For beginning (NCAA) college football bettors, walking into a Nevada sportsbook or even gazing at the odds board of an online casino can be overwhelming. What follows is a beginner’s guide to college football betting, where the essential odds board numbers are explained.
Depending on the size and location of the Nevada sportsbook, the odds board might be anything from massive walls of electric light, to the well-worn “old school” chalkboard. If visiting a virtual (online) sportsbook, expect to find something like a spreadsheet. Whatever the look or arrangement of the odds board, for college football, each sportsbook has found a way to display the same basic information.
What Do All Those Numbers Mean?
Below is an example of how a typical college football game appears on the odds board:
This example shows that USC is playing at Stanford (or, if played at a neutral site, Stanford has been designated the “home” team). By custom, the home team is the bottom team, or the team listed second.
Team Betting Numbers
The ‘165’ and ‘166’ are the team betting numbers. When placing the wager, each side (i.e. team) is referenced by its betting number. Here, USC is 165. Stanford is 166.
The Point Spread
The ‘-9.5’ next to Stanford indicates that Stanford is the “favorite.” This is the “point spread” on the game. It simply means that a winning “side bet” on Stanford requires Stanford to win by more than 9 and ½ points. Since there are no half points in football, in effect, Stanford must win the game by 10 points or more, in order for that straight bet on Stanford to win. Conversely, a winning side bet on USC would require the Trojans either to win the game outright, or to lose by 9 or fewer points.
The ‘60’ next to USC is the total or over/under. It actually has no more to do with USC (even though it is placed right next to it) than it does with Stanford. A wager on the total takes one of two forms: the ‘over’ or the ‘under.’ Either the bettor believes the combined score (from both teams) will be greater than the listed number (taking the ‘over’), or the bettor believes the combined score will be less than the listed number (taking the ‘under’). On the odds board, that total number is always conveniently placed next to the underdog because there is a space left there (unlike the spot next to the favorite, which contains the point spread). When placing a total bet, a team betting number will still have to be referenced. For totals, it does not matter if 165 (USC) or 166 (Stanford) is used to place the bet. The total, combined score is the same regardless of the team betting number referenced.
The Money Line
The ‘+350’ is the money line for USC. The ‘-380’ is the money line for Stanford. What this means for USC at +350 is that a bettor need only bet $100 to win $350. The total payout when “cashing in” that winning ticket would be $450 (the original $100 bet + the $350 won). To win this bet, USC would need to beat Stanford, outright. (The point spread has no bearing on this bet.) What this means for Stanford at -380 is that a bettor would need to bet $380 to win $100. The total payout when cashing in that winning ticket would be $480 (the original $380 + the $100 won).
Hopefully, this two-part introduction to college football betting has lifted the veil on odds boards’ numbers. Remember, sportsbooks make money on people placing bets, so their employees are usually more than happy to explain anything that is still unclear to you. Moreover, at CollegeFootballWinning.com, we would be happy to help with any NCAA football betting queries. While we accept no bets, CollegeFootballWinning.com does all the complex formulaic work so there are no betting decisions left for clients to make. Try it for a season.