Everything You Need To Know About Betting On American Football

Welcome to our guide on American football betting. Here, we’ll run through everything you need to know to get started with your football wagers. You’ll find a history of the sport which tells you all about its humble beginnings and its growth into the worldwide industry we all know and love today.

We’ll also show you how to increase your chances of winning through research and betting strategies. While research doesn’t sound like the most fun ever, it can increase your chances of success, so is well worth mastering.

We’ll also run through the different betting types found in American football. Understanding different betting types allows you to keep betting fresh and exciting, while also potentially increasing your chances of winning.

Don’t worry if you’re an experienced bettor or a complete novice; this guide has been written with all levels of experience in mind. We love American football, and whether you’re as big a fan as us or just getting into the game, we want you to enjoy it as much as we do. Our aim at Betting.org is to educate and ensure you have an enjoyable overall betting experience.

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Overview

The History Of American Football

Before we start on how to bet on American football, let’s take a look at the history of this great sport. While you may be familiar with the ins and outs of the modern game, the origins of American football are often overlooked on this side of the pond. However, Brits should be interested to know that the game was formed by combining two very popular British sports: rugby and football (or soccer, as it’s known to our US counterparts).

The game was originally created in 1869 in college between the teams of Princeton and Rutgers. Initially, it was closely associated with UK football, adapting the London FA rules. However, in the few years that followed, football would fall out of favour in the colleges, with rugby taking the mantle as the most popular sport. From this, American football grew, and it was formally codified in 1876.

The first pro football player is said to be an athlete called William “Pudge” Heffelfinger, who previously played the game at Yale. He was paid $500 in 1892 to play against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club and to his credit ran the ball 35 yards for the win.

The Modern Game

Today, the modern game is a multi-million-dollar industry. It’s come a long way from the mere $500 paid to Pudge all those years ago! Huge sponsors like Ford and Papa John have partnered with the NFL in mutually-beneficial relationships that have proven satisfying for both parties.

Of course, part of football’s overall success is due to the formation of the NFL. Founded in 1920, the NFL is the largest of the American football leagues. 32 teams compete in the NFL every season. If you’re considering betting on American football, NFL wagers are usually a good place to start. The tournament is regulated to ensure its fairness and impartiality. It also has the added benefit of being by far the most well-known American football league, which allows you to research your bets easily.

The modern game has had many adjustments over the original sport. For example, field goals are worth three points in the modern game; originally, they had a value of five. The forward pass that has now become an important aspect of the game was also not allowed in earlier versions of the sport.

Today the rules are simple: Each team has 11 players and their aim is to score more points than the other team. Points are awarded via field goals, which are similar to a penalty kick in rugby, or touchdowns. To score a touchdown you need to get the football in the opposing team’s end zone. You can also score a conversion after a touchdown. Conversions give one point if you attempt a field goal or two points if you successfully run the ball into your opponent’s’ end zone.

Different Types Of American Football Bets

When considering how to bet on American football, there are a few basic bets you can place. The most common bet in most sports is an outright winner bet, which involves betting on who will win a specific sporting event or tournament. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so read on for an overview of the other options available to you.

Moneyline Bets

Outright winner bets are often known as moneyline bets. For these bets to pay off you need your chosen team to win their game. There are odds connected to both teams, with one usually higher than the other suggesting their underdog status. These odds may be displayed in fraction form, decimalised, or in American form.

To place a bet, you just need to select the team that you think will win. The odds given next to the team selection will be awarded if your bet wins. Once you’ve chosen who you’d like to bet on, you just need to add a stake to your wager and confirm your bet. While basic moneyline bets are a simple way of wagering, you can also place handicap moneyline bets which are a little more complicated. More on those below.

Handicap Betting

A variant on the moneyline bet is the handicap bet, which puts a handicap on one of the teams in the betting. Odds are displayed in the American format and have a plus and minus next to each. Here’s an example:

Atlanta Falcons +4.5 Philadelphia Eagles -4.5.

The team with the minus, in this case Philadelphia, are deemed the team with the better chance of winning.

The numbers next to each bet represent points. Where the Eagles are the favourite here, the Falcons are underdogs in the handicap bet. The bet is swayed towards the Falcons to encourage players to bet for them. In this case, Atlanta have had 4.5 points added to their score. Philadelphia have had 4.5 points taken away from their score. This figure is added or subtracted from the final score overall.

Here’s an example based on the above:

At the final whistle, the game between the two teams ended Atlanta Falcons 32 – 36 Philadelphia Eagles. If you placed a normal moneyline bet on the Falcons, you would lose. However, by placing a handicap bet, your result would be different.

With odds of +4.5, this outcome brings the final score to Atlanta Falcons 36.5 – 36 Philadelphia Eagles. Anyone betting on the Falcons, in this case, will be a winner.

Over/Under Bets

If you’ve never had over/under American football betting explained to you before, it can look a little daunting. However, it’s actually easier to grasp than you’re probably expecting. Let’s look at these bets in our NFL sports betting guide and explain how to use this popular betting market.

Over and under bets are a type of scoreline bet and are usually better suited to sports with low score lines. When betting on an over and under bet, you are choosing whether the overall scoreline will be over or under a set amount of points.

