How to Bet on Football: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to football betting and keen to get involved
then you’ve just come to exactly the right place. On this page
we will teach you all the basics of betting on football, and
make sure that you are on the right track from the moment you
place your first wager. If you feel like you’re ready to dive right in, here are the top football betting sites we recommend:

Rank Gambling Site Deposit Bonus Get Started
125% Up To $2,500 Visit Site
BetOnline Sports
50% Up To $1,000 Visit Site
Bovada Sports
50% Up To $250 Visit Site
50% Up To $1,000 Visit Site
50% Up To $1,000 Visit Site

In our opinion this is one of the most useful beginner’s
guides to football betting
you’ll find anywhere on the internet.
It covers everything you need to get started, and yet you don’t
need to worry about getting overwhelmed with detail as we keep
our explanations as simple as possible.

For those who are only really interested in wagering for a
bit of fun, you’ll be ready to go as soon as you’ve finished
reading this page. For those of you with ambitions of making
long term profits, we also point you towards a wide range of
additional information and advice that will help you to achieve
such goals. We’re not promising that we’ll make you an instant
expert, but we’ll certainly give you the chance to become one.

If you’re simply just looking to bet on football games right now we have
listed our top recommendations for online betting sites below. These
are sites that we have found to be trustworthy with our money and
offer football bettors true value.

We recommend reading through this whole page from start to
finish, but we’ve listed the various topics we cover below if
you’d prefer to skip straight to something specific.

How to Bet on Football: Page Contents

Before You Start: Recommended Reading

If you’re already familiar with how sports betting works, and
know a thing or two about football, then please feel free to
skip this section. If, however, you’re completely new to sports
betting and/or not much of a football fan, then there are a few
things you should learn before you start placing bets on
football games.

Firstly you really need to understand the basics of what
sports betting is all about
, and what’s involved with placing
wagers. These basics are relatively straightforward, so
thankfully it doesn’t take long to get up to speed. It’s
definitely advisable to familiarize yourself with them though.
Our beginner’s guide to sports betting is the perfect resource
for this. Here’s a selection of some of the topics it covers.

In addition to knowing the basics of betting, you should also
know at least the basics of football too. It’s likely that most
people reading this are big sports fans, and fully understand
it, but that’s not necessarily the case for all our readers. We
like to cater for everyone, so we’ve written the following two
articles explaining all about the game at both professional and
college level.

Different Types of Football Bets

One of the first things you should understand about betting
on football is the fact that there are several different types
of wagers
that can be placed. You won’t necessarily use all the
different types, depending on what strategies you employ, but
it’s still advisable to learn at least a little about each one.

Below we look at the two most popular types of wagers, some
of the other commonly used options, and the various options for
wagering on multiple games with a single bet.

The Most Popular Types of Football Bets

There are two types of football bets that are used far more
than any other. Many people who bet on football place only the
following wagers.

  • Point Spreads
  • Totals

Some readers will already know all about these and how they
work, but we’ll explain a little about them for those that

Point Spreads

A point spread is effectively a handicap that’s used to
create a 50/50 wagering proposition. For example, a bookmaker
may offer the following point spread on a football match between
the San Diego Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts.

Chargers vs Colts
Point Spread

What this spread means is that, for the purposes of wagering,
the Chargers will have 3.5 points deducted from their final
score. For a bet on them to be successful, they would therefore
have to win by four points or more. The Colts, on the other
hand, will have 3.5 points added to their final score. A bet on
them would be successful if they won the game, or lost by 3
points or less.

You can read more about point spreads on the following page.


Totals are just as easy to understand. With these, the
bookmaker posts an expected total for the amount of points
scored by both sides. On the previously mentioned match between
the Chargers and the Colts, for example, they might set the
total at 48.50. You then have to decide whether to bet on the
over or the under.

A wager on the over will win if the combined score from the
two teams is 49 or over (e.g. Chargers 29, Colts 24). A wager on
the under will win if the combined score from the two teams is
48 or less (e.g. Chargers 19, Colts 17).

We explain totals in more detail on the following page.

Before we go onto explain some of the other types of wagers
you can place, there’s some very important information that we
need to mention.

The basic principle of point spreads and totals is that you
have roughly a 50% chance of winning, so technically a “fair”
return on these types of wagers should be equal to the amount
staked. However, they are usually priced up by bookmakers at
odds of -110 (1.91 in decimal odds format, 10/11 in fractional
odds format), which means for every $110 staked you stand to win
$100. You don’t have to stake as much as $110 of course, but the
point is that a successful wager will only return 90% of the
amount staked (plus the initial stake of course).

This is because bookmakers are in business to make a profit,
so they effectively charge a commission for taking wagers. This
commission is known as the vig, short for vigorish, and it’s one
of the ways that bookmakers stay profitable. They don’t charge
it just for points spreads and totals either, as it’s built into
the odds for every wager that they offer.

Further Information

If you have any ambitions of being a
successful bettor, we strongly recommend reading our article
explaining vig and how bookmakers make money.

