On the first look sports book look like the planning board for the next NASA spaceship mission and it is no problem if you think you will never understand how to place your bet on the game or sport event that you want to bet on. The days of walking in to a sports betting shop, or seeing an online sports book, and just seeing different odds on a board for the local race track or baseball match are long gone. Now in a shop you’ll see a bank of HD plasma-screens relaying games and events from all over the world or, on your computers and mobile devices, split-screens relaying an equally perplexing array of images.
Understanding the board
Accompanying all this sensory over-load there will still be the customary board, an electronic one admittedly; which seems to have the answer to life, the universe and everything encoded on it!
So, first thing first – find the game you want to place a bet on and then you can start worrying about reading the board! When looking at the sports book board, don’t panic – although it might seem so at first, you do not have to decipher some dastardly code to save the nation. As it really would take too long time to explain how to read the board for every game – here’s a couple of examples on two games that are favorite sports book bets in the USA.
Although I’m studying here at UFL – I love the Jets and so will always bet on them to win. But what if the Dolphins were at home against the Patriots – and I just fancied trying to place a winning point-spread bet on that game, what should I look for on the sports board? First up the sports board always shows the away team first so looking on the board I’d see two rows one with the Patriots on it and the Dolphins below it. If the Dolphins were favorite and the spread was 8 points, then against the Dolphins name the board would show -8 in the column headed ‘Line’. So, you’re giving up, laying up, 8 points for the Dolphins to win. If I bet on the Dolphins they must win more than 8 points for me to win the bet. 21-14 to the Dolphins won’t win the bet for me as the Patriots would have the 8 points added to their score giving them 22 points. There’s another column for this game I could bet on too. It’s headed as the ‘Total’ column and will be a figure to place a bet on for the total number of points scored in the game; this will be on the row for the team that’s not the favorite. Let’s say the figure on the board is 40, you can place a bet for the final total of the scores being over or under 40, the point-spread is not used for these bets. If you bet under and the total points scored is 39 or less you’d win, but if the total points scores was 41 or more you’d lose; and vice-versa for an ‘over’ bet.
Having got the idea that playing a sports bet is simply about reading rows and columns, placing a money-line bet in say a Baseball game you want to look for the ‘Money-Line’ and ‘Total’ columns. In the money-line column, the team with a – sign in front of their value, eg -200, indicates that they are the favorite team to win; conversely the team with a + value, eg +115, are the underdogs. -200 means you bet $200 to win another $100; whereas +115 means you can win $115 with a bet of $100. There’s also a ‘Total’ column for the total number of runs scored. This again is used for over and under bets.
Game time, bet and placing your bet
There are two other columns to look for these are the ‘Game time’ which will show what time the game starts and if it is to be televised and the ‘Bet’ column. The bet column is essential as it has the ‘bet’ code number you need to tell the ‘writer’. The writer in a sports book shop is the person behind the counter. Tell them the number of the bet you want to place, hand over your money and they will give you a ticket with your bet on it. Check the details are correct before leaving the counter! Online sports bets are processed in a similar way, albeit virtually. Keep your ticket to the very end – who knows what might happen in the final seconds? If you’ve won, simply present your ticket back at the counter within 60 days to collect your cash or check