How to bet on football games.

One of our favorite things about football, both college and professional, here at WCE is the different ways that you can gamble on the game.

There are all sorts of different things that you can pay attention to during a game that can make even a blowout seem interesting right up until the very end.

I have realized, however, that, and the Winning Cures Everything podcast, has a lot of casual football fans that do not really understand how betting on football works.

So we’re going to solve that issue right now.

Our goal is to make our gambling talk as easy as possible for novices.  There’s a lot that goes into football wagering, and we don’t want to completely overload beginners.  There are tons of sites on the internet that can walk you through it as well.

First – there are multiple names for betting on football, like gambling, wagering, putting money on, and more.  Second, the images that we use as examples all come from the sportsbook at

If you’re going to do off-shore gambling online, we would recommend MyBookie.aguntil Nov 1st, you can get a 100% deposit bonus using promo code WCE100.  On Nov 1st, that changes to 50%.  Easy to read lines, quick site, best odds, best live odds, easy deposits, easy payout, great webdesign, very legible and easy to find information, etc.


Money Line

Betting on the money line is the easiest way to bet.  All you’re doing is picking a winner or a loser.

You don’t have to worry about winning or losing by a certain number of points or anything.  Here’s an example.

Money Line

The numbers there read like they look.  Plus 155 for Oregon St.  Minus 185 for Colorado St.

The number means this: +155 means you win $155 if you bet $100.  -185 means you have to bet $185 to win back $100.

So betting favorites on the money line is not as profitable as betting a spread, usually.

However, if you think an underdog will win the game, this could be a really profitable bet.


Point Spread

The point spread works a lot like the money line, but with points involved.  The odds involved will almost always be anywhere from +105 to -135, depending on the game.  Let’s look at the example.

Point Spread

For this line, the odds are -110 on both sides.  That means you have to bet $110 to win $100.  The extra $10 there is the juice to the sportsbook.  That’s how Vegas and these online betting sites take their cut of the bets.  If you win this bet, on a $110 bet, you get back $210 – the original bet and the $100.  You don’t owe to the sportsbook if you win.

Now, for the +4 and -4, that’s the number of points the teams must win or lose by for you to win the bet.

Let’s say you take Oregon St at +4.  Even if Oregon St loses the game, as long as it is within 4 points, you win the bet.  An outright Oregon St win would win a +4 point spread bet.  A 31-28 win by Colorado St would mean you win as well.  A 31-26 win

A 31-26 win, or anything bigger, by Colorado St means you lose.  And a 31-27 win by Colorado St would be a push.  A push means that you get your original bet back in your account, because nobody won and nobody lost, if it hits right on the number.

Over / Under

This is another fun way to play.  Over / Under bets are basically point totals.  You’re betting that the total points scored in the game will either go over or under the point total the sportsbook has set.  Let’s look back at the example:

Over Under

The odds work about the same as the point lines.  Here, it is set at -110 for both totals.  That can vary on some games.

For this game, the total is set at 58.5.  If you think both teams will score a lot, then you would take the over.  That means any combination that hits 59 points or more would win.  A 31-28 final (59 points) would win the bet.  A 31-27 total (58 points) would lose the bet.  But the scores don’t even have to be that close.  Let’s say Colorado St wins 49-21.  That’s 70 points, and a win for the over.

The half point makes these interesting.  With a half point, there are only winners and losers.  There’s no push.  So the game has to go either over or under the total.  Point spreads can sometimes be the same way.

Totals, Point spreads, and money lines will change throughout the week leading up to a game, depending on how much money comes in on one side. So, once you see a line you really like, it’s important to jump on it, because it can change quickly.


Futures / Props

Futures are only for people who plan to follow a full season.  Proposition bets can be full seasons or just for one game.  These can be things like win totals for a specific team, which team will win a conference or national championship, who will win the heisman trophy, etc.  Here are a few examples of that.

