How to bet on football - the American style - part two
Betting on football differs in many ways from betting on soccer. Firstly the major market isn’t a bet on which team will will give us a straight forward win (known as the moneyline in US sports) but instead the teams start with a handicap points spread which brings them as close to even money as possible.
How to bet on football - a short introduction to this article
In this article we want to look a bit deeper into what separates NFL picks from soccer picks. We want to look a bit at how bookmakers price the NFL, and we want to introduce you to some more interesting betting markets. In the first article on the subject we looked into futures.
How to bet on football - a look at the points spread using a Superbowl betting example
We will look at the example from this weekend’s Super Bowl to explain:
New York Giants +3
New England Patriots -3
For the punter to win a bet on New England with this spread the team have to win by 4 or more points. If they win by exactly 3 the bet will be void and returned and if they win by 2 or less, or lose completely the bet will be lost.
This type of betting may seem complicated at first but it is actually used to simplify the choices. Instead of having large odds outsiders and low odds favourites every bet is as close to even money as possible so the casual punter can have a standard weekly bet amount that they don’t have to change. Each bet also has a 50% chance of winning if the line is set correctly and as such even casual fans will win enough to keep them coming back.
NFL Picks - The vig
How to bet on footballYou might ask if each bet has a 50% chance of winning then where do the bookies make their money? Like all markets an overlay is included so each side of the bet will typically be 10/11, 1.91, -110 although some may offer better odds. It is important to shop around to find both the best spread and the best price for the spread. We suggest you read our bookmaker review section. Here you will find detailed information on exactly this and a wide range of other ways you can get a head start on your online bookie.
Due to this overlay in order to break even long term you would need to pick the winning side 52.36% of the time. That may not sound very hard, but the bookies will tell you the opposite. How do you think Bodog founder Calvin Ayre for instance got all that cash to splash from?
How to bet on football - the total points
The second major market in American Football is the total points market. Again I’ll give an example from the Super Bowl to illustrate the market: Imagine that the bet offered is: Total Points : 53.5. This again is priced as close to even as possible with the same overlay as above. We can simply bet on the over or under. The over would win if 54 or more points were scored and the under would win with 53 or under.
This market again makes for a simple 50/50 bet for punters and allows action when the punter doesn’t favour one team in particular but thinks it’ll be a high or low scoring game. It is a very complimentary type of bet to the game which is the main attraction for many. For some professionals with expert statistical knowledge this market can be particularly good. Do check out our bet tips section where you will find bets on this market from time to time.
How to bet on football - end notes
There are literally hundreds of other markets in the NFL that can be bet on. Other popular bets are first touchdown scorer (exactly the same as the first goal scorer market in soccer), Half-time/Full-time, Winning Margin, Most Receiving Yards and 1st Field Goal. We will look into some of these smaller markets and others in the future.
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