What does "Laying the Points" Mean in Sports Betting?

by Big Al Staff

What does laying the points mean in sports betting?

When you start sports betting, you will hear some terms fly around your ears.  It might begin simply with just the different betting options:  point spread, moneyline, or over/under.  After getting familiar with the basic lingo, you’ll then start to encounter other terms like juice, vigorish, round-robin, bad beat, run-line, puck-line, teasers, prop bet, and on and on.  Slowly, your knowledge will accumulate, and you’ll get more comfortable with the slang.

To accelerate your education, we are here to provide a thorough understanding of all the terms that you need to know in your sports betting career -- from a simple moneyline bet to a complicated hedging strategy.  Perhaps the quintessential bet in the North American sports betting industry is the point spread wager.  It's easily the most popular form of football and basketball wagering for many sports bettors out there.  There are many different terms related to spread betting (e.g., cover the spread).  Here, we'll discuss the term 'laying the points.'

It's a term used by experienced bettors for any sport where you can use point spreads such as the football and basketball.  We'll dive into the term and then give you a handle on how to implement it into your sports betting strategy.

Getting started with point spread betting

Alright, so we're focusing on point spreads here.  It's a form of betting where you pick a side in a matchup, and the winner is determined by adding or subtracting a set number of points (the “point spread”) to the final score.  Note that this betting option is only available for sports that work with an incremental, point-based scoring system.  So, let’s illustrate the point spread with an example.  We'll take the Super Bowl 53 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.  The betting lines at GTBets Sportsbook were:

  • Los Angeles Rams +2.5
  • New England Patriots -2.5

In this example, similar to the moneyline bet, you have a favorite and an underdog.  The point spread favorite in this game was New England, while Los Angeles was the underdog.  To cash a ticket on the Rams, bettors needed them to not lose the game by three or more points.  A Patriots bettor, meanwhile, needed New England to win by three or more points to cover the spread.

Now, let’s do a deeper dive into gambling slang, and talk about some of the terms that go along with this type of bet.  You should know that bettors love to come up with colorful phrases, and shorthand abbreviations to incorporate into their gambling conversations.  Two common expressions are ‘laying the points,’ and the related term, ‘taking the points.’

Laying the points with the favorite
With point spread betting, you have a favorite and an underdog.  When you hear a sports bettor say they're 'laying the points,' they are talking about betting on the favored team to win by an amount greater than the point spread.  In the example above, if you laid the points, that would mean you bet on New England minus the 2.5 points, and you would need it to win by at least three points to cover the point spread.

Taking the points with the underdog
The opposite of laying the points is taking the points.  Instead of betting on the favorite, you're betting on the underdog.  When betting on the underdog in our Super Bowl 53 example above, you’re getting 2.5 points with the Rams.  So, you would win your bet if the Rams did not lose the game by three or more points.  As you can see, an underdog does not necessarily have to win the game, straight-up, to cover the point spread.  It can also cover the spread if it loses the game by an amount less than the point spread.

How to use laying the points in your sports betting strategy?

Alright, so you now know two of the most important sports betting terms when it comes to point spreads -- laying the points and taking the points.  It's useful jargon that you need when hanging out with gambling buddies, having a chat, and discussing the sporting events you're wagering on.  Beyond knowing how a point spread works and being familiar with gambling terms, you also need to know various wagering strategies.  We'll give you some tips to get you going in the right way.

Create rules and be disciplined
As a sports bettor, you're in the business of putting your money on the line.  You're not just predicting which team wins or who scores the next touchdown for fun -- you're in this to accumulate an enormous amount of money.  So, you have to create some rules for yourself, and establish boundaries and limitations.  The exact rules, of course, are completely up to you.  But we can start you off with some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the maximum amount of money you are willing to lose while betting on sports?
  • ​What is the maximum amount of money that you are comfortable with losing on a single bet?
  • How often do you want to wager?
  • On which sports do you want to wager?
  • Do you prefer to bet on moneylines, point spreads, over/unders, or prop bets?
  • Are you comfortable with exotic bets like parlays, or do you prefer straight bets?

