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BTSC Bookie: Deciding between the spread or the moneyline for the NFL Week 5 games

2nd October, 19:27

It is time for the Week 5 installment of BTSC Bookie! This is a chance for the BTSC community to collectively choose games in which to place an imaginary wager of "BTSC Bucks." Each week I will remind everyone of the rules and explain an aspect of betting in order to further educate those interested about the process.

Before I get into the procedure of things, I want to remind everyone that gambling addiction is a serous problem numerous people face. Like many things in life, gambling can be a fun and safe exercise if done in moderation, while obsessive gambling can have destructive and life-altering consequences. If you or anyone you know is suffering from a gambling addiction, help is available HERE.

For Week 4, the majority of the users voted for the Steelers to beat the Bengals straight up, even though the payout was so small it almost wasn't worth the bet. Although the Steelers won 27-3, the moneyline was -210 so the $100 dollars only earned $47.62 toward the pot. Yes, the Steelers are our team and we were confident they were going to win, but placing a bet on that moneyline is high risk with little reward.

As for the other two games, the $50 wager was the smartest bet placed which was on Jacksonville to defeat Denver at +150 which came in second place in the voting. Since the Jaguars won the game, we earned $75. There is an important lesson t be learned here as a $50 bet gave a 50% larger total payout than the $100 bet.

The New York Giants vs. the Washington Redskins had a $25 wager on the Giants at -145. Although it was less than 1/1 odds yet again, the moneyline wasn't nearly as terrible as the -210 in the Steelers game and earned a payout of $17.24. In all, we earned a $139.86 profit on all three games. While the profit was nice, putting up $175 and winning every bet didn't gain us more than we invested.

One other thing to consider while placing a bet is whether or not to bet the spread. One option is to place a wager against the moneyline for a team to win straight up. While this seems to be much easier, the payouts are less if picking a team favored to win but can be quite large when choosing an underdog. To better understand, here is a rundown on betting the moneyline vs. the spread according to

Moneyline vs Spread: Finding Betting Value

Typically, the moneyline odds on a favorite don't appear to have much significance. Sportsbooks will give points to an underdog and take points away from the favorite. This can be pretty valuable when betting on a heavy favorite if their moneyline is outrageous at something like -200 where you'd have to bet $200 to win $100. That same team could be -8.5 favorites and if they cover that by winning by nine or more points, the odds could be lower at, let's say, -130. In some cases, you can even find plus (+) money if the spread is very large. In scenarios like that, an NFL spread may be more useful because you are confident in a team winning but there may be more worth for that team to win by 8.5 or more points.

Continuing with the moneyline vs spread debate, a straight-up bet can be very profitable if you have an angle or consensus data on why the underdog is going to win the game. Unless it's a close game with pick'em odds (where both teams are offered at -110), the dog usually has plus odds. For instance, the Seahawks could be -200 favorites to beat the Chargers, who are coming back at +150. If you feel that Los Angeles is going to win when you make your picks, you could lay down $100 and profit an extra $150.

When you are deciding to bet on the underdog, it's always important to consider both the NFL moneyline and the point spread. If the point spread is low, such as +2.5, the odds will likely be greater to just bet that team to win outright rather than succumb to their opponent by two or fewer points. If an underdog team has a spread of +2.5, the odds for that may be -160 whereas for them to win outright would likely be plus-money, maybe at +130.

Final scores matter for both sports betting options, and sportsbooks will offer NFL odds on both spreads and moneylines, but it all comes down to where you think the betting value lies. Just remember that when you bet on a point spread, you're actually betting on the number of points a team needs to cover and not the final score like you would with the moneyline.

Here are the options chosen for the Week 4 betting exercise. Make sure you cast your vote in the poll. If you want to play your own game, leave your choices in the comments below and keep track of your total throughout the season. I've expanded the field to 12 entries due to the restrictive nature of the choices.

For this week, payouts are based either on the moneyline, which will be in parenthesis after those selections, or against the spread with the payout listed. Remember a "+" moneyline has a higher payout while a "-" moneyline pays less than 1/1 odds. For each winner, a spread choice and a moneyline choice will be given. As stated earlier, only one choice per game will have a wager. In other words, between the spread and moneyline for each the Steelers and the Ravens, only one bet will be placed even if another choice is in the top three in votes. If you wish to vote for more than one, clear your "cookies" on your browser and vote again.