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Football Betting Basics  by Peter

How do you bet on football? What is a spread? Why are some teams typed with all CAPS? If you don't know any of the answers, then you better read this before putting your money on the line. In the following article, I will go over the following topics.

  1. Reading and understanding football spreads
  2. Types of football betting
  3. Basic statistics of football betting
  4. Helpful Tips

Reading and understanding football spreads

If you have ever read the sports section of a newspaper, you will notice a section usually titled "betting edge" or sports lines. This section will have odds and spreads for all sports such as basketball, baseball, and etc. The general principles for basketball and football are the same. Baseball, however, is a total different story. In any case, we will simply discuss the football details. This betting lines box will have three columns. They are Favorites, Points, and Underdogs, usually printed in that order from left to right. The first thing to know is that the team that is playing at home will be in ALL CAPS, while the away team will be of normal type. The middle numbers are call "spreads" or line. This is the most important information. These "spreads" tell you how many points the favorite need to win by.

For example, lets try to interpret the following line. 49ERS 6 Phi. Here, the San Francisco 49ers are the home team, and they are favored by 6 points over the underdogs, Philadelphia Eagles. In other word, the 49ers must beat the Eagles by more than 6 points to win. So, if you bet on the 49ers and they only won by 5, then you lost. If they won by 7, you won. And, if they won by 6, it's a tie. You'll probably just lose on "juice" which is a 10% tax on your betting money. We'll discuss this later. Thus, to prevent ties, the spread-makers will usually add an "1/2". Be very aware of this extra point as it usually tips the scale. This will also be discuss later on. Well, that's the basics of reading and understanding the football spreads, now we will move on to the different type of football betting.

Types of football betting

There are many different types of football bets. Here, we will go over some of the more common ones. The first and most common is the "straight bet". This is basically putting your money on one team. If the team you bet on covers you win. The term "cover" is a common lingo which stand for covering the spread. Now, let's get to the rules of straight bets. Rule #1. The minimum is usually $50. Unless your betting against your friend or relatives. Commonly, all casinos and bookie won't take any straight bet less than $50. Rule #2. There's a 10% tax or commission if you lose. This is called "juice". The bookies usually justify this by saying that it's the cost of betting with them, or it's their charge for delivering the money to the casinos. In any case, it's all BS.

Now, lets discuss the more common and tempting game of football parlays. Just to let you know, parlays are very difficult, if not entirely impossible. This is the best money scam ever created. For parlays, the game is a bit different. It incorporates odds into the game. Now, you are picking more than one game to win. For a 2-team parlay, you have to pick 2 winners, as in pick two teams that cover. If you do so, you'll win 2.5 to 1. So, let's say that you bet $100 on a 2 team parlay and won. Your winning is $250. I think this is the only parlay that I recommend. Anything over 2 teams is just throwing your money away. Here's the low down on parlays.

2 2 1/2
3 6
4 10
5 20
6 40
7 80
8 160
9 300
Different casinos have different rules. Usually for 3 or more teams, the minimum is $5. But, for 2 teams, its $50. Like I mentioned before, it is really difficult to hit more than 3 teams. The reason that this is such a lured for gamblers is because of the odds. People generally just think of how much they can win. But, not realize the statistics involved in parlays. We will further analyze this in the next section.

Besides betting on teams to win, you can also bet on the total combine scores of the games. This is commonly called the "Over and Under". The rules are pretty simple. Add the scores of both teams after the game. If its more than the specified amount its "over" and it's under if its less.

Example: lets say the over under for the 49er/Phil game is 44 . The final score is 31-7 49ers. If you had bet over, you would have lost, as the total score of the game is only 38.

Over/Unders can be used in parlays as well. Usually, you can pick combination of games and over/unders. They just want your business, the more "items", the lower the probability.

There are many more types of betting such as half-time score, second half betting, who's scoring first, etc. These are mostly available at all casinos. These types of betting are for the more professional or addicts. Straight bets and parlays on games and over/unders is recommended as all these other types are mainly methods created by casinos to take your money.

