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Concise 2019 NFL Betting Guide

Sports betting is legal in the UK and for the most part, Europe. Now it’s on the cusp of getting legalized in the US as well, so it’s an industry that isn’t going away anytime soon.

So, whether or not you are getting into the action yourself, it’s good to understand how NFL odds and betting works.

Understanding the Odds

There are three standard odds formats that you are likely to see online and at sportsbooks or casinos: decimal, fractional, and American.

Decimal odds are quite easy to calculate your potential winnings. You simply multiply the amount you are risking by the decimal odds shown and you get your winnings plus your original stake in the answer. For example. Odds of 1.91 are common with spread betting, for every pound bet, you would win .91. If you bet 100 pounds, you would return 191 pounds; your original 100 pounds would be returned and you would win 91.

Fractions are not actually fractions which can confuse some.  The first number is the amount you would win, while the second is the risk you take. So, with odds of 4/11, for every 11 pounds wagered., you would win 4 pounds. These odds would equal 1.36 in the decimal version. For the 1.91 example above, the fractional equivalent would be .909/1. 

American odds are meant to make tracking units easier, so they a based off of betting units of $100, or simply, 100 of whatever currency.  If you see a minus in front of the number, for example, -110, it would mean that you would have to bet 110 dollars/pounds to win 100. -110 is the same as 4/11 and .909/1. Conversely, if you see a + in front of the number, that is the amount you would win when placing a $100 wager. +200 would mean that for every 100 bet, you win two hundred plus return your original stake, so 2/1 or 2.0.

Standard American Football Betting

The Spread

The point spread is essentially the ‘handicap’. It is a way to make potentially lopsided games more interesting. For example. The Patriots are undefeated going into Week 6 of the 2019 NFL season and are facing a struggling New York Giants team. Everyone expects the Patriots to win. So much so that the odds for them to win are -1400 meaning you have to bet 1400 to win 100. That just isn’t profitable. So how do we make this interesting? Experts handicap how much they think the Pats will win by and if the Patriots exceed that number, they beat the point spread, if the Giants keep the score within the number, they cover the spread. If scoring margin lands right on the number, it’s a push, which is why you’ll often see half-points on the betting lines. In the case of Week 6, the Patriots are 17-point favorites. So if they win by 18 the cover. If the Giants only lose by 16 or less, they cover and win against the spread or ATS.

The Total

This betting market is fairly self-explanatory. Experts look at both offenses, defenses, and situational conditions to determine the most likely amount of points that both teams will combine to score. Using the Giants vs. Patriots as an example again, the number is sitting at 42.5. So, we can bet on whether we think the total points in the game will go OVER or UNDER that number. 43 points or more and the OVER wins, 42 or less and the UNDER wins; there is no push since a half point is impossible in the NFL. The line on OVER 42.5 and UNDER is -110 each. So, there is an equal amount of implied probability.

Straight Up

SU or Straight Up is an outright win. It’s the most basic form of betting and can be profitable when you are pretty sure that an underdog is going to pull off an upset win. As we pointed out earlier, the Patriots are -1400  (0.0714/1 or 1.07) to beat the Giants. But for some reason, if you thought the Giants actually had a chance, it might be worth it to take a shot on them since you can find their odds as high as +885 or 8.85/1. A 100-pound bet would net you 885 pounds if they pulled off the upset.