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Point Spread Betting

If you have ever bet on American football or basketball then you will have come across point spread betting. These are the two sports most commonly associated with this type of betting.

Why? because these are generally high-scoring games in which points are scored throughout the game. This makes them good sports to place point spread bets.

If you want to place a point spread bet, it is important to first understand what it means…

In simple terms, a point spread bet is essentially a wager in which punters guess how many points will be won or lost by a team. Sounds simple right!

However, there are some details about this sports betting system that you will want to know before placing a wager.

In this betting tip, we will discuss this topic at length as we explore how point spreads work.

What is point spread?

In competitive sports, the teams participating in the matches are usually never equal in terms of skills.

This means that the odds are also skewed in favour of one of the teams. This team will then become a favourite for the punters, and they are more like to bet on them rather than the underdog.

If everyone ends up betting on the same team, it can lead to major losses for the sportsbooks. To level the playing field, sportsbooks have a method to even the odds.

Point spread, which is also known as “the spread” refers to a points difference number that is decided by sportsbooks oddsmakers.

NFL football match
Point spread betting is popular in the NFL

When there are two unevenly matched teams, point spread serves as a handicap between them. It helps bookmakers to attract more bets on each team and it can mean bigger payouts for punters are more likely.

Point spread is an excellent equalizer for comparing teams in sports betting, and over the years, it has also become a part of mainstream sports especially in the USA.

In essence, the assumed favourite team needs to win by a certain number of goals or points. It also allows punters to bet on the underdogs, even if they lose by a certain number of points.

Used in sports since the early 1940s, point spreads are common in all kinds of leagues like soccer, NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA.

How does point spread betting work?

The primary objective of point spreads is to level the “betting” playing field for the two teams in a match. It also allows sportsbooks to offer higher payouts – as the majority of bets are not placed on one team (often the favourite).

For point spread bets, the oddsmakers (bookmakers) set certain “margins” of loss and victory that should be covered by both the teams if punters are to win their bet.

The point spread bet, which is represented as a number, works in the following ways:

  • There will be an actual point spread
  • The point spread will add goals or points to the underdog’s final score
  • The point spread will deduct goals or points from the point favourite’s final score

If the team chosen by the bettor still wins after the modification of points/goals, the point spread bet will win.

Advantages Of Point Spread Bets

The most obvious advantage of point spread wagers is that they level the playing field for punters. It essentially makes betting on the underdog team just as lucrative as betting on the favourites.

Let’s explain in this example:

Say that you are betting on college football, and you don’t fancy the Kentucky Wildcats to beat the Alabama team. But if there was a points spread odds of +28 for the Kentucky Wildcats, then you might place a wager.

Disadvantages Of Point Spread Bets

While there are advantages of point spread bets, it does come with its own disadvantages too.

  • It can be hard for a team to win by the assigned margin
  • There are fewer sports and sportsbooks to wager point spread betting on
  • It is not the best option for a long-term betting strategy
  • The winnings tend to be less than straight out winning / losing team bets

Point Spread Strategies

Point spread betting comes with a host of opportunities for betting punters who like to use different betting strategies to increase their profits.

When compared to moneyline bets (see FAQs below), point spreads are better at levelling out the risks and rewards. We explore some ways below that you can gain a competitive edge with this type of betting.

1. Home field advantage

Many oddsmakers take the factor of home-field advantage into consideration when deciding the odds for a point spread.

When teams play on their home field (or home ice advantage in ice hockey & home court in basketball), in front of their own fans, they are often said to have a “home advantage”.

This advantage can vary for different kinds of sports. For American football, the home field advantage generally amounts to 3 points. Basketball home court advantages are usually between 2 – 7 points.

As a bettor, you should look out for which teams are playing at home so you don’t end up with a losing bet.

2. Power rankings / Power ratings

Power ratings are in basic terms, a number intended to serve as an objective assessment of the quality of a team. Power ratings of two teams that are playing against each other factor in who will win the game and by how much.

They are decided after considering the merits of each team. You can find these power rankings/ ratings posted on the internet. Some handicapping sites also assign a total number to every team, which is often used by most sportsbooks oddsmakers when making their odds projections.

