Betting is a science and an art.
As a bettor, you should evaluate the current line, anticipate possible line movements, and determine when, if, and how to place a bet!
When to Lock in Your Bet
The line or odds on a matchup are subject to change right up until game time. Bookmakers set the line and odds initially and then will quickly evaluate betting action to inform their next move. In most instances, bookmakers seek balanced betting, or equal betting on each side of the matchup, and will move either the line or odds (or both!) until they achieve balanced betting.
The bet typically opens near where it will end; bookmakers are not usually far from achieving equal betting at the starting line and odds. If they do need to adjust the line or odds they will make those moves as quickly as possible.
It does not matter how the line moves after you place a bet: once you place a bet your bet is set in stone.
For example, if you recognize that the New England Patriots are an excellent team this year and that in their game against the Chicago Bears the spread set at New England -3 is a very good bet, you can take that bet and lock it in early! If the bookmakers see too many early bettors take that bet and eventually move the line, you get to keep the bet you locked in at New England -3, even if it ultimately moves to New England -7.
On the other side of this token, imagine that a you took Chicago +3 and the spread subsequently moves to Chiago +7. You are, unfortunately, still stuck with Chicago +3. In this example, you would have been better off waiting because you would have gotten a much larger point boost towards your betting score at the end. When you think about adding to the score you’re hoping to add as many points as possible.
How to Lock in Your Bet
If the spread reads: New England -7, you would read that as: “it’s a seven point spread,” or “New England is a seven point favorite.”
In our example, a spread for New England -7 is the same as Chicago +7.
As a bettor, you select one side to bet on. You write or say the spread based on the side you are betting. If you take New England -7 this means you are accepting a seven point penalty at the end of the game; you believe New England will win the game against the Chicago Bears and they will do so by more than 7 points.
To take that bet you would write or say “I bet $X on New England -7.”