To begin with, point spread betting (PSB) is similar to other forms of gambling. You are trying to predict the score of a sports game, right? Well, you can place a wager on the outcome of the game and use the point spread as a guide to determine how much you should win or lose.

However, PSB takes the form of a parlay: you are not only betting on the outcome of the game, but you are also participating in a multiple-hand wager. You are placing bets on several games simultaneously and combining your winning bets to gain some leverage in your wagering activity.

## Why Are Gamblers Looking At Point Spreads?

The major reason why gamblers and sportsbooks are interested in point spreads is due to the sheer complexity of combining multiple wagers. For example, let’s say you want to bet $100 on the winner between the New York Jets and Chicago Bears. You will need to place 10 separate bets of $10 each on the game. If you are fortunate enough to obtain $100 in winnings on your combined wagers, you will have doubled your money – not bad for 20 minutes of work!

## The Special Properties Of Point Spreads

One of the unique properties of point spreads is that they form a self-balancing series. This means that you can’t win or lose an exact amount of money on any given wager. Imagine trying to predict the exact score of a football game and winning or losing an exact sum of money based on that prediction. It’s nearly impossible, and that’s why you can’t rely on point spreads for your financial security. The moment you make a prediction and it comes true, your bankroll will be wiped out and you will need to start over again.

## How Do You Set The Point Spread For A Given Sports Game?

The point spread is one of the most important betting metrics to determine the right price for a given sports game. To calculate the point spread for a particular game, you need to consider the following factors:

- The total amount of money that will be wagered on the game
- The number of points that will be awarded to or from each team
- Whether the game is a pushover or a dog fight

You can use the Over/Under line as a guide to determine how much you should wager. For example, if you believe that the total amount of money placed on the game will be more than twice the amount of the over/under, then you should bet accordingly. If you are confident that the total amount of money placed on the game will be less than the over/under, then you should bet accordingly as well. Remember, you are setting the point spread according to the opinion of the bookmaker, and they may be willing to adjust the line as needed to maximize their profits.

## Point Spreads And The Mathematics Of Gambling

Not only is point spread betting complex, but it also has a fascinating mathematical basis. In the section below, we will reveal the inner workings of point spreads and how to use them effectively in our wagering activities.

### The Mathematics Of Point Spreading

A quick refresher on probability theory: if you were told that there was a 70% chance of rain on Friday and you placed an umbrella on the ground to test the theory, you would end up devastated. You are essentially throwing away three out of every four opportunities to enjoy the sun and instead are forced to deal with the elements. This is the mathematical basis behind point spreads. You can’t control how much rain will fall or when it will rain, but you can take comfort in the fact that you will only suffer a loss of 35% of your wagers (i.e., 700 out of 2,000 possible winnings).

In order to use probability theory effectively, we need to consider three variables:

- The total amount of money wagered
- The number of points that will be awarded to or from each team
- Whether the game is a pushover or a dog fight

Say for example, you believe that the total amount of money placed on the game will be more than twice the amount of the point spread. In this case, you would not want to bet on the underdog, as you would lose more than twice your investment. However, if you were confident that the total amount of money placed on the game would be less than the point spread, then you would want to back the underdogs in this instance because you would win more than twice your investment back. For the math savvy among you, this is essentially the same as saying that you are making a positive expectation wager and taking advantage of the fact that Vegas odds are often more favorable to the underdog.

### The Delta (The Difference Between The Point Spread And Total Amount Of Money Wagered)

One of the most crucial concepts to understand in regard to point spreads is the delta. The delta is essentially the difference between the point spread and the total amount of money wagered on the game. It is a mathematical concept designed to make more intelligent wagering possible. The closer the delta is to 0, the more effective the wager. Take the above example in which you bet $100 on the winner between the New York Jets and Chicago Bears. If the point spread was 3 and the total amount of money wagered was $600, then your delta would be $100 – $600, which is $400. In this case, you would be able to leverage your $400 to double down on the same outcome. You essentially turned a $100 wager into a $400 wager, and you were right about the result. The farther the delta is from 0, the less effective the wager. In this case, you are essentially throwing away four out of four possible winnings.

### The Margin Of Safety

Not every game is going to have a delta that is close to 0, and in these instances, you need to have a safety margin built into your wagering. The margin of safety is essentially the number of points by which you are going to be safer than not safe in regard to the outcome of the game. This is different from the point spread in that it looks at the team with the better overall record rather than the current line. Let’s say you are backing the Chicago Bears against the New York Jets. The point spread is 3, but you believe that Chicago has the better overall record and therefore is more likely to win. In this case, you would need to set your margin of safety to 2. This means that if the outcome of the game is anywhere between 2 and 7 points, then you are going to win; if the game is anywhere between 7 points and 12 points, then you are going to lose. In instances like these, the margin of safety takes precedence over the point spread. In the example above, you would have a total of $400 to bet with since you have $100 of capital and your margin of safety is $200. In this case, you could only lose $100 of the $400 you are going to wager – a net gain of $300 – or you could win $400 – a net gain of $100.

### Consider The Following For Every Game

As we mentioned above, not every game is amenable to a straightforward wagering approach. You need to consider a number of variables before you make your decision. In the example above, you will need to remember that if the game is a pushover – i.e., it is an outright win for one team or the other – then you have no chance of profiting from a wager. These are the kinds of games where you will need to consider backing a team with a consistent winning record or taking a stand against a team on the rise. For instance, if you believe that the New York Giants are on the verge of breaking through and becoming a consistent winning team, then you might want to consider opposing them in a head-to-head matchup.

In closing, we would like to emphasize that point spreads are not easy to understand and are definitely not for the faint of heart. However, with some effort you will be able to utilize probability theory and make effective wagering decisions based on the numbers provided by the sportsbooks.