Betting Lines Explained: How to Start Betting on a Point Spread


Posted: September 4, 2020

Updated: September 4, 2020

  • Line bets or point spread betting is one of the most popular form of sports betting
  • Each line defines certain limitations for betting
  • Understanding different types of odds is also important for point spread betting

If you are new to the gambling world and you want to learn about how to bet, understanding how the odds work is one of the primary things in a to-do list. It’s time to get betting lines explained. 

What does the betting line mean – betting lines explained

Betting lines or point spread betting is a type of betting that was created to make the contest more even. You can compare line betting to a handicap applied to a team you bet on. Basically, the line determines certain limitations for betting. Usually, if you decide to bet on a favorite, you will often see that their odds are negative numbers. For example, in case Team A has -7.5 odds, it means that you will win the bet only if they reach at least 8 points. If you decide to bet on Team B and they lose by 7 points or less, you win.

Betting on the point spread system was created to balance the chances and make sure everyone has equal opportunity. For the same reason, this type of betting is also known as an equalizer.

Are betting lines fixed?

Short answer – no. Lines can change depending on a current situation, team’s popularity, recent injuries, and line-up changes. Some online betting platforms offer to “freeze” the point spread you bet on, so the subsequent changes do not affect your winnings. However, try to read rules and regulations before you place your bet.

Why are point-spreads listed as half-points?

Those who have just learned about betting lines usually wonder why lines are often shown as half-points like -4.5 or +13.5. This is made in order to prevent a tie. If Team A has +5 odds, the final score is 10-5, and the margin lands on 5, then the sportsbook usually gets the winnings. Thus, the half-point ensures that such a situation wouldn’t occur and someone will always win.

Besides, most of the online betting sites in the US will also take a 10% commission, so keep that in mind when doing line bets.

Betting Lines Explained
Are you ready to make some money?

British, European and American odds – how to read betting lines

Now, when you know about what the betting lines are, it’s time to learn about different types of odds. Sometimes, you will see fractional, decimal, and moneyline odds next to the point spread. These are different formats of odds and if you understand them correctly, you will have a bigger chance of winning.

If we take a look at online betting sites in the US , it’s pretty clear that the odds format is different. This is because US sportsbooks typically use moneyline odds, while those from the UK prefer fractional odds. Moreover, Europe-based online casinos also use a different type of odds – decimal odds. Consequently, all of these odds formats are also known as British, American, and European odds.

Back to basics – fractional odds explained

Fractional or British odds are one of the oldest types of odds, typically used by sportsbooks from the UK and Ireland. If you have ever visited online gambling sites in the UK, you already know that they usually list odds in a form of slashed or hyphenated numbers. For instance, in 5/1 or 5-1 odds, 1 represents the original stake, and 5 stands for the potential profit. It means that you will get $5 for every $1 you wager. Thus, in case you wager $20, you will receive $120 ($100 + $20 original stake). As you can see, it is really easy to calculate the profit with fractional odds. Besides, numerous gambling enthusiasts all over the world prefer this type of odds for this reason. 

As we mentioned before, you will typically find fractional odds on online betting sites in the UK. For example, Bet365 Sportsbook offers fractional odds for UK-based users, but even if you are not from the area, you can always convert the odds.

Balancing the risks – moneyline odds explained

The next type of odds – moneyline or American odds – is quite popular in the US and Canada. Let’s use a $100 wager in order to explain how moneyline odds work. Imagine that Team A has +210 odds, while Team B has -110. At first, this might look confusing, but let’s find out what the numbers stand for. In this example, Team A is an underdog, as it has a plus sign. A positive number represents the amount of money you win for every $100 wagered. Based on the above-mentioned case, you will win $210 if Team A wins. Similarly, if you decide to bet on Team B, you are going to risk $110 for winning $100. In simple words, plus sign means that you are going to win more than you wagered and minus sign stands for the opposite.

Betting Lines Explained
Let’s gamble!

Although this sounds like a long shot, this “plus-minus” system helps to balance the risks. Usually, you can find moneyline odds on online betting sites in the US, like Bovada Sportsbook. 

The easiest odds type – decimal odds explained

Finally, decimal odds is the last type of odds you need to know in order to read betting lines. Also known as European or continental odds, this odds format is popular in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.

Similarly to fractional odds, decimal odds represent the amount of money you win for every $1 wagered. However, unlike in British odds, the number stands for the potential return with the original stake included. Now, let’s take a look at the example. Imagine that Team A has 2.00 odds, while Team B has 15.00. If you decide to bet $50 on a red-hot favorite Team A, you will get $100, including $50 profit and $50 stake. Betting the same amount of money on Team B will bring you a $750 payout.

Finally, you can find decimal odds on online betting sites in the European Union. For example, Bovada Sportsbook allows customers to bet on numerous sports events from all over the world.

How to convert the odds

Your favorite online gambling site uses fractional odds, but you are a fun of moneyline odds? No problem – there are two possible solutions. As we mentioned before, some online betting sites allow users to use different odds formats. For example, you can change odds from fractional to decimal or American by clicking on the odds button (right next to help and language sections) on Bet365 Sportsbook. However, if this isn’t an option, you can always use the odds converter tool.

You can discover more about Bovada Sportsbook here.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments