What Does It Mean Betting on the Spread?

The spread is one of the most fundamental betting odds available in sports wagering, used frequently by bettors seeking modest odds and those who want to achieve a small profit from winning bets. A team’s spread can vary from game to game, and the betting line for a given game may not even be published yet if the game is in the future, creating a high degree of uncertainty for bettors. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common uses for the spread and explore how it works in a bit more detail.

Odds And The Spread

While it’s true that the odds of each team winning a given game are usually quite close to equal (with the home team typically having a slight advantage), there is some variance in those odds that makes betting on the spread a very popular option amongst bettors. A team’s spread odds can vary greatly from game to game, and there may not even be a line set for a particular game, so gamblers looking for a safe and simple way to bet on sports must look towards the spread.

The Basics Of The Spread

Let’s first take a quick look at what the spread really is, and what it isn’t. First off, the spread is not really a form of betting in and of itself, but it is one of the many ways to bet on sports. The spread will always be opposite of what most people think it is, which is the opposite of the point spread. A point spread is the betting line opened up between two teams when there is no spread specified. For instance, if the point spread is 1.5 and the underdog is -3, then the spread for that game will be -4.5. In essence, the spread is just a tool used to open up the betting window for bettors. Since the spread is used to open up the betting window, and not to determine the outcome of a particular game, the term ‘spread betting’ is generally used when referring to sports wagering.

How The Spread Works

As mentioned above, the spread is generally used as a tool to open up the betting window for prospective bettors. To utilize this tool, one must first determine what type of wager they would like to make. More often than not, bettors will go with the spread because they want to avoid risking large amounts of money on one bet. With the spread, the amount wagered is typically small (usually between 2 and 10 percent of the cost of a wager), and the amount won is often relatively small as well (1-3 points, or even just a touchback).

Since the spread is used as a tool to open up the betting window, the amount wagered is generally limited by the liquidity of the bookmaker distributing the wagering. Most companies that deal in sports wagering are limited by the amount of money they can collect in certain time periods, so larger wagers can’t be placed on every game. This is why, even though the spread generally offers a great opportunity for profit, it is generally a bad idea to lay large bets on each game.

Types Of Spreads

Let’s take a quick look at the different sorts of spreads that are available to bettors, and how they work. The regular spread is probably the most popular sort of spread, particularly amongst football (soccer) bettors. It’s an easy way to wager on a game, the lines for most regular spreads are usually easy to understand (usually involving either points or goals), and there is a clear line between winning and losing. As the name implies, the regular spread is always applied, even in cases where there isn’t a line set yet for a particular game. In other words, if you’re looking to wager on the Tigers against the Cardinals in the upcoming October 31st game, you would put down a $100 wager on the Tigers -3, regardless of whether there is a line for the game yet or not. The only difference is that if you win, you’ll need to pay off the original $100, plus 4 more $100’s to the house, for a total of $204 refunded.

When To Use The Spread

The spread is one of the most versatile and commonly used betting tools in sports wagering, used in more ways than one can imagine. One of the most common uses for the spread is in picking NFL winners. For years, handicappers have turned to the spread when analyzing NFL games, looking for teams with superior spread values that can cover the point spread. For example, if the spread is -3 and the underdog is +3, then the game would be considered a push, with the two teams being essentially even in terms of odds. If the spread value is -6, then a favorite at -3 would cover the spread by 3 points, making the game a “push” and resulting in a net loss of 3 points for the gambler. However, if the spread value is +7, then the favorite at -3 would cover the spread by 7 points, resulting in a net gain of 7 points for the gambler.

The above example shows how the spread is used to determine the outcome of an NFL game, but it also illustrates how it can be used to determine the winner of a tennis match or a golf tournament. In each case, the objective is the same: to try and find a team with a spread value higher than their opponent, thus making the game an “outlier” and resulting in a profit, all things considered.

More Than Meets The Eye

While the simple idea behind the spread is to open up the betting window and get some small wins here and there, few people realize the sheer number of ways the spread can be used. One of the most popular modes of betting with the spread is picking NFL winners, but it’s not the only game in town. For instance, in terms of total points scored, NBA games typically end in more exciting fashion than a typical NFL game, with fans frequently leaving their seats to rush the court, hoping for a last-second shot at glory. With the spread, this type of intense, team-oriented action is made possible, resulting in more than just a small profit for those who choose to bet on it.

Final Takeaway

To recap, the spread is one of the most fundamental (and frequently used) tools in sports wagering. It is very easy to use and understand, and the small amount wagered creates a very low degree of risk for those who choose to use it. Additionally, since the spread is used as a tool to open up the betting window, the amount wagered is frequently limited by the amount of money the bookmaker has on hand at any given time, creating the need for frequent checks on the status of games and teams.

In picking NFL winners, handicappers look towards the spread frequently because it gives them a sense of whether or not an outlier game is going to end in a victory or a loss for their team. The same goes for tennis and golf, with fans of those sports frequently wagering on the outcome of their favorite games, using the spread as a tool to analyze their odds of winning.