The big football game is almost here. I’m a huge football fan, and every year, we have a party with at least 200 people. I’m not much of a fantasy player; rather, I like betting either the money line or the point spread.

Let’s talk about how to sports bet and the types of bets typically available. As a reference, I am going to refer to the upcoming big game as Los Angeles versus New England.

All bets are on a ‘to’ basis, which means that if you bet $10, and the pay off is 1-1, you will win $10. That means you collect your $10 winnings, along with your original bet amount.

This guide is for educational purposes only.


The point spread is probably the most popular way to wager on a game. In any given game, there is usually a team that’s more favored to win than the other team. If you bet on the team that is the favorite to win, you must give some points; whereas, if you bet on the team that is the underdog, you are given points. For example, let’s look at the upcoming game. This point differential is known as the ‘spread’.

The payoff on a point spread bet is usually 11-10, meaning that you must bet $11 to win 10, or $5.50 to win $5, etc.

You’ll notice that New England is favored to win the game.

So if you bet on New England, for you to win your bet, New England must win the game by more than 3 points. This is also referred to as “beating the spread”. For example, if New England wins the game, but wins by 2 or fewer points, then you lose.

If New England wins by 3 points exactly, then it’s a push (the bet ties) and you get all of your money back.

Alternatively, if you bet on Los Angeles to win, you are given 3 points. If Los Angeles wins the game, you are paid on your bet regardless of the number of points that Los Angeles wins by. If Los Angeles loses the game by 2 points or fewer, it means that Los Angeles covered the spread, and you win your bet, despite Los Angeles losing the game.

If Los Angeles loses by exactly 3 points, then it’s a push and you get your money back.

Just think of the points listed as the points spotted to you or taken from you for betting on the favorite or the underdog.

The point spread and money line bets. The first column is the spread bet column. The second column is the moneyline column. For discussion on the money line, see below…


You can also bet on which side will win the game, without regard to the number of points. Some people prefer the moneyline, especially if they’re betting on their favorite team. It can be weird to bet on your favorite team, but then care more about your team covering or beating the spread. I’ve placed spread bets on the Chiefs (my favorite team), and then become sad when they win and don’t beat the spread, or happy when they lose, but cover the spread. Let’s not talk about the conference championship game, please. Heartbreak is all I can say.

On a moneyline bet, if you pick the underdog,  you will be paid more for your bet since you are at a supposed disadvantage.

According to the moneyline in the pic above, Los Angeles is the underdog. So if you bet $100 on Los Angeles, you will win $125. That win is on top of the sportsbook returning your initial investment of $100. You will be paid a total of $225.

However, if you bet the favorite, which is New England, you must bet $145 to win $100. So if you win, you will collect $100 and your original $145, for a total of $245.


Just think of alternate lines as the bettor giving or receiving additional points. Some bettors will see value in the alternate line and will want a bigger point spread or are willing to live with a smaller point spread.

Here is a pic of the current alternate lines, as of this article, which was written on Monday, January 28th, 2019. For more current lines, you can click on the link on my landing page (right side of the screen that says, Bet on Sports).

The alternate lines.

Let’s take an example. Let’s say that you think that New England will win the game AND that they will win by more than 12 points. In that case, you can bet -11.5, which means that New England will win by more than 11.5 points. If New England ends up winning by 12 or more points, then you will win $300 for every $100 that you bet.


Another very popular bet is the over/under bet. For this bet, you do not care who wins. Instead, you are hoping for a defensive game (under) or an offensive shootout (over). It’s simply a bet where you pick how many points will be scored, add both sides up, and then bet whether or not that number will be over or under that amount. If you just want to bet on a single team’s score, you can do that too.

Here is a screenshot of the over/under offerings…

Over/under offerings.
Over/under offerings.

For example, let’s say that you want to bet that the total points will be around 60.5. You can bet the over or under on the 60.5. If you bet that the total combined score will be fewer points than 60.5, then you must bet $180 to win $100. You can bet in increments, such as $18 to win $10.

If you bet the over, then you will win $150 for every $100 that you bet.

Notice that you do not have to be correct on the actual number of points scored. You only have to be correct if your bet is over or under the points you picked. Of course, the closer you can actually pick the combined score, the more you will be paid because you picked the better payoff column.


There are a variety of other bets that you can make. These fall into the exotic prop bet category. The downside is that these bets are not offered at brick and mortar casinos. The upside is that you can find exotic prop bets online like the coin toss, the total time the singer takes on the Star Spangled Banner, or even the Gatorade color dumped on the winning coach. These bets are great if you are looking for some interesting action.

For example, you can get in some early action by betting on the coin toss prior to the opening kickoff…

Prop bets related to the coin toss.

No matter what you bet on, or even if you don’t, good luck to you and your favorite team. My team is out of the picture, but I’m still going to enjoy the game with my family and buddies. It’s always a little more fun with a few dollars on my favorite team. To be frank, I’m sick of New England playing in this game every year! My money is on the Rams covering. Hopefully, the D line sacks Brady a few times. Let’s go Rams!

Posted in: Gambling, Sports Betting

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