Spread and Moneyline Bets. A Basic Introduction to Sports Betting.

“Las Vegas Nevada signage in Las Vegas, U.S.A. during nighttime” by James Walsh on Unsplash

Originally posted on 21stfinance.com

Sports gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry that can turn even the average sports fan’s interest up many notches. Various terminology is used throughout the gambling world, and with words such as moneyline, parlay, and round robin, it can get confusing very quickly. The two most common bets that are available for betting on games are moneyline bets and spreads. With even a base knowledge of these two bet types, a beginning gambler is well on their way to enjoying sports in a whole new way.

Moneyline Bet

The moneyline bet is the simplest bet that anyone can place in sports gambling. A moneyline bet is used for picking the winner of a specific game, no matter the sport and no matter the score. For example, in the a 2017 NFL divisional round playoff game, the New England Patriots were facing off against the Tennessee Titans. In this instance, the Patriots were heavily favored by many sportsbooks, and media outlets alike. By using this example, one could possibly see numbers as shown.

New England Patriots -1000

Tennessee Titans +500

By seeing the -1000 figure for the Patriots, it is clear that the Patriots are heavily favored to win. The -1000 figure states that you must bet $1000 to win $100. While the payout is only a 10% return, the odds heavily favor New England. So, if New England wins the game you will receive $100 in profit as well as the original $1000 bet.

Conversely, if you believed that the Titans could pull the major upset, you would receive a higher payout. The +500 figure states that you must bet $100 to win $500.The payout in this case returns 500%, but one must realize that sportsbooks believe that Tennessee will not win. You could potentially profit $500 and return the original $100, but the risk is higher.

Spread Bet

Spread bets are the most common method that gamblers use for picking games, and potentially earning a profit. A spread bet is essentially picking how much you think a team will win or lose by. By following the example of the Patriots versus the Titans, a sportsbook might set the following numbers.

New England Patriots (-14) -115

Tennessee Titans (+14) -110

In spread bets, there are two important figures to look after. By seeing a -14 in the Patriots numbers, this means that New England must win by more than 14 points for the gambler to win that bet. If New England was to win the game, but by only 7 points, the gambler would lose their money because the Patriots didn’t cover their spread. Conversely, if one decided to take the Titans at +14 this means that Tennesse cannot lose by more than 14 points. If the Titans were to lose the game by 7 points, the gambler would still win the bet because the Titans covered their spread. In many spread bets, the returns are generally about the same figure, and seeing a payout of -110 or -115 very common. Once again at a payout of -110, the gambler must bet $110 to win $100.

If the Patriots were to win the game by exactly 14 points, it would be considered a push. In a push, you don’t win the bet, but you get your original money back. Many sportsbooks take advantage of half point spreads, -13.5 for example, to ensure that a push isn’t possible.

By understanding how spread and moneyline bets work, the novice sports gambler can begin to enjoy sports in a whole new way. One last tip: Never gamble more money than what you are willing to lose.

Good luck, and happy gambling.




I enjoy sports, gambling, finance, and things that affect young people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jeff Perkins

I enjoy sports, gambling, finance, and things that affect young people.