The spread on a football match is the difference in the betting market between the two teams in a contest. It’s usually expressed in terms of points or goals. For example, a minus 3.5 spread in favour of the home team means they are 3.5 points or goals behind in expectation.
How does the spread work?
The total number of points or goals that will be scored by both teams is called the total point score. The probability that the two teams will score the given number of points or goals is called the point score probability. When these two numbers are multiplied together to form a spread bet, the result will be a number that represents how much the bettor will win if the two teams perform as expected. In the example above, the point score is 10 and the probability of scoring is 0.85, so the spread in this case is 7 points or goals (5.85).
What are the most popular football strikes and wagers?
The most popular bets relate to football matches between major European teams. These games tend to attract big crowds and have large markets. So, as you would guess, most people are wagering on the matches involving teams from England, Italy, and France. The three European countries have historically been the centre of football, so it’s no surprise that most of the betting is focused here. Naturally, there is a lot of interest in matches between English and Welsh teams, as Wales is seen as the ‘little brother’ of Britain.
How do I place a bet on a football match?
To place a bet on a football match, you will need to identify which teams you think will win and the amount you are willing to wager. You can then follow the instructions below:
- Find the scores of the two opposing teams
- Add the two scores together to find the total number of points
- Multiply the total number of points by the probability of the two teams scoring to find the expected result
- Take this result and convert it to a winning odds by dividing by 2
- Place your bet according to the process described above
To find the scores of the two teams, you will need to look on websites such as Betfair, PaddyPower, SkyBet, or Sporting Bet. Once you have found the scores, you can add them together to find the total number of points.
In the example above, England and Wales played each other in a football match on the 31st of December 2019. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, so the total number of points was 2. To find the probability of the two teams scoring, you can use the following formula:
(Where, s1 is the home team’s score, and s2 is the away team’s score)
In our example, England scored first and Wales replied with a goal, so s1 is 1 and s2 is 0. Therefore, the probability of this result is:
So, in this case, the spread is 7.5 goals (5.85). Alternatively, you could use this same formula but with opposite results, like so:
In our example, Wales scored first and England replied with a goal, so s1 is 1 and s2 is 1. Therefore, the probability of this result is:
Hence, in this case, the spread is 5.5 goals (4.5). If a match is settled as a draw, there will be no spread and the final result will be specified. In terms of odds, this means the bettor wins nothing. However, in terms of the money he/she wagers, they will win the total amount they wagered, as a draw always results in a tie.
What is the term for a tie in a football match?
A tie in a football match is the result when the two teams involved in the game score an equal number of points or goals. If the match is settled as a draw, there will be no tie and the final result will be specified. In terms of odds, this means the bettor wins nothing. However, in terms of the money he/she wagers, they will win the total amount they wagered, as there are no ties in football. In our example above, there was no spread as the match ended in a draw. So in this case, the bettor wins nothing (but they still win the money they wager as there is no tie).
What happens when one team is expected to score more points/goals than the other?
When one team is expected to score more points/goals than the other, then the favourite team is said to have a home advantage. In our example above, England is the favourite, as they are the home team and they are expected to win the match by a large margin. In this case, the English team is 5.5 goals (+7.5 goal spread) favourites to win.
A team is generally said to cover the spread when they are 5.5 goals or more favourites to win their match. The amount you would win is the total number of points or goals scored by both teams added together. In our example, the total number of goals is 5 and the probability of scoring is 0.85, so you would win 7.5 goals (5.85) if you picked England to win the match.
Away teams covering the spread are rare, but they do exist. In our example above, Wales is the away team and they are 3.5 goals (‐3.5 spread) underdogs to win the match. So, in terms of placing a bet, you would win 3.5 goals (‐3.5 spread) if you picked Wales to win. Keep in mind that if the match ends in a draw, there will be no win and you will have nothing to show for it. In this case, you would simply lose your initial stake.
It should be noted that the ‘home advantage’ does not necessarily mean the team will win by a large margin – it just means they have the advantage of playing at home. This can often be an advantage as it helps the home team identify and fix errors that they may make, as well as giving them confidence in beating the favourite team there. It’s not always the case, however, as you will see in some of the below examples.