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"Sports Betting 101"
(Football Picks Edition)

Sports Betting 101 article includes information on making football picks and how to do your sports betting for the new sports betting enthusiast!

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For almost half of the year, men everywhere have their weekends packed with football picks and watching the games. The weekdays consist of chatter around water-coolers, employees discussing their weekend college and nfl football picks and previous. The regular sports fan weekends are filled with men putting off chores that their wives have ordered in the hopes that they can watch their football come through. Yes indeed, football betting is a religion to many men. Do you ever want to get in on the action and join these intense water-cooler conversations but you feel as though you don’t know enough about the game and football betting? Well football betting is as easy as 1-2-3, and after reading this article, you will be the one calling the shots at the office.

There are several types of bets that can be placed on football games, from the straight wager to the ten-team parlay. Some of the terms can be confusing, but don't get overwhelmed as it's not as complicated as you may thing.

Straight Bets (Detailed)

First, we will start with the straight wager (also called a "straight bet" or "point spread bet"). The straight wager is the simplest bet there is. A straight wager is simply betting on whatever team you think is going to cover the point spread.

For example, suppose the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and you are considering a bet on the game. What you will need to do is find the "Spreads" (aka "Game Lines", "NFL Odds", "Football Odds", "Betting Lines") from your bookie, at your favorite casino sportsbook, in the newspaper, on the web. When you find the NFL lines, you will look for the teams playing. Then, you might see something in that looks like this;

105 Dallas -4
106 Philadelphia +4

First, the number on the left (you may or may not always see depending on where you go to find your lines or spreads) is called a "rotation number" and it's there simply for organizational purposes only (making it easier for casino employees or readers to find the game or team they are looking for on the odds sheet).

Now, the number on the right is the most important part. This is the "point spread" (also called the "game line", the "number", or the "betting line"). In the example above, you see a +4 next to the Eagles and a -4 next to the Cowboys. This means, the spread on this game is "4" and the Cowboys are favored (or "the favorite") and the eagles are "underdogs" (or "dogs). Someone would say, "The Cowboys are 4 point favorites this weekend" or "The Eagles are 4 point dogs this weekend"

Using the above example, lets say that you went to your favorite casino sportsbook and placed bet on the Dallas Cowboys -4 (using the above example), then they would have to win by more then four points for you to win your bet. Three things can happen as a result:

  • The cowboys win by 5 (or more). This means the Cowboys "covered the spread" and you would go back to the casino sportsbook and the book would give the original amount that you bet back to you plus your winnings.
  • The Cowboys win by 3 points or less (or lose the game outright). Therefore, you would lose your bet and get nothing (because they didn't "cover the spread" but still won the game.
  • The Cowboys win by exactly 4 points. This is called a "push" (where nobody wins (you or the sportsbook). In this case, you would go back to the book and they would give you the original amount that you bet back to you.

All losing "straight bets" come with a 10% service fee to the sportsbook. This is how the casino makes money if they happen to get the same amount of bets on each side of the spread. This is commonly called "Vig", Vigorish", or "Juice". Since the book obviously cannot trust the player to come back and pay their 10% service fee if they lose their bet, the vig is added into the original bet and the player pays it when they make the bet. You will always get the service fee (or vig) it back if you win.

So, in the above wager example, if you wanted to place the bet hoping to win $100, you would hand your sportsbook casino cashier $110 total ($100 plus 10% possible vig) and say, "I would like to bet $110 to win $100 on Dallas Cowboys -4" and the cashier would give you back the bet ticket and take your money. After the game, you take the ticket back to the cashier and give it to him.

  • If you won the bet (Dallas won by 5 points or more), you would get back exactly $210 ($110 original bet with the vig + $100 in winnings)
  • If you "pushed" (Dallas won by exactly 4 points), you would get exactly $110 ($110 original bet with the vig)
  • If you lost your bet (and Dallas didn't cover the spread), you would get nothing back (making your ticket garbage)

If you see a "spread" with a half a point added to the line (example: 4.5), this eliminates any and all possibility of a push where you can only win or lose your bet.

