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Betting Lines – What They Are and How They Work

Betting Lines 101

The sports betting industry is gaining momentum and proliferating throughout the United States. Whether you’re looking to familiarize yourself with the industry or looking to start betting, we’re here to guide you, making you an expert on all things betting in some of the biggest leagues in the States! Our tips and tricks will help you make sharper wagers and give you a better understanding of some sports odds. The US Betting Market can sometimes feel like an ocean of hard-to-understand terms. In this simple guide, we try to simplify the basics of betting.

Betting Line Odds Explained With Real Life Examples

What is a Betting Line?

To fully understand the sports betting industry, you must first understand what a betting line is. A betting line is a form of gambling where a sportsbook or bookmaker sets odds and determines the favorite and underdog teams in a given match, thereby creating a line between them. This line or margin helps set the parameters of betting on that match. 

For example, if a sportsbook believes the Golden State Warriors to be a 20-point better team than the Boston Celtics, the bookmaker can handicap the Warriors by 20 points, creating the line bet. The bettor is now presented with two options: bet that the Warriors will win by more than 20 points, or that the Celtics will get within 20 points. This means both teams have an equal chance of winning, where both outcomes of this bet will be of equal odds. 

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What is a Moneyline Bet?

A money line bet is the most popular wager in sports betting. The bettor wages which team or player will be the overall winner of the game or tournament. Unlike a betting line, sportsbooks don’t impose handicaps on these, making them a little more favored among gamblers. Similar to a betting line, there is almost always a favorite and underdog team or player. However, in a money line bet the odds are adjusted to reflect the likelihood of the winning team or player. 

Generally, we find that bettors are drawn to the favorites, but it’s important to note that the rewards for backing the underdog are much higher than they are when a bettor chooses to back the favorite. 

Parlay Betting

Parlay betting is when the bettor chooses a combination of teams in order to get the highest returns for their stake. These can be used in all sports leagues to string together betting combinations which in turn increases potential rewards. In order for a parlay bet to be paid out, the bettor must correctly predict every individual wager. The higher the risk, the bigger the reward.

Be warned: With every bet you add, it becomes less likely the outcome you desire, which is why sportsbooks typically love Parlay wagers and use them as advertisements for extremely rare outcomes.

Find the Value in Betting

Sports betting is more than just betting on who will win a game, bettors must find the value in the market. This means, that it’s important to consider whether the odds of a team or player you’re rooting for are representative of what will end up playing out. 

NFL Betting

For most bettors, the number of wagers made proves to be more thrilling and anticipatory than watching the game. For example, say we’re assessing a game between NFL teams New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, here’s what the betting markets may look like. 

TeamLine BettingMoneylineTotal
New England Patriots+8+18040
San Francisco 49ers-8-200
Example of NFL Betting Odds : Line Betting, Moneyline, and Total ( Over / Under ) bets

These would be the three bets to choose from

  • Line Betting: A bet on the 49ers to win by at least 9 points
  • Moneyline Betting: Placing a bet of $200 to receive $100 on 49ers win
  • Total Betting (Over/Under): Betting that there will be over or under 40 points scored in the match, with equal return for either outcome 

NBA Betting

Unlike football or some other sports, in basketball, there are more points scored within the back-and-forth nature of the game. That being said, this makes handicaps a little harder for the bookmaker to predict. Here is a hypothetical betting line between NBA teams Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

TeamLine BettingMoneylineTotal
Los Angeles Lakers+3.5+160215.5
Chicago Bulls-3.5-180
Example of NBA Betting Odds : Line Betting, Moneyline, and Total ( Over / Under ) bets

These would be the three bets to choose from

  • Line Betting: A bet on the Bulls to win by at least 4 points
  • Moneyline Betting: Placing a bet of $180 to receive $100 on a Bulls win
  • Total Betting: Betting that there will be over or under 215.5 points scored in the game, with equal returns for either outcome 

NHL Betting

Betting on an NHL match is similar to those of the NFL or NBA, however, in hockey, there is a higher possibility of the match moving into overtime. Therefore, bookmakers will present total markets that include overtime. For example, if someone were to bet on an NHL match between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.

TeamLine BettingMoneylineTotal
Detroit Red Wings+4.5+1355.5
Boston Bruins-4.5-150
Example of NHL Betting Odds : Line Betting, Moneyline, and Total ( Over / Under ) bets

MLB Betting

One big difference to note in baseball is the inclusion of a pitcher pre-game. The starting pitcher often has a heavy bearing on the odds for that game. Here is an example of an MLB betting line. 

TeamLine BettingMoneylineTotal
San Diego Padres-6-1408
Chicago Cubs+6+120
Example of MLB Betting Odds : Line Betting, Moneyline, and Total ( Over / Under ) bets


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