How to Read Betting Lines at Online Sportsbooks

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Learning how to read betting lines at online sportsbooks is crucial for those who want to win money by betting on sports.

With sports betting expanding outside Nevada in the past couple of years, many Americans are betting on sports for the first time. What they might not realize is that the world of sports gambling comes with its own vocabulary

There are multiple ways that betting lines can be presented. For instance, you can find odds presented in American style like a team being favored at -400 odds, fractional style like 1/4 odds, or decimal style like 1.20. 

For this guide, we’ll focus on reading different betting lines and wagering types in American style format since that is the standard format for state-regulated online sportsbooks. Since many folks want to know how to read betting odds for American Football, that will be the sport we’ll highlight. However, the terminology and concepts will translate to other sports as well. 

In this guide

General Sports Betting Rules For Beginners And Sharps

There are three main general sports betting rules for beginners and sharps alike and they don’t require any knowledge of how to read betting odds. 

#1. Don’t bet on your favorite team, bet on who you believe will actually win

Oftentimes passionate sports fans can be delusional to the reality of how good their actual team is. They can be blind to stats and trends that go against the bias they have for their team and end up losing their bets because of this. 

#2. Do your homework before placing any significant wagers

Online sportsbooks will oftentimes have a section on their site that is dedicated to showing how the teams are currently performing statistically and what the betting trends are leading up to the match. 

While some betting trends can be ignored, others shouldn’t be so it is worth the look. Other sports sites also feature player and team stats so you can find lopsided matchups within a game and potentially profit that way.  

#3. Always shop lines before you place your bet

Much the same way that you wouldn’t pay 20 dollars for a t-shirt if you found the same t-shirt for 10 dollars somewhere else, you wouldn’t want to bet on a team with +200 odds if you could find them for +250 on a different site.

Not every online sportsbook has the same odds for each betting line they offer. Having an account with multiple online sportsbooks allows you to get the best value for your bets and save you money over time. 

Another basic rule to always follow no matter what type of gambling activity you are partaking in is setting yourself a limit to how much you can spend. 

It is easy to get lost in the number of bets you make which is why certain sites will allow you to set a limit for yourself. If not, you can always contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. 

Have fun and bet responsibly!