Sports Betting 101: The basics

After the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling, which invalidated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, sports betting has boomed across America. Legally, sports betting was only allowed in Nevada. Now, it is legalized in every state. There's now a new angle on primetime NBA games, NFL Sundays, beyond wins, losses and playoff races.

This can make it difficult to understand the rules if you are new to the game. We've got your back with basic information that will give you insight into betting. Let's talk about the terms that you should know:

Term 1: Point spread

Each matchup has a number. The goal is to place an equal amount of money on both sides.

This is the bettor’s answer to the question "how many points do you need to spot this poor team in order to beat them?". Let's assume the favorite is favored to win an NFL game by a touchdown. They'd be listed at -7 on the betting line. The underdog would be listed as +7.

Because whole numbers don't allow for tie possibilities, most spreads end at.5, even though it is impossible to score half of a point in most sports. In this scenario, the favorite would be listed as -7.5. To cash the bet, they would have to win by at most eight points. They can still lose on scoreboard, but they will win at the sportsbook if their final margin is less than eight points.

This is called covering the spread. Great teams do it.

Term 2: Money Line

Bet on straight-up wins or losses to make a profit

Because the odds of the favorite being victorious are lower than those for the spread, betting the money line is less popular. Each team has a money line that is three-digits. It tells you how many you would need to wager to win $100. You don't need to worry about the spread if you have a favorite of -400. However, it means that you would have to bet $400 to win $100.

This number is different for underdogs. It's an indicator of how much money you would win with $100. If the line is +350, it means that not many people believe the underdog has any chance. However, if they win, you'd get an additional $350 for your faith. Just like in horseshoes or hand grenades "close" does not count. You have to win the game.

Term 3: Total (over/under).

Place a wager on the number of points scored

Another simple method. The total is the projected total of goals, points, runs, and other statistics that will be scored in a given game. If you believe the final score will be lower than this number, then wager the under. If you believe the final score will exceed that number, bet the under.

Each side will have a moneyline attached. However, they won't vary as much as the money lines for picking winners or losers. If the score exceeds the total before the last whistle, the over is the only bet that you can cash before the game ends. If you believe in defense, the under is a less important bet but it can still prove to be a valuable tool.

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