Spread Betting - A Brief Primer on How this Bet Works

In sports betting, you can find different types of bets that can work for all types of punters. Of these bets, the most common is a straight bet called ‘match-winner’. Here, you’re backing the team that will win the match. A variation of this bet is called the futures or ‘outright’ where you’re concern is long term, and you’re picking the team that will win the season or tournament. Aside from these bets, there are other equally-popular bets like point spread betting. It’s also a popular type of bet that’s common in basketball and football. Although it’s a popular option, its description and the rules can be difficult to understand.

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How Spread Betting Works

In sports betting, the point spread is also called the equalizer. Players and teams aren’t created equal. For this reason, sportsbooks create a point spread to even out each team’s or player’s chances of winning. In short, the point spread will even the field in the eyes of punters. Spread betting is used by operators to motivate punters to risk their money on both teams or players. Just imagine LA Lakers this season playing the New Orleans Pelicans. Without any spreads from the operator, it’s expected that punters will overwhelmingly put their money on the Lakers. But with this type of betting, the underdog is given a virtual head start before the start of the game.

spread betting

Spread Betting for Basketball

When preparing the betting markets, the sportsbook identifies a favorite and it’s listed as minus (-) and the underdog that’s listed as plus (+). Let’s assume an example using the Lakers and the Pelicans who will play for a hypothetical match. As part of the NBA spreads market, a sportsbook lists the following: LA Lakers -5.5 vs New Orleans Pelicans +5.5. Using this example to illustrate basketball spreads, we can say that the Lakers is the favored team to win with the New Orleans Pelicans as the underdog. What this means is that if you bet on the LA Lakers to beat the point spread basketball handicap, they must win the game by 6 points. However, if you put your money on the Pelicans to cover the spread, they need to win outright or lose by a maximum of 5 points.

In spread betting, remember that it’s similar to line betting. It’s essentially a type of handicap betting where we even the competition. So, before you place your bets on your favorite team, make sure you take into account the team that’s favored. More than knowing its underdog or favorite status, it’s also best to check out the point spread assigned by the online betting bookie.

spread betting

Spread Betting for Football

As mentioned, sports spread betting is also used in football. Again, the definition and characteristics of the betting spread in basketball are also used in football spreads. Let’s say that there’s a match-up between the Dallas Cowboys -2.5 and New York Giants +2.5. From this spread betting football market, we should assume that the Cowboys are the favorites and the Giants as the underdogs. With a spread of 2.5 points, a wager on the Cowboys means that the team should win by 3 points or more to win the bet. A wager on the Giants means that the team can either lose by 2 or win the match outright for you to collect a payout.

As you can see, the spread betting evens out the competition and motivates the punters to place bets on both teams, not just on the favored one. Also, in your spread betting review, you will notice that the point spread is in decimal forms, 2.5 or 3.5. However, you will also find other online sportsbooks that present the point spread in whole numbers. For example, some websites today will also display the spread as 3, 6. or 10. In this case, the team or player should win by that exact number.


What is spread betting as a type of wager to play online?

In online sports betting, it is also called the equalizer since it evens out the competition. Each team is assigned or handicapped with points to give each side an equal chance of winning the game.

In what sports can I use the betting spread?

This type of wager is primarily used in basketball and football, but it can be used in almost all sports.

Are the point spreads always displayed in decimal formats?

No. Although it’s common to see sports spread betting displayed as 2.5 or 3.5, you can also find online sportsbooks that adopt whole numbers like 2, 3, or 9. If this is the case, a team must win by that exact goal or point.