How to Read Sports Betting Lines at Online Sportsbooks

Learn how to read sports betting lines at online sportsbooks with our comprehensive guide. Understand the essentials of point spreads, moneylines, over/under bets, parlays, and teasers. Discover which sports offer the best betting lines, including football, basketball, soccer, baseball, MMA, and tennis.

Alyx Tzamantanis.
A. Tzamantanis

Last Updated: 2024-06-27

James Pacheco

8 minutes read

must have features in sports betting software

Whether you’re new to the world of sports betting or a seasoned veteran, you need to know how to read betting lines at the top online bookmakers.

Today, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about understanding betting lines so that you can have the best experience and maximise your potential profits.  

Sports Betting Lines Explained 

Sports betting lines are an essential part of sports betting, providing the framework for placing bets on various sporting events.

Essentially, a ‘betting line’ is a way for bookmakers to present the odds and potential outcomes of a game or match. These lines indicate the favourite and the underdog in a contest, showing the likelihood of each outcome and how much money you, the bettor, could potentially win.

Betting lines are crucial for both newcomers and betting veterans, as they guide decisions on where to place bets, making it clear how much risk and reward are involved.

How to Read Betting Lines in Sport 

Betting lines work by balancing the amount of money bet on each side of a wager to ensure that the bookmaker makes a profit regardless of the outcome.

To understand this better, here’s a breakdown of the various sports betting lines and how they work. 

Point Spread

In sports like football and basketball, the point spread is used to level the playing field between two teams. The favourite is given a points handicap, which they must cover for a bet on them to win.

By contrast, the underdog is given extra points, which means they can lose by a certain margin and still result in a winning bet for those who wagered on them.


This is a straight bet on which team will win the game, regardless of the point spread. The odds are presented in a positive or negative format.

A negative number indicates the favourite (e.g. -150 means you must bet £150 to win £100), while a positive number indicates the underdog (e.g. +200 means you win £200 on a £100 bet).

Over/Under (Totals)

This type of bet involves predicting whether the total combined score of both teams will be over or under a specified number set by the bookmaker.

For example, if the over/under for a basketball game is set at 210.5, bettors can wager on whether the final score will be higher or lower than this number.

Parlays and Teasers

These are more complex betting lines involving multiple bets combined into one. Parlays require all bets to win for the ticket to pay out, often resulting in higher potential payouts but increased risk.

Teasers allow bettors to adjust the point spread in their favour in exchange for a lower payout.

Which Sports Offer the Best Betting Lines?

When it comes to sports betting, certain sports offer more diverse and popular betting lines than others.

Here are some of the best sports for betting lines:

Football (NFL and College Football)

Football, particularly the NFL (National Football League) and college football, attracts massive betting interest. Popular betting lines include point spreads, moneylines, and over/under totals.

With numerous games each week during the season, football provides ample opportunities for betting.

Basketball (NBA and College Basketball)

Basketball, including the NBA (National Basketball Association) and college basketball (NCAA), is another top choice for betting fans.

Point spreads and totals bets are common, and the fast-paced nature of the sport offers frequent betting opportunities.

Football (Soccer)

Football is the world’s most popular sport and offers a wide range of betting lines across various leagues and competitions globally. Popular bets include moneylines, totals, and Asian handicaps.

Major tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and domestic leagues like the English Premier League attract significant betting action.


Major League Baseball (MLB) is popular for betting during its long season. Betting lines commonly include moneylines and totals. The slow pace of the game allows for detailed analysis and strategic betting.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA, including organizations like the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), has gained popularity in sports betting circles. Bettors can wager on moneylines, method of victory, round betting, and other prop bets.


Tennis is popular for its straightforward betting lines, primarily focusing on moneylines and totals (total games or sets). Major tournaments like Wimbledon and the US Open attract significant betting interest.

For more information about betting strategies, make sure to come back to us here at SportsBoom. We keep you up to date with all the latest news, reviews and guides. 

Alyx Tzamantanis.
Alyx TzamantanisSports Betting Editor

With 10 years of experience in content writing, Alyx has produced countess guides, reviews and articles covering a wide range of topics in the iGaming industry. She loves anything to do with online casinos, as well as UK and international sports betting.