There are several ways to bet football – the straight & money lines, the totals, parlays, teasers, if/win bets, prop bets, futures, progressive parlays, and more. I’ll cover the basics to start and if anyone wants information on the more involved wagers, we can discuss them further as well. The Straight Line This is definitely the most common bet. Here the team wagered on must win or cover by the point spread given at the time of the wager. Typically the odds on a straight bet are -110/-110 meaning an $11 winning wager would pay $10. The odds can fluctuate slightly. Sportsbooks may move the odds to -115/-105, -120/even, or higher instead of changing the line to try and even out the money that they are taking in. For example, Cleveland plays at Oakland and currently the Browns are 2 ½ point favorites at -115. That means the Raiders are getting 2 ½ points at -105. Because 3 points is a common number in football, the books will try to attract more Oakland wagers by lowering the odds instead of offering the extra ½ point. If they are still getting more Cleveland money, then the line will move to -3 or higher. The book wants even money on both sides so they can collect their 10% vigorish or commission without worry – remember you must typically bet $11 to win $10. As far as the line goes, if you bet on Cleveland -2 ½, then they must win the game by a field goal for you to win your bet. If you bet the Raiders +2 ½, then they must either win or lose by no more than 2 points for you to win your bet. If the line moves to Cleveland -3 and they win by a field goal, then all bets are refunded that were placed after the line moved. All bets placed at the 2 ½ point spread would remain in play. The Money Line Simply put, the team you wager on must win the game. There are no lines involved; however, the odds will vary quite a bit. Money lines are typically offered when straight lines are anywhere from -2 to -10. Anything under -2 and the odds will be the same or close to the -110 straight lines. Anything over -10 and the odds become too great. Sportsbooks only make a commission on money line bets when the favorite loses. For example, the money line on Cleveland may be -150 whereas Oakland would be at +130. If you bet on the Browns, you must put up $15 to win $10. Conversely, if you bet on the Raiders, a $10 wager would win $13. If Cleveland wins, favorite bettors collect $10 while underdog bettors lose $10 resulting in zero commission for the book. If Oakland wins, favorite bettors lose $15 while underdog bettors collect $13 resulting in a $2 commission for the book. The bigger the favorite, the less likely the underdog will win which is why most books won’t offer money lines on spreads greater than 10 points. If you have the bankroll and don’t mind the higher risk/reward ratio, then money line bets on favorites eliminate the chance that a team will win but not cover the spread. Also, if you think an underdog will win the game outright, a money line bet will offer a higher reward if you are correct. The Total This is the combined score of both teams. A line is set and you either wager that the total combined score will be under or over that total. Like straight line bets, the odds are typically -110 but can vary slightly in certain circumstances. For example, the total in the Cleveland/Oakland game is set at 34 points. You would wager $11 to win $10 on either the Under or Over depending on how many points you think both teams will score. If the final score is 20-14, then all bets would result in a “no action” and be refunded. Parlays Parlays offer a chance to wager on two or more teams (typically up to ten or twelve) on a single ticket or bet. To win, all of your bets must win (or tie). If one team loses, then the entire ticket is lost. Obviously, the more teams that you select, the greater the odds are if you win. This is definitely a low risk/high reward wager. If a team ties, then the ticket reverts back to the next lowest number for payoff odds. For example, if you place a four team parlay and one team ties the line, then the ticket becomes a three team parlay. If you place a two team parlay and one ties, the other team becomes a straight bet that pays 90% of the original wager. Parlay odds can vary especially with offshore books that offer specials, but typically here are the odds for different parlays: 2 teams – 13/5 3 teams – 6/1 4 teams – 10/1 5 teams – 25/1 6 teams – 40/1 7 teams – 75/1 8 teams – 150/1 9 teams – 300/1 10 teams – 700/1 11 teams – 1,100/1 12 teams – 1,800/1

Thanks for the post, Ron. I always liked moneyline favorites, maybe because I hate that end of game uncertainty, like the time during MM I had to switch and root for the other side to tie to send the game into OT so that my team could possibly win and cover. Then again, maybe I bet like a pu$$y. You didn't get into the teaser parlays- they are a boatload of fun...

Take. The. Points. heh. Can't wait to watch the game at Jillian's this weekend! I win regardless of the outcome! Woohoo!

Thanks for the information. I'll probably place a few football bets this weekend. I hope my Pats rebound!

EXCELLENT info...one question about parlays. Do the parlays just require the teams you chose to win outright, or do they require the team to win by the spread? It they only need to win outright, I'd imagine there are plenty of times that people get twelve games correct on a Sunday in the NFL, no? $100 would turn into $180,000???

Parlays require you to play the spread as well. There are bets called "Teasers" where you can adjust the spread in your favor by 6, 7, or even 10 points with odds adjusting accordingly.

So, I'm thinking of just putting money down on my Carolina Panthers to win the Superbowl. How does a straight Superbowl winner bet work?

Most Sportsbooks will have sheets with 'Futures' odds listed on them. Find the one for the NFL and it should have the Panthers odds listed to win the NFC Championship and their odds to win the Super Bowl. Next to each team will be a number (3 or 4 digits long). Go up to the Sportsbook cashier and tell them, for example, you would like to bet $10 on number 3721. The Panthers odds are probably somewhere around 25:1, so a $10 bet would pay off $250. Odds will likely vary among different Sportsbooks, so shop for the best odds if you are going to be visiting several different casinos.

For someone who doesn't visit Vegas often, how long do you have to cash in a winning bet? Especially if you are betting futures? (Superbowl winner, etc.)

Might be a dumb question but here it goes. In a parlay, can you bet the money line on one game and the spread on another? I know you cannot bet both on the same game (semi-correlated bets I think they call them) but if they are different games can you combine them on a single parlay? Say you want to do a 4 leg parlay with four separate NFL games, can you take the spread on 3 of the games and the ML on the fourth?

Yes, you can mix and match spreads and moneylines in a parlay. You actually CAN include the spread and moneyline in the same game in the same parlay in some limited circumstances, but you'd have to be a bit crazy to do so. For example, you could include the favorite at -400 and the underdog at +9 in the same parlay. The only way that parlay stays alive is if the favorite wins by 9 or less, so it's a pretty awful bet unless you've got some REALLY great insight on what the exact margin of victory is going to be!