What Is Point Spread Betting?

What Is Point Spread Betting?

As the mainstream acceptance of sports betting continues to grow, we’ve observed numerous intriguing changes. Not too long ago, the only way point spreads were mentioned during game broadcasts was subtly, with a wink or a nod.

Nowadays, open conversations regarding spreads are prevalent across all media platforms. Subjects range from favorites and underdogs to potential coverages – it’s all being talked about. This is not without reason: point spread betting is a significant factor influencing betting at authorized sportsbooks.

Now that Illinois has officially regulated sports betting, more fans will comprehend the reference. Wondering about point spread betting? Continue reading as we delve into the intriguing details of this wager.

Point spread bets explained

At its core, sports betting involves selecting winners and losers, like in a moneyline bet. This market often shows clear favorites and underdogs in the odds. However, there are numerous instances where the favored side does not offer much value.

What Is Point Spread Betting? 2

So, what exactly is a point spread bet? This is a method utilized by oddsmakers to balance the playing field between two teams, often referred to as a “point spread”. Essentially, the spread is a projected margin of victory, in other words, the point difference between the two sides. You remain free to opt for the favorite or the underdog, however, the decision now involves other considerations.

You can place a bet on the favored team deducting the points, or on the underdog team adding the spread. Regardless of your choice, the spread must be covered for your bet to win. Now, how is the spread covered? Let’s examine this.

How do teams cover the spread?

For instance, let’s consider what a spread might look like for an NFL game. The spread, in the basic game listing for this hypothetical matchup, will be displayed as one of the primary types of bets.

Minnesota Vikings +2.5 (-110)
Chicago Bears -2.5 (-110)

Adjacent to the two teams are two numbers. The initial number represents the spread amount, while the number in brackets indicates the betting odds. In this instance, the Bears are favored by 2.5 points, as indicated by the negative number.

Betting on the Bears requires them to triumph in the game by a margin exceeding 2.5 points. A 30-27 victory for the Bears is acceptable, but a 21-20 win for Chicago isn’t. On the contrary, if you’re betting on the Vikings, you want them to either lose by less than 2.5 points or win the game outright.

In that scenario, we can reverse the scores from our example. If the Vikings lose 21-20, they have managed to cover the spread, but they don’t achieve this in a 30-27 loss. If the Vikings win, it also implies they’ve covered the spread.

Are spreads used for all sports?

Indeed, the point spread is a highly favored feature on the sportsbook betting menu. Although it is predominantly associated with team sports like the NFL and NBA, variations of it can be found elsewhere.

The MLB and NHL employ a method akin to a spread that we will discuss shortly. Spreads are also available for one-on-one competitions in golf and tennis. The principle of a spread bet is usually consistent wherever you find it: the team you select must cover the figure.

How to place a point spread bet in Illinois

Apps and websites for sports betting simplify the process of placing bets on the point spread. As stated earlier, this will be one of the standard betting options in a typical game.

Orlando Magic +1.5 (-110) +115    O 209.5 (-110)
Chicago Bulls        -1.5 (-110) -105  U 209.5 (-110)

For this competition, the Bulls have a slight advantage of 1.5 points over the Magic. Each team has three corresponding sets of numbers, symbolizing the primary types of bets: point spread, moneyline, and total.

Click on the box corresponding to your choice to place a bet on the spread. For instance, if you want the Bulls -1.5, click on it and the bet will automatically move to your bet slip. Following this, input your wager amount, check to ensure everything is in order, and click on the submit button. Now, you’re all ready to go.

How do point spread betting odds work?

Most online and mobile sportsbooks typically utilize a baseline of -110 for point spread bets. Following the initial release at this figure, there might be some fluctuations. We will delve into the reasons behind these changes shortly.

The -110 odds mean that for a winning bet, you need to stake $110 to gain a profit of $100. So, why isn’t the return simply $100 for every $100 staked? This is due to the “vig,” which is the fee charged by the operator for handling the bet.

This is also referred to as “juice,” and it’s a significant source of income for sportsbooks. Without it, they would simply be swapping money, which wouldn’t yield any profit. You can consider the vig as the fee you need to pay to place your bets.

At the outset, both sides of a point spread typically have the same odds. However, these numbers might shift once the betting public starts to participate. As the game time draws near, there might also be slight variations in the spread itself.

Why do point spreads move?

Betting markets are dynamic and constantly changing. As soon as the odds are made public, individuals start placing their bets. In wagers where there are two options, one side may attract more initial bets than the other. This situation can lead to the operator facing a potential liability.

Sportsbooks prefer to avoid this situation. They will adjust the figures to balance things better. For instance, in a point spread bet, one side may have the odds lowered to -105, while the other side could see the number increase to -115.

