How Does the Line Work in Sports Betting?
If you're an amateur bettor that's just starting out and are in desperate need of a quick betting terminology lesson, you've come to the right place. For starters, I would like to believe that you are starting out by picking teams that you believe will win the game outright. That would be known as a moneyline bet . If you are a bit more advanced then that, you would probably be looking at betting the "line" on a particular event. To some, this is known as the spread and that's completely fine. However, if you ever come across a conversation involving the "line", this article will prepare you for what it actually means.
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What is the "Line"?
If you hear the term "line" being tossed around in a conversation amongst bettors, you can be certain that they are referring to the current odds or point spread on a particular event. To take that a step further, when you are placing your bets, the "line" will more often than not be the determining factor on who you decide to pick. The "line" is set by the linemakers (not surprisingly) with the purpose of getting equal action on both sides of the event.
When looking at the line, it is important to know that the team with a negative point spread is always the favorite. The favorite could win the game but not cover the spread, which will leave you with nothing but a losing ticket.
For example, let's say the San Antonio Spurs are at home and are favored by 15 points against the visiting New York Knicks. You would read the line as San Antonio -15 and the Knicks +15. This means that if you bet on the Spurs, they will need to win the game by more than 15 points in order for your ticket to be graded as a winner. The same applies to any bet on the Knicks - anything other than a 16 or more-point loss would give Knicks bettors a winning ticket. If the Spurs happen to win by exactly 15 points, the bet is graded as a "push" and both Spurs and Knicks bettors will get their money back.
How to Find the Best Line
The most common mistake I find novice bettors make the most happens way before they actually place their bet on a particular game or team. Most novice bettors have only one sportsbook, which is a very big mistake. Sportsbooks give the linemakers the freedom to set their own lines as they see fit. While most books may post what seems like the same lines, you can always find a better line if you look hard enough. Some places will be a half-point lower or higher depending on the line, while some may have a better price tag associated with that particular line.
Sportsbooks will always list a price associated with the line, and the majority of the time it is priced at -110. From our example above, the line would now look like this: Spurs -15 (-110), Knicks +15 (-110). In both cases, this means that in order to win $100, you must bet $110. This is called "vig". The most common price found amongst the books pertaining to the line is -110. Sometimes books will raise the price to -115 or -120 on either the favorite or underdog if they feel they need to. If you see a line that is a positive number, such as +150, this means you will win $150 for every $100 you bet.
Most Popular Lined Sports
You can find a line on basically any sport you can bet on from NBA, NHL, soccer, tennis, cricket, college football and basketball, ping pong, volleyball, and even politics. Sporting events will usually be lined with a money line, spread and a total for wagering purposes. However, the most popular sport that linemakers put out lines for is the National Football League. Football is king in today's world, and it is easily the most talked about and bet on sport throughout the calendar year. Sportsbooks even go as far as putting out game lines for the following season starting in June - that's two months before pre-season even gets underway. Most handicappers will confirm the notion that being great at betting on football feels greater than being good at capping any other sport. Football lines are typically the hardest to beat since linemakers often make them their top priority as football typically draws the biggest handle.
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