American Football Betting Guide

Matt, our Vegas-based writer offers betting tips on all American Sports each week. He has also provided this basic guide to American Football, in the form of a series. So that newcomers can get an understanding of the game, its strategy and key teams. This is part four of the basic guide to American football. Part one covers the basics of American Football. Part two details all of the positions and their roles on the field, while part three explains all of the American Football strategies and the most common tactics. The article covers some of the basics of American Football Betting, what info you need and explanations of what the various bets are.

American Football Betting Guide

American football is a beloved sport and Sunday pasttime in the United States, captivating millions of fans with its intense action and strategic gameplay from Pee-Wee football as children, through college games in the NCAA to the peak of the sport in the NFL

Alongside the excitement of the game, American football has also become a popular avenue for gambling. Understanding American football can be daunting due to the complex levels of strategy, rules and terminology and gambling on American football can be the same. This article aims to provide a basic guide to American football regarding betting. Covering the game basics, popular types of bets, key terms, and responsible gambling practices.

Basics of American Football Betting

Understanding American Football game basics is necessary to achieve any kind of success or fun at betting on the sport. It’s a captivating and brilliant game that’s fun to watch, to play, many people also enjoy the betting aspects. Football offers a unique amount of big plays and excitement other sports can’t match. There are some basics of American Football and how they pertain to betting that we need to know.

The objective of American football is to score more points than your opponent’s team. Scoring is done with an Offensive squad that runs successive plays within a drive down a field to score points, compiling statistics in the process. The Offense is opposed by a Defense who is trying to stop them from advancing and subsequently scoring. A very basic description but we will have two teams, two scores and statistics that we can bet. This will compile all the data from which we will compare bets and lines. Who has the most points? What is the total?

American Football is played with a game clock and two halves of play where play is stopped and reset between them. The halves are split into quarters, there is a change of direction and clock stoppage but no technical difference. In betting you will be able to bet full game, 1st half, 2nd half, and by quarter. Now there are many other betting divisions but we are sticking to basics. Already we have 2 teams, 2 scores, 4 quarters, 2 halves, and a full game giving us a multitude of betting options. This information is the data we will use to bet against and compare our results. In American football, there is generally no draw option and overtime results count within the second half, 4th quarter and full game results.

7’s and 3’s. Touchdowns and field goals, the integers of American football scoring. These crazy numbers reward touchdowns more than field goals and make sense in game theory. In betting theory keep in mind there are key numbers which are products of 7’s and 3’s. Understanding key numbers in spreads and totals and how to be on the right side of them is part of winning. Understanding the vast difference between a 6.5, a 7, and a 7.5 spread regarding football scoring and game theory is paramount before moving forward.

This all gives us the data we need to make and score comparative sports bets. A sports line is made from line makers working for a sports book. It is the base where the sports bet will be bet and judged. Once the line is established a bet can be placed. Draws are not usually an option in American sports betting which simplifies the choices. A bet will win or lose and occasionally push, meaning a tie on a line (not a game) and you win your initial bet back. Will they win or lose? Will they win or lose by 4 points? Will a total go under or over?

Types of bets for American Football

There are three main types of bets: straight bets, parlays and teasers.

