Betting the Spread – What’s the Point?

Back in October, I wrote about the growing popularity of betting on sports. Since then, the concept has really taken off. So much so that now there are entire books devoted to understanding and applying betting on sports. One of those is Breaking the Bank – Master the Game of Sports Betting by Marty Mulholland. In the book, Marty outlines a step-by-step plan for how to successfully bet the spread. If you’re interested in exploring this exciting world of betting on sports, you can’t go wrong with Marty’s book.

Why Bet On Sports?

There are many reasons why someone might want to wager on a sporting event, but here are a few of the most popular ones.

  • To win some extra money
  • To hedge your bets
  • To prove a point
  • For fun
  • To settle an argument
  • To enjoy the experience

Whatever the reason, if you’re looking to get started with sports betting, there are certain tactics and strategies you should know and apply. This is where Marty’s book comes in. He covers all the bases, from figuring out what sports to bet on, to applying proper betting techniques and systems. With a little bit of luck and preparation, you may find yourself winning big and making some extra money to treat yourself with. So, let’s get started.

How to Bet on Sports

Here are some basic guidelines for how to bet on sports.

  • Decide which sports you want to bet on
  • Figure out what line you want to take
  • Apply the spread
  • Look at the over/under spots

Deciding which sports to bet on is the key to getting started. Once you’ve chosen your bets, it’s time to learn how to apply them. You’ve decided to bet on the Chicago Cubs, but now you have to figure out how much you’re willing to wager. One option is to take the point spread, which is the difference between the two teams’ odds. In this instance, you would risk $100 if the Cubs win and you’ll win $100 if they lose. While this may seem like a no-lose situation, the point spread assumes both teams are even and is based on the outcome of the game. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, they’re an over under 0.5 points in the World Series. This means you’re essentially risking $200 on them winning the game.

If you want to hedge your bet, you can add another team as a side bet. This is where the fun begins. You can now bet on the Cubs to beat the New York Yankees and also place a side bet on the Houston Astros to win the game. The point is that while you may feel confident the Cubs are going to beat the Yankees, there’s still an outside chance they may lose. Just because the Cubs won the division doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to win the World Series. The game may end up being closer than you think. For the bettor, this is a great opportunity to make some extra money, but it also means there’s more at stake than just your initial $100 wager. This is where experience and preparation come in handy.

Spread Preparation

If you want to prepare for betting on sports, you have to learn how to apply the spread. The spread is a line of credit added to the total score of a game. When the teams score a touchdown or make a basket, the points are added to the total and the oddsmaker determines if they’ll pay out on the bet. The key to applying the spread is in understanding what the line is and how to find it. Once you know that, you can prepare for your next spread wager. Here’s how the process works.

  • Find the total combined score for both teams
  • Subtract the total number of points for each team
  • Divide the difference by 2
  • The result is your starting point for the spread
  • If the result is a decimal, round up to the nearest whole number

To find the total combined score for both teams, you simply add up all the scores from both sides. The Chicago Cubs have scored 20 points and the New York Yankees 22 points in Game 3 of the World Series. 20 + 22 = 42 and 42 is the combined score. You can also apply this same process to the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers to find their combined scores.

Once you have the total combined scores, you can use them to find the total number of points scored by both teams. In the above example, 20 points were scored by the Chicago Cubs and 22 points were scored by the New York Yankees. Subtracting these numbers from the scores of the two teams gives you a total of 42 – 20 = 22. The point is that a lot can happen in a game, especially in the World Series, so you have to be prepared to apply the spread. Even if you’ve picked one of the more popular sports to bet on, there’s still a chance the results may not come in the way you expect. Keep that in mind.

Odds Preparation

If you want to put together a coherent plan for how to bet on sports, you have to learn how to apply the odds. Odds are the other side of the spread, which means if you want to get paid out, you have to risk losing money. When applying the odds, you need to keep in mind a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The money you’re risking
  • The time when you want to bet
  • The side you want to pick (e.g., the favorite, the underdog, or the layman’s choice)
  • How much you want to bet
  • The type of game you’re playing (e.g., football, basketball, or baseball)

Let’s take a look at how to apply the odds in the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers had an opening series against the Houston Astros with the series tied at 1-1 going into Game 3. Both teams were 1-1 so the bookmakers set the odds for Game 3, at +150 (Dodgers) and +125 (Astros), respectively. The key is to look at the spread and apply the odds. In this case, the spread was 22 points (the total combined score for the two teams) and the result was a decimal, so you’d round that up to the nearest whole number, which was 23. This means there’s an additional $23 added to your bet. Now you’ve risked $100 on the Los Angeles Dodgers. If they win, you’ll win $100 and if they lose, you’ll lose $23. This is the basic idea behind applying the odds. You’re risking money on the game, but hopefully you’ll be making some extra money, as well.

The Layman’s choice

If you’re new to sports betting and don’t want to venture into the world of applying the spread and figuring out the odds, there’s an easy way to play. Sometimes the bookmakers will label an upset winner as the layman’s choice, which means the bettor gets to choose the winner without having to risk any money. When this happens, it’s usually because the line has shifted dramatically in the winner’s favor and the oddsmakers want to give the bettor some credit for doing his homework.

For example, in the 2016 World Series, Chicago Cubs were a 7.5-point favorite over the Cleveland Indians but early on in the series, the lines were set to about 4.0 points, which is closer to a fair fight, albeit with more at stake for the winner. Early in Game 3, the Cubs and Indians were deadlocked at 1-1, although the latter had won the first two games. As the game drew to a close and the Indians were looking to force a Game 5, the lines started to move in their favor. The final odds listed for Game 3 were: