Spreads Betting Guide

Spreads Betting Guide

Spreads betting is one of the most popular forms of betting and is often the first market to be opened, even over the moneyline. Betting the spread allows bettors to bet on either team on equal grounds as opposed to the moneyline, which is often leaning heavily towards favorites. But spread betting comes with its own intricacies and can be more challenging than straight-up betting.

Spread Betting Explained

 

What does “spread” mean in betting? Spread betting is a form of wagering that is based on the accuracy of a wager, as opposed to a simple “win or lose” outcome.

 

The spread was created to foster more equal action (bets) on both sides, not just on one side.

 

The moneyline tends to lean heavily towards favorites. As such, bettors would need to invest a lot of betting on the favorite. The point spread allows the public to bet on both favorites and underdogs at an equal line. 

 

Spreads are like points handicaps. They manifest as either a minus number or plus number. The minus number indicates how much is subtracted from the favorite. If the spread is “-7” for example, seven points will be deducted from this team’s final score. 

 

Betting on the favorite means “laying the points” as the favorite needs to win despite losing points, thus decreasing their chances compared to the moneyline.  

 

On the other hand, a plus number indicates how much is added to the underdog. A spread of “+5” means five points is added to the final score. 

 

Betting the underdog means “taking the points” as the underdog is given additional points, thus increasing their chances of winning the bet as opposed to a straight-up bet on the moneyline. 

Tips When Betting the Spread

 

Betting the spread can be a little harder than betting the moneyline. Being familiar with how the spread is created can go a long way in becoming a better bettor at spread betting.

 

+ Spreads do not necessarily reflect the expected outcome. The spread is created to entice bettors to create equal action on both sides. Thus, the spread is more a reflection of how oddsmakers believe the public views the teams. 

 

+ Go against the grain when necessary. The public can be biased in how it perceives certain teams. Big market teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees can receive hefty action, thus they can be overrated on the spread. 

 

+ Check the betting records: It’s necessary to check how well teams or players fare against the spread. The Brooklyn Nets were constantly lined as a favorite on the spread. But they had one of the worst spread betting records, thus showing how overrated they were.

Pros vs Cons

Spreads Betting GuideSpreads Betting Guide

Pros:

 

+ Betting on the spread affords bettors the chance to bet on both favorites and underdogs at an equal price.

+ Spreads open first and before the moneyline; bettors can be the first to the action.

+ Underdogs have more leeway and have more chance of cashing bets outside of their actual win-loss record.

+ “Back door covers” can happen – when a bet is cashed by way of unnecessary scoring (e.g., garbage time points).

Cons:

 

+ It can be harder to cash bets on favorites, as they have to beat the spread; plenty of teams with great win-loss records do not fare as well on the spread.

+ “Bad beats” can happen, which is opposite to back door covers – when a spread loses because of an unnecessary score late in the game.

Spreads Betting Examples

 

Betting on the spread can get some getting used to and needs a little bit of math. Let’s look at a recent game between two NBA teams.

 

+ Boston Celtics +5½ 

+ Miami Heat -5½ 

 

In this example, the Celtics are the underdogs and are given an extra 5½ points, while the Heat will lose 5½ points. The game is played and Miami defeats Boston 120-117. The winning spread here is the Boston Celtics’ +5½. 

 

Boston’s 117 points plus 5½ equals 122½, which defeats Miami’s 120 points. On the other hand, a bet on Miami’s 120 would lose as their final score after the spread amounts to just 114½, which loses to Boston’s 117 points.

 

Often, but not always, the spread is given ½ points to avoid a bet being “pushed”. A push happens when the final score’s differential is exactly the same as the spread, thus leading to a draw between both spreads.      

Conclusion

 

Though more challenging at times, point spread betting can be a more affordable avenue for bettors in alternative to the moneyline. It is also the first to be released, thus giving bettors a potential advantage if they can bet the lines early. 


Spread Betting FAQs

1. What are spreads in betting?

Spreads are like points handicap in betting. Instead of betting on one side to simply win or lose, each side is given or subtracted points that they must cover. Spreads show as a plus-number like “+3” or a negative number like “-3” indicating the underdog and favorite, respectively.

2. How to read or bet spreads?

To read spreads, be familiar with the “+” and “-” signs. The plus sign means the point/s will be added to the team. So a “+3” means the team gets three extra points at the end of the game. A minus sign means the point/s are taken from the team. A “-3” means the team’s final score loses three points. 

3. How do spreads betting work?

As opposed to the moneyline, which simply requires for your bet to win, spreads betting means your bet must win after accounting the addition or loss of points. Take the spread and add or subtract it to your side’s final score. If their score is still the greater, you win the bet.

4. How are betting spreads determined in Vegas?

The purpose of the spread is to make the betting equal for both sides. The purpose for Vegas is for the public, the people who bet, to bet on each side at an equal or near-equal amount of times. This is usually done by oddsmakers through a computer algorithm.

5. Why are betting spreads negative?

A negative spread indicates the favorite: points are subtracted from this team. It has to win the game more than how many points are subtracted from it. The result will give the favorite at a more affordable betting line, usually at -110 or -115 with the vig.
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