What Is a Line? Sports Betting Terms Explained

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In sports betting, the term “line” denotes the current odds or point spread associated with an event or game. It reflects the sportsbook’s strategy to attract bets on both sides of the wager, ensuring balance and managing risk.

Types of Lines

Two primary types of lines exist in sports betting:

  1. Moneyline: In sports like baseball and hockey, the moneyline represents the odds of a team winning outright. A positive moneyline shows potential profit for a $100 wager, while a negative moneyline indicates the amount needed to bet to win $100.
  2. Point Spread: Commonly used in football and basketball, the point spread handicaps the favored team to level the playing field. It signifies the expected winning margin. Bettors can wager on the favored team exceeding the spread (covering) or the underdog losing by fewer points (beating).

Below is a list of NHL game lines listed on DraftKings. This is a good way to get an overview of what teams are favored and which are underdogs.

game lines for hockey on DraftKings

Significance of the Line

The line serves various functions in sports betting:

  1. Balancing Bets: Sportsbooks aim to set a line that attracts bets on both sides, minimizing potential losses and balancing risk.
  2. Determining Payouts: The line directly affects potential payouts. Favorable lines offer smaller payouts, while underdog lines offer larger ones. Bettors use the line to calculate potential winnings.
  3. Providing Information: The line informs bettors about each team’s perceived strength and expected event outcome. It aids in assessing betting risk.

Fluctuating Lines

Lines are not static; they can change before an event begins. These fluctuations are influenced by various factors, including team news, injuries, betting activity, and sportsbook adjustments. Bettors often monitor line movements to identify trends and potential opportunities. Understanding how and why lines change can be a valuable skill for sports bettors.

Line movements can provide insights into public sentiment and the impact of new information on the event’s perception. For instance, if a team’s star player is unexpectedly ruled out due to injury, the line may shift to reflect the team’s diminished chances of winning. Savvy bettors may seize opportunities created by significant line movements, aiming to capitalize on favorable odds before they adjust again. Keeping a close eye on line changes is a fundamental aspect of successful sports betting.

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Eamonn KeenanEamonn Keenan
Eamonn Keenan, with a Digital Arts Degree from the University of Tampa, brings over a decade of sports betting experience to his role as Creative Director at BettingHero.com. Starting with Betting Hero in the Fall of 2020, Eamonn has been deeply involved in the industry, assisting customers with major sportsbook and casino operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and others. A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, he has a keen interest in professional hockey, MMA, NFL, NCAAB, NCAAF, and MLB. Eamonn enjoys researching teams and players to predict game outcomes, highlighting his passion for sports betting.