Everything Sports Betting
What is a Point Spread?
The point spread is the perceived difference between two teams in a given game. In the example below, the Philadelphia Eagles are -8.5 and the Washington Redskins are +8.5. This line suggests that the Eagles are 8.5 points better than the Washington Redskins in this game. If you were to bet on the Philadelphia Eagles on the point spread, the Eagles would need to win the game by 9 or more points in order for you to win the bet. If you bet the Redskins +8.5, the Redskins could win the game outright or lose by less than 9 points and you would still win the bet.
When betting spreads, the traditional vig is -110. If you were to bet the Eagles -8.5 (-110), you would need to bet $1.10 to win $1.00. Sometimes, sportsbooks will add additional vigorish to a point spread bet before moving the number. Point spreads and their vigorish can vary between sportsbooks. As always, it is recommended that you have multiple books and shop the line to see who gives you the best value while paying close attention to the key numbers.
What is a Total Bet?
A game's total is a predicted cumulative score between two teams. In the example below, the Washington Redskins score combined with the Philadelphia Eagles score is expected to be 45.5. As a bettor, you can bet over or under the total of 45.5. Simply put, if the combined score goes over 45, the over bet wins. If the combined score is less than 45, the under bet wins.
When betting totals, also known as over/under, there is a traditional vig of -110. In this example, you would need to bet $1.10 to win $1.00. Just like spread bets, the sportsbooks sometimes add vigorish before moving off of the total. Different sportsbooks could have different numbers for the total points and the vig, which makes shopping the bet at multiple sportsbooks advantageous.
Favorites and Underdogs
The team that is expected to win the game based upon the point spread is the favorite. The favorite is easily identifiable based upon the team that has a negative point spread. Conversely, the team that is expected to lose the game based upon the point spread is called the underdog. The underdogs always have a positive point spread.
In the example below, the Philadelphia Eagles, the favorite, are expected to beat the Washington Redskins, the underdog, by 8.5 points. In order for the Eagles to cover the point spread as the favorite, they would need to win the game by more than 8.5 points. The Redskins would cover the point spread if they lose by less than 8.5 points or win the game outright.
What is a Moneyline Bet?
Essentially, a moneyline bet is a wager on a team to win the game. If you bet on Team A and Team A wins, you win the bet. It is that easy. Moneyline bets get more convoluted when factoring in the vig associated with each play.
In the example below, the Washington Redskins are playing the Philadelphia Eagles. According to the spread, the Eagles are 8.5 points better than the Redskins, which implies the Eagles would win this matchup at a higher percentage than their opponent. Because of this, there is additional vigorish on Eagles moneyline bet. In essence, you would need to bet $4 to win $1. If you think the Redskins will win the game, you could bet $1 and win $3.10 if Washington prevails.
It is important to note the difference between these two moneyline plays. If you subtract the Eagles moneyline by the Redskins moneyline (310 - 400 = 90) you get the moneyline vig. 90 cents is a significant disparity between the 20 cent straddle in the spread. The sportsbook limits its liability by hiding extra vigorish in moneyline bets. With that being said, there is different straddles between games and sportsbooks, which makes shopping the moneyline bet at different books extremely important. You will be far more successful in sports gambling and moneyline betting if you have multiple outs.
What is Vig?
- the percentage deducted from a gambler's winnings by the organizers of a game.
- vig, juice, rake, cut, take
Vigorish is the price the sportsbook charges the bettor for placing a wager. It is basically a gambling tax. The standard vig is -110, which means you have to lay $11 to win $10. Because of this, you can win half of your games and still come out a loser.
Novice gamblers fail to recognize the importance and impact of the vigorish. The vig on a particular play should correspond with the outcome percentage. When taking account of the vig, If there isn't a 50% chance a play pays, the bettor should pass the game. Bettors should analyze each game to determine if there is a positive expected value.
