For beginning college (NCAA) football bettors, walking into a Nevada sportsbook or even gazing at the odds board of an online casino can be overwhelming. How does someone place a simple bet on a college football game? What follows is a beginner’s guide to college football betting, where the basic betting types are explained.
For NCAA football betting, there are three types of basic college football bets that can be placed: side bets, totals, and money line bets. Below is an explanation of the bets and essential wagering terminology.
1) The Point Spread– The point spread (aka: the line, the spread, the points, etc.) is an adjustment to the final score created to attract equal money to both sides of a wager. It is an invention of the late, great Charles K. McNeil in the early 1940’s. Knowing that bettors were not interested in betting on either side of a lopsided matchup, he devised the point spread (which he called “wholesaling odds”) to give points to one team, therefore taking away points from the other. Simply winning or losing the game would not be the wager.
Consider the following example: Imagine Nebraska is playing Chattanooga in Lincoln. Even at 50-to-1 odds, who would bet on Chattanooga? Likewise, imagine how much would need to be bet on Nebraska to make any money. (At those odds, even betting $500 on Nebraska would only win $10. Why put up that much cash for so little return?) However, instead of betting those odds, what if Nebraska had to spot Chattanooga 69 points? Some bettors would wager Nebraska blows out Chattanooga by more than 69 points, while other bettors would wager Chattanooga keeps Nebraska from winning by more than 69 points. The point spread in this scenario is Nebraska -69. The odds are the same for either bet, but one team has to give away 69 points while the other team gets those 69 points. (See why they call this “handicapping”?)
2) Side Bet– A “side” is a team, therefore, a side bet is a wager placed on a team to “beat” the spread.
In the NCAA football betting example above, betting on Nebraska -69 (where Nebraska has to win the game by more than 69 points) is a side bet. The side chosen is Nebraska.
3) Total– Also called the over/under, a total is a wager on the combined score of both teams in a single game. On the odds board, in addition to the point spread, a “total” score-number is posted for each game. To bet the total, one chooses either under the posted number (“The Under”) or over the posted number (“The Over”). With this bet, the winner of the game is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the TOTAL, combined score.
4) Money Line Bet– A money line bet is a wager on a team to win the game. The point spread is NOT involved. Because the point spread is not in play, betting on a favorite to win will cost more than betting on the underdog to win.
For example, if Navy is the favorite to beat Army, a bettor might have to pay $330 on Navy (the favorite) just to win $100. At the same time, betting on Army (the underdog) might mean that the bettor would only pay $100 to win $250.
Note: money line bets are not available on many games- especially those where the point spread is particularly high.
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