How Does Betting on the Spread Work?

One of the most popular sports betting options is to wager on the spread between two teams. Simply put, you choose a betting line for each of the teams in the game and then place a wager on the game. If your chosen team wins, you will profit based on the difference between the two betting lines. If they both end up losing, you lose what you bet. While this may seem like an easy way to make money, it can be quite the contrary. Learning how to bet on the spread and how to choose the right lines may just help you win your next wager!

Basic Principles of Spread Betting

Whether you are experienced in sports wagering or just starting out, you will need to learn some basic principles before you can start successfully betting on the spread. To begin with, you should always bet on the spread when the total number of points is closer to being equal between the two teams. In other words, if a game has 42 points, you should avoid betting on a half-point differential because this almost always results in the opposite of your desired outcome. Letting your emotions get the best of you and pushing a non-winning bet because you feel that you might as well place one will only hurt your wallet in the long run.

Learn To Select The Right Lines

When you are first learning how to bet on the spread it is advised by most good bookmakers that you should always select the lowest betting line you can find. This way, even if your chosen team wins the game, you will not lose more than you initially risked. Sticking with this guideline will certainly assist you in avoiding some of the more common pitfalls that new and inexperienced bettors fall into. As a rule of thumb, always choose the higher the spread, the more you should win.

How To Calculate Your Gain/Loss

As you may have guessed from the previous two paragraphs, your gain/loss on a spread bet is largely dependent on two factors; the amount you bet and the team that you picked. The first one is obvious – you will either win or lose what you bet. The second one is more complicated. You need to keep in mind that when you wager on the spread, you are essentially wagering on the outcome of a game. In other words, you are not necessarily betting on the home team to win. You are simply placing a wager that they will score more points than the opposing team. If this is the case, then it makes sense that your desired outcome for a winning wager is based on the actual score of the game. This will largely depend on which team you chose. So if you bet on the San Francisco 49ers and they end up winning by ten points, you will gain ten pounds (depending on the size of the wager). Calculating your gain/loss on the spread requires a bit of mathematical wizardry, but it is quite easy once you get the hang of it. Just keep all of this in mind and your bankroll will be well-maintained!

It is also important to note that when you are calculating your gain/loss on the spread, you should take into account the vigorish (bait) that the bookmaker is offering. This is simply the percentage of money that the bookmaker is willing to give you for each bet placed. It is highly recommended by almost all good online sportsbooks that you avoid betting beyond your account balance plus the vigorish. Doing so will only hurt your wallet in the long run. You should also avoid laying (taking a bet) multiple bets on one game. This is often done for the comfort of the bookmaker, so if you want to reduce the risk of going bust (bankruptcy!), layering on more and more bets will likely hurt you faster than placing one big one.

The Spread Versus The Underdog

An interesting phenomenon that you may have noticed while betting on the spread is that underdogs often have a better chance of winning than they should. For some reason, people feel more compelled to wager on the underdogs in a game and this has led to some pretty profitable betting situations for those who practice it often enough. This is completely subjective, but let’s take the Philadelphia Eagles versus the New England Patriots as an example. The Patriots are a historically great road team and have won fifteen of their last eighteen games on the road. This year they are finally at home and are looking to make some noise. The Eagles are riding a five-game winning streak and are the odds-on favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl. The lines for this game have the Eagles as heavy favorites with pointspreads of +6.5 and the Patriots as a narrow underdog with pointspreads of -3.

The key takeaway form this example is that the Patriots are only -3 against the spread and have been able to cover the six and five-quarter points (the spread) six times in the last eighteen games. This is somewhat of an exceptional track record for a road underdog and it certainly makes sense when you think about it. The environment in New England is incredibly daunting for an away team – it’s always loud, there are a lot of boisterous fans, and the road is usually long. This makes it harder for the opposition to sleep, eat, and drink all the while the New England players are practicing. When the game finally comes, the environment is likely to affect the outcome, possibly in the Patriots’ favor. This is the type of situation that spreads can really help you with.

The Psychology Of Spread Betting

The psychological aspect of betting is incredibly important to consider and cannot be overlooked. From an individual’s perspective, knowing why they are placing the wager is half the battle and this often leads to more successful betting sessions. Simply put, if you know the reason you are placing a wager, you are more likely to place successful wagers and minimize the risks that come with gambling. For example, say you are betting on the Super Bowl and you have a few close friends who are also football fans. You may want to wager on the Packers versus the Patriots as it will be a game that your friends are sure to watch. There is no wrong answer here as all sports are interesting to some extent, but if you are looking to take the fun out of sports and make some serious money, you may want to consider betting on the spread. In theory, at least. Of course, there is a lot more to it then simply betting on sport.