Money Lines, Spread Betting and Totals – Betting the American way

Money Management & Betting Systems

When you are browsing around online bookmakers, you may very well stumble across some North American based terminology, which may be a little unfamiliar. It can be well worthwhile adding some new betting strings to your bow, so to speak, and familiarising yourself with different ways of betting can make your online betting experience a lot more rewarding. Some of the things below are not things to be jumped into blindly, especially spread betting, because there is a bigger risk of loss involved. Still, when things are  weighed up, there is great potential for profit, you just need to know how to read the spread. Here for your betting pleasure is a guide to some of the more Americanised betting terms you may come across. As a recommendation, two of the best sites for covering the types of betting laid out below are ExtraBet and Bodog.

Bodog: When signing up for the online bookmaker, you can earn yourself a free £25 bet. Extrabet: The sign up bonus at ExtraBet can reward you with up to £100 worth of free bets. Both offers are subject to a sliding scale of rewards, which accumulate after a certain amount of bets have been made. They are worthwhile if you intend to stick around and really use their services, and both online bookmakers offer brilliant betting services for both regular betting and spread betting.

Money Lines

This is the standard format by which North American betting is presented in, and is also known simply as American Odds. These aren’t restricted to American Football for example, visit somewhere like Bodog and you will see Money Lines for Premier League football matches as well. So what are you really looking at when you see Money Lines, and do they offer good value? For starters, let’s take a look at an example of Money Lines in a bet. As it’s a North American thing, we’ll go with an NHL Ice Hockey theme for this.

Pittsburgh Penguins -120
Columbus Blue Jackets +300

How do you read these Money Lines? Well, the negative figure by the side of a team name, represents the fact that they are the favourites to win the match. The figure states how much you need to stake in order to win £100 profit. So, in this case, because the Penguins would be clear favourites to win the match, you would have to stake £120 to win £100. You need to put £120 down on the favourite, which is naturally at short odds, to win the round £100. Of course you would work out percentages of this, if for example you only wanted to put down a £10 stake. A £12 stake for example would bring £10 profit. The underdogs for the match, the Columbus Blue Jackets naturally will bring better odds, and you need to read the positive Money Lines a little differently. The plus figure is how much you will stand to get back, if you place a bet of £100. Again, if you wanted to only place a £10 stake, then you would be earning yourself £30. So the American Money Lines are actually pretty easy to read, and in terms of value, it all works out as just about the same as you would see when you converted them to your more favourite way of betting, either decimal or fractional.

Negative = Amount you need to stake to win £100
Positive = Amount you win if you placed a stake of £100

Points Spread Betting

This is another popular way of betting for North American sports, and you will see a lot of this surrounding American Football. For the uninitiated, it can look a bit puzzling, but they can be rewarding when you get yourself familiarised with Spread Betting. One word of recommendation, is that you need to hone in on the match statistics to help you on Spread Betting. There is a certain degree of knowledge about the teams involved to win when playing spread betting. One of the best exponents of Spread Betting on UK Markets, is ExtraBet, who deliver a fantastic service and are worth checking out if first if you want to dabble on this. As always, just as with any form of betting, you have to understand the risks. While Spread Betting can prove to be lucrative, there is often bigger risk on it, and you can stand to lose more than when you are playing fixed odds outright betting. Here are some examples.

Spread Betting
New Orleans Saints -7
Dallas Cowboys +4

How do you read this? For starters, again the negative figure represents the favourite in the match, as they will start this Spread Betting with the handicap of -7 points. This means that in order for you to win your bet, the Saints will need to win the match on the field of play by seven points or more to beat the spread. This is what is known as covering the spread. On the other hand you could back the Dallas Cowboys, the underdogs, to not get beaten by four or more points in order to win your bet there. One of the huge benefits of Spread Betting, is that is makes a match where there is an overwhelmingly strong favourite, still competitive for your betting purposes.

Risks of Spread Betting – Buying and Selling

Say for example the spread on England’s batting total in their first innings against Australia in a Test Match is 250-275. You must decide whether to Sell (go under the 250) or Buy (go over the 275). So, if England step up to the crease and knock out 300 runs. If you bought at £1 per run (point or unit, whatever the term may be on the site you are betting on) then you will win £25 because England have scored more than the 275 spread. If however, they collapse and only hit 200 runs, then you are in trouble, because you will stand to lose £50 because England scored 50 runs less than the 250 selling spread. The reverse of this would have been if you had gone for the Sell, you would have won yourself £50 because of the England collapse, and would have lost big if they had ran up any score over the 275. So there is a lot more to think about when spread betting like this, you really have to gauge how the teams will perform on the day. As there is bigger profit to be won, the risk of losing is also higher. This is where reading stats and form really can help you gauge the risks.

Totals Over/Under

When you see this in North American betting terms, it translates just the same as it would in the format which is familiar to UK punters. In soccer, you usually get fixed odds on Over/Under 2.5 goals for a match for example, and then you simply pick whether you think there is going to more or less than those figures. You will generally see half points/goals in Over/Under because it eliminates the possibility of a drawn outcome on the bet (in American terms, a drawn betting event is known as the push). So what can you expect to see when you look at Total Over/Under points in North American betting terminology? Here is an example of what you will be expected to see.

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers. Total 39.5 points

As suggested, when you are betting on Over/Under you are looking at the combined total score of both teams. So if the match ends 20 points to 19, then you have a total of 39. If you bet under the Total then you will be winning, if you bet that the match would finish over the 39.5 points total, then you will be on to a loser.

Another representation of this in UK Betting, is the Totals markets, which are treated the same as points spread betting, in that more risk is involved. Say you look at Totals market for the amount of corners in a match. The Totals may be set as 12-15. You will be essentially buying points for your accuracy, say at a stake of £1 each. So, if you bet Under that total and the match ends with a total of eight corners, then you will win £4. That is your £1 stake for each corner that was under the total set by the bookie (in this case 12). If you bet over, then you will have lost £7, a pound each for each corner that was under the higher total set of 15. Similarly, you just reverse the outcomes if you wanted to be over the total spread. Again, this is where more risk comes in, as you are betting of more of an accurate prediction of how the game may go, as opposed to betting on a fixed outcome of a match, where a win is a win no matter what the scoreline. Where does the higher risk come in? Well, because you are not just betting on the corner count being under or over the set total, you are betting on how much you think the corner count will be under or over the set spread. If you fancy this match being under the Total points, then the more the count is under that spread set by the bookie, the more you stand to win. The more right you are, the better the reward. Just be aware of exactly what you are betting on, because names of types of bets can cross over from North American to European terminology and get a bit confused.


This is similar to Totals and Over/Under betting, and in this case you will win more the more you are correct. Here’s how supremacy betting works. Let’s imagine that there is an England v Brazil football match on. The bookmaker will probably imagine Brazil will be better than England, and they will translate how much better into goal total. Let’s say Brazil are set between 1.5 and 2 goals better than England. You will see the bet as England/Brazil 1.2-1.5 (remember these are goals, not decimal odds!). So you agree that Brazil will be better, you so put a stake of £10 on a Brazil Supremacy of 2 goals. This may remind you of an Asian Handicap, but you stand to win more, because, if Brazil win by two goals, then you have hit parity and you won’t win. But, for every goal over two that Brazil score in the match, you will win an extra £10. Let’s say Brazil ran out 6-2 winners in a thrilling match. The margin of victory is four goals, take out the Supremacy at which you bought Brazil, which was two goals, that leaves you a two goal profit margin. Your stake was £10 per goal, so you are up £20. If Brazil won 6-0, you would have won £40 (the winning margin minus the Supremacy bought).

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