How To Bet
The pointspread was developed to provide a balance for both teams involved in a contest to entice bettors to potentially back the weaker team and receive points. The two squads in a game are listed with a title, either a favorite or an underdog. The favorite is usually the perceived better team in the game, as backing them means giving up several points. For example, if Pittsburgh is listed as a seven-point favorite (-7) over Arizona, backing Pittsburgh would mean they need to win by at least eight points to win the bet. Any victory by six points or less by Arizona would result in a loss, even though they won the game straight-up. The underdog is the team not expected to win, but betting the ‘dog has its advantages. In the above example, betting Arizona with the seven points (+7) is actually beneficial in two ways. If Arizona loses the game by six points or less, Arizona wins the bet. Also, if Arizona wins the game straight-up regardless of the amount, they cash winning tickets. Assuming the game falls on seven in this case, a ‘push’ occurs, which is a tie, meaning all tickets are refunded.
In football, the standard betting practice is to lay (bet) $110 to win $100. When we learn about betting baseball and hockey, the money-line is the main form of wagering, meaning no pointspread. There is money-line betting in football and basketball in case you don’t want to worry about the points. However, the odds are adjusted accordingly for both the favorite and underdog. If you wanted to back Pittsburgh (a seven-point favorite) but only needed to them to win straight-up, you would need to wager $250 to win $100. On the flip side, if you have enough faith in Arizona to beat Pittsburgh outright as a seven-point ‘dog, you can place $100 to win $200. There is a sliding scale on the money-line/point-spread correlation, with the favorite numbers rising relative to how many points they lay. A three-point favorite to win outright is just -160 (Lay $160 to win $100), while a seven-point favorite is a chalkier bet at -320 (Lay $320 to win $100).
Another option to bet on football instead of taking a side is to bet on the total. Basically, this is a cooperative effort between the two teams to either go ‘Over’ or ‘Under’ the posted total. In football, if Pittsburgh and Arizona have a game total of 47 ½, a winning ‘Over’ bet would mean the two clubs would combine for 48 points or more. On the flip side, a winning ‘Under’ ticket is 47 points or fewer between the two teams.
All betting shops and bookmakers follow their own house guidelines, but the rules listed below are widely considered industry standards.
Football games are official when 55 minutes have been played.