The betting line is the points or odds set by the oddsmaker, which determine the conditions under which a bet is placed. In sports betting, there are two types of lines, point spreads, and money lines.
point spreads are used for football and basketball and are what most people are familiar with as the “line” or the “spread.” point spreads award extra points to the underdog and takes away points from the favorite. Let’s take a look at the typical point spreads from a daily newspaper:
DALLAS -4 Jacksonville
There are three key components of point spreads listings: 1) Dallas is the home team. The home team is always listed in capital letters. 2) Dallas is the favorite. The favorite is always listed on the left side. 3) The point spreads are -4, meaning Dallas is favored to win the game by 4 points.
If you were to ask somebody what the point spreads are on the Dallas/Jacksonville game, the answer would be “Dallas minus four” or “Jacksonville plus four.” A bet on Dallas would require that the Cowboys win by more than 4 points. However, if the Cowboys win by less than 4 points or lose the game outright you would lose your bet.
On the other hand, a bet on Jacksonville would only require that Jacksonville not lose by more than 4 points. Yes, even if they lose the game, you can still win your bet. If they lose by less than 4 points or win the game outright, you win. Conversely, if they lose by more than 4 points then you lose your bet.
A push would occur if Dallas was to win by exactly 4 points. When a push occurs, your money typically gets refunded except for the juice. Obviously when ½ points are in the point spreads there cannot be a push.
The juice is the amount that the bookie charges for accepting the bet. He only collects the juice if you lose or push on your bet. In most cases, the juice fee is 10%. So when making a bet, you would have to risk $110 to win $100. This would be how your wager summary is usually presented. It includes the 10% fee in the amount you bet.
Look for discrepancies in the point spreads. Oddsmakers set point spreads, not necessarily by which team they think will win, but to balance the money wagered so they collect the 10% juice. For example, Vegas sportsbooks had made Duke a 9½ point favorite, considered quite large for an NCAA championship game. Well, as we all know, Connecticut went on to upset Duke and become the national champions. As we were all watching the celebration, one of my friends looked over at me and said, “Boy, the oddsmakers sure didn’t do their homework in setting the point spreads on this one.”
It was another case of somebody not understanding what the purpose of point spreads are. Therefore, when the oddsmaker is setting point spreads, he is trying to pinpoint the exact point spreads that will bring in equal amounts on both sides.