Basic Statistics of Football Betting

This is a very important section, so read carefully. Now lets just look at the straight bets. The reason that there are spreads in games is to level the playing field. Now, if there were no spreads, how are the casinos going to make any money. As it turns out, casinos never lose. One very important rule to remember. THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A SURE BET. Every single game with a spread is designed to make it a 50 / 50 probability of going either way. The spreads already incorporate the injury and many other aspects such as home field advantage. You do not need to worry about any of that stuff. The only thing to worry is that you might have think too much. Straight bets are like flipping quarters. There's a 50% chance that it's going to be heads or tails. Just treat the game like that. These spread-makers are not morons. They know what they are doing. Unless you have been charting games for over 3 years, you do not know who's going to win (cover). The only thing that can cause some major problems is the weather. The infamous Chicago fog playoff game. So, the bottom line is that every single game is fixed in terms of spreads making it a 50/50. Your better off flipping a coin when deciding who to pick. In this case, you are not influenced by anything. Thus, making your selection non-bias and truly random.

Now, here's how the percentages will work for you. Pick 10 games randomly. The chances that you will be 100% is next to zero. Well, it's actually (0.5)^10 or 0.097% to be exact. Now, rather than betting on all of them which is a big financial burden, although it's very unlikely that you'll go 0/10, you can chart you percentages. For example, if you were 4/5 in the morning games. Chances are that you will be 1/5 in the afternoon games. So, rather than playing more, you can either reverse your picks in the afternoon or quit while your ahead. I would recommend quitting as there's more football next week. Now, if you were 1/5 in the morning, do not think too much about how big of a hole you will be in if you bet more. Just remember the percentages. And, DON'T SECOND GUESS YOURSELF. Second guessing is the only way you achieve the infamous 0-fer. You might want to go double the amount as you are almost guaranteed to be batting over .500 in the afternoon.

Second rule to rememeber. DIVERSIFY. This means don't put all your eggs in one game. This is how people get clean out. Just imagine, you were 7/10 on Sunday. With dimes($100 for simplicity as dime normally means $1000) on each game, you're up 4. That's $400. Don't go double or nothing on Monday Night. In fact, if you lose, you have to cough up an addition $40. And including the 3 you loss on Sunday, you're down $70 for the week. Just remember that there's always more games until the Super Bowl. In fact, if you're in need of more adrenaline, just bet a dime. Don't get too greedy.

Now, let's talk about parlays. Here are the percentages on parlays.
Here's a way to make money on parlays. DON'T TOUCH THEM. A penny saved is a penny earned. Just think, if you're so confident on hitting a parlay, why not put a dime on each of the teams that you picked in the parlay. If you are confident enough to do that, then go for the parlay. Otherwise, you're just giving your money away. This is like a lottery. Normal people don't win and hit those parlays. You must be like those lotto winners that are either old or an illegal Hispanic immigrant. So, if you don't fit in those two categories, you are not going to hit a parlay. That is a parlay with 4 teams or more. I recommend playing 2 team parlays. These are hit-able. With a 25% chance.

2-team parlays

Lets say you want to bet on 2 teams. You can either put 2 straight dimes. Or, you can put a dime on one and a 2-team parlay with the other team or item(over/under). Just think, if you hit one out of two, you are even unless, the one game you lost is the double. If you hit both, you win $350.

2 straights = $200
1 parlay + 1 straight = 100 + 100(2.5) = $350

Lose (1 out of 2)
2 straights = even
1 parlay + 1 straight = even (if 2nd team is parlay team)
1 parlay + 1 straight = -$200 (if straight team loses)

Lose (2 out of 2)

2 straights = -$200
1 parlay + 1 straight = -$200

This is why 2 team parlays are $50 minimums.

Here are some helpful tips

    1. Home-team underdogs are always a good play.
    2. Always go against the crowd. Have you ever heard of the majority winning. It's always damn that point or if that kicker made the field goal.
    3. Sunday night and Monday night games are fixed. Don't touch them. Ever wonder why sometimes the winning team would knee down to kill the clock inside the 20 instead of kicking the field goal to cover the spread or the vice versa. And the most popular, phantom pass interference and holding calls.
    4. Don't bet against Denver at home.
    5. Don't bet against 49ers at home
    6. Bet against 49ers away. The points are usually hiked up a bit.
    7. Raiders is the most unpredictable team, don't touch them at all, especially Monday nights.