When betting sides, it is very easy to determine the value of the vig and its potential impact. Traditionally, -110 is the standard vig on a side bet, meaning you need to win 11 out of 21 or 52.38%, to break even. However, sometimes sportsbooks will add additional vig before moving off a number. This will force the bettor to win at a higher percentage in order to be profitable.
When betting straight up, the vig is baked into the number. In order to determine the amount of vig, the bettor needs to calculate the straddle (the difference in vig between the favorite and the underdog). A majority of the time, there should be a 20 cent straddle. However, with future plays or odds that move frequently, there may be a considerably larger straddle.
One Sided Bets
Occasionally, sportsbooks will post yes/no bets, but only offer one side of the play. This makes it extremely difficult or even impossible to truly determine the vigorish. Bettors should be very hesitant betting these types of plays.
What is Line Movement?
A game's line, or spread, is not a static number. It moves, changes, and adapts based upon the money and information that materializes. Understanding how line movement works and, more importantly how to take advantage of it, can increase your likelihood to win at sports betting.
When a sportsbook posts a spread for the first time, it is called the opening line. The opening line acts as a blank canvas. When you bet against the opening line, you are betting against the bookmaker alone. No square, sharp, or syndicate has touched or influenced the line. If you do your homework and are prepared to pounce, it can be the most profitable time to bet. However, most of us are not sitting at the sportsbook, constantly refreshing our apps, or even prepared to bet when the opening lines hit.
When the bets start coming in, sportsbooks evaluate the betting percentage and the overall handle. The oddsmakers shift the line in reaction to the percentage amount bet on each team, the overall money bet on each team, and/or the person/syndicate that bets it. Typically, early week line moves are a reaction to smart money. NFL weekend line moves are almost always public action. It is prudent to try to catch the steam early in the week and fade the public move on game day.
Another reason for a line move is new information. If there is an injury, quarterback change, or other impactful information that materializes, the line can and, most likely, will move. If you can get to the information before the oddsmakers, you can get the right side of the line move. At Avoid the Vig, we have our NFL Beat that tracks NFL beat reporters as a means to get the information and bet as soon as possible before the line moves.
What is a Prop Bet?
A proposition bet, or prop bet for short, is a wager that comes in many different varieties. Although the limits are typically lower than side or total plays, they can provide valuable opportunities to make money.
Not only the type of wagers, but the odds for the same line can vary greatly between sportsbooks. Identifying lines that provide middling opportunities between sportsbooks can offer low risk and high reward.
In a typical NFL Sunday there three main types of prop bet wagers: game, team, player. Examples of each are in the slideshow below.
Many times, these prop bets have a one sided line. For example: "Will Player A score a touchdown? YES (+350)". When there isn't a "NO" listed, there usually is additional hidden juice that increases the sportsbooks hold. As a rule of thumb, it would be prudent to avoid these types of plays.
Some domestic books and most off-short books offer exotic props. The Super Bowl offers the most popular exotic prop bets: who will win the coin toss, how long will the National Anthem be sung, what songs will the halftime performers play? When prop bets like the latter two are posted, if there is significant action on one side, it normally means there is insider information. Trying to catch the steam on these wagers can be a profitable endeavor.
What are Betting Limits?
The maximum bet amount you can make is considered the betting limit. Sports betting limits vary greatly between sportsbooks, sports, bet types, time of the bet, and even the person making the bet. For the average bettor, betting limits never come into play because of the small amounts they make per bet. However, for the bigger bettors, it can be very difficult to bet the amount they want because of these limits.
The NFL, followed by the NBA, MLB, and NHL, has the largest limits. An unknown bettor could walk up to a window at most shops and bet $2,500 without question on an NFL Sunday morning. If the bettor is a known commodity, it wouldn't be uncommon to get $10,000 down. However, the lesson known sports may have limits to $1,000 per game or even much lower in some instances.
The bet types also significantly impact the betting limits. Spreads and totals generally have the highest limits, while prop bets and exotics plays have the lowest.
