Learn to Bet: Guide to Betting Alternate Lines

With oddsmakers so good at what they do, it makes it difficult for bettors to find an edge sometimes. That’s why, at times, it makes sense to bet alternate betting lines.

In addition to the point spread and over/under totals that are set by oddsmakers for a game, there are also alternate point spreads with different odds. Most sportsbooks offer these alternate lines and there are many times when it makes sense for bettors to bet them.


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What Is An Alternate Betting Line?

Let’s say the Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Baltimore Ravens. The home team Chiefs are favored by seven points. The game would be listed as follows:

Baltimore +7 (-110)

Kansas City -7 (-110)

Bettors must wager $110 to win $100 on the Chiefs who must win by more than seven points. Likewise, a $100 bet on the Ravens to cover – lose by fewer than seven points or win outright – would pay $110.

Now, you believe the Chiefs will win, but the game will be closer than a touchdown. There may be an alternate betting line for the same game. You may be able to get the Chiefs at -2.5 at odds of -275.

Another alternate line might have the Chiefs at -1 at a price of -325.

You could bet on the Chiefs to cover say, the 1-point spread but you would have to wager $325 to win $100. The same goes for the 2.5-point spread. You’d have to bet $275 to win $100 and the Chiefs would have to win by three points or more.

Alternate betting lines can go in other direction too. Oftentimes, alternate betting lines are played as part of a parlay known as a teaser. The most common of these bets is the NFL two-team, six-point teaser. Bettors can adjust a point spread by six points giving the bets a higher chance of success. Bettors get the six points at diminished odds though.


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Tips for Betting Alternate Lines

Betting alternate lines is most popular in NFL betting. That is because NFL games end with more predictable margins of victory. Most NFL games end with victory margin of three or seven points. The next most popular numbers are one and four.

Knowing this, bettors can use alternate betting lines to cross these key numbers and obtain a more favorable bet. The best situation in which to use alternate lines involves getting a lower number on a favorite.

Knowing that most games end with a margin of victory of three or seven points, getting an alternate line of -2.5 on a favorite would be ideal. Using the same Chiefs example, the original point spread was Kansas City -7 (-110).


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Getting the Chiefs down to -2.5 diminishes the odds to -275, but you cover three of the four most common victory margins (1, 4, and 7).

You can also use alternate betting lines to get better odds than the moneyline odds on an underdog. If the Ravens, in this case, were a moneyline underdog at +300, you may find an alternate betting line that takes Baltimore from an underdog to a favorite of a few points.

The result is a jump in odds from +300 on the moneyline to say, +750 at Baltimore -3. This is a popular strategy during the NFL playoffs when underdogs typically have great success.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.