Understanding US Sport Betting Lines

Understanding US Sport Betting Lines


Understanding US Sport Betting Lines


When you bet on different sporting events around the world, the way you bet will change. However, for those betting on sports in the US, things are slightly different.

The good news is that all of the main US sports have a similar way of betting, so if you bet on the NHL then you are going to find betting on the NFL, NBA and MLB very similar.

There is one big difference that these sports have when you compare them to others around the world and this is the use of handicap lines. Every sport has handicap lines, but when it comes to the big leagues in America, these are the main way of betting, alongside the standard win market, also known as the money line.

Want to know a little more about US sport betting lines? Here are the important facts below.

Nov 5, 2020; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Wyoming Cowboys cornerback C.J. Coldon (21) tackles Colorado State Rams tight end Trey McBride (85) in the second quarter of the game at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Bethany Baker-USA TODAY NETWORK

What US Sport Betting Lines Mean

When you bet on a line that has been created for US sports, what you are actually doing is betting on something that is completely fictional. Yes, it is based on the game you are betting on, but the actual line itself is fictional and created by the bookmaker.

They create a line that they believe to be the right amount for evening out the game. For example, if you are looking at a game in the NHL and the puck line, you will usually see the line set at 1.5. This means the favourite has a deficit of -1.5 goals to overcome, while the underdog is given a 1.5 goal lead.

Bigger odds are given on the favourite here compared to the money line because they need to not only win but win by two to clear the line. The underdog is priced up shorter than the money line, because they can draw the game or lose by one and your bet is still a winner, there are more ways to win.

Total Goals & Points

The great news for punters is that we have many different handicap lines to use, the second most popular is the totals line. This is simply how many goals or points will be scored in the game, depending on the sport.

NFL lines will find themselves set anywhere between 30 and 50 depending on the teams playing, NHL lines are between 5.5 and 7.5, again depending on teams.

This line is a simple question of over and under. If an NFL line is set at 40.5 then your options are to go under, which is 40 points or less, or to go over, which is 41 points or more.

This is a line for those who don’t want to bet on the outcome of the game, or don’t have an opinion on it, they just want to focus on the scoring.

Nov 5, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Jason Day tees off the ninth during the first round of the Houston Open golf tournament at Memorial Park Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Why Shopping for Value is Important

When you place a regular bet, you should shop around to get the best odds. This is why you need to know how odds work and what that means when you are betting.

However, when betting on handicap lines you also need to shop around for the best lines, as the bookmakers create these themselves, just as they create the odds.

A bad bet with a bookmaker is one where you don’t get the best line and you don’t get the best odds, so don’t do that to yourself.

The odds will affect your winnings, and while this is important, the line you take could be the difference between a win and a loss, so much bigger.

If you take the 40.5 line we mentioned above where others are 42.5 and you bet under, if the game has 41 or 42 points in it, you will lose and other punters will win by betting elsewhere and doing their research. 

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