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Five Things to Know Before You Gamble This Weekend

New to gambling on college football? Here’s some advice to get you started.

With summer drawing to a close and school starting back up, the next few months ahead may seem like a drag to get through. However, the end of summer means the start of a new season, one millions worship in a cultish fashion. Football season is back, and with it a reenergized gambling industry. As thousands of content creators push game picks left and right, here are five things to consider before betting on the football games this weekend.

Am I being responsible?

The first and most important question to answer before gambling on anything is whether you’re being responsible. When you place a bet with a sportsbook (a company that runs sports gambling), it is real money and has real consequences. Left unchecked, gambling can become an addiction. Ask yourself or ask a friend: Should I place this bet? Am I gambling too often or in too large quantities? Before you gamble, create a budget plan. You have to plan as if the money you gamble is gone. Never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.

What does “moneyline” mean?

In football, the moneyline (commonly referred to as a “pick ‘em”) simply refers to who’s winning or losing the game. However, don’t think big sportsbook companies will let you get away with just betting on the best team in the league all season. The sportsbooks will create odds—which are numbers used to force a large bet on a team—so that more people will bet on the spread.

What is the spread?

The spread refers to the favoring of one team over another. In sports gambling, the favorite, or the team favored to win, has a minus sign followed by a number. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs could be favored -4.5 points against the New England Patriots. That means, in order to win the bet, the Chiefs have to win by 5 points. The Patriots would be considered the underdogs. Underdogs are allocated the same number as the favorite, but with a plus sign in front. Therefore, the Patriots in this example would be +4.5-point underdogs. This is where gambling gets tricky. If the Patriots lost by 4 points or less, or won the game outright, then they would win the bet. When betting the spread, you must have a lot of faith in one team to cover the points, because that bet can only be won if the spread is covered. Underdogs can still lose the game but win the bet. When Alabama beat Mercer 48-14, an unequivocal blowout, those who bet the spread in favor of Alabama still lost their bets because Alabama was favored by over 50 points.