A Beginner’s Guide to Football Betting

Every sport in the world is full of unique vernacular and terminology that can make it off putting to beginners. If you’ve ever sat down to watch a tennis match and looked on in awe as the score went from ‘love’ to 15, to 30, to 40 and then ‘deuce’ you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

Despite tennis’ many foibles it is still a lot easier to understand for beginners than American Football, even if you do struggle with the strange scoring system.

Getting into Football can feel less like picking up a new start and more like learning a new language which is even before you think about betting on it.

If you’re a brand-new fan of NFL and would like to place a bet on a game but don’t know the best way to do it you’re in the right place. Read on for our complete beginner’s guide to betting on American Football.

Where can I bet?

In most American states, you can bet on sports in person but it’s not the same when it comes to online betting. Unfortunately, not every state in the US allows online betting, although there has been a recent shift, with the legalisation of betting websites in the USA across 12 states with more than 80 sportsbooks accepting wagers.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to look up the best sports betting sites in your region, which you can do by Googling a sports betting aggregator site. These websites usually list the best sports betting websites in your area based on customer reviews, so you can be fairly sure that a highly rated provider is a good choice.

What can I bet on?

Most sports betting websites here in the US allow their customers to bet on a wide variety of outcomes or incidents in a Football game. However, the three most popular types of bets are:

  • Match Betting
  • Point Spread
  • Total Points

The first is relatively simple, you will bet on the outcome of the game by selecting who you think will win. The confusing part though is that you can’t bet on a draw, an outcome which is possible in almost every Football game.

When American bookmaker’s price a Football game they take a draw out of the equation and factor that into their match betting odds, which we’ll cover in detail later on.

The second type of bet is what is sometimes referred to as handicap betting. Imagine for example your high school team were taking on the Green Bay Packers, there would almost be no point in betting, right? Everyone would know that the Packers would stroll to victory.

To make these kinds of one-sided affairs a little bit more interesting, bookmakers provide a handicap to the underdog. In the example given your high-school team might be given a handicap of 50.5 points, meaning if you back them and they lost 50-0 you’d still win your bet.

The handicaps are always given as .5 as well to avoid a situation where a draw on the handicap could happen.

Finally, the last bet is the simplest of all, simply being a bet on how many points in total will be scored in the game from both sides combined. This betting again comes in the form of .5’s to ensure a winner.

Whilst total points may be the simplest of bets to understand, they are notoriously tricky to predict. So, if you’re betting on total points, make sure you’ve done your research before putting up your money.

Understanding Odds

Depending on how familiar you are with betting or where you’re from, Football odds may be tricky to get your head around. Outside of the US and in some other sports bookmakers like to use fractional odds.

For example, a favourite might be placed at 2/1 to win which would mean for every $2 you placed you would return $1 in winnings. Football odds don’t tend to be represented in this way, instead they are represented with negative and positives

The negative number is how much you would need to bet to win $100 and the positive number is how much you would win if you bet $100. A standard type of bet on an NFL game would be -110, meaning you’d have to bet $110 to win $100.

Very rarely you will find a bookmaker who doesn’t operate in fractional odds or American odds but in decimal odds. These are perhaps the easiest to understand though, with a bet that would triple your winnings being represented as 3.0 etc.

Other Things to Look Out For

Now that you understand how odds work and what the most popular types of bets are in NFL it’s time to cover a couple of extra bets and bits of terminology that could catch you out.

What’s a Futures Bet?

Most bookmakers offer odds on what are known as ‘futures’, which are essentially outright bets on future events. Examples could be betting on the Green Bay Packers to win the regular season and lose in the playoffs, or it could be betting outright that Patrick Mahomes will win the MVP.

What is Parlay?

Here in America we have a penchant for using complicated words to describe something relatively simple and a parlay bet is no different. Essentially this is an accumulator bet, in which you bet on multiple outcomes.

For example, you could bet on the outcome of every NFL game over the weekend and you would only win if all of your predictions came in. These bets can be hugely rewarding but are notoriously difficult to win as one twist of fate can send the entire bet tumbling to the ground.

Now you know all you need to know about betting on American Football, do your research on the form guides and make yourself some money with an outright, parlay or futures.