The college football season is upon us, and that also means the return of vernacular that could seem a little intimidating. Hopefully this will make betting conversations less confusing. In its simplest form, a point spread represents the expected margin of victory between two teams. Oddsmakers post this betting line prior to a game and the intention is for that number to make the two teams equal. This is essentially the same as a golf handicap.
For example, for a -200 favorite, you must risk $200 to win $100. For a -150 favorite, you must risk $150 to win $100. Those favored teams are considered better and more likely to win, so thus you must risk more than you win. On the flip side, the underdog offers enticing odds. By wagering on the underdog, or perceived inferior team, you can win more than you risk. For a +200 underdog, you win $200 for every $100 risked. For a +450 underdog, you win $450 for every $100 risked. Again, that team must win the game outright. We see money line betting more commonly in boxing, MMA, hockey and baseball.
The total, or over/under, is a wager on the total amount of points scored in the game, regardless of which team wins. Sometimes you just have a better feel for game flow and thus can bet over or under the posted total.