concerns than the guy at work or the talking head on ESPN. Don’t let others poison your picks. Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless might know sports, but they know how to bet on sports the same way you know how to play the french horn.

In football betting, the main enemies are ourselves and the almighty juice (vig). It’s critical that we minimize the destructive impact of both of those sinister elements. Control and discipline is key. Forget about who the quarterback is on the team you’re betting for a minute and focus on the field general that lies within. The quarterback you’re betting on can play great, but if you’re botching it as the QB of your betting, it won’t matter. That means we all need to have a stoic single-mindedness on the long-run and never be thrown off-center, regardless of what temporary setbacks befall us. Too many people who get involved with football betting fail because they allow temporary problems to become permanent ones.

With vig, we have a choice. Those of us who had bet on a -110 line on college and pro football for years before finding a -105 line are still kicking ourselves over it. We could have been cutting our juice in half this whole time. Do yourself an immeasurable favor and get this edge of betting -105 instead of -110 in your corner. You don’t even have to work for it, like you do with every other edge you try to get when betting football.

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