How to Read NFL Odds – Graphic Guide

How to Read NFL Odds

How to Read Betting odds

Do all the numbers confuse you? What is the spread, total and sportsbook juice for each NFL matchup? Don’t worry, I’ve broken it all down for you to understand.

Share this infographic with your buddies. It makes NFL odds easy to understand.

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NFL Odds Numbers Meaning

NFL Odds Sample Image

Let’s break each line into steps to understand the numbers.

Step 1: The Basics

  • 09/01 is the game date. 1:00 PM is the game time. You must bet before game time!
  • NYC and LA are the teams. 100 is NYC’s rotation number. 101 is LA’s rotation number. These numbers are used interchangeably at sports books. You could ask for a $200 bet on 100, meaning NYC. Or a $200 bet on 101, meaning LA.

Step 2: What’s the spread?

  • -6½ means NYC is the 6½ point favorite at Book 1. LA is the +6½ point underdog.
  • -7 means NYC is the 7 point favorite at Book 2, LA is the +7 point underdog.

Step 3: Why ½ Points?

  • ½ point means no tie bets. 6½ rounds up to 7. Therefore, NYC must win by 7 or more at Book 1.
  • NYC must win by 8 or more at Book 2. A 7 point win ties the spread. Tie bets are returned.
  • Oddsmakers use ½ points strategically to avoid pushing players. This ensures the bet either wins or loses.
  • ½ point spreads are commonly offered for the Super Bowl, because it is the last game of the season. Bookies would rather not return Super Bowl bets because players will have no further football bets to make.

Step 4: What’s the total?

  • The total is the greater of each book’s numbers. “u” means Under, “o” means Over.
  • Book 1 predicts a total under 43½ points.
  • Book 2 predicts a total over 44 points.
  • ½ point total means no ties just like ½ point spreads. Tie total bets are returned.

Step 5: Sportsbook Juice

  • Numbers to right of spread and total indicate sportsbook juice. Also called vigorish or vig. It’s the fee charged for a bet.
  • Put 1 before any two digit number. -19 becomes -119. +20 becomes +120.
  • Negative numbers indicate how much risk to win $100.
  • Positive numbers indicate reward for risking $100.

Step 6: Juice Example

  • Betting NYC or LA risk $119 (-119) to win $100 at Book 1.
  • Book 1’s under 43½ total rewards $120 for $100 risked.
  • Unmarked numbers assume -110 or a “dime line”. Lay $110 to win $100.

Tip for comparing betting odds and finding value

Given two equal point spreads or totals, take the Book with less juice. A lower commission means you won’t have to risk as much to bet on the favorite.

Also shop positive juice numbers. Under 35 +118 at one book is less profitable than +120 at another. You’ll get an extra $2 reward for making this bet at the other book!

Who are Sharp Players in Sports Betting?

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Sharp Players – also known as Wise Guys – know how to spot bad sportsbook lines, exploit them and profit. Sharp Players expose themselves after winning streaks. Eventually, sportsbooks will offer sharps adjusted lines to protect themselves from severe financial losses.

There is actually a group of players known as “sharps” or “wise guys”. Their advanced knowledge of sports betting, lines, and oddsmaking allows them to consistently win at sports betting. The sportsbook gets taken to the cleaners, and the sharps make off with big wins. Sharp players bet at the most reliable sportsbooks, because they want to be treated fairly and paid on time. It would be pointless to place a winning bet at an online sportsbook that wouldn’t pay out. Accordingly, Sharp Players know who the best operators are.

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How can someone become a “sharp” player or “wise guy”? Just because you win a few bets, you’re not necessarily “sharp”, you might just be lucky. To be a sharp player, you have to take advantage of bad lines and profit from a sportsbook’s mistakes. Luck is not an important element: instead, you have to have a mathematical mind, fully understand how lines move, and keep a low profile so you’re not exposed to a lot of heat from sportsbook management.

If you spot a bad line and bet a large sum of money, this tips off sportsbook staff about line calculation errors. It’s better to join a few reputable sportsbooks and keep a low profile betting small amounts of money on a few games here and there. Later, bet big when the time is right. Look recreational before professional.

Is it illegal to be a sharp player? Absolutely not. You might not be popular with the sportsbooks, but there is nothing wrong with placing winning bets because a sports book made bad calculations. The sharp sportsbook player is much like the professional blackjack card counter: there is no law against card counting, but you may find yourself getting barred from casinos because they don’t want your action.

How does a sharp player operate on the internet? Again, with a low profile. Believe it or not, sportsbook managers pal around with other managers. They readily share intelligence about winning players. If you’re consistently beating sportsbook A, you might get “adjusted” lines when you signup with sportsbook B. So, though you might get away with one big score, subsequent scores with your name attached to them will become harder to accomplish.

If I buy picks, am I sharp player? This is debateable. Most professionals would say no: buying sports picks is something everyone can do, and everyone that buys picks doesn’t get tagged as a sharp player. The sharp player doesn’t need to buy picks because they already know how to bet. Furthermore, sports handicapping is an entirely different body of knowledge that is in many ways unrelated to sharp play. Handicappers attempt to predict outcomes based on sports knowledge and technical game analysis, whereas sharp players look to exploit sportsbook weaknesses. Very rarely will a sports handicapper post a pick based on a bad line, simply because the sportsbook will get wind of it and fix their error pronto.

Sharp or not, winning at sports betting is still a tough gig. If you want an edge, study lines and learn the important mathematical formulas that go into computing them. Place “practice” bets on paper and see if you win before investing your money in a high stakes gamble. Keeping your edge requires as much time and attention as any other full time career.

Good Luck and Have Fun!