These questions create a firm list of rules and boundaries for your sports betting career.  You can take things as far as you want, but it's good to be disciplined.  Otherwise, your adrenaline may get the better of you and you may wager more than you should on a single bet.  It’s good to constantly review and reflect on your betting patterns to see whether you're still adhering to your own rules.  Additionally, many bookmakers have wagering limits, which can also be handy to keep you in control.

Be aware of line movement
We're assuming that you are aware of point spreads, and you made some outlines for your sports betting career.  You're not afraid to lose money anymore, and you're comfortable with putting some money on the line.  From this point, it's time to learn more about point spreads and the way bookies handle these types of wagers.  As you saw in the Patriots/Rams example, a football or basketball matchup has certain point spread numbers.  But be aware that these numbers may change.  This change is called line movement.

When a bookmaker wants to open up betting on a game, it will publish its odds.  The initial point spread is called the opening line.  As time passes, gamblers place their bets and, depending on the money flow, as well as any new information, the numbers will change.  This happens right up until game time, when the odds on a game are taken down, and the final number is known as the closing line.
This line movement system creates value for bettors and sportsbooks at the same time.  It’s crucial for gamblers to always keep a close eye on the lines, in order to be among the first to notice when a sportsbook changes its numbers.  When the odds significantly change, it’s an indication that something critical has happened to the match-up.  Maybe an important player became ill, sustained an injury, or was traded to another team.  Whatever it might be, the oddsmakers are generally up to speed and likely know more than you do.  In this case, you should do your research to find out what happened.  If nothing newsworthy happened, but the lines materially changed, it's probably due to a betting syndicate placing large wagers.  When a sizable bet is made by sharp gamblers on one side, the bookies will usually move the line to try to curtail the betting action on that one side and/or attract wagers on the other side.

The importance of a sportsbook
When you're working hard to research the games, you also always want to catch the best betting numbers.  The sportsbook plays an essential role in this situation since it’s the one which will eventually pay you.  You're trusting this betting site with your money, so you need to be sure it's safe.  We’ve thoroughly researched the world’s leading sportsbooks to come up with the most trustworthy, reliable and beneficial sportsbooks to recommend to our visitors.  We derived our Top 10 Sportsbook rankings after considering many factors, including longevity, payout record, wagering menu, user interface, sign-up bonuses, and odds.  Our current top sportsbooks include BetAnySports (#1), BetNow (#2) and Bovada (#3).  But each bettor has a different set of factors that are most important, so read our reviews to help you determine the three to five sportsbooks you want to play with.

Call for help when you're lost
One always feels great after winning a bet, and then seeing one’s bankroll swell.  We get it.  It’s exciting to see a prediction come true, and earn money on top of that.  Sometimes, however, one goes on a losing streak, and is unable to handle the downturn.  One could react by taking unnecessary risks, such as betting on games that didn’t offer value, or wagering an outsized percentage of one’s bankroll.  That's where many gamblers go wrong -- they’re undisciplined, and not loyal to their own rules.  Eventually, they hit rock bottom, and feel depressed over losing money, and acting irrationally.  However, it doesn't have to be that way.

When you start to notice that you can't win on your own -- either because you don’t have the time to do proper research and monitor the odds, or you lack the discipline to only bet on the best games -- you should be able to call for help.  There are reputable professional handicappers in the industry who will gladly help you out.  The reason you're reading this article is to gain knowledge, so why not approach someone who already possesses this expertise.  Handicappers can answer any question you might have, share their insights and analysis, and even provide you with their picks.  Hiring a professional handicapper might be your ticket to success -- and it might turn around your losing streak.

You now know how to lay the points and take the points.  But the most important thing is to dive right in by experimenting with some wagers, and learn more as you go!  We're always here to guide you throughout your gambling journey and give you all you need along the way!

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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