Betting on the Canadian Football League is quite similar to betting on the NFL or college football. Each week, you’ll see the lines open up for all of the games and then you can handicap the spreads, moneylines and totals throughout the week.
There are nine teams in the league, so each week you’ll see a maximum of four games with one team on a bye.
Outside of the regular spreads, moneylines and over-unders that you’ll see at most CFL betting sites, the difference from sportsbook to sportsbook is what else is being offered, including free bets and other sign-up incentives.
Some books will repost CFL futures each week, which gives you a chance to bet on the Grey Cup (Championship) or who will win the divisions each week. Other books will offer live in-game betting on all games whereas some might not. And some books will offer a few player or team props from game-to-game whereas others might stick with the basics.
If you’re new to reading the CFL betting odds, let’s walk you through the basics to help you get started.
When you first log into one of the top online sportsbooks, you might see a CFL sports betting line that looks like the following:
In this case, the Stampeders – who are the favorite – have to win by seven or more points for them to cover the spread. When looking at Edmonton, they are getting 6.5 points, which is denoted by the ‘+’ sign. That means they can lose the game by 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 points, or win the game, and you still win your bet.
In terms of the moneyline, you might see a line like this:
With the moneyline, you’re merely betting on who will win the game outright. What the minus sign here denotes is the amount of money you have to bet to win $100. In this case, a $300 bet on Calgary would pay $100 in profits if they won. On the flip side, a plus sign denotes how much you’d win if you bet $100. In this case, you’d win $250 on a $100 bet on Edmonton.
Lastly, let’s take a look at an over-under:
What the total refers to is the combined score of the two teams. If you think it’ll be a high-scoring affair and the two teams will score 57 or more points, then you’d be the over. If you think it will be a defensive struggle and there will be far less points scored, then you’d bet the under.
Typically, you’ll see this right next to the spread and moneyline for a game.
When you’re examining the different CFL betting sites and what they offer, what you’ll want to look for is three different things: the betting lines offered, the deposit bonus and the ease of deposits.
With the betting lines, look for a book that offers more than just the points spreads, moneylines and totals. All of the sportsbooks offer those three basics but see who offers props, futures and live betting. In terms of the deposit bonus, remember that different sportsbooks offer different bonuses upon your first deposit.
Look for one that’s generous enough to your liking. Lastly, make sure it’s easy to deposit and withdraw your money. Many sportsbooks offer methods like credit cards, Bitcoin and other e-wallets, so make sure those methods suit you. That way you can get your money in and out without any hiccups.
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The Canadian game is played slightly different than the American game, so there are a few key factors to keep in mind.
Remember that since the CFL is just three downs instead of four, the running games are minimized. That means you want to bet on teams with good quarterbacks and good passing games. Like the NFL and college football – or maybe even more so – teams who have bad quarterbacks really struggle.
Like in many other sports, home-field advantage is important in the CFL, but not necessarily huge. Taking the 2017 season as a sample, home teams went 41-36-1. In 2016, home teams were 37-43. It’s an edge like it would be in hockey or baseball, but it’s not a significant edge like the NBA or NFL.
One of the most important factors to handicap when making your CFL betting picks is momentum. Look to bet on teams who are playing well right now and avoid teams who are struggling.
That also means tracking winning streaks, tracking injuries and taking note of the coaching situations (who is on the hot seat) before placing your CFL best bets.
In the CFL, there are a slew of rivalries that are quite similar to how traditional college football rivalries are. When Calgary-Edmonton square off or when Toronto and Hamilton meet, anything can happen regardless of records. Keep that in mind.
One last point to keep in mind is to understand the differences between the CFL and NFL. There are three downs instead of four; the field is wider and 110 yards long; a single point is awarded for field goals or punts that go out of the end zone; and the clock runs differently.
It’s important to note these rule differences as they have a big impact on the totals.
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"A passionate sports betting expert and journalist with over 15 years spent in the gambling industry."
Reviewer since June 2016