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Understanding Betting Odds on Football

Betting on football in the United States is a favorite pastime for most bettors. It is actually the most popular sports for someone to place a bet on.

Before your start placing your football bets, however, you should understand what the football betting odds are and how they are made. I would also recommend that you read betting strategy articles and advice guides that will hopefully improve your chances to increase your bankroll when betting on football.

What Football Betting Odds Are Not

Before diving into explaining football betting odds, let me explain to you what they aren’t.

  • Football betting odds aren’t the sportsbooks’ opinion on who will win the game. They are set with the hope that 50% of the money are equally distributed on each outcome of the game.
  • Football betting odds are not always representative of the “better” or “stronger” team
  • Football betting odds aren’t always sensible.

Football Betting Odds Explained

Sportsbooks are not in the business of determining the better team week in and week out. They simply want to divide their bettors in half and have 50% of the money on each outcome of the game.

This is how they make money.

You have to understand that the sportsbooks’ odds are designed to guarantee a profit as long an equal amount of money is on all sides.

If you are betting the moneyline, this is done with the odds.

If you are betting the pointspread, this is done by the juice or vig and the pointspread.

Odds on betting the total, or over/under, are similar to the pointspread.

Pointspread and Odds Movements

The pointspread and moneyline that is initially released, also called the opening line, is only the opinion of the oddsmakers at the certain sportsbook. This is the number or odds they think will divide their clientele evenly on both side.

As with any opinion, the first one isn’t always correct. Luckily for the oddsmakers, they have the opportunity to adjust the pointspread and/or odds if the money is lopsided and more money is on one team than the other.

It is this movement that allows the oddsmakers to fix their incorrect opinion and even out the money.

Hint: consistent line movement in one direction allows you to see where the money is going.

Putting it All Together

Understanding football betting odds will not make you a profitable football bettor. However, once you realize why the odds and pointspread is set the way that it is, you will look at them differently and understand line movement.

Let me mention one last thing about line movement.

Many people believe the consensus determines movement and will fade teams that have more people betting them. This is flawed thinking!

Remember it doesn’t matter how money people are betting a team; it is the money on the team that matters. There could be more people betting one team with small bets compared to those betting the other. As long as the money is equally out, there is no reason for the lines or odds to move.