CFL Betting

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The Canadian Football League (CFL) was founded in 1958. It offers the highest level of gridiron football in Canada and ranks second only to ice hockey in terms of the nation’s most popular sports. Although the rules used for Canadian football are slightly different from those of the U.S. version played by the National Football League (NFL), from the point of view of wagering, the two sports are equivalent.

Today, the CFL comprises eight teams evenly divided into two divisions of four teams each: the East Division and the West Division. Each team plays an 18-game “regular-season” over the course of 19 weeks, which include one week as a “bye” for resting the players.

The pre-season begins with training camps open in early June. By mid-June, exhibition games are being played. All teams engage in two pre-season match-ups against teams from their own divisions. Then, the regular season extends from Canada Day weekend in mid-summer through November. On a rotating basis, every team plays two games against each team in the opposite division, plus three games against two teams in its own division and four games against the remaining division rival. These contests provide a total of 80 match-ups for betting.

In November, the playoffs begin. The top team from each division earns an automatic home berth in the division final, along with a bye week during the division semifinal. Meanwhile, the second-place team from each division hosts the third-place team in the division semifinal. The winner of each semifinal match-up takes on their division front-runner, and the two Division Champions that emerge play for the cherished Grey Cup, typically in late November.

Even before the pre-season starts, ante post betting gets under way on which team will win the CFL Championship outright. Bets can also be made on which teams will win their respective divisions and what the final records of each team will be.

During the regular season, less favourable odds are offered on straight-up match betting, so betting on the spread has become much more common. Bookmakers give or take points to induce bettors to one side or the other. These wagers do not require one team to outscore the other in order to win—only that the selected team win “against the spread” (ATS) and cover the adjusted points.

Other popular CFL football bets include first half betting, over/under wagers on the total of the final score, and accumulators known as “parlays,” whereby anywhere from two to four teams are selected to win on a given day. Parlays offer longer odds, according to the number of winners selected, but all choices must win in order to collect on the bet.

Other common CFL bets are called propositions, or “props.” These are most common during in-running or live betting and for wagering on the Grey Cup or other “big day” games, such as those played on Labour Day or Thanksgiving Day. Other important games for betting are the annual match-up between Saskatchewan–Winnipeg called the “Banjo Bowl” and the Hall of Fame game, which usually features the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Markets available include bets on which team will score first, how they will score, how many field goals will be kicked over/under, how many touchdown passes will be thrown over/under, and many more.

Professional “handicapping” is the art and science of picking winners to bet on at minimal risk. Most experts eschew the pre-season games that do not count toward qualification for the playoffs. Of the many statistics available for handicapping, ATS records are seen as the most important. Teams that cover the spread tend to provide greater pay outs in the long term than the ones that win outright. Upsets are common late in the season, especially ATS, and “home dogs” (home teams expected to lose) are often an excellent bet.

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