If the action isn’t balanced by that, further tweaks might be necessary. Moreover, you may observe the spreads shifting by half a point or more as operators strive to achieve the optimal mixture. Hence, it’s always wise to compare prices for the best deal.

For instance, you might see that PointsBet in Illinois has odds of -112 on a particular bet that you’re interested in. After some research, you discover that BetRivers offers -108 odds for the same bet. This minor difference might not seem significant, but it can definitely accumulate over time.

How much does a spread bet pay?

The return from a standard point spread bet, typically listed at odds of -110, is predictable. You stand to win $90.90 for every $100 wagered at odds of -110. However, the exact odds may vary for each spread bet you place.

After placing your bet on the slip at a sportsbook, the operator will show the return based on the amount you wagered. If you’re researching lines, you can also utilize an online handicapping calculator to do the calculations.

If you prefer calculating it yourself, you can use formulas based on the odds at IL sportsbooks:

  • Return = wager amount/(odds/-100) for negative odds.
  • Return = wager amount * (odds/100) with positive odds.

Illinois sportsbook rules for spread betting

All online sportsbooks and sports betting apps have their unique house rules. While there are commonly accepted practices throughout the industry, each operator can exercise discretion in specific scenarios. Here’s an introduction to point spread betting:

  • When you make a spread bet, the bet is determined by the number at the moment you place it. Even though the spread may shift later, your bet remains fixed at the number at the time you made it.
  • If games are postponed or delayed due to weather or similar circumstances, they may still be subject to live bets if they are completed within a reasonable time frame. However, the operator has the right to cancel the wager at any time. In such cases, all bets will be deemed null and void and will be refunded.
  • The settlement will be determined by the official league data. The final count is utilized by sportsbooks for spread betting purposes.
  • If you wager on a spread with a whole number like three points, and the final outcome matches that number exactly, for example, 30-27, your bet is regarded as a “push.” In this case, the bookmaker will refund your bet since it’s essentially a draw.

You need to grasp these fundamental rules; however, we must underscore that unexpected situations may occasionally occur. To understand how the sportsbooks you use will address these situations, check their house rules or terms and conditions.

Point spread betting examples

Point spread betting may initially appear somewhat perplexing; let’s delve into more examples to enhance your comprehension.

NFL point spread betting

The point spread is a highly favored wager type for the NFL. Every game listed will draw in a large number of bets. Let’s look at a hypothetical NFL point spread example:

Green Bay Packers +3.5 (-110)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5 (-110)

In this game, the Buccaneers are favored by 3.5 points. If Tampa Bay triumphs with a score of 31-27, it means they have covered the spread. However, if the score shifts by one point to 30-27, the spread is not covered.

The Green Bay Packers can cover the spread either by maintaining a victory margin of three points or less, or by outright winning the game. Given that the odds are equal in our scenario, bettors will gain a $90.90 profit from winning $100 bets, no matter which side they support.

NBA point spread betting

Basketball point spread betting is also favored. We suggest exploring different options for the most favorable NBA odds because the figures may fluctuate significantly from the time they’re released to tipoff. For instance, you might encounter an NBA point spread like this:

Philadelphia 76ers +4.5 (-108)
Boston Celtics -4.5 (-112)

According to the oddsmakers, the Celtics are 4.5 points ahead of the 76ers, meaning they need to win the game by at least five points to cover. A final score of 105-100 would suffice, but a 100-96 result wouldn’t.

If the 76ers manage to maintain a game margin of four points or less, or even win, then they will have beaten the spread. A victorious bet of $100 at -108 odds yields $92.60, whereas the identical bet amount at -112 odds results in a return of $89.30.

MLB point spread betting

The Major League Baseball (MLB) utilizes a version of the point spread known as the run line. In contrast to spreads that can vary widely, a standard number is used for MLB games. Here is an illustration:

Minnesota Twins +1.5 (+110)
Chicago White Sox -1.5 (-130)

Many bookmakers also offer alternative run lines, but in a standard game listing, you’ll typically find the 1.5-run bet. For the White Sox to cover, they need to win the game by at least two runs. However, if the Sox only win by one run, the Twins cover.

Minnesota has the potential to cover by securing a victory in the game. Carefully monitor the odds for run line bets. There are valuable opportunities to be found, but the MLB market movements can significantly influence both aspects of the process.

NHL point spread betting

This type of wager is comparable in the NHL and MLB. In the NHL, the spread is referred to as a goal line, which is also set at a standard number. Here is an example of a point spread in the NHL:

Detroit Red Wings +1.5 (+105)
Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 (-120)

Betting odds in NHL fluctuate for both teams, hence it is beneficial to shop around. Certain operators also provide alternative goal lines, which might be worth investigating if you have a strong understanding of a matchup.

In this game, the Blackhawks are expected to lead by 1.5 goals, meaning they need a victory of two or more goals, for instance, a 5-3 win. The Red Wings can match up by either winning or compelling a close game, like a 3-2 win for the Blackhawks.

