What Does Betting the Spread Mean?

Many fans are now using soccer (or ‘football’ as it’s known around the world) as a way to make some extra cash. And, for those fans, placing a wager on the games they’re following could potentially be an extremely profitable venture. But just because the games are highly competitive doesn’t mean that every outcome is guaranteed.

Here’s a look at what betting the spread (aka, picking the underdog) means and which matchups you should avoid if you want to make the right call.

Underdog Wins The Great British Bake Off

The odds of Baking show being won by a girl over a boy were 24-1. Many bookmakers offered those odds early in the competition’s two-part final. And this was despite several celebrity chefs throwing their hat into the ring, vying for the ultimate title. The favorite to win was Paul Hollywood. For those unfamiliar, he’s the affable host of The Great British Bake Off who interviews each contestant during the competition. He’s also the face of the franchise, as his signature hair color, orange, adorns the contestants’ podiums. And his frequent appearances on social media kept his fans engaged throughout the season.

When the dust had settled following the first part of the final, Paul Hollywood’s name had emerged as the big winner. He had bet £600 (about US$800) on the underdog, meaning he betted that a girl would win. And, as it happened, this was indeed the case. Hannah’s crumb-coated masterpiece was crowned the best in the world, with her win coming with odds of 1 in 24, meaning Paul Hollywood’s money (and a lot of other people’s too) came back with a bang.

The comeback story of the century saw Paul Hollywood collect his £10,000 (about US$13,333) prize money and give it all back to charity. But while he may have lost the bet, he would go on to inspire generations of bakers with his unique take on British cuisine. As a result of her victory, Hannah started a baking business and even opened a café in London. She’s since traveled the world seeking inspiration for new recipes, and returned to the U.K. in 2018 to open a second bakery. And, in case you were wondering, Paul Hollywood is still orange.

Avoid These Picks If You Want To Win Big

Now, if we look to the world of sports for an example of picking the underdog, we see a different story. Consider the 2018 UEFA Champions League final, which pitted French champions Bayern München against English football champions Leicester City. As is often the case in European football, form was no predictor of outcome in this particular match. Leicester City were heavy favorites to claim the crown, with odds of 13-2 favoring Bayern München. So, with a spot in the 2019 UEFA Champions League on the line, it was fair to assume that this would be a rout. Right?

Wrong! Things turned out very differently as Bayern München managed to pull off one of the greatest upsets in sports history, stunning Leicester City with a 3-1 win in the ultimate prize for UEFA fans and bookmakers alike.

What makes this particular instance stand out is not only the fact that a’minor’ team managed to knock off a’major’ one, but also that it wasn’t expected by anybody. Leicester City were considered among the favorites to win the whole thing. Not only had they won the English league the year before, their Argentine midfielder, Javier Hernandez, was set to make his international debut for his country during the tournament. While many eyes were on Leicester City’s Lionel Messi, Bayern München’s Brazilian star, Robert Lewandowski, was the man in form, scoring 13 goals during the competition.

It was an incredible bit of good fortune for Leicester City that Bayern München’s form disappointed in the final, as they were actually a fairly average side in terms of overall performance throughout the year. That being said, they did win the English Premier League by a mile, and were the highest scorers in the competition. So, although they were expected to roll over and just serve as a bit of opposition for Bayern München, the tables were turned and Leicester City emerged the true underdogs in the match.

Whether it was divine intervention or just pure dumb luck, Leicester City were the right side of a 10-1 upset when the whistle blew. We can’t predict the future, but we can learn from the past. And with hindsight, we now know that betting on the underdogs is the way forward. As you’ll see in a bit, history is on the side of those who chose to back the underdogs and avoided the likes of Bayern München and Leicester City.

Spread Betting: An In-Depth Analysis

At this point, you may be wondering just what is spread betting and how is it different from betting the favorite? After all, as we mentioned earlier, you’re traditionally expected to back the favorite in a match, right?

Well, yes and no. In general, you would be correct to assume that you’re supposed to support the team you think will win the most matches. But in the world of spread betting, this is far from the case as you can actually create different sides throughout the match. Take Bayern München and Leicester City as an example, as mentioned earlier. While they were considered heavy favorites to defeat Arsenal in the final, Bayern München’s odds were actually 2,500-1. This means that not only are you expected to back the favorite in this particular match, but you’re also expected to bet against yourself.

In fact, you can’t choose who you’re backing in the match. Rather, you have to pick a team and then the bookies will take care of the rest. In the above example, Bayern München are the favorites and this is reflected in the odds of 13-2 they were given. However, you’re also backing Arsenal, so the amount you’ll need to win is actually 2.5x your stake. This is a type of bet where the payout is significantly higher than expected. And this is what makes it attractive to professional gamblers who want to make a quick buck. But for the rest of us, it’s a bit too complicated. We want our money back after all.

On the flip side, Leicester City’s odds in the UEFA Champions League final were actually 2-1 meaning they were considered underdogs heading into the match. However, this wouldn’t be the case as you’re also backing Bayern München. So, in this instance, you’re expected to win about 2.75x your stake. This type of bet allows you to essentially make your own odds so if the game ends in a tie, then your team would win. In a way, it’s a bit like playing the lottery but with odds specifically designed for you. And, in case you’re wondering, Leicester City beat Bayern München 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League final, proving that sometimes, the underdogs can be the real winners after all.

The Draw: A Chance To Make Money Quickly

So, what about when there’s no apparent favorite or underdog? In this case, you’re given the option of drawing cards (or tickets) in order to determine the winner. And this is where many individuals have made their money, as many a fortune has been won and lost in the draw. While it’s essentially a crapshoot, draws are a great way to make money quickly. And this is why many casinos offer them. Let’s examine this particular form of betting in a bit more detail.

In the above example, you can see that Arsenal, Leicester City, and Bayern München have been drawn together in what’s known as a ‘cross-match’. When combined with half-time draws in FIFA games, this has become a popular way for people to make some quick cash. And for those people, it’s a shot at winning some serious money. Unfortunately, not all matches are created equal. For example, take a look at Manchester City and Liverpool in the 2017 Champions League final. While City were heavy favorites, the draw for the second leg had Liverpool and City drawn together against each other. This is why many casinos offer fair odds on all sporting events, meaning you can’t make money on the side. In the end, it’s all about winning the big one.