Time of Bet
The day of the week greatly affects the amount you can bet. When the opening lines post several days before an NFL game, they are traditionally much lower than the day of the game. As the week progresses, sportsbooks raise their limits.
Although limits are generally a set standard for a sportsbook, they may raise or lower their limits based upon the person who is placing the bet. For instance, a sportsbook may want a high roller's action. They may raise the bettor's limits to ensure they receive their business. Conversely, if that high roller starts winning consistently and the sportsbook starts losing money in the long term, they may lower the bettor's limits or refuse to take their bets entirely.
Most sportsbook allow you to bet the limits and, if the line moves, bet again. For example, let's say you max bet the limit of $2,500 on Team A -3. If the line moves to -3.5, you would be able to bet $2,500 again.
Although there is a general consensus regarding the concept and verbiage of betting limits, there is still great variance on the limit for each sport, bettor, bet type, and the day of the week. It is prudent to research each book individually to determine their betting limits.
What is In-Game Betting?
Just as the name suggests, in-game betting is wager placed during a game. This style of betting increases engagement and opportunity for the bettors to take advantage of what they see on the field or court.
In-game betting is also known as in-game or in-play wagering. Most in-game betting is on a side or total, usually with increased vig. It is not uncommon to see a standard vigorish to be at -115 or significantly higher depending on the game action. Oddsmakers will usually increase the juice before changing the number. In-game wagering is typically suspended during game action and then reposted during time-outs or stoppage of play.
Different sportsbooks can offer very different lines and vigorish during in game betting. It is important to have multiple outs and shop your pick before placing an in-game wager.
In-game betting requires a bettor to process information extremely quickly to be effective. An injured player, inclement weather, or obvious mismatches in style or game play can create tremendous betting opportunities. However, far too often, bettors use in-game wagering as a method to chase losing plays, which is why it is extremely important to remain diligent and disciplined when in-game betting.
Parlays, Teasers, and Pleasers
A parlay bet is a wager in which multiple teams are bet as one. In order for a parlay bet to win, all parts of the wager must be winners. No matter how many teams are listed in the parlay, if one team loses, the ticket is a loser. The reason why so many bettors play parlays is the allure of betting a little bit of money to make a lot.
The odds can vary wildly based upon the vig associated with each team, or leg, of the parlay. Although parlay payouts vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, the standard domestic is payout is as follows:
If this type of wager seems to be too good to be true, it is probably because it is. Las Vegas has a hold of over 30% of all parlay tickets. No other type of bet has more than 7%. So yes, wagering a small amount of money to make a lot sounds like a great idea, but in reality, it often is not.
Let's suppose you have a three team parlay. If you hit two out of three plays you still lost the parlay, yet you were 66% correct. If you could pick winners at a 66% clip, with good bank roll management, you could get rich quick. Yet, if you parlayed all three plays, you are a loser.
Round Robin Parlays
Round Robin Parlays are simply a quick way to bet multiple parlays simultaneously. Lets suppose there are three teams: Team A, Team B, Team C. A Round Robin Parlay would be as follows:
Parlay 1: Team A and Team B
Parlay 2: Team A and Team C
Parlay 3: Team B and Team C
If Team A loses, both Parlay 1 and 2 lose.
Although betting parlays is often a fool's endeavor, there are exceptions to the rule. A parlay in which an outcome of one play significantly impacts the outcome of another play is known as a correlated parlay. For example, imagine Team A is a high flying, high octane offense. Team B is a pound it out, run-first, rely on the defense type of team. If Team A wins, it will most likely be a high-scoring game. If Team B wins, it is most likely that it will be a low scoring affair. Betting Team A and the over or Team B and the under would be correlated parlays.
Much like a parlay, a teaser bet combines multiple plays into one wager. A teaser bet adjusts the spread or total and then parlays it. Different sportsbooks allow you to move the line anywhere between 4-14 points. However, the traditional teaser is between 6-7 points.