College football point spread betting

In the realm of college football, there can often be numerous mismatches on paper, where larger programs compete against smaller schools. The point spread, however, adds a layer of intrigue to these games. Let’s consider an example:

Wake Forest +20.5 (-110)
Notre Dame -20.5 (-110)

The Fighting Irish are predicted to win by a huge margin of 20.5 points, so they must secure a victory of at least 21 points to cover the spread. If Notre Dame dominates with a score of 49-17, then those who bet on them will have a winning wager.

Bettors backing Wake Forest are hopeful that the team can maintain a game margin of 20 points or fewer. When wagering on NCAA football, it’s beneficial to examine the initial betting lines and observe how much they’ve shifted to gain insights into bettor sentiment.

College basketball point spread betting

The spread is a favored method for betting on college basketball, from the regular season right up to March Madness. The range of spreads can be very diverse, encompassing closely contested games to potential landslides. Let’s explore this hypothetical example:

In this match-up of Illinois teams, Northwestern is only favored by a mere 1.5 points, meaning they would need to win by at least two points, like a 70-68 victory, to cover. DePaul, on the other hand, covers with a loss by just one point or an outright win.

During the regular season, numerous high-profile games attract a significant amount of betting activity, while less prominent matchups may not garner as much. However, when the tournament begins, every scheduled game is sure to draw a large crowd to the betting window.

MLS point spread betting

In soccer, a goal line is used. The nature of this sport tends to result in low scores, and ties can play a significant role. When it comes to MLS games, this often results in extremely low statistics to consider, as exemplified below:

New York Red Bulls +0.5 (-110)
Chicago Fire             -0.5 (-110)

In order to meet the goal line, a single goal victory would suffice for the Chicago Fire. If the match results in a win or draw for the Red Bulls, they cover. When betting on soccer, it’s crucial to thoroughly examine the various betting options, as three-way outcomes, including ties as an option, are common.

Other sports that use spreads

Spreads are typically linked with team-based sports, but they can be found in other areas as well. For instance, a tennis match will feature a spread that is determined by the difference in games or sets in a match.

Petra Kvitova +4.5 games (-110)
Ashleigh Barty -4.5 games (-110)

For this bet, you need to predict whether Ashleigh Barty will win the match by at least five games or if Petra Kvitova will manage to keep the score difference less than that.

Golf spreads also exist. For every PGA Tour stop, bookmakers will match golfers in head-to-head duels with a spread factor in some betting types. Spread betting can also be found in other sports like cricket and rugby.

How to handicap point spread bets

Getting up to speed on handicapping point spreads can require some time. However, there’s plenty of great online resources that you can utilize as you develop your strategy. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Understand the Numbers: When you place bets on the spread, it’s important to note that you are gambling with specific numbers. If your analysis doesn’t support giving or receiving that amount of points, then abstain from the game. Moreover, remember that exploring different options can lead you to numbers that are more appealing for a particular game.
  • Comprehend What Influences the Score: Numerous statistics are available for consideration when placing bets on sports. However, not all of them significantly affect the final result. Fundamental factors include points scored and conceded, as well as metrics like turnovers or injuries to crucial players. Focus on relevant aspects and learn to disregard irrelevant information.
  • Monitor the Line Shifts: The odds display can disclose much more than just which side is expected to win or lose. By observing the shifting numbers, you can determine the direction of the public money flow. Some websites monitor public betting percentages, so incorporate this into your arsenal of strategies and let it influence your thought process.

Success with point spread betting can be achieved by getting on the right track, although there are some potential pitfalls. Here are a few to consider:

  • Avoid Betting on Every Game: The principle suggests that coming out on top requires winning more than losing. Rather, aim for a calculated strategy while focusing on enhancing your overall victory ratio.
  • Avoid Pursuing Unfortunate Losses: Not being able to cover a spread by just one point due to a missed kick or a failed free throw can be exasperating. However, such occurrences are inevitable and learning to handle them gracefully is necessary. If you respond to such losses with intense retaliation or by doubling your efforts to level the score, you might be setting yourself up for a harsh reality check.
  • Avoid Just “Winging It:” Mastering the skill of constantly outperforming the spread requires dedication, practice, and patience. While you might encounter brief periods of success by improvising, it won’t lead to enduring achievement. If you’re interested in turning sports betting into a pastime, you need to invest time in developing your abilities.

What to remember about point spread betting 

The point spread wager is a significant type of bet for team sports, alongside the moneyline and totals. The number is set by oddsmakers, essentially estimating the win margin, and bettors then choose sides.

You have the option to select the favored team minus the points or the underdog team plus the points. The side you choose must cover the spread for the bet to be successful. Although spread betting can be challenging for beginners, those willing to put in the effort can master the learning curve.