In 1780, the English changed sports betting forever by offering odds on a sport that is still bet on today, horse racing. It wasn’t until the 19th century, when betting came to America, that it started to grow into a mainstream form of entertainment. However, it was relegated to smoky dive bars and back rooms.

Today in the United States, it’s going legal. Many places in the U.S. supply sports or casino betting while having a beer, eating a hamburger, or watching an NBA game. Betting is no longer a tool for mafia groups and hustlers.

If you want to be a bookie, you must understand this world, its language, and its vocabulary. It is essential to look like a professional and not an amateur.

What is Point Spread?

The matchups are not always even in any game between two athletes or teams. In fact, most of the time, they’re not. One team will have better odds of winning the match than the other.

This is where the point spread comes in. To balance the odds between two teams, the point spread gives a number of points the favorite has to exceed, or the underdog has to lose by. That allows bookies to offer games to bet on that don’t have a clear advantage to players.

How to understand the Point Spread

Philadelphia Eagles -7
Jacksonville Jaguars +7

Here’s the better team, the Eagles, are giving up points to the lesser team, the Jaguars.

The favorite is presented with a minus sign along with the number of points differential.

In the example above, the Eagles must not only win the game, but they must win by more than 7 points to have a winning cover the spread. If you bet on the Jaguars, you’ll win the bet if they lose by up to seven points or win outright. If the Eagles win by exactly seven, it’s known as a “PUSH,” and the money wagered is returned to all players.

The spread makes every game essentially even from a betting perspective.

What is the Moneyline?

In North America, the most easy-to-understand bet is the moneyline. The team you choose for this wager has to win straight up. It’s called a moneyline because money is attached to each team. Essentially, how much money you can potentially win. You’ll see a money line bet like this:

Philadelphia Eagles -450
New York Giants +290

This means if you bet $450 on the Eagles you could win $100 for $550 total.

If you bet on the Giants, and bet $100 you’ll win $290 for $390 total. You’ll make more money betting on the Giants, but the odds of them beating a better team like the Eagles are slim.

What is a Total?

A total bet is simply the combined score of both teams in a game. And you bet whether a team will go OVER or UNDER the total score listed.

For example:

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
OVER: 42

If the final score is 35-14 for the Eagles, the total score is 49, and therefore the OVER is the winner.

if the final score is 17-14 for the Eagles, the total score is 31, and it’s gone UNDER the total. A pretty simple type of wager, but it can create some nail-biting moments toward the end of a game.

Your players will have to predict whether or not the game they’re betting on will be high-scoring or low scoring.

What is Prop Betting?

Prop bets are a different way of betting, and do not rely on the outcome of a match, the total score, or the winning team.
Rather, prop bets are a way of “action” within the game itself. For example, you can bet on a player to score over or under a certain amount of points or on a certain amount of touchdowns Tom Brady will throw.

You’ll see hundreds and thousands of different prop bets daily, bringing a fantasy element for your players’ enjoyment.

What is Live Betting?

Live betting lets you bet on a game as it happens. Back in the day, once the game started, all bets were off the board. Now the odds will keep changing based on the score or momentum, allowing you to maintain your wagers while you watch.

It’s not just for spread, moneyline, and total bets either. You can bet on whether or not a team will score on an NFL drive, how many points a player will score in a quarter, or whether the next play will be a turnover.

Think of a play in sports, and there’s a live wager for it.

What is Bookmaking?

A bookmaker or bookie creates or offers odds on a sporting event. They are also sometimes called a handicapper, as they decide on odds and the spread of each team or player, essentially “handicapping” the favorite in a game to ensure action is balanced.

It’s up to the bookie to ensure the action in every sporting event is balanced. Because all a bookie really wants is to get the 10% commission for offer the bet. Therefore, the more money on both sides of a wager, the better.

A bookie doesn’t to be a bettor themselves, they want to be a business offering entertainment. That’s why having balanced action is key to a proper bookmaking. The more balanced odds, the more you guarantee steady profits.

Luckily, a pay per head bookie doesn’t have to create their own lines. Instead, the software offers odds to players, and the pay per head bookie simple has to adjust. You can shift the odds slightly based on your audience or based on the action being too one-sided.