How does betting work for sports?

I don't understand when a team is -8 & 1/2 like the NBA opener the "betting line" is Lakers -8.5 what does that mean and what does it mean when you say take a team to cover the spread like if the Packers are 14 point favorites Do you have to bet that they will cover those points and if they dont do you lose?

8 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer


    This is the betting line…not the odds. The odds are what you are going to be paid. Whenever you see a team with a (-) number next to them (-8.5 in this case) that means that team is favored to win by that margin…8.5 points. A player can choose to bet on the matchup either LA -8.5 points, or Dallas +8.5 points. For the player who wagers on LA -8.5, the Lakers must win by more than 8.5 points for this to be a winning wager. For the player who wagers on Dallas +8.5, they must either win the game, or lose by less than 8.5 points for this to be a winning wager.

    When a team that you wager on wins, they are 'covering the spread'. You will find this free article helpful...

  • 5 years ago


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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago


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  • 8 years ago

    Pretty much what you said is correct. There is always a favorite, and a underdog. Home teams are listed on the bottom. Also, Las Vegas rotation numbers (in this case, 506 for Lakers) for home teams are always numbered EVEN. The (-110) is the amount of "juice" or "vigorish" you risk on a standard straight bet. So if you chose the Lakers, it is typically read "I would risk $110 to win $100 on the Lakers GIVING -8.5 points".

    When you play the "betting line" a typical line looks like this:

    505 Dallas Mavericks +8.5 (-110)

    506 Los Angeles Lakers -8.5 (-110)

    Which translates to: If you take Dallas Mavericks, before the game starts, you are winning 8.5 points to 0. The underdog has 2 ways to win; either outright, (without the given points) or with the 8.5 point spread.

    If you take the Los Angeles Lakers, before the game starts, you are LOSING 8.5 points to 0. There is only ONE way for the favorite to win, that is, to COVER (beat) Dallas by 9 points.

    There is of course, other bets to wager on, such as the Money Line, and Total, 1st half, 2nd half, quarters, live-in plays, team totals, props, etc.

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  • Tara
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    not a chance

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