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Betting Lines Explained 2024: What Are Betting Lines & How To Read Them?

Publish Date:19/05/2023
Fact checked by: Heather Williams

One of the most basic parts of placing a bet is knowing how to read sportsbook lines, yet it is not fully understood by so many bettors. As a result, they can miss out on some wagering opportunities, which will affect their overall experience.

To understand the betting line for the Super Bowl or any other sporting event, youโ€™ll need to take a much closer look at how sportsbooks work. That will include how to tell the underdog from the favorite, how the odds work, and how the spread fits into all of this.

Betting lines explained

The first thing every new bettor needs to get to grips with after joining one of the best betting sites is learning how to read betting lines. In the most simple terms, a betting line refers to the odds for any event, and this is true for all markets, and once you know how it all works, you will be able to make better decisions and have a better wagering experience overall.

The betting line will contain all the information you need to place a wager on that market, and depending on where you go it could show you the spread as well as the moneyline or just the moneyline odds. You should also be able to see at a glance which of the competitors is the underdog and which is the favorite. This is key to understanding the odds you see in front of you and placing informed wagers.

How to read betting lines

If the betting line just shows the moneyline odds, this is easiest to understand so it is best to start the explanation there. When betting the moneyline, you need to understand the odds before you do anything else, that way you know what your risk is and what your potential returns might be.

When looking at any moneyline, you will see that the favorite is defined by having their odds beginning with a minus sign. These odds indicate how much you would have to successfully wager to win $100. So, for instance, if a heavy favorite had odds of -300, you would have to wager $300 to win $100. This does of course work proportionally, so you would stake $30 to win $10, or $600 to win $200.

On the other hand, the underdog will have a plus sign in front of their odds, and the number tells you how much profit you would make on a $100 bet. So in this case, if the underdog was +300, a successful $100 wager would win you $300. Again this works proportionally, so you could bet $10 to win $30, or $200 to win $600.

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What is the spread?

Now that basic moneyline betting has been explained, you need to look at the spread โ€“ which is usually also indicated on betting lines, but with different odds attached. In short, the spread is an added factor created by sportsbooks to even the odds between the two participants.

In the situation used as an example above, the favorite at -300 would see most of the bettingย  โ€“ which is not what the sportsbook wants, as their profit margins are dependent on there being equal action on both sides of the game. So they would calculate what they think will be the points difference between the teams to create the spread.

For example, they might think that football team A is a 12-point favorite over team B, so they would set -12 as the spread. This means team A would have to win by at least 12 points for you to win the bet. This can be extremely useful for reading betting lines in the NFL and other major sports where the elite teams are quite evenly matched.

Movement in betting lines

The odds you see on sportsbook lines at any point can move, even before a game. This might be due to announcements like a star player being injured. Of course, they will move more rapidly while an event is in play, as points or goals are scored, and players are replaced or injured.

Conclusion - knowing how to read betting lines can improve your sportsbook experience

Whether you are money line betting or taking a look at the spread as well, knowing how to read betting lines can help you make better decisions. When you know what it all means, you might be able to find more wagers that suit your betting style, especially for major sports like the NFL or NBA.

All of this is just part of your journey to becoming more informed as a bettor. Youโ€™ll find the best betting guides elsewhere on the site that can help you understand many more aspects of sportsbook and casino betting, so you should certainly check them out.

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Main keyword FAQ

๐Ÿ’กHow do betting lines work?

Understanding betting lines is part of betting 101 but even so, many bettors are not sure what they are looking at. By checking out our latest guide, you will be able to see how to read a betting line, and therefore make more informed decisions when placing a wager.

๐Ÿ’ญHow do I read betting odds?

When placing a wager it is important to know what your risk is and the size of any winnings should your bet be successful. To be able to read odds easily, and see exactly what you are betting on, check out our short guide.ย 

๐ŸŽˆWhat is the spread in football betting?

The spread can be found on most betting lines, but some bettors are missing out by not knowing what it is, and how it works. By reading our short guide, you will know exactly what you are seeing on betting lines, and if betting against the spread might be the better option for you.

๐Ÿ’ธWhat are moneyline bets?

Reading betting lines can be confusing with so much information contained in just a few columns. To help decipher what you are looking at and allow you to see what all of the wagering opportunities are, including moneyline bets โ€“ read our new guide.

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