With the year's highest sports holiday fast approaching, perhaps it's time for a word about gambling.
Betting on sports - even the Super Bowl - is illegal in Wisconsin, but there's no law against explaining the jargon of wagering. And the truth is, many people are unaware of the meaning of even the most common sports gambling terms.
Here's a primer, for entertainment purposes only.
Point spread. Also referred to as the "line," this concept drives betting on football, especially. If one team is favored, more people will bet on it to win, obviously. So to even things out, the presumed underdog is spotted some points. Pittsburgh is favored over Arizona in the Super Bowl, and odds-makers have decided that the spread is seven points. So for the Steelers to deliver on a bet, they must win by more than seven points.
Usage: "I'm not crazy about the Cards, but at plus-seven, they start looking a little better, huh?"
Money Line. This type of wager, used most for baseball and hockey, allows straight-up betting on a given team. But the payoff varies with the odds; the results are expressed as how much a person would get back, less or more, on a $100 bet.
Usage: "Arizona's money line is at 235? Who loves ya, Kurt Warner?"
Over-under. Vegas odds-makers also set a number for total points they think will be scored in a game; gamblers can bet on whether they think the teams will score more or less. The early over-under for the Super Bowl is 46.5.
Usage: "With Pittsburgh's stingy defense, you've got to be crazy not to take the under."
Pay attention to NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels. He's known for throwing out quips about how scores affect the over-under or the spread. You can practically bet on it.