Heisman Odds


Odds to Make CFB Playoff


Odds to win National Title


Regular Season Win Totals

Now that you understand what the +/- numbers mean, and the O / U numbers mean, these should be pretty self explanatory.  A lot of these will continue through the season at most sportsbooks, but the numbers will drastically change with each game.  So pay attention to them.

When the games get going, for bigger games, most sportsbooks will allow you to bet on things like “Will So-and-So-Player Pass for 275 yards?” and they’ll set the over/under on the number of yards a QB will pass for in a game.  There will be a ton of these for games like the Super Bowl.


Parlays are the easiest way to lose money, but if you hit, you can more than double your winnings.  For this, I’m going to show you how Bovada does it.

First, you’ll see the total if you bet 3 games by themselves on the money line.

On the right side there, you see that betting $5 on each game (a risk of $15) would net you a profit of $13.66, if you win all 3 games, since you’re only risking on one game.

Now look at the difference with a parlay.

For this bet, your risk is only $5, but your total profit would be $29.84.

With a parlay, you’re betting that all 3 teams will win.  If one team loses, but the other two win, you still lose the entire bet.  Therefore, the odds are much worse that you’ll win, but if you do, the payout is immensely better.

You can do parlays with any of the bets – totals, point spreads, money line.  The odds will change with each variable, which means the payout will as well.  If you bet a moneyline parlay for 3 teams that are all -1000 to win their games (cupcake games, basically), the payout will still be better than if you bet just one of the games.  But if one of those teams loses outright, you lose the entire bet.

Like I stated earlier – easiest way to lose a lot of money, but also an easy way to win a lot if you hit on one.


Glossary of Terms

These are some terms you’ll need to know, and also some that you’ll hear on our podcast or on the website.  I pulled these definitions from’s Sports Betting Terminology guide, which is a great sports gambling resource:

  • ATS (Against The Spread) – A method of referring to the result of an event that takes the pointspread into account. Also, the act of taking points rather than betting with the spread, or “laying” points.
  • Bad Beat – A wager that loses unexpectedly. (usually one that appeared to be a sure-winner during the game)
  • Book – An establishment that accepts bets on the outcome of sporting events. (either in Vegas or online)
  • Bookmaker/Bookie – A person who takes wagers on sporting events. (usually local guys)
  • Cover – To beat the pointspread by the required number of points. When you win, you have “covered the spread.”
  • Dog – Short for “underdog.”
  • Favorite – The team expected to win an event. The quoted odds reflect the extent to which the choice is favored.
  • Futures – Bets placed on an event or outcome taking place some time in the future (e.g. betting during the season on the Super Bowl winner).
  • Handicapper – One who studies and rates sporting events.
  • Handicapping – The attempt to predict the outcome of sporting events. Usually involves research.
  • Hedging – Placing wagers on the opposite side in order to cut losses or guarantee a minimum amount of winnings.
  • Hook – A half-point.
  • Laying the Points – Betting the favorite by giving up points.
  • Lines – Another word for odds.
  • Linemaker – The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines. Also known as “oddsmaker.”
  • Lock – An easy winner.
  • Moneyline – A wager where no pointspread is involved.
  • Over/Under – A bet on whether the combined total of the points/goals scored by the two teams will exceed or be less than a specified number.
  • Parlay – A bet on two or more teams or outcomes where the original stake and winnings are reinvested on the next wager. All selections must be correct for the parlay to win. In the event of a push or a game cancellation, the parlay reverts to the next lower number (e.g. a 4-team parlay becomes a 3-team parlay).
  • Pick ’em – A game where neither team is favored.
  • Pointspread – The handicap, or head start, which the favorite gives to the underdog for betting purposes.
  • Prop (Proposition) Bet – A special wager offered by the sportsbook on unique and various topics. These wagers can be on sporting events, politics, and even trial outcomes. The wagers use the moneyline format of payoff odds and might include who scores the first touchdown in the Super Bowl, who will win the next presidential election, or whether or not someone on trial will be found guilty.
  • Taking the Points – Betting the underdog and its advantage in the pointspread.
  • Underdog – The team perceived to be most likely to lose. Also known as the “dog” for short.