Sports Betting
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Kevin KingNovember 21, 2009
August 23, 2019

Online Football Betting

Online football betting is something nearly all sports betting enthusiasts love. In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of betting money on your favorite football games online.

Learning how to bet on football, including NFL games and college football games, can feel intimidating at first. That’s why this guide is broken into two parts – a quick-start guide for those who want to dive right in – and a more comprehensive guide to online football betting for those who want would like to learn how to bet on the odds.

Best Online NFL Football Betting Sites 2019 Top Sportsbooks

How to Get Started Betting on NFL Online

Where to Bet on Football Games

For U.S. residents who are new to online football betting, Bovada Casino & Sportsbook is (hands down) the best betting site. They have a solid reputation, great customer service, great odds, and the highest acceptance rate for Visa debit, credit, and prepaid cards.

Bovada is a secure online casino with plenty of benefits:

  1. Their site is easy to use. Unlike some competitors, Bovada is not needlessly complicated.
  2. Their mobile site allows you to bet from your mobile phone or tablet.
  3. They offer live betting odds. That’s right – you can place bets while you watch the action live.
  4. They have excellent promotions.

Understanding Point Spread Bets in Football

Bovada Point Spread Bets

Point spread is the most popular bet in online football betting.

The point spread takes points from the favorite and gives them to the opposing team. You’re actually making a bet on whether the team you bet on will cover the spread. You can make other bets on the moneyline or the total. Bets on the moneyline are wagers on the outcome of the game regardless of points. Total bets concern the total number of points in the game, and you make wagers on whether the total will be under or over a number set by the casino.

Lines usually look like this:

Miami Dolphins +140 OV -110
San Francisco 49ers -160 43 UN -110

In this example, wagering $100 on Miami’s +140 odds would yield a $140 payout. Meanwhile, betting $160 on the favorite 49ers and their -160 odds, would yield a $100 payout.

Betting the Spread in Football

The spread is listed next the team names in column A. The example table above lists the favored team as the 49ers with a 3-point spread. The 49ers have to win by 4 or more points to cover the spread and pay out to bettors that wagered on them. If the 49ers only win by 3 points, the bets result in a tie and your original will be returned to you. Those betting on the Dolphins will win if the 49ers only win the game by 1 or 2 points.

Understanding Vig

A point-spread bet requires that you bet 11 to make 10, meaning you have to pay $110 to possibly win $100, regardless of which team you wager on. You’ll be paid $210 if you win, which is your original $110 plus the $100 in winnings. You can make an even-money bet, such as $50, but the casino will round down your winnings to the nearest dollar. Instead of a 10 to 11 payout of $45.45, you’ll be paid $45 if your $50 bet wins.

The house’s vigorish is calculated into an even-money bet, making the payout 10 to 10 rather than 11 to 10. This means an even-money spread bet has a 4.54 percent commission that comes out of your winnings. This commission can add up, negatively affecting your expected-win rate. For an example, you could make 10 point-spread bets, but you only 5. Here’s how the vigorish affects your winnings:

Five wins at $100 per win = $500

Five losses at $110 per loss = -$550

You’ve just lost $50, even though half your bets came out winners! You have to win at least 52.38 percent of the spread bets you make to come out ahead of house edge.

Betting on the Moneyline in Football

If betting on the point spread isn’t your style, you can bet on the moneyline. This allows you to bet on the outcome of the game regardless of the points.

Miami Dolphins +140 OV -110
San Francisco 49ers -3 -160 43 UN -110

This above example shows the moneyline in column B, and indicates how much you bet and how much you can expect to win expressed in betting units of $100. The plus sign for the Dolphins means that a $100 could win you $140, while the minus sign for the 49ers shows that you must bet $160 to win only $100. You have to pay more to win less on the 49ers because they’re the favorite team. You can still bet as much or as little as you would like, but remember that a payout on the favorite team will be calculated at 100 to 160, or 10 to 16.

Point-spread bets and money-line bets give comparable edges to the house.

Betting on Football Totals

Using the next line example, we’ll discuss total bets. These kinds of bets don’t depend on which team wins the game. Instead, they depend on the total number of points scored by both teams.

Miami Dolphins +140 OV -110
San Francisco 49ers -160 43 UN -110


Column C shows the total bet number, in this case 43. If you think the total points scored by both teams will be over 43, you can bet on the over (OV). If you think the total scored will be under 43, bet on the under (UN). Both of these bets, based on the line, offer 11 to 10 payouts, so you must bet $110 to win $100.

Just because two powerhouse teams are playing doesn’t mean you should bet the over. Linemakers know that offensively powerful teams can score a lot of points, so they make the total intentionally high. In order to win betting on the over, both teams must collectively score more than 43 points. Betting on the under, the teams must score below 43 together. Linemakers also know if both teams have a powerful defense, and will lower the total number accordingly.

It requires just as much handicapping to bet the total successfully as it does for betting on the spread or line. The payoff basis on an over or under bet is 11 to 10, just like the payoff on a point-spread bet.

Football Parlays and Teasers

There’s another betting option known as a parlay, which allows you to bet on multiple teams, but every team you select must win its respective games for your parlay bet to pay out. A popular form of parlay is known as a teaser. The casino provides a parlay card, which lists the menu of link options.

If you’d like to try betting a parlay card, your bet depends on the outcomes of three games. Always be sure to check the card for any details, because you won’t given extra points on any of the teams you’re betting on. Occasionally, a parlay card specifies that ties lose the bet, other times that they win. Sometimes cards don’t offer rules on ties. That’s because the spreads end in halves.

Another sports betting option is a teaser. This type of bet allows you to pick three or more teams, but they must all beat a specific spread in order for your bet to win. Sports books give additional points over the regular spread for teasers. Teaser cards pay off at lower odds because of the more attractive spreads they offer bettors.

Football Handicapping

To set the totals, linemakers take the points-against (PA) and the points-for (PF) concerning each team into consideration. You can use the PF and PA, as well, to decide whether to bet over or under a total.

Here’s an example of how the statistics might look for a Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay game at Pittsburgh:

Team Wins Losses PF PA
Pittsburgh 11 4 388 303
Green Bay 10 5 380 295

This allows you to calculate the average PF and PA for Pittsburgh by dividing those numbers by the number of games the team has played. Summing the resulting products together for Pittsburgh will give you the average total number of points scored by Pittsburgh per game. You can get the average for Green Bay the same way.

Avg. PF Avg. PA Total Points/Game
Pittsburgh 25.86 20.2 46.06
Green Bay 25.33 19.6 44.93

According to the results, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are pretty well matched. An actual line for this game was listed as GB -3 ½ 42, which means that Green Bay was favored by 3 ½ odds, with 42 total points. With a total of 42, and both teams averaging 44 points per game, betting the over looks enticing. And the linemaker’s prediction was close, because at the end of the game Green Bay won 24 to 19, with a total of 43 points collectively.

Linemakers will usually give the team with the home-field advantage and additional 2 to 3 points. It’s not always obvious, though. In the example we’ve been using, Pittsburgh against Green Bay at Pittsburgh, Green Bay could have been favored by 6 if the linemakers hadn’t included points for Pittsburgh’s home-team advantage. Check the injury lists, as well, when you’re making your own analysis because linemakers and handicappers include that information in their calculations. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the teams you want to bet and following betting trends on can help you calculate your final bets.

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