NEWSLETTER

Written by Jimmy Becker

You wanna bet?

You probably know that the Super Bowl is today. But, you may be shocked to learn that there will be gambling on the game.

If you’re reading this Sunday morning, you still have time to get in on the action, so here’s a primer on how to bet on football.

The three most common bets are:

1. The spread. This is the most familiar in the popular culture. You pick a team to win and there is a point spread that the favorite has to overcome. Currently, the Patriots are 2.5 point favorites. This means they would need to win by 3 or more for you to win a bet on them.

If the Pats win by only 1 or 2 points, look for mixed emotions in Patriot Nation.

This point spread can change day to day as more bettors make their choices. The bookmakers’ goal is to spread the risk and get half the money on either team — this way, they would lock in a profit. If too much money is going one way, they adjust the spread to reach an equilibrium. The bookmaker is trying not to gamble on the game.

Gambling isn’t free and the “vig” (i.e., the fee) in this betting structure is typically expressed as 10:11. This means that you risk $11 to win $10 or, $1 out of every $11 goes to the bookmaker for the privilege of gambling away your money.

2. Straight-up (aka moneyline). This is another way to bet on your team. In this format, there is no point spread. Instead your team just needs to win by any amount. As of now, the Patriots are the favorites at -150 and the Rams are the “dogs” (aka, underdog) at +120. In English, this means that to bet on the Pats, you risk $150 to win $100 but if you’re going with the Rams, you only risk $100 to win $120.

3. The over/under (aka total). In this bet, you’re not choosing a winner but are simply betting on the total score of the game for both teams. You can take the over or the under. Currently, the line is ~58 points.

There is a fourth category called “prop” (i.e., proposition) bets. These are mostly silly bets that can be on anything associated with the game — e.g. how long the game will last, will it go into overtime, how many interceptions Brady will throw, etc.

For those of you reading this on the east coast, you can now bet legally in Rhode Island and New Jersey.

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