The biggest and most popular wager in sports betting has always been the point spread. Sports bettors use it straight up. Sports bettors use it in parlays. Sports bettors play the point spreads as much as they can and for good reason. Not only are the point spreads built into everyday sports talk, they are broadcast on every pregame show. For every sporting event, there will be a favorite and an underdog. The chance of a huge upset is one of many reasons why sports fans tune into games they might otherwise ignore.
The point spread is a part of our everyday vernacular. Furthermore, point spreads consistently deliver the best odds and, therefore, the best payouts. That said, choosing a point spread to wager on should not be approached haphazardly. The sports betting industry is built on these lines moving. They are living and breathing things and not to be misjudged or misused. For any sports gambler looking to be successful, it’s important to remember to remain patient when finding the sports betting lines you want. You’ve done the research and weighed the pros and cons, now reward yourself with the smart wager. Here’s how.
How are Lines Set
A popular misconception about point spreads is that they are set as a strict matter of handicapping. If the New England Patriots are seven-point favorites versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, one thinks that, in a vacuum, the Patriots will win 28-21. Furthermore, the art of picking games on the point spread is knowing when this will happen or when it won’t. Maybe the Patriots will play a little better and cover that spread or maybe the Steelers will. Of course, this is just not true.
Oddsmakers and sportsbooks set the point spread as a way to get you to place a bet and for no other reason. The outcome of the game is practically secondary to how much money they get placed on the game. Also, oddsmakers and sportsbooks want an even split between both teams of any game. This is why the juice exists. They take money from the losers and shortchange the winners. This is how sportsbooks remain so successful and the reason why the buildings in Vegas don’t get smaller. Realizing this will help you understand the difference between a good bet and a bad one. If you’ve ever looked at a point spread that seemed odd, this is why.
Now that we know why the point spreads are set the way they are, it’s important to know that the lines also move. Remember, all the oddsmakers and sportsbooks want is for there to be equal action on both sides of a bet. They want as much money on the favorite giving the points as they have on the underdog getting the points. This ensures them a profit. A trick they have to help make this happen is moving the lines.
For instance, take that Patriots versus Steelers game. The vast majority of bettors see the Patriots -7 points and know the Steelers will make it close and cover the point spread, so they bet as such. Now, the sportsbooks have more money on the underdog side of the wager. When this happens, and it happens all the time to every bet, the oddsmakers will then move the line down. Let’s say to where the Patriots are only -6.5 or even 6. This, of course, changes everything. Now, more people will be wagering on the Patriots to win at the lower point spread, causing the money to even out again. Just as the sportsbooks like it.
Line movement is going to happen on every game, and that is why it is important to remain patient before placing your wager. When a game is approaching, it is wise to not look at the spread at first. Take everything else into consideration first. Weather, injuries, home-field advantage. Even guess at what you think the point spread might be. Then check the point spread. Then, more importantly, wait for it to move. Which way the line moves will help inform your wager. Did it go up, toward the number you thought it would? Did it go down? Either way, you’ll be able to see where the bulk of the action is, and from there you’ll be able to place a more confident wager.
Don’t Forget the Moneyline
The moneyline is another very popular sports bet which allows you to simply pick a winner of any game with odds attached to it. This affects only the payout, not the outcome of the game like a point spread does. However, they work in a very similar fashion. Odds will go up and down for the same reason point spreads will, to even up the action. The moneyline isn’t set because one team is three times better than the other, they are set to get you to wager on them. Watch where those lines move, and you’ll be able to see who is betting where and just how nervous the oddsmakers are.