Using our Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles game above, here’s how it works:

The bet is offered at Over/Under 46.5 game points with the same odds for both outcomes – 19/20. You then choose which outcome you think is most likely. Will the two teams have a combined score or more or less than 46.5 points? Place your wager and if you’re right, the bet will pay out.

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Best Bookmaker For American Football Betting

The bookmaker that we currently think has the best offering when it comes to American football is Betfair. Established in 1999, the exchange bookmaker is British based and offers a nice selection of American football markets. They also have a sign-up offer which gives up to £50 back as a matched bet to new site members, which should come in handy when wagering on American football for the first time. You can spend your matched bet any wagers above 1/5 (1.2) or above.

Wagers at Betfair can be placed either online or via their mobile app, meaning you can keep an eye on your bets whether on the go or at home. This is particularly handy for American markets, as games will usually be played late at night here in the UK. If you’re keen to check a result, you don’t need to run downstairs and fire up the laptop to do it. You can just check using your mobile phone from the comfort of your bed!

A risk-free bet is also available for site newcomers on the betting exchange, which allows players to bet for or against an event happening. Bet exchanges are rare, but Betfair are the market leader in this country, so they’re a good place to start.

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Popular American Football Betting Terms

No guide on how to bet on American football would be complete without a rundown of the betting terms you may encounter while betting. Below, you’ll find our guide to the most common terms. You may find others along the way, but these should give you a decent head start.

  • Stake The money you wager on a sports bet. Not exclusive to American football, but important all the same.
  • Handicap A handicap is placed on a team that would otherwise usually win a bet to keep the wager competitive.
  • NFL  Abbreviation for the National Football League. The largest sporting league in the US. It is broken down into regions.
  • NCAA Abbreviation for the National College Athletic Association. College football is very popular in the US and wagers can be made on games in the NCAA.
  • Super Bowl The Super Bowl is an annual NFL event where the two conference champions play against each other in a neutral location. It’s arguably the biggest NFL event of the season.
  • Halftime bet  A bet made at the halftime point of a football game.
  • Point spread How many points one team is favoured over the underdog. Sometimes shortened to spread.
  • Underdog the team expected to lose in a game.
  • ATS Against the spread. A team whose record is against the spread is performing better than expected against given point difference.

Top Tips For Betting On American Football

If you’re looking for betting tips, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a range of betting tips, hints and even NFL betting strategies to help you make the most of your American football bets. By the time you’ve read our top tips, you’ll be on the road to becoming a betting aficionado in no time!

Don’t Bet On Markets You Don’t Understand

While this should go without saying, you’d be surprised the number of times we see bettors placing wagers on markets they don’t understand. Perhaps great odds have tempted them, or maybe there’s a bonus they don’t can’t seem to walk away from. Either way, betting on markets without thoroughly understanding them first is going to end one way – badly.

Mastering a set market doesn’t have to be difficult. We recommend starting with the outright betting market first, which is sometimes known as moneyline on American football bets. There are no complications to one of these wagers. The bet pays out if your team wins only. Stick to these bets until you work out the other types of wagers and your experience develops.

Research Individual Teams

When you’re starting out betting on an unfamiliar sport, it’s a good idea to focus your research on one or two teams. With American football, we recommend taking the time to research a team’s form first as this is the easiest thing to check. Form shows you whether a team is on a losing or winning streak and as such, whether they’re likely to win upcoming bets. You can also focus on individual players such as a team’s quarterback or wide receiver, as they are vital to a team’s success.

With more research comes a better understanding of the sport and a bigger chance of winning your bet. It may not be fun, but it’s essential if you’re considering wagering long term.

Take Advantage Of Bonus Funds

Bookmakers will often try and tempt you to try their website by offering exciting bonuses and promotions. This is a win-win scenario in most cases. They get a new customer and you get extra funds to bet with.

Some bonuses are sport specific, whereas others can be spent on any sport as long as the odds of your bet meet the bonus requirements. With bigger bonuses, you’ll receive a bigger bankroll, but of course, you’ll need to read the fine print before wagering.

While bonus requirements are often fair, some bookmakers will try and tie you into awkward deals. As such, we recommend checking out our bookmaker bonus reviews to find the right deals for you.

Check Odds With An Odds Checker

Another thing you can check at betting.org are the individual odds offered on each betting market. Odds vary depending on the bookmaker, with each having their own profit margin to contend with when offering their odds.

This makes it more vital than ever to check the odds a bookmaker provides by using an impartial odds checker like the one found on our website. This allows you to see at a glance whether you’re getting the best value possible for your bet. Remember, there’s nothing to stop you using promotional deals with the best odds to add more bang to your buck!

Develop A Betting Strategy

As you become more comfortable with betting you’ll find yourself naturally drawn to a specific type of bet or team. As betting becomes second nature you may even find yourself drawn towards advanced strategies such as spread betting.

Spread betting is where you wager on the difference between an outcome happening and what actually occurs. So, say, for example, a bookmaker offered odds that made the Eagles favourites to beat the Falcons by 3-5 points. If you think the Eagles will win by six points, you’d place a wager on the six-point difference. You can lose more than you stake on spread betting, so wagers should always be done with care. This is where a good betting strategy comes into play. There are many websites that can help you with these, but with all things, be sure to do your research thoroughly first.

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