Other Common Football Bets

In addition to point spreads and totals, there are three
other types of bets that are commonly used for wagering on
football. These are as follows.

  • Moneylines
  • Props
  • Futures

We’ll now provide a brief overview of each of these, and
point you towards some additional information on each one too.


A moneyline wager is very simple. It involves simply backing
a team to win a match, with no point spread involved. The odds
for moneyline wagers are based on each team’s relative chance of
winning. For example, the moneyline on a game between the San
Diego Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts might look like this.

Chargers vs Colts

The Chargers are the favorites here, and the odds of -175
mean that a stake of $175 is required to win $100. To put it
another way, every $1.75 staked stands to win $1 if the Chargers
win. Initial stakes are returned too of course.

The Colts are the underdogs, so backing them means the
potential for higher payouts relative to the amount staked. The
odds of +155 mean that every $1 staked stands to win $1.55 if
the Colts win (i.e. a $100 wager stands to win $155 if the Colts
win). Again, initial stakes are also returned.

For more information on moneylines, and the strategy involved
in placing them, please see the following article.


Props, short for propositions, are wagers on outcomes that
are decided during a football game, but are not necessarily
directly linked to the final result. Some examples include the

  • The first team to score.
  • The distance of the longest touchdown.
  • The total passing yards of a quarterback.
  • The number of field goals kicked.

These are just a very small selection of some props. Many
bookmakers offer dozens of different options, particularly on
high profile matches. Props are generally considered a fun type
of bet rather than a way to make money, but it is possible to
make consistent profits from them. We explain more about props
on the following page, where we also offer some strategy advice.


Futures are wagers on how teams, or individual players, will
fare over the course of an entire season. A wager on a team to
win the Super Bowl, placed at the start of the season, would be
considered a future. So would a wager on a team to be the
National Football Conference champions, or a wager on a player
to win the Most Valuable Player award.

There isn’t a lot more to explain about futures, and there
isn’t really much in the way of specific strategy for them
either. We do go into a bit more detail on them on the following
page though.

Betting on Multiple Football Games

A lot of people like to bet on multiple games at once, as
this can provide the potential for big payouts. It’s not
something we particularly advise beginners to get involved with,
but it doesn’t hurt to understand the options available. The
main ones are as follows.

  • Parlays
  • Teasers
  • Pleasers

Let’s take a quick look at what these are all about.


A parlay basically combines several different wagers into
one. For example, a parlay could be made up of five point spread
wagers on five separate games. The payout for such a wager could
be very attractive, but only if ALL the wagers were correct.
Just one wrong pick would mean the whole wager failing. That’s
why these are considered quite risky. They’re a bit more complex
than the previous wagers mentioned, but we won’t go into any
more detail here. We do on the following page though.

Teasers & Pleasers

Teasers and pleasers are essentially types of parlays that
use modified point spreads or totals. With teasers, the spreads
or totals are moved in the bettor’s favor. With pleasers, they
are moved in the bookmaker’s favor. There’s plenty more to
explain about these wagers, which we do on the following pages.

Where to Place Your Football Bets

Now that you know about the different wagers you can place on
football, the next step is actually placing them. The question
you’re probably asking now is “how and where can I do this?”
There are a few options, which we list below, but please be
aware that not all of these are available in all parts of the

  • Casino Sportsbooks
  • Bookmaking Shops
  • Telephone Betting
  • Online Sports Betting Sites

Casino Sportsbooks

Many casinos around the world contain a sportsbook. They
usually feature several big screen TVs showing any live sports
action currently taking place, and computerized odds boards
displaying all the latest odds. There are typically cashier
windows where you can place your wagers with a real person, but
some books have interactive machines instead. Either way, these
are great places to place some bets and watch the games at the
same time. The problem for Americans, though, is that they are
only legal in Nevada. There are plenty of sportsbooks in Las
Vegas casinos, but not in other parts of the country.

Bookmaking Shops

Bookmaking shops are mostly like sportsbooks, they’re just
not inside a casino. They also generally have lots of TVs
showing sports, and a counter where wagers are placed. These
shops can be found in many countries around the world, but
they’re not legal in the United States.

Telephone Betting

A lot of bookmakers offer telephone betting services, and
they are usually very straightforward to use. It’s a simple
matter of calling the relevant number, telling the operator you
reach which wagers you want to place, confirming the odds, and
then providing your credit card details. Some bookmakers take
other payment methods too, and some even offer credit lines to
select customers.

This is another option that’s not available to Americans. Not
legally at least, as the Federal Wire Act of 1961 made telephone
betting illegal. You might be getting disheartened by now if you
live in the US, and wondering exactly how you’re ever going to
place any wagers. Don’t worry though, as we have one more option
to tell you about.

Online Sports Betting Sites

Using an online sports betting site is far and away the best
way to bet on football, or any sport for that matter. It’s the
most convenient and accessible option, and there are several
other advantages too. Best of all, it’s legal in the United
States. There are some laws against online gambling in the US,
but these mostly apply to companies and individuals providing
gambling services. There’s no law that states it’s illegal to
use a gambling site of any kind, so Americans are at liberty to
place football bets online if they so choose. We’ve written the
following page explaining things in more detail for those
interested, or you can just keep reading for a quick guide to
getting started online.

