Betting 101: How to bet on the NFL for beginners
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The NFL is the most popular league in America. And while watching the games are fun enough, one way to get more out of games is having a personal investment in the outcome. That is where betting comes in. Wagering on a game adds excitement and intrigue — while increasing the emotional interest because of the money involved. It is similar to fantasy football, except with the rooting interest being in the outcome, not players’ stats.
NFL betting: Ways to bet
Access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list of sports betting odds and lines.
- Futures betting: Wagering on an outcome beyond a single game result. The most common futures bets are Super Bowl champion, followed by conference/division champion, making the playoffs and regular-season win totals.
- Single-game betting: Wagering on the outcome of a single game. It can be the straight outcome — which team wins outright. It can be against a point spread — whether a team wins or loses by a set number of points. Or it can be whether the combined point total goes Over or Under a predetermined number.
- Prop bets: Wagering on individual occurrences or individual player acts or performances, such as whether a player will score two touchdowns in a game or who scores the first TD of the game.
- Live betting: Bets made after a game starts. As the game goes on, the point spread and Over/Under total will change, as will odds of each team to win outright. If a team favored before the game falls behind early, they may become the underdog.
NFL betting: Key betting terms to know
- Moneyline: This is betting for the outright winner of a game. The line is posted with a positive or negative number. A positive numbered line will profit more than the initial wager. Example: A line of +160 means that a $100 bet would profit $160. A negative number line profits less than the initial wager. Example: A line of -150 means one would have to bet $150 to profit $100 (getting $250 total — their original bet and the profit).
- Point spread: This is essentially a handicap for one team. A team with a negative spread number must win by more than that amount. If the line is Cardinals -3.5, they must win by 4 points or more to win the bet. A positive spread (ex: Bengals +3.5) means one can win the bet if that team loses by less than that amount. Betting the Bengals +3.5 means the bet wins if they lose by 3 points or less, or if they win outright.
- Over/Under: This is also referred to as the total. It is the line for the combined total points scored by the two teams. Often the lines are weighted. An Over/Under line of 45 (-120, +100) means one must bet 1.2-to-1 on the Over, while it’s an even-money bet (1-to-1) on the Under.
- Push: This is when the point spread or point total is matched exactly. If the line has a half point, this can’t happen. If the line finishes in a push, all money is refunded. If the line was Cardinals -3 and they win by exactly 3 points, the bettor gets his money back.
- Parlay: A combination of two or more bets in which all bets must win in order for the parlay to win; if any one bet loses the entire parlay loses. The benefit is a successful parlay pays more. Moneylines, point spreads and Over/Unders can be parlayed. Sportsbooks differ in payouts, but the average payoffs are:
|2-teamer||2.6 to 1|
|3-teamer||6 to 1|
|4-teamer||11 to 1|
|5-teamer||22 to 1|
|6-teamer||40 to 1|
|7-teamer||80 to 1|
|8-teamer||150 to 1|
While they pay more than a straight bet, many consider these sucker bets. The sportsbooks make a lot of money on bettors’ losing parlay bets. Any bet that results in a push does not end the parlay; it is treated as if the game never happened. So a 4-team parlay with a push becomes a 3-team parlay and assumes 3-team odds.
NFL betting: How do odds work?
Odds are usually given in two styles. One is as a positive or negative number. The other is a ratio.
The positive and negative numbers were explained above, but what about ratios?
One might see 8/1 odds. This is the same as +800. A winning bet profits eight times the original bet. Odds with a smaller number on top (or first) are the same as a negative number. 2/5 odds mean every $5 wagered will profit $2 if the bet wins. The smaller the ratio is the more likely the expected outcome.
Get some sports betting action by placing a bet with BetMGM today. For more sports betting picks and tips, visit SportsbookWire.com.
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