clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Super Bowl 2016 betting primer: How do odds, spreads and prop bets work?

Super Bowl 50 will feature more money gambled than any other sporting event in 2016. We've got a rundown of important words and phrases so you know what people are talking about.

SB Nation's Super Bowl 50 Coverage

Super Bowl 50 kicks off this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. It will be the most televised event of the year. It will also be the most wagered sporting event. No other event sees the kind of legal and illegal money wagered like the Super Bowl. Whether you are betting at a casino in Las Vegas, through an online sportsbook like or in your work office pool, a large chunk of America ends up wagering something on the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl 2016 info: Live stream online | TV schedule and coverage | Kickoff time | Halftime show live stream, performers

Whether you are potentially entering an office pool or you want some talking points for a friend's Super Bowl party, here are a few key terms and phrases related to gambling and the Super Bowl.

What is the spread?

The spread for Super Bowl 50 is currently set at 6 points, according to most sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. The Carolina Panthers are the favorites and the Denver Broncos are the underdogs. If you bet on the Panthers as 6-point favorites and they lose or win by fewer than six, you have failed to cover the spread. If you bet on the Broncos to cover the spread, you are anticipating they will lose the game by fewer points than the spread. If you bet on the Broncos as 6-point underdogs and they win the game or lose by five or fewer points, you have "covered" the spread. If the Panthers win by six points, it is a push.

What does it mean to be giving and getting points?

If you are a favorite, you are "giving" the other team points. If you an underdog, you are "getting" points from the other team to make up for the fact that you are the underdog. In the case of this game, the Panthers are giving two points, while the Broncos are getting two points. The idea is that the favorite is better, so for betting purposes they are giving up points to the lesser team.

How is the spread determined?

The 6-point spread does not mean the Panthers are six points better than the Broncos. Sportsbooks do not set the spread based on who they think is better. They set the spread based on who they think gamblers will view as the better team. The goal is to get an even amount gambled on each team. If a sportsbook gets the same amount of money for each team, they are guaranteed a profit on the spread. Sportsbooks take a percentage of each bet, which is called the vigorish, or vig. If the wagers end up split 50-50 between the two teams, the sportsbook walks away profiting from the vig.

Will the spread change before the game?

Yes. The line opened with the Panthers as 3.5-point favorites. The betting public is strong in its support of the Panthers. Most of the betting public is betting on the Panthers and sportsbooks have raised the number in hopes of evening out the money involve with the Broncos. If everybody bets on the Panthers and the Panthers cover, the house loses.

What is the moneyline?

You can also bet strictly on which team will win the game. This is called betting on the moneyline. For Sunday's game, the favored Panthers are as much as -255 on the moneyline. This means that if you bet $255 moneyline on the Panthers, you will win $100. The underdog Broncos are listed as high as +215. This means if you bet $100 you will win $215. If you bet the moneyline on the underdog Broncos, you will win more money than if you bet the spread because you are predicting them to win and not just lose by no more than five points. If you bet on the favored Panthers, you will get worse odds (and win less money) than if you bet on the moneyline.

What is the over/under?

The point total for Super Bowl 50 is set at 45.5 points. One can bet on whether the two teams will combine to score more than that total (OVER), or less than that total (UNDER).

What are prop bets?

The Super Bowl is well known for the numerous prop bets one can wager on. A prop bet takes individual events within or connected to the game and allows you to bet on them. They can be connected to the on-field action, meaning you can bet on things like total passing yards for Cam Newton or Peyton Manning, total receiving yards for Demaryius Thomas or Ted Ginn Jr., or total rushing yards for C.J. Anderson or Jonathan Stewart. However, for the Super Bowl, prop bets will also be incredibly random. You can bet on things like how long the National Anthem will last, how many times "dab" or "dabbing" will be said by announcers or even whether the coin toss will come up heads or tails.

Is my office pool legal?

It actually depends on your state. Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Illinois are among those that say it is illegal. Colorado, Maine and South Carolina are among states that actually carve out exceptions for social gambling. But either way, why worry about technicalities? Just don't tell HR!

What are Super Bowl squares?

Super Bowl squares use a 10-by-10 grid featuring the numbers 0 through 9 on top and down the left column. The row of numbers represents the last digit of the score of one team, while the column of numbers represents the last digit of the score of another team. Usually, the scores are applied to the first, second and third quarters, and then the final score. The numbers can go in order 0 through 9, or they can be randomly ordered. Learn more about Super Bowls squares HERE.