Moneyline Bets

The next type of wager we will discuss is similar to a straight wager. This is called a “Moneyline” wager. A moneyline bet eliminates the point-spread in your football picks and compensates for it by a lower payout. Let’s look back at our Cowboys example. Suppose you feel as though the Cowboys are a sure thing to win, but you are not so sure that they will win by 4 points. You can bet on the Cowboys moneyline and eliminate the point-spread. The catch is that instead of needing to lay $11 for every $10 you wish to win, you will probably need to lay around $16 for every $10 you wish to win. If you bet the Eagles moneyline, on the other hand, and you bet them to win the game outright, instead of betting $11 to win $10, you will bet $10 and it will probably win you around $14. The moneyline wager can be very effective if used properly with the right football picks.

Total Bets

The next type of football picks wager is called a “Total” bet. These type of football picks have nothing to do with who is going to win the game, but rather how many total points will be scored in the game. For instance, every game, along with setting the point-spread for the game, Vegas sets the total for the game as well. If it is too defensive-minded teams playing in the game, the “Over/under” will probably be somewhere around 35. If it is a battle with two explosive offenses, the “over/under” will be much higher. The bet follows the same rules as a point-spread wager, except that instead of betting on which team you think is going to win, you bet on whether you think the total points scored will be higher or lower than that of what Vegas has set.

Parlay Bets

The next two types of bets I will discuss are slightly more confusing and involve more than one prediction. The first type of wager involving more than one selection is called a parlay. A parlay is a combination of straight wagers, moneyline wagers, and totals. For instance, suppose you feel as though the Cowboys, Giants, and Saints will all cover their respective point spreads. Instead of betting each game individually, you can choose to place only one wager involving all three of them. In order to win the wager, every team in your selection must win. If even one team loses, the wager is lost. The reason that parlays are so enticing is that they offer very good odds. For instance, a 2 team parlay usually pays 3-1 odds and a 3 team parlay usually pays 6-1 odds. Parlays can all be totals, moneylines, straight wagers, or a combination of others. They usually range from two to ten teams.

Teaser Bets

The next type of bet involves more than one selection. This type of bet is called a teaser. A teaser is similar to a parlay in the fact that if any of the selections are lost the bet is void, but it is set up somewhat differently. Suppose the Giants are favored by 6.5 points over the Seahawks and the Cardinals are favored by 5 over the Packers. A two team, 6 point teaser, would usually pay around even money. If you wanted to tease the Giants and the Packers, you could then make the line Giants -.5 and Packers +11. It is a very enticing wager because both lines now look much better with the allotted 6 points in each game. However, the catch is that in order to win, both teams need to win their wagers. If one team loses, the teaser is lost.


The final type of bet that you need to know is called a future wager. A future wager is exactly what it says it is, a wager that is going to happen in the future. For instance, suppose you think the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl. You can place a wager all year long on the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. If the 49ers are predicted to be poor, they will be very high odds and the payout will be very lucrative if they do in fact win the Super Bowl. If you think one of the favorites will win the Super Bowl, you can also place a bet on them. The favorite’s odds are usually somewhere between 3-1 and 6-1. The future bet is one of the most fun bets to brag about around the water cooler if your prediction does in fact come true. You can tell all of your friends that you knew the 49ers were going to win the Super Bowl since last March, and you can prove it to them by showing them the new BMW 5 Series parked in your spot.

You now have all the knowledge needed to be a football picks and sports betting expert at the water cooler. While sport wagering gets a little bit more in-depth, you will pick the rest up no problem as you gain experience. Have an enjoyable football season and may your days be profitable.

Note: Many services will not remind you of this (for fear of losing business), but sports betting and inveting is something that should be done to generate supplimental income unless of course you have the ability to spend 24 hours a day varying different lines, playing middles, funding several online account, and plucking additional edges away from the house. Always play with caution and using a respecible value the won't impede on your personal welfare. We can advise you of the smartest and sharpest moves, but our experts can't mange your money for you and make decisions for you outside of picking winners.

Be sure to check out some of our NFL betting tips and successful advice

Do your sports betting at our recommended online sportsbooks!

Get free football picks From the Bankroll Sports free picks and from our guest sports handicapping services! Thank you and good luck from Bankroll Sports!






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