  • Straight bets: Essentially single bets, with one bet on one ticket. Moneyline bets, point spreads and point totals are the main straight bets. Bets can also be combined in parlays and teasers for higher risk and payouts.
  • Moneyline bets: Who wins the game or bet, who has the highest score total comparatively. The most popular global version of betting in all sports. In American football moneyline odds can get steep on favorites and be generous on underdogs. These odds will be correlated and almost reciprocal of each other with a middle for the house to make money. A favorite might take a 100 pound wager to win 30, the underdog would win 100 from a 35 bet.
  • Point spreads: Designed to bring the monetary side of odds to the middle ground by adding or subtracting points to a team’s point total. If the spread is -7 a team would have to subtract 7 from their score and still win. 10-13 would not be a victory, while 10-20 would. Teams will be equally opposed ATS (against the spread), with the + or – at the same number. Example +\-7 and this is the same for totals. Moneylines and point spreads are loosely correlated. They may fluctuate together or independently as bets come in and the sports book fluctuates to balance action.
  • Point total bets, or over/under: The point totals scored and are bet on going over or under that mark. Example over or under 49.5. Totals can be tallied by game, half and quarter and scored by adding both teams together or a single side. The most common is tallying both teams for the full game.
  • Parlays, (or Accumulators/Accas in the UK): Not unique to American football. Almost any American football result can be parlayed with any other sport and result globally and you can compound your winnings. Parlays (Accas) take the full amount of one win and place the entire amount on the next bet until the ticket is won or a leg of the parlay is lost. A ticket that would pay 2.00 with a single win would pay 4.00 with a two-leg parlay and pay 8.00 on a third leg and so on. American football does offer weekends full of college and NFL games to put parlays together and watch several games. At roughly 6 to 1, hitting an American football 3-teamer will certainly pep up your weekend. I still put in 12 team parlays for fun and a thrill that are closer to a lottery ticket than a sports bet. These parlays are all or nothing. One loss and your sports ticket just turned into a bookmark.
  • Round robin parlays: Another type of lower variance payout. Less risk and less upside. In a round robin parlay, you can bet all 2 leg combinations, 3 leg combinations, and so on for as many legs as you have. You can choose which combination you want to bet, but all bets within that combination must be bet. Because of the numerous amounts of bets that can arise a small bet is placed per leg to make a large ticket total. A 5-team round robin playing 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s would have 26 bets, at 5 pounds each would be 130 pounds. You can also play only 2’s and 3’s. All winners would be combined and paid out.
Amount of parlay legs # of 2 leg combinations # of 3 leg combinations # of 4 leg combinations # of 5 leg combinations
3 3 1 0 0
4 6 4 1 0
5 10 10 5 1
  • Teasers: A type of American football bet that adjusts the point spreads and/or totals. +6,+6.5,+7 are common examples of teasing adjusters. To adjust you would add the adjuster and line. A +10 team with a +6.5 tease is now +16.5. A -3 team with a +6.5 would be +3.5. Teasers are types of parlays, meaning there has to be more than one bet on the ticket and their payout odds will be multiplied. With these teases and better-winning odds come steeper prices to pay so don’t expect your payout to add up as fast as a parlay. Keep in mind how scoring integers work when you tease.

Innovations in American Football Betting: Live Betting and Prop Bets

We have a solid base of knowledge of how the scores are tallied and compared as far as betting. We can compare, adjust them, multiply them, total them and do this by full game or half or quarter. With this base of knowledge, you can enjoy football even more as a gambling outlet. For decades and even now in some sports books, the combinations above were and are your only options.

As technology merges with gambling and sports, sports betting has a world of new options. Virtual sportsbooks and mobile phones have partnered to put a Vegas-sized sportsbook in your hand with live betting and more options than most brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Advanced data tracking and computer programs have turned prop betting into opportunities for bettors.

Live betting is one of the biggest advancements in sports betting. While traditional bets were put in before the game, live betting constantly updates throughout the game offering the better constant opportunities to place bets. The stop-and-go nature of American football goes well with live betting offering plenty of timeouts, commercials etc for lines to be established and put on apps. Moneylines, spreads, totals, and even prop bets can be bet and parlayed live.

Prop betting is a term for a wide array of bet types. Some are derived from statistic-based betting. There are lines set as under/over marks and are available for almost every statistic. Yards receiving, interceptions thrown and touchdowns scored are common statistical prop bets. While prop bets started with those bets, now you can bet on almost anything you can think of. It’s listed as a prop bet and there are pages. The Superbowl is famous for its number of whacky prop bets. Will Patrick Mahomes throw more touchdowns than Lionel Messi scores goals? Will the first touchdown scorer’s jersey number be odd or even? How long will the national anthem last?

Responsible Gambling: Enjoying American Football Betting Safely

The biggest factor in keeping sports betting fun is knowing your limits. Set reasonable limits for yourself and stick to them. Without betting I would probably never watch a sporting event in my life. Putting in a sports bet, and waiting for the game are some of the most enjoyable moments for me I’ve found in gambling. With the edges of table games leading heavily to the house, poker is far too slow and drawn out I’ve found my gambling love and niche in sports. I live and work in Vegas, gambling is the heartbeat of this town. I love the research and the work, the numbers and stats, the puzzles and problems. I love being able to put my bet in and enjoy 3 hours where I can drink and swear and jump around like a maniac either in agony or bliss. If done right sports betting can be an entertaining pastime, but make sure you’ve done the research and follow your strategy.