How to Bet NCAA and NFL Football
As a long time sports bettor I'm often surprised by how many of my friends enjoy playing poker and/or casino games, yet despite following football have no idea how sports betting works. Now if you've come here looking for advanced football betting strategy, click that link to be directed to the correct page. In this article here I'm simply going to run down the very basics of how to bet football, without getting into anything too advanced.
Most Common Football Bets
Point spreads and totals are the most popular ways football is wagered. A point spread is a handicap used to create a 50/50 wagering proposition. For example: Chargers -3.5 / Colts +3.5. Here Chargers are a 3.5 point favorite, so for Chargers' bettors to win the Chargers must win by 4 points or more. On the other side, the Colts are a 3.5 point underdog. This means those betting the Colts will win if the Colts either win the game, or lose by 1-3 points. The other popular option called total betting is just as simple to understand. Here the bookmaker posts a betting total, for example 48.5, and you bet whether the total points scored by both teams will be either be over or under that posted total.
All Bets Have Vig
Unless otherwise stated all point spread and total bets are priced -110. This means risk $110 to win $100. Of course you can risk any amount you'd like, for example a $25 bet is risk $27.50 to win $25.00 - you're simply risking 10% more than the to win amount. This fee, called vig, is how the bookmaker makes his profit. If bets are priced other than -110, the price will be displayed. For example reduced juice sportsbooks often base their prices at -105 (risk $105 to win $100). In the rare cases point spreads or totals are priced with a + this is how much a $100 stake will win. For example +105 is risk $100 to win $105.
Moneyline Betting is also Popular
No doubt because most bettors prefer close to even money wagers, point spreads and totals are the most popular way football is bet. However another method for betting the game is simply betting who will win straight up with no point spread involved. This is called moneyline betting. An example would be Chargers -175 / Colts +155. Here Chargers' bettors need to risk $175 to win $100, where Colts' bettors are paid $155 for every $100 they risk. I explain this form of betting in my more advanced article on moneyline betting.
Making Multiple Bets with a Single Stake
In football betting all sorts of exotic wagers are available to make multiple bets with a single stake. I'll run through the most common examples below:
- Parlay Bets - With this form of wagering add any combination of point spread, totals or moneyline selections to the same ticket, and the bookmaker will pay you the same as if you had individually rolled your bets forward going all in each time. Let's use $110 staked on a 2-team parlay with both selections priced-110 as an example. This would calculate as $110 to win $100 on the first bet. You'd theoretically get back $210 and bet it on the next game as $210 to win $190.91. If this wins you get back $400.91 of which $110 was your stake and $290.91 was your profit. $290.91/$110=2.65. This shows a 2-team parlay with both selections priced -110 pays 2.65 to 1. You can make any sized parlay wager you'd like and the bookmaker will do the math and tell you what the payout will be if all teams win. I suggest though reading my article on parlay betting where I explain how some bookmakers short the payouts.
- Teaser Bets - A teaser bet is a form of a parlay that uses a modified point spread or total. The betting site offering the best odds on teasers is www.bovada.lv. Here you can wager 3-team 6-point teasers at +180 (risk $100 to win $180). How this works is say you were betting Jets/Bill Under 47, Patriots -7.5 and Giants +5.5, a teaser would give you a single bet on Jets/Bills Under 53, Patriots -1.5 and Giants +11.5. In order for your bet to win all selections must cover their modified point spread. For an advanced strategy on this type of wagering see my article on football teasers.
- Pleaser Bets - A pleaser bet is the opposite of a teaser. Rather than getting 6 points in your favor you're giving the bookmaker 6 points in his favor. Using the earlier example of Jets/Bill Under 47, Patriots -7.5 and Giants +5.5, a pleaser bet would give you Under 41, Patriots -13.5, Giants -0.5. This is a rare form of wagering, only offered at select sites such as www.betonline.com. At BetOnline 3-team 6-point pleasers pay 17 to 1.
- If Bets - This form of wagering is basically a bankroll management tool. How it works is you make a wager say $110 to win $100 on Panthers -3.5. You can then specify - "if win" bet X on Redskins +4.5. The X can be any amount up to the size of your stake, in this example up to $110.
- Action Reverse Bets - This is a strange type of wager difficult to grasp the concept of. It's very similar to a 2-team parlay but it's actually two separate if bets. It works out as if selection A wins bet selection B -AND- if section B wins bet selection A. To show an example if you did a 2-team parlay on two selections each priced -110, this is risk $100 to win $265; you either lose $100 or win $265. Doing an action reverse on the games, if you go 0-2 you're down $100, if you 1-1 you're down $54.55, if you go 2-0 you're up $181.82. If you're confused don't worry, this type of bet is a rare and very few football bettors understand or use it.
- Buying Points - This form of wagering is the exact same as point spread betting, but you're given the option to purchase half points in your favor at 10 cents each. For example if the line is Jets +5.5 -110, you have the option of taking Jets +6.0 -120, or Jets +6.5 -130. When buying point spreads involving 3 or 7 a premium is charged. This premium along with strategy for this type of wager is covered in my article on buying half points in football.
Another form of wagering available is called live betting, or in-play live betting. This is the ability to bet the game while it's in progress. The website www.bovada.lv is an in-play betting specialist offering live betting for most every game nationally televised in the United States.
This is a wager on how a team will fair over the course of the season. Most online betting sites offer wagers all season long on which team will win the NFC, which team will win the AFC, and which team will win the Super Bowl. At some sites wagers are available for who will win the league MVP award, Heisman Trophy, as well as future bets on who win each division. The betting site with by far the best odds on futures is www.5dimes.com.
The final wagering option available for football to mention is football propositions. These are wagers decided over the course of one game that involve betting something other than the point spread, moneyline or total. Examples include: which team will score first, will the longest TD in the game be over/under 51 yards, will there be a defensive score, will there be a safety, will a certain quarterback throw an interception, etc. These are just a few of the hundreds of examples of novelty wagers offered for football. To learn more about these as well as advanced strategy for betting them refer to my article on football prop betting strategy.
Getting Started Betting Online
Now that you understand how football betting works, consider visiting our page on sports betting bonuses for helpful advice on selecting an online sportsbook. Our website contains a lot of sound strategy written by a professional sports bettor; perhaps it would be best to start with his article on football betting systems or any of the others linked on this page.