Imagine taking an 8.5 point favorite and changing the line down to 2.5. You would win that game significantly more frequently than laying the original 8.5. Of course this would require paying additional vig. A teaser takes some of the vig away by combining two plays into one parlay wager. A traditional 6 point teaser has a vig of -130 at most sportsbooks.
NFL teasers that pass through the key numbers of 3 and 7 are known as advantage teasers. These types of teasers give the gambling a distinct advantage because of the value moving on/off and through those key numbers. It is highly suggested that a vast majority of your teaser plays are advantage teasers.
When analyzing teaser options, keep in mind the addition vig associated with each spread. When teasing teams, the individual vig is dropped and only the teaser vig is in play. For instance, a two team 6 point teaser traditionally has -130 vig, although this can vary from sportsbook to sportsbook.
If Team A is -8 (-125) and Team B is +2.5 (-120) the teaser vig is still -130. The teaser bet would be Team A -2 / Team B +8.5 (-130). The additional vig associated with each leg of the teaser is dropped and only the -130 is applied. This gives even more value to your play.
Note: Betting NFL teasers is more profitable than NCAA. College football provides high volatility in the outcome. It is not uncommon for an underdog or the favorite to cover the spread by double digits. NFL spreads are much more predictive of the game's result. More NFL games end in a six point swing of the spread in either direction than college, which makes NFL teasers more profitable.
A pleaser bet is a wager that allows the bettor to give points back to the sportsbook for better odds. A pleaser is the exact opposite of a teaser in the sense that it is a parlay bet in which the book is getting the better line instead of the bettor. Because of the worse odds, pleaser bets are very difficult to win. It is important to note that not all sportsbook offer this type of wager.
What is Buying Points?
When you buy points, it essentially means you are paying extra vigorish to move the line in your favor. Selling points is when you get reduced vig for moving the line in a less favorable direction. Typically, every half a point move is a 10% reduction or increase in juice.
In the example below, the Los Angeles Chargers are favored by -2.5 (-110). There are options to move a full point down by sacrificing an additional 10% vig. However, moving to -3.5 the vig jumps 30 full points. Most books will increase the vig going through a key number. Because 3 is the most key number (the NFL favorite wins by 3 points almost 10% of the time), the sportsbook will reward the bettor for sacrificing those points.
Ultimately, buying or selling points is not an advantageous decision. Unless you are getting to or going through a key number, it is usually best to stay put unless your handicap screams the line is way off. If you are buying a lot of points to bet a game, you probably should reconsider betting it entirely.
What are Power Rankings?
One of the major difference between sharps and squares is that sharps bet numbers and squares bet teams. The most successful sports handicappers use a quantitative standard for assessing the game. In order to do that, it is imperative to use power rankings, also known as power ratings, to identify the point differential between opposing teams. By comparing two teams power ratings and accounting for home field advantage, the bettor can objectively determine what the point spread should be and take advantage of any difference in the actual line.
Team rankings are a snap shop of where the team is on game day. There are a plethora of factors that combine to make up the team rank. Some of the many factors are positional strength, strength of schedule, margin of victory, against the spread margin, yards per play, DVOA, injuries, previous opponent, future opponent, situational edges, motivation, team continuity, coaching, analytical data, and many more. These factors are blended together uniquely to the individual that is creating them. Because of the subjective nature of each aspect of the team ranking and how they are combined, most power rankings can be very different from one another.
Most individuals who work a straight job, (not a full-time sports bettor), do not have enough time to create their own power rankings. It is completely acceptable and even suggested that these individuals find someone they trust or use a composite of multiple power rankings and start handicapping based off the numbers. Find a power ranking that you trust, tweak it, account for home field advantage, handicap ancillary factors, and then bet the point spread value that will offer a 55% or greater return on investment.
What are Future Bets?
