How Sports Books Make Money
The casino Sports books make their money on sports bets by collecting a commission on losing bets. This is called the Vigorish or Vig for short. The most common odds are 11 to 10. This means that if you want to win $100 you are risking $110. For example you place a bet on the Giants at the casino sports book and pay $110. If the Celtics win you collect $210 when you cash your winning ticket. If you lose your bet you lose the $110.
Ideally the Sports book would like to have the same amount of money wagered on the two teams playing. If the Celtics are playing the Lakers and they have one player betting on the Celtic and one player betting on the Lakers they would pay the winner $100 but collect $110 for the loser. This gives them a $10 profit so they really don’t care who wins as long as they have an equal amount bet on each team. To accomplish this they assign a line or spread to make the contest equally attractive for both sides.
The Point Spread
Many people think that the point spread is the predicted margin of victory by which one team will beat another team but this is not true. The line is the handicapper’s prediction of what number will be required to split the wagering evenly on both teams. For this reason the line may change from the opening line to the line at game time.
When you bet on a game with the point spread your team does not necessarily have to win. You just need to cover the spread. If you be Miami is favored to win by 7 and they only win by 4 you lose. If you bet Chicago who is a 10 point under dog and they only lose by 3 points then you win.
The Money Line
A money line wager is a bet placed without the point spread. You are betting on the team to win the game outright which is also called winning “Straight UP.” When you bet a game on the money line you will have to pay odds other than the normal -110 that you would pay for a straight bet using the point spread. Obviously if you want to bet on the favorite to win straight up, you will have to risk more to win less. If you bet on the underdog, you would bet less to win more. The money line bets are based on a $100 bet. When you see a money line listed the favorite will have a figure with a minus symbol in front of it and the underdog will have a plus symbol in front of it.
For Example: The Boston Celtics are 5 point favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. The money line is listed as:
If you wanted to bet the Celtics on the money line you would have to wager $220 to win $100. If you want to bet the underdog Hawks, you would wager $100 to win $180. Your team would have to win straight up to win your bet.
Types of Bets
A Straight bet is a bet made on a single game or outcome. You can choose to bet the favorite or the underdog or you can bet the over or under of the total score. You can also choose to bet the game on the money line. With a straight bet you are betting on a single event or outcome.
Totals - Over/Under
You can also choose bet the over or the under for the game total score. The over or the under is a wager on the total score at the end of the game. You add the scores of both teams to get the final number. When you bet the under you are betting that the score will be under the total. When you bet the over you are betting the score will be higher than the total. For Example the final score of the game is: Celtics 115 and Lakers 110. The total of the game is 225. You win if you bet over and the score was more than 225 or if you bet under and the score was less than 225. If the score was exactly 225 then it would be a tie also called a push.