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How to bet on the Super Bowl

Profile Picture: Ashley Anderson

January 15th, 2020

The Super Bowl is not only the most watched television broadcast in the U.S. It’s also the largest betting event in America.

To get you ready for the NFL championship Feb. 2 in Miami, here is everything you need to know about betting on football, particularly on Super Bowl Sunday.

How to read the odds board

It may seem difficult at first glance, but interpreting odds and betting lines is fairly straightforward. If you’re looking to make a bet or two on the Super Bowl, here’s a quick and simple breakdown of how to read the odds board at your favorite sportsbook.

What are the odds?

The odds set by a sportsbook indicate how likely a particular outcome will occur in a specific sporting event. For example, the Tennessee Titans are playing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. On the odds board you will find the odds that the Titans will win the matchup and the odds that the Chiefs will win the matchup.

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AFC championship game odds, as seen at BetAmerica

What does the + and - mean?

The minus sign: The minus sign is associated with the favorite to win a match. The larger the number next to the minus sign, the more likely the favorite is to win. In the example above, the Kansas City Chiefs are a -370 favorite to defeat the Tennessee Titans.

The plus sign: The plus sign is associated with the underdog in the match. The larger the number next to the plus sign, the less likely the underdog is to win. Betting a heavy underdog can result in a larger payout but also comes with greater risk.

What is the moneyline?

Pick which team you think will win outright.

How much will you win based on the odds?

Betting the underdog: The number next to the plus sign designates how much money you would win if you bet $100. Based on a wager of $100, if the Titans, the +285 underdog, win outright, you will earn an extra $285, which would net you $385 in return.

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Example bet slip for a moneyline wager on the Titans.

Betting the favorite: The number next to the minus sign designates how much money you need to risk in order to win $100. You must bet $370 in order to earn $100 if the Chiefs, the -370 favorite, win outright. You would then net $470 in return.
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Example bet slip for a moneyline wager on the Chiefs.

*Note: You do not have to wager $100 on a match. You are free to go well below or above that number. The odds board simply uses the figure of 100 as a basis for establishing the odds.

What is a push?

In the regular season, an NFL game can end in a tie. If the final score is a tie, the bet is called a push, and you get your bet refunded as a result. Since the playoffs must decide a winner, a push is not possible on a moneyline bet. It can occur with a spread bet or total bet, if the spread or total is set at a whole number (example: -4) instead of a half-number (example: -4.5).

What is the spread?

Spread betting is the most popular type of football bet. A spread, or point spread, is a number set by oddsmakers to even the playing field in a matchup. Oddsmakers will pick one team as the favorite and one team as the underdog, then assign a point value based on how many points the favorite should win by.

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AFC championship game spread and odds, as seen at BetAmerica

The Kansas City Chiefs are favored to win by 7.5 points against the Tennessee Titans. The minus sign indicates the Chiefs are the favorite, while the plus sign indicates the Titans are the underdog.

Betting Tennessee to cover: If you bet on Tennessee, you win your bet if the Titans either win the game outright or lose by fewer than 7.5 points. Another way to say you bet on Tennessee is to take “Tennessee plus the points.”

A 34-28 Kansas City victory would win you your bet, because Tennessee lost the game, but by less than the 7.5-point margin.

Betting Kansas City to cover: If you bet Kansas City, you win your bet if the Chiefs cover the spread, meaning they win by eight points or more.

What is the Over/Under?

In a given matchup, oddsmakers set a predicted total, or the combined final score of a game. Based on the projected total, you can bet whether you believe the combined score will be more or less than the amount set by the sportsbook.

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AFC championship game points total and odds, as seen at BetAmerica

Over 52.5: If you believe Tennessee and Kansas City will combine to score more than 52.5 points, you would bet the Over. Let’s say the final score is 34-21. The two scores added together equal 55, which means the total is more than 52.5, so you win your bet.

Under 52.5: If you believe Tennessee and Kansas City will combine to score fewer than 52.5 points, you would bet the Under. Let’s say the final score is 34-14. The two scores added together equal 48, which means the total is less than 52.5, so you win your bet.

What is a futures bet?

A futures bet is where you wager on the outcome of an event in the future, such as which team will end up the conference or league champion. In the NFL the most common futures bet is which team will win the Super Bowl.

A futures bet can be made well before the beginning of the season. Once the season is underway, you’ll find the odds on each team change week to week, based on performance and record, so betting on a team with longer odds ahead of the season can provide excellent value if they turn out to perform better than expected.
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Super Bowl LIV futures, as seen at BetAmerica.

Since the NFL postseason is down to the conference championship round, only four teams remain listed under Super Bowl futures. The Kansas City Chiefs are the -105 favorite, and the Tennessee Titans are the longest shot (+750) to claim the title.

What is a prop bet?

A prop bet, short for proposition bet, provides odds on whether a specific event will occur within a game or season. For example, you can wager on who will win the MVP of Super Bowl LIV or the exact outcome of the upcoming title game.

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Super Bowl LIV prop bets, as seen at BetAmerica.

What is a parlay?

A parlay bet is made by combining two or more bets into one wager. You can do this by stringing together multiple moneyline, spread, or Over/Under bets on one ticket. You must hit each bet in your parlay in order to win, which makes parlay betting much more difficult than a simple moneyline or spread bet. However, with the higher level of difficulty comes a much higher payout.

Example parlay for the NFL championship round

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Example parlay bet slip for NFL championship round, as seen at BetAmerica.

Let’s say you were confident in the outcome of both conference championship games. You believe the Titans are going to beat the Chiefs, so you could bet $10 on Tennessee at +285 to win and net $38.50 if the Titans claim the AFC title. But let’s say you also think the Packers (+280) will upset the 49ers. A $10 moneyline wager will earn you a $38 return. Both individual bets, should they hit, combine for a $76.50 payout.

But a $10 parlay, in which you bet the moneyline on both of those teams on one ticket, will net you a $146.30 return if both win. The odds of both underdogs advancing past the championship round are even higher than just one, which makes the parlay payout that much greater.


Super Bowl LIV is set for Feb. 2 in Miami. Bet on that game, and the championship round this weekend, at BetAmerica!

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