Sports betting can be one of the best types of investments that you can make, if you have the right information in front of you and can successfully handicap a game. To get this information, however, you are going up-to-the-minute injury reports, late coaching scratches, and last second odds moves. None of this will do you any good, though, if you don’t know how to effectively read sports betting odds.
Every sport has a different style of odds to master. Now, there are some similarities between baseball and hockey odds as well as the same type of similarity between basketball and football odds. In all, there is usually six major sports that people attempt to effectively handicap. Between collegiate and pro football, collegiate and pro basketball, baseball, and hockey, there are numerous options throughout the season for the savvy bettor to take advantage of.
Football/Basketball (both college and pro)
Football/basketball offers three types of bets: spread, moneyline, and totals. The most popular types of bets for these two sports is the spread bet. With this bet, you are giving your opinion on who you believe will “cover” the spread. For instance, let’s say that you’re watching the game between the Patriots and the Bills. The spread on this game is 8 points, which will read Patriots (-8) and Bills (+8). If you are betting on the spread and you pick the Patriots to win, you are saying that they are going to win by more than 8 points. Incidentally, betting on the Bills is saying that the Bills will lose by less than 8 points.
Moneyline bets in football/basketball are generally played by people who have large bankrolls that can afford the sometimes outlandish prices that are put down on a team. With these moneyline bets, you are strictly betting on who you believe will win the game, with no points being given or taken away. Be extremely careful because some moneylines can get very pricey (e.g. -1500 for a great team, +1500 for a bad team).
Totals bets are bets based upon whether you believe the combined scores of the two teams involved will go over or under whatever the posted total for that game is. Totals usually fluctuate by 0.5 points. The more money that comes in on a game total of 57 will drive that total up higher, say to 57.5 or 58. If the money is coming in on the under, the total will move down to 56.5 or 56.
Baseball/hockey offers three different types of bets: moneyline, runline/puckline, and totals. Moneyline totals are the easiest to comprehend because you’re betting specifically on who you think will win the game. There is no spread that goes with a moneyline bet, so you just want to pick out who you think is going to win and bet them accordingly. Be careful, however, because big time favorites (Yankees, Red Sox, etc.) usually have huge prices that you will have to pay when they are going up against perennial cellar-dwellers (Orioles, Royals, etc.) “Paying a huge price” means that these teams usually have odds of -200 or higher. The way to read this is that you will have to pay $200 to win $100, so as you can see the risk/reward ratio is a lot lower than if you were to be on the underdog’s price of +200, which means that every $100 bet you make will garner you $200 if that particular team is victorious.
Runlines/pucklines in baseball/hockey are always -1.5, which is basically like betting spreads in football games. You are picking which team you feel has a better likelihood of winning by more than 1.5 runs/goals (you would bet on Team A -1.5) or losing by less than 1.5 runs/goals (you would bet on Team B +1.5). Be careful here again, though, because sometimes the prices get very expensive and are genuinely not worth the risk.
Totals are played exactly the same way that they are in football and basketball. The only exception with baseball/hockey is that the totals do not move as frequently. For instance, a total on the game between the Red Wings and Flyers might have a total of 5.5 goals. It is unlikely that the game total will change much from this number, instead you will see the individual prices for betting the totals (-110, +105, -125) fluctuate throughout different points of the day.