Using Online Betting Sites

Using sports betting sites to bet on football online is
relatively straightforward. It’s super easy to open accounts at
most sites, and the majority of them are very user-friendly.
Finding and placing wagers generally takes no time at all, and
can be done from the comfort of your own home with just a
computer and internet access. You can even use most sites from a
smartphone or tablet these days.

Please make sure that you use the right sites though. Most
places are pretty good, but there are some that are best
avoided. It’s vital that you use a safe and trustworthy option,
and you also want to use somewhere that is suitable for
football. We suggest taking a look at the following sites.

Our Top Ranked Football Betting Sites:

We also suggest you follow these two tips.

Take Advantage of Bonuses

Most gambling sites give away bonuses to new customers, and
many of them offer additional rewards to existing customers too.
You should always try to take advantage of these bonuses and
, as they are a great way to boost your bankroll. They’re
not exactly “free” money, as they come with terms and conditions
such as having to wager certain amounts before being able to
withdraw. Nonetheless, they can be very valuable.

Have More Than One Account

The odds and lines for football games are not always the
same at every bookmaker. They don’t tend to vary by a lot, but
they do vary. It’s very much in your best interests to always
try to place wagers where you can get the best value. A half
point difference on a spread or a couple of points difference
on the odds may not seem like a big deal, but over time these
small differences can add up. By opening accounts with a few
different sites, it’s easy to shop around for the best odds and
lines. This is one of the best ways to maximize potential profits.

Essential Advice for Beginners

Once you understand all the fundamentals of football betting,
and have an account with a suitable gambling site, you’re pretty
much ready to go. There’s still a lot more you need to know, but
most of this can be learned as you go along. Indeed, learning as
you go along
is the best approach. Trying to become an expert
before actually getting started is a futile exercise, as so much
of what’s involved only really starts to make sense once you
have some real experience to draw on.

With that being said, we don’t want you to just start risking
hard-earned money without offering some more pointers. There are
a few things that we’d like you to be aware of before you get
started, and we’ll take a look at these now. There are some
important tips and advice included here, so please read the next
few paragraphs carefully.

A Dedicated Bankroll Is Vital

One of the single most important pieces of advice for any
form of gambling is to set aside a sum of money that is
exclusively for the relevant activity. It should be money that
is not needed for anything else, that you can afford to lose,
and that you are comfortable putting at risk. This money will be
known as your bankroll, and it’s effectively the most important
tool a bettor has at his disposal.

Top Tip

Good money management is crucial for any sports
bettor hoping to be successful. Please take the time to read the
advice we offer for managing a betting bankroll.

Some Handicapping Knowledge Helps

Making money from betting on any sport requires an
understanding of how the betting markets work, and an ability to
use that knowledge to gain an advantage. No-one makes a
consistent profit from simply following hunches or relying
purely on statistics and trends. Sports handicapping is
something that people often assume is very complicated, but the
basics are actually relatively easy to grasp.

Our Advice

It’s a very good idea to learn at least the
basics of handicapping betting markets. This can really help
when it comes to approaching things in the right way and making
good decisions.

You Will Make Mistakes

One of the first rules of gambling is that nothing is ever
certain. There’s one thing that’s almost certain though; you
will make mistakes as a beginner
. This is nothing to worry
about, and in fact making mistakes is an important part of the
learning process. That doesn’t mean you need to make unnecessary
ones though. There are a few mistakes that are routinely made by
beginners, and it pays to be aware of these.

Simple Can Work

A lot of betting strategy is very complex, and it definitely
helps to learn some of the more advanced concepts if you want to
be truly successful. However, trying to get your head around
complicated strategies is NOT the right approach as a beginner.
There are several simple betting systems that are relatively
easy to understand, and it makes much more sense to start with
these. They’re not guaranteed to bring immediate success, but
they can be effective if used correctly.

Improving Your Football Betting Skills

If you follow football at least reasonably closely, have some
idea about the relative strengths of all the players and teams,
and have absorbed the information provided on this page, then
you should be able to become a competent football bettor. You
don’t really need to know much else should the aim be to simply
have some fun and win some money every now and then.

If you really want to stand a chance of making regular
, however, then you’ll need to go a step or two further.
You’ll certainly want to learn about all the different factors
that should be taken into account when making selections, and
the various statistics that are relevant. Below are just a few
examples of these.

  • Team Schedules
  • Current Form
  • Injury Reports
  • Weather Forecasts
  • Passing Yards
  • Yards Per Attempt
  • Individual Rushing Yards
  • Team Yards Per Carry

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there all kinds of
considerations that need to made when the goal is to make
consistently accurate predictions. You also need to learn about
the different strategies that can be used, and how to use them

All of this, and more, is covered in our football betting
strategy section. Please spend some time reading though this if
you’re serious about becoming a successful football bettor.