Betting FAQ

When you're laying down cash on games, you need to know everything you can. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get at Covers.com. This kind of information is the first thing you need to know when heading to the booth.

What does the over/under ('total', 'O/U') mean?
What does ATS mean?
What does BB mean?
Why do sportsbooks change their lines?
How can I find old lines from games that have already happened?
What does SU stand for in stats?
What exactly is the 'moneyline'?
What does 'juice' mean?
How do you read the Live Odds page?
I understand that, for example in the Lakers-Nets game, the Lakers are -240 and the Nets are +180. I know this means the Lakers are the favorite but exactly what is the line?
What is the runline in baseball, such as -1.5 or +1.5?
What is a 'teaser'?
What is your take on placing teaser bets? How many teams should I pick and how many points should I tease?
Can you explain how hedging a bet works? What are the pros and cons?
What is a 'parlay'?
What is a 'round robin'?
How can you find out which NBA refs are doing what games before they start?

What does the over/under ('total') mean?

Sportsbooks set a 'total', which is the predicted number of points the teams will score combined. You can bet on whether you think the actual outcome of the game will fall 'under' the predicted 'total', or 'over' it. If the 'total' for the Lakers vs. Suns matchup closed at 188 and the Suns won 107-93, the combined 200 points would give 'over' bettors a win.

What does ATS mean?

ATS stands for 'against the spread'.

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What does BB mean?

BB stands for back-to-back – when teams are playing games on consecutive days.

Why do sportsbooks change their lines?

A line moves because the book is trying to balance out the money being laid on either side. If the public favors one team too much, the line moves to attract support to the other team.

If you see a line move significantly, the public may be responding to a situation you are not aware of, like a suspension. Or it might simply be one team is overly popular.

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How can I find old lines from games that have already happened?

To take a look at the specifics of games gone by, click on the squad you're looking for in 'Teams', then scroll through to see old lines and scores.

What does SU stand for in stats?

SU in our stats page stands for straight-up win.

What exactly is the 'moneyline'?

Betting lines are based on money value. Imagine using a unit wager of $100 for our example.

If Boston is listed as -165 over Tampa Bay and you wanted to bet on Boston - you would then risk $165 to win $100 - since you are betting the favorite.

If you wanted to bet on Tampa you would risk $100 to win $155 - since they are the dog. The $10 difference is called the juice.

What does 'juice' mean?

Juice, also known as the 'vigorish' or simply 'vig', is the commission that sportsbooks collect for taking your bet. In a perfect world the action on both sides of each game would be evenly split, and the books would use the monies collected from the losing bets to pay the winning ones. The difference (juice or vig) goes to the house. The norm is around 10-percent for most side and total bets, and it most cases you pay when you lose. For example on an average football bet you would lose $110 if your team fails to cover the spread, yet win only $100 if your team does cover the spread. In moneyline sports there is normally a 10-cent price difference between the favorite and underdog in order to account for the vigorish. That is why you see the favorite at -150 (for example) and the underdog listed at only +140.

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How do you read the Live Odds page?

On our Live Odds page you'll see the matchups listed across the top and our list of sportsbooks down the lefthand side. It works like a grid. Look under the matchup and across from the books and you'll find the home team's odds in the left column and the 'total' in the right column under each matchup. Each grid has five matchups, ordered according to start time. Then you have to scroll down to get the next five matchups.

I understand that, for example in the Lakers-Nets game, the Lakers are -240 and the Nets are +180. I know this means the Lakers are the favorite but exactly what is the line?

All odds are based on $100, which is the standard unit. So if the Lakers are -240, it means you would have to bet $240 to win $100. This isn't very good value and you would have to wager a lot to win a little.

With the Nets at +180, you would have to bet $100 to win $180. This wager is much better value, but the chances of the Nets winning are much less. Your No. 1 priority is, of course, to pick a winner. But always try to find the best value.

What is the runline in baseball, such as -1.5 or +1.5?

The runline in baseball is simply the spread, just like in other sports, only the spread is always 1 1/2 runs. If a team is -1.5, it must win by two runs to cover the spread, or runline.

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What is a 'teaser'?

Teasers are made up of multiple selections in which the odds have been ‘teased’ in the bettor’s favor. The bettor can increase the odds of winning at a lower rate of return. Teasers are used in ATS betting and you can either tease the underdog (take more points) or tease the favorite (lay less points) and much like a parlay, all individual bets must win for the teaser to cash. For example, in football betting most shops will pay 1:1 for a two-team, seven-point teaser.

What is your take on placing teaser bets? How many teams should I pick and how many points should I tease?

Teaser bets provide a unique betting option and can be fun when you are winning. As to whether or not you should play teasers, that is entirely up to you. Every bettor has his own style of betting and if you like the idea of teasers, go for it. Every book has its own stipulations for teaser bets so it's difficult to say how many teams or points you should take. Also, every game is different so if you have the option, you shouldn't necessarily play the same number of games and points every night. Do your research on each game and try to figure out how many points each team needs to cover the spread.

Can you explain how hedging a bet works? What are the pros and cons?

Our glossary, located in our 'Learn to Bet Wisely' section defines hedging as this: "To reduce the amount of risk by wagering on the opposite side of a previous bet."

If the situation presents itself, a bettor can guarantee a lower rate of return by betting the other side (or hedging) of a previously placed wager. For example if prior to the NFL season you selected the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, and they do make it to the big game, rather than risk winning or losing the entire amount depended on the outcome, you could place a wager on the other team and eliminate that risk. It will take some figuring; but what you are doing is accepting a smaller payout while eliminating any chance of going home empty-handed.

The Pro would be that you guarantee some sort of payout; the con of course would be that you aren’t going to win the big amount either.

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What is a 'parlay'?

A parlay is a one bet ticket with at least two separate wagers on it. All bets on the ticket must win for you to cash in. If you lose any of the games on the ticket; it’s a loser. The point of betting parlays is to increase the payout, however with that also comes a greater risk of losing.

What is a 'round robin'?

A Round Robin wager allows a player to pick between 3 - 5 outcomes and create all the possible 2 or 3 team parlays from the selected outcomes.

So, for example, if you pick a five-team, three-play Round Robin, 10 three-team parlays will be created.

How can you find out which NBA refs are doing what games before they start?

The NBA releases information on officials every morning for the days scheduled games. Check out our Ref Assignments page within our NBA section for detailed referee stats and information.

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