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Sports Betting: Straight Bets
Straight bets are wagers made on games where a point spread is involved, like in football or basketball.
In order to even out the odds, sportsbooks will add or remove points to a team's score. This allows bettors to choose either team to win, based on the point spread. With straight bets, a sportsbook’s goal is to create even betting, so that half of all bettors take one team and the other half take the opponent. The idea behind this is that no matter what team wins, the house makes money. Here’s how it works:
New York Giants -9 (-110)
Detroit Lions +9 (-110)
In this case, the Giants are favored by 9 points, so to even out the odds they must give 9 points to the Lions. If you pick the Giants to win, they must win by more than 9 points for you to win your bet. If they win by less than 9 points (or lose), you would lose your bet. In cases where a team matches the spread, the bet is considered a ‘push’ and the original wager is refunded. For the game above, if the Giants won by exactly 9 points, all bettors would get their money back with no profits or losses.
Point spreads often change before game time, but your point spread remains the same. For example, if you placed your bet when the Giants were -9, that’s the point spread the Giants have to cover. If the Giants are -10 or -8 at a later time, it doesn’t change your bet and the Giants would still need to win by more than 9 points.
Straight Bet Odds
At most live and online sportsbooks straight bet odds are set at 11/10, meaning that for every $11 you bet you can win $10 more. For simplicity, sportsbooks use $100 as the baseline instead of $10. In sports betting, a negative line (-) indicates the amount needed to wager to make a $100 profit. A line of -110 indicates that for every $110 bet, $100 in profit will be paid out.
In straight bets, since the odds are already evened out by the point spread, the line is always negative. The difference between the 11 & 10 is the house take (also called vig, vigorish, or juice). So, on every $11 bet, the house makes $1.
Since straight bets require a point spread, baseball, hockey and many other sports with relatively low scoring do not use this form of betting. Instead, money line betting is most popular for these types of sports.