Think you know which team will win the Super Bowl, who will hit the most home runs, or who will win the Heisman Trophy? You can can put your money where your mouth is by placing future bets.
Future bets are exactly as the name implies: bets on future results. Sure, every bet that is placed is involving something in the future. However, future bets are usually associated with season long or plays that will not happen for months into the future.
In the example below, the bettor is able to bet which team they feel will win the Super Bowl. If the bettor placed a $100 on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl and they did, the bettor would win $400. If they bet the Dallas Cowboys and the Cowboys ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, the bettor would win $1800 on a $100 future bet.
It is also possible to place a future bet on a player's performance. In the example below, a bettor could place a $100 bet on Patrick Mahomes to win the NFL MVP award with a potential payout of $400 or they could bet $100 on Lamar Jackson with a potential payout of $2,200.
Benefits of Future Betting
Future betting allows a bettor to take advantage of perceived value on season long plays. Many sharp bettors will not necessarily bet the team or player they feel will win the award, but the ones that have the most value. The Patriots are certainly the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but at only 4-1 odds, they do not hold much value. Perhaps, the Philadelphia Eagles at 11-1 odds hold more value even if most agree that the Patriots have a greater chance of winning the Super Bowl.
Many bettors like future bets because it is a season long play and offers increased engagement for a longer period of time. The longer odds also offer greater payouts. Bettors, particularly novice ones, like to wager a little bit of money to make a lot.
Reasons Not to Bet Futures
In the examples above, all of the odds listed are YES. Will the Patriots win the Super Bowl? YES is +400. There is no option to bet the Patriots will not win the Super Bowl. This seemingly insignificant fact has major consequence on a bettor's return on investment. When there isn't a NO listed, it is extremely difficult to determine how much vig is on the play. Sportsbook take advantage of bettors by adding extra juice to these plays, which almost always ensures they will win on all future bets.
Another reason not to bet futures is the fact the sportsbooks hold on to the money for a long period of time. If you were to bet who will win the Super Bowl when they post, the sportsbook would hold on to your money for almost ten months before having to pay anyone out. Sportsbooks can pay out other bettors or gain interest on the money. Conversely, the bettor has less money to make other bets.
When You Should Bet Futures
Most sharps avoid the future market because of the reasons explained above. However, there is an angle that remains profitable year after year: win totals. In the example below, there is a win total posted for each team. The bettor can place a bet that the team will win more or less games than the posted win total. In these examples, it can be deduced how much vig is attached to each play, 24 and 27 cents respectively.
What is Chasing Steam
There are sports betting syndicates that pool their resources, most importantly cash, and bet simultaneously to get down as much as they can wherever they can whenever they feel they have actionable value. This "steam" causes the line to adjusts at these sportsbooks instantaneously when the bets are made. However, there is a period of time before other sportsbook recognize the syndicate plays. This provides an opportunity for other bettors to "chase the steam" and bet with the syndicates.
Why Chase Steam?
Syndicates are one of the few people that can move the sportsbetting market, not necessarily because of the bet amounts, but because they win so consistently. When you chase steam, you essentially can bet the same plays and numbers as the syndicates. Over the course of time, this strategy can be quite profitable over time.
How to Chase Steam?
In order to chase steam, the bettor would need to have access to multiple sportsbooks and monitor the lines. When a line moves suddenly at one or multiple sportsbook, the bettor would then bet the line that didn't move at a different sportsbook.
Avoid the Vig
It is difficult to monitor all of your sportsbooks simultaneously. Flipping between apps or driving to different sportsbooks is a timely and arduous task. Having one screen to monitor all of your outs or having a notification system to let you know of line moves, enables the bettor to chase the steam with more efficiency and effectiveness. Avoid the Vig is in the process of building a customizable platform to monitor all lines at all of your sportsbooks and send notifications to you when the line moves. Keep checking Avoid the Vig for updates and even more innovations to help you win consistently.
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