People say that baseball is America’s #1 pastime. In the sports betting world, no sport is bet on more than football. This page will give a quick snapshot of the basics of betting on football, as well as detail a few of the various wagering options that are available should you choose to bet on football.
If you are looking to make money betting on football, it’s important that you learn about just how the points spread (line) works. I’ll also detail various wager types so you can know all of your football betting options.
Football betting works on a point spread. Also called a “line” – I’ll just call it a spread for simplicity sake. The spread for any given game can be as low as a “Pick” (which means the spread is = to zero), therefore if you pick the winner of the game you will beat the point spread and win your bet.
Of course, the spread can move to -1/2, and go up to much greater numbers, like -42. Obviously a -42 is a high point spread, but it’s not uncommon in the first weeks of college football as many major division one schools schedule lower tier opponents who just can’t compete with them. This helps the higher powered schools get off to a fast start and gain confidence with their team. Again, that’s just a spread; the favorite certainly does not always cover that spread.
Betting the point spread in football is the same in college and pro football. The team favored (with the – in front of them when you read the line) has to win by that amount of points or greater in order to “cover.”
Cover: this is a term used to describe when a team wins versus the point spread.
Example: “The Bears covered the 5 last night because they won by a score of 21 – 14.”
Push: a push is when the bet does not win, nor lose.
Example: “The Bears pushed last night because they were favored by 3 and won by a score of 16 – 13.”
Line Off: when the line is not posted for a certain game. This can happen for many reasons, including the uncertainty of star player’s status of participating in the game, weather conditions, or other event.
There are many types of bets you can make on football outcomes. I’ll highlight the options below.
Straight Wager: the most common bet, this is the result of what happens when someone bets the point spread or over / under.
Example: Bears – 3 for $5.00
Example: Bears vs. Packers over 42.5 for $5.00
Parlay Wager: this type of wager allows you to make a bet on the results of 2 or more outcomes of sporting events. The odds are increased and high payouts can be achieved by betting on multiple events and adding teams to the parlay.
Example: Bears – 3, Bears vs. Packers over 42.5 for $5.00 ———– pays $12.50 (Payouts will vary depending on juice.)
Other exotic bets include prop bets, which allow the player to wager on outcomes that are usually of statistical nature. They can also include the coin toss (heads or tails), the number of the player who scores the first touchdown, and much more. Exotic bets really don’t have any ceiling, and depending on where you bet on football games, you can be offered a variety of props, testing your knowledge of football statistics and allowing you to root for many different outcomes within the same game.
If you are new to football betting, betting the spread of your favorite teams is the best way to get a handle on the experience gambling on football brings.
Other important terms and football betting slang that you will hear include many I have detailed below. (In no particular order.)
Hook: a hook is what gamblers and bookmakers call a half of a point.
Example: “The Bears are favored by three and a hook.” (-3.5)
ATS: abbreviation for “against the spread.” Going against the spread can mean backing the underdog in an event.
Buy Points: this means that a player has chosen to pay an increased amount of money to obtain a line that favors the side of the game he wants to bet on.
Example: “Buying a half of a point to make the line 3 instead of 3.5 will cost 20 cents. (20%.)
Chalk: means “the favorite.”
Juice: Also called a “vig,” this is the commission or amount charged to wager that is graded as a loss.
Money Line: the money line is a figure that is either + or – for a team involved in each event. The favorite will have a “-“ and the underdog will have a “+”.
Example: “Chicago +180.” “Dallas -275.”
Teaser: a teaser is an exotic bet that allows the player to move lines of multiple games by a set amount of points. In football, six point teaser’s are very common. The juice charged to these wagers varies as the number of teams is increased.
Example: “Dallas is -7. New York is -7.” A two team, 6 point teaser would bring the totals of each game to the respective lines: “Dallas -1. New York -1.”
In most teaser bets both teams have to cover the spread, however there are many variations of teasers and a lot has to do with the number of teams involved and where you bet on football.
Total: the point total of both teams involved in the football wager. This is also called the “over / under.”
Example: “Dallas vs. New York total is 42 points.” If the hypothetical score is Dallas 24, New York 16, the total would be under.
That is a simple guide to terms that will help you when you are betting on football. Use it to your advantage.