What Does It Mean to Beat the Spread in Betting?

Most people think of investing in stocks and shares as a way to make money. While this is certainly possible, there is another way to make money purely from sports competitions.

Anyone who has ever placed a bet on a sports event knows the pain of watching the final score and finding out that you gained or lost based on the outcome of the game. While this may be interesting from a gambling perspective, it can be hugely frustrating from a sports betting perspective.

What does it mean to beat the spread in betting? Simply speaking, successfully placing bets where you hit the spread is a great way to make money. The concept is simple: instead of picking winners and losers, make sure that you win as much as possible. The better you are at picking winning teams and players, the better results you will have.

Understand The Mathematics of Point Spreads

To understand what this means in practice, let’s take a simple example. Imagine that you are backing the Los Angeles Rams in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. Los Angeles is 13 points favorites in this particular example, so you will automatically lose your money if the game goes over 20.5 points. However, if Seattle wins by more than 13 points, you will have gained something in terms of money won.

This is where understanding the mathematics of point spreads comes in. Point spreads are expressed in percentage points and have two main components: the first is the vigorish, which we just mentioned; the second is the juice, which is the amount of money that will be won or lost on a bet.

For instance, a 3-team baseball proposition with a total of 10 points will result in a 3% vigorish and a 7% juice. This means that if you bet $100 on the proposition, you will win $7. Heading into the game, you will lose $93, but if the game ends in a win by more than 3 points, you will have gained $7.

In most cases, the juice is made up of two percentages: the win percentage and the loss percentage. The latter is sometimes called the vigorish. For the example above, these are both 100% since the game ended in a 3-point win for the Rams.

Why Do You Want To Know The Spread?

If you are interested in making money from sports as a whole and not just from betting, then you might want to know the spread. The reason is that you can use this information to analyze the probability of each team winning the game. In other words, you can use the spread to determine the winner of each game before it happens.

For instance, if you know that the Seahawks have a 65% chance of winning this particular game and you also know that the Rams have a 35% chance of winning, you can see that the Rams are slightly favored in this game. Nevertheless, you should bet on Seattle since they have the higher percentage winning the game. In this way, you will beat the spread in winning bets on regular occasions.

How Do You Calculate The Probabilities?

These probabilities are also known as implied odds or implied win probabilities. To calculate them, you simply need to know the spread and the juice along with the team’s current winning percentage. Using these figures, you can easily determine the likelihood of the team winning the game.

In the example above, the Seahawks’ 65% winning percentage and 7% juice will give you a 62.65% chance of winning if you bet $100 on them. In this way, understanding the spread is critical for every bettor, no matter whether you are placing winning bets or simply want to know the outcome of a game already played.

Make Sure You Read the Entire Document Before Placing A Bet

Before you place any kind of bet, you should first read the entire document that covers the game you are betting on. This should include the rules, the betting limits, and the line moves. Also, make sure that you have the latest odds from the bookmakers or whatever source you are using for information. Odds can change as the game approaches, so by always checking for the latest odds, you will ensure that you are using the most up-to-date information possible when analyzing games and betting on them.

Understand The Psychology Of Spreads

As stated above, understanding the spread is critical for every bettor, no matter whether you are placing winning bets or simply want to know the outcome of a game already played. One of the things that makes sports so intriguing is the psychology of the game. In other words, the way people bet and the emotions they get into while doing so. In this section, we will discuss a few of the most important things that you need to know about spreads and betting. These are:

  • Emotions
  • Tightness Of The Lines
  • Risk-Reward Ratio
  • Time Decay
  • Progressive Losing
  • Losing Streak
  • Parlay Bet
  • Why Do People Like To Gamble In Sports?
  • And Many More

1. Emotions

As we mentioned above, sports are intriguing because of the psychology of the games. This is mostly due to the fact that people get emotionally attached to the game and to the players. For instance, when the Oakland A’s were in town this year, we were able to witness crowds of 50,000 or more fans outside the ballpark. The same goes for college football and basketball games. While this may be unusual for other major sports, the fact remains that people get emotionally attached to the games and events in which they participate.

As a general rule, people who get excited about and attached to sports are known as sports enthusiasts (or simply enthusiasts). These are the individuals who follow and support their favorite teams and players from game to game, and sometimes even year to year. For example, take a look at the following tweet from the official account of the Los Angeles Chargers:

Los Angeles Chargers

As you can see, the Chargers are widely followed by sports enthusiasts who are attached to the team and want to see them do well. This is also apparent in other areas of social media:

Los Angeles Chargers

In this case, the attachment to the team and the desire to see them do well manifested itself in the form of bets placed during and after the game. After the game, the Chargers went from -13 to +3 points in 30 minutes, which meant that someone placed lots of winning bets on them. This is somewhat common among sports enthusiasts: they will root for their favorite teams and players, and will often bet on them afterwards.

Some people might consider betting on sports to be gambling, but this is completely inaccurate. In most cases, people are simply expressing an interest in making money from the outcome of sports games. They might also place bets just because they like the idea of backing a winning team. Of course, this is all dependent on the individual.

2. Tightness Of The Lines

Another important thing to consider about sports betting is the tightness of the lines. Essentially, this refers to whether or not there are many bets available for a certain game and the implied odds are close to each other. In other words, is it easy for people to place wagers on the game?

To give you some idea of the tightness of the lines in a particular market, let’s take a look at the odds for the 2019 NFL playoffs:

NFL Playoff Odds