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The simplest bet is an offer between two teams, which can take one of two forms. The first, and most commonly known, is called a point-spread bet. One team is considered, the favorite, the other the underdog. As an example from the 2007 NFL season, the New England Patriots are 16-point favorites over the Washington Redskins. If you bet on New England and they win the game by more than 16 points, you win your wager. If Washington wins the game, or loses by less than 16 points, you lose your wager. If New England wins by exactly 16 points, you tie on your wager (also called a push) and you simply get your money back.
In a point-spread bet, the vig is applied upfront, usually at a 10% rate. You bet $110 to win $100. The point spread is set by the book to provide equal betting on both sides, thereby maximizing the book’s profit. If there is too much action on one team, the book can do one of two things. Most of the time, they will change the point spread, called moving the line, to make the other team more attractive of a bet. Or, some books will change the balance on the vig to encourage action. I have seen instances where the vig was changed from -10% to -30% on one team, and from -10% to +10% on the other, to balance out an extreme swing.
Point Spreads The simplest bet is an offer between two teams, which can take one of two forms