Betting on Football for Beginners

Betting on football doesn’t have to be difficult.

Key Points

– The most common football bets are moneyline, point spread, and totals bets.

– There are a few simple things a beginning bettor can do to improve his winning percentage.

Betting on Football is King

Sports betting continues to grow in popularity and since football is king in the U.S., more bettors are entering the market to bet on the NFL and college football. 

Betting on football is always more fun when you win. If you’re somewhat new to the game, you need to have a basic understanding of how things work. Once you master the basics, you’ll find that you are better prepared to win more bets. 

Here is a look at how to have success in betting on football for beginners. We’re here to help you make money betting on sports.

The Moneyline Bet

The moneyline bet is the most basic and easy to understand of all wagers. A bettor simply places a bet on a team to win. If the team wins, the bettor wins the bet.

The tricky part of understanding the moneyline bet is the odds. American odds are expressed around $100. For example, the Rams are a -150 favorite. A bettor must wager $100 to win $150 on the Rams.

Underdogs are typically given plus-money odds. If the Bears are a +250 underdog, a bettor can wager $100 and win $250 if Chicago pulls off the upset.

Bettors do not need to wager $100 or multiples of $100. They could bet $1 and, in the case of the Bears, they would win $2.50.

Betting the Point Spread

Another popular way to bet on the NFL or college football is against the spread. Oddsmakers establish a point spread, which means the favorite must win by a certain number of points in order to “cover the spread.”

Take the following example. The Rams are a 9.5-point favorite over the Bears.

Los Angeles Rams -9.5 (-110)

Chicago Bears +9.5 (-110)

The -110 are the odds. In either case whether the bettor picks the Rams or the Bears, the bettor will pay $110 to win $100. If the Rams win 30-20, they cover the spread and bets on the favorite pay out. 

If the Bears win outright or lose by nine points or less, they cover and bets on the underdog pay out.

More examples of NFL betting lines

Totals Bets

There are numerous times during a season when a bet on a side in the NFL or NCAA just isn’t all that appealing. That’s when you can bet on the total.

The total is the combined number of points scored by each team. Let’s use the Rams and Bears once again.

Los Angeles Rams O 48 (-110)

Chicago Bears U 48 (-110)

If you like the high-scoring Rams to push this game total Over, you would bet $110 to win $100. If the final score was 34-24, you would win since 58 is more than 48. It doesn’t matter which team wins either, only the total score matters. 

Betting on Football Tips for Beginners

When betting on football, it helps to remember that the NFL and NCAA seasons are among the shortest in all of sports. The NFL has only 272 regular season games. Beginners are cautioned against overreacting.

If you bet on five games in Week 1 and go 5-0, it doesn’t mean you are a guru all of a sudden. Likewise, don’t get too down after an 0-5 week. And, whatever you do, don’t chase. Don’t try and make up for big losses by going all in on a “sure thing.” Beginners should learn to unit bet and to stick to it. 

Beginning bettors should learn how to look for value bets. It’s something that takes time, but casual bettors typically bet on favorites, popular teams, and they love Overs. Oftentimes, there is more value in betting underdogs and Unders. Beginners should learn how to identify those times.

Reading Odds When Betting on Football

For example, NFL bettors will often find that sportsbooks place a premium on betting on the Under. In our example instead of the standard -110 odds, you would see this.

Los Angeles Rams O 48 (-105)

Chicago Bears U 48 (-115)

Oddsmakers, more often than not, believe games will go Under the total. That’s why one would pay $115 to win $100 on the Under in this game (instead of the standard $110). These odds will change from sportsbook to sportsbook. That’s why using multiple sportsbooks is smart. You get to shop for the best lines.

Finally, one of the best things any bettor – beginner or otherwise – can do to improve his chances of winning is to shop around. Odds and lines are just like anything else. They come with different prices. 

One sportsbook has the Rams-Bears Total at 48 while another has it at 47. That one point can make a big difference. If you like the Over, you’d want it at 47 rather than 48. If the final score wound up 28-20, you would win at the sportsbook that offered the total at 47. Shopping for the best lines and odds is something every bettor should do.