3. Recent play

It is a good idea to take the recent matches and the latest form of the teams into consideration when devising a strategy for point spreads.

For example, it is possible that certain teams might have a unusual play history. They might have started a season by losing four games in a row, but you see that they soon bounced back to win three games.

That is why it is important to take the recent plays into consideration.

4. Statistics

Every punter knows the importance of statistics in any kind of sports bet. If you are interested in developing a point spread betting strategy for football, you should take a look at the stats for:

  • Red zone success
  • Points or yards (for and against)
  • Turnover differential

In basketball, you should take note of the following:

  • Rebounding success
  • Shooting percentage (for and against)
  • Turnovers
USA basketball match
Basketball bettors are fans of point spread betting

What happens if I win a spread bet?

Let’s assume that there is a game in which the Boston Celtics and playing against the LA Lakers. If you have to pick a winner from these two, you would probably choose the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now consider the situation in which the Celtics were given 7 extra points before the start of the game.

This should level out the playing field, and the betting odds between the teams. The point spread line in this game would be:

  • LA Lakers (-7) -120
  • Celtics (+7) -120

Point spread allows you to place a bet on both the teams at the odds of -120, which means that you can place a £120 bet to win a profit of £100.

If you choose the Boston Celtics to cover a point spread of -7, you can cash out your winnings if the team loses by 6 points or more. Even if the Boston Celtics lose the game, your bet wins. You will get a total of £220 in winnings, which will include the initial bet amount of £120 and a profit of £100.

What happens if I lose a spread bet?

Now let’s say you chose to bet on the Los Angeles Lakers with a point spread of -7. To win the bet it is important that the Los Angeles Lakers team wins. If we assume that they do end up winning with score of 117-111. The 6 point win will not cover the spread and you end up losing the bet.

This means that you will lose your entire wager amount of £120.

Handicapping Vs Point Spreads

Handicap bets are very much similar to point spread bets in the USA. The terminology of handicapping is common in the United Kingdom and in some parts of Europe.

There are many different kinds of handicap bets offered by sportsbooks. Here are some of them:

  • Standard Handicap Bets: These kinds of handicap bets are pretty straightforward. They usually pay out on the basis of the odds and spreads posted for a team. In this format, any draws are treated as a loss.
  • No Draw Handicap Match Bets: Most punters like taking the risk of winning and losing bets. These types of handicap bets are done for matches that will never have a draw or a tie.
  • Handicap League Bets: In these bets, punters can wager on the performance of a team in the entire course of a season. The handicap league bets are placed before the start of a season and are paid out only after the end of the season.
  • Asian Handicap Bets: This type of bet is very much like the no draw handicap bet, with the only difference being that it has a possibility of a split outcome. Asian handicap bets have been growing in popularity in recent years.

Point Spreads FAQS

Can you bet on point spreads at different parts of a game?

Most online betting sites provide point spread lines for half-time and also every quarter of a basketball and an American football game. However, it is important to note that point spreads can change over time from the ones posted at the beginning of the match. The oddsmaker can change point spread lines at any point during the game for various reasons.

What are the key point spread numbers to watch for?

The most important point spread number in football is 3 because almost 15% of the time, the games end with a margin of 3 points. In basketball, the key numbers are a little harder to determine, however, the most common point spread number is 7.

What is a “push” in spread betting?

A push refers to a situation in which neither side wins a bet against the point spread. This happens when the game’s final result lands exactly on the number of the point spread.

What does PK mean in a point spread?

PK stands for pick ‘em in point spreads. This is used when the teams are so evenly matched that a spread is not possible. In this type of bet, whichever team you choose will simply have to win the game for you to win the bet.

What does +7 spread mean?

If the number that accompanies the underdog team is +7, it means that the point spread for the game is 7 points. The underdog gets 7 points, while the favourite team gets -7 points.

What is a moneyline bet?

A moneyline wager is when punter simply picks a particular team to win the match/game. It is the same for picking an individual sports person, like in other sports such as tennis, the bettor will pick one tennis player to outright beat the other in a moneyline bet.

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