What Is the Spread in Sports Betting?

People who enjoy the thrill of betting on sporting events probably also enjoy the convenience of online betting. With the click of a button, they can place bets on their favorite teams and competitions from the comforts of home. While there are many benefits to online betting, there is one drawback – presenting the spread to the user. The concept behind the spread is easy to understand, but difficult to master. The spread is the difference in point-spread between the sports book and the online sportsbook. For example, if a sportsbook’s line is represented by –1 and an online sportsbook’s line is represented by -3, the spread is -2.

What Is the Spread In Sports Betting?

The spread is a concept that can be difficult to grasp for those who have not yet ventured into sports betting or online betting. Once the basics are understood, it is easy to apply. When someone opens a sportsbook account at a traditional sportsbook, they will undoubtedly notice that the spreads are different from the ones offered on the online side of the business. To provide the best user experience and attract more people to the sport, sportsbooks will often offer more attractive spreads (in favor of the home team). However, this often results in a disadvantage for the consumer, as they will have to learn to account for the difference in the bid-ask spreads between the two sides of the business. Simply put, the spread is the difference in point-spread between the sports book and the online sportsbook. In essence, it is a measure of the value of the service provided by the online sportsbook compared to that of the traditional sportsbook. For a complete explanation of the spread concept and in-depth analysis of the different factors that influence the spread, please see our article – Why Are Sports Betting Spreads Different From The Crowd’s Point-Spread?

Why Are Sports Betting Spreads Different From The Crowd’s Point-Spread?

The spread is usually determined by a formula that combines several factors. In some instances, the line movements from one period to the next will be a major influence on the spread. Other factors include injury concerns, weather conditions, and the competitive nature of the game. Due to various reasons, some sportsbooks (typically those located in Las Vegas) will have a larger spread than others (typically those located in New York City). Here is a short, non-exhaustive list of some of the factors that influence the spread in sports betting:

Line Movements

The first and foremost factor that will influence the spread is the line movements. When a team that is a +1 underdog makes a miraculous comeback and defeats the favorite team by a large margin, that is usually the result of a line movement. As soon as the spread changed in the underdog’s favor, gamblers who were shorting the favorite team were on the lookout for an opportunity to cover their position. After all, a team that was previously considered to be a long shot is suddenly considered a favorite, and vice versa. The opposite can also happen when a team that is a +100 underdog defeats an expected opponent by a large margin. In that case, the line has moved in the opposite direction and the spread will have increased. To better understand how line movements affect the spread, consider the example of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7). If you were long the favored team, a loss by that margin would have resulted in a large, favorable line movement and therefore, in your favor. Because of their poor performance for several years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not considered a fashionable pick to win the Super Bowl this year. However, the underdog status of the Denver Broncos (2.5) made them an attractive option for bettors who were looking to back a winner this year. As you can see in the example above, a win by a large margin (17 points) caused the line to move in Denver’s favor. In other words, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers line moved from –150 units to +100 units, so you would have to cover that amount of money to lay 10 units on Tampa Bay.

It is also possible for a team to cover the entire point-spread without having line movement in their favor. Weather conditions and injury concerns can also influence the spread in the opposite direction. For example, if the weather is extremely slow or if an unexpected injury concerns a key player, the spread will narrow to the point-spread level. When that happens, it is a good idea to get out of the position because it could turn against you quickly.

Injury Concerns

Another factor that can move the line in the opposite direction is injury concerns. When an injury or illness becomes a major issue for a team, that is usually the result of a line movement. For example, if a key player is out for the season and there is no chance of that player returning, that is usually the result of a line movement. The opposite can also happen when a key player unexpectedly returns from injury. That is when a line movement will result in a change of direction in your favor. We should mention that injury concerns can also make a team more attractive. For instance, if a quarterback is out for the season and there is no chance of that player returning, other teams will have to plan for a transition to a new signal-caller. That can make the player who is injured into a hot item for everyone, especially those who are betting on that team. In that case, an injury can serve as an opening for a potential line movement in your favor.

Competitive Nature Of The Game

The competitive nature of the game will also impact the spread. For instance, if a game is close at the beginning and it reaches the point where there is no clear favorite, the spread will narrow as the game progresses. After a while, the score will begin to determine which team is a clear-cut favorite, and the line will generally move in that direction. For example, if the score is tied at the end of the third quarter and 4 points are needed to win, the line will move in that direction. In the case of a blowout, there will be no line movement in your favor because there is no contest. In other words, the line is either +1000 or -1000 in favor of one team or the other, and there is no possibility of a tie.

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions will also impact the spread. For instance, if the game is scheduled to be played in an adverse weather condition, the spread will narrow because there will be fewer people out there to bet on it. More often than not, games will be played in favorable weather conditions, and therefore, the line will move in that direction. It should be mentioned that the spread can also widen when the game is played in an unfavorable weather condition. In the case of blizzard conditions, for example, the line could move in the opposite direction, and there is nothing you can do about it. The point is that the spread is always impacted by the weather condition, and therefore, it is always a crapshoot as to what will happen on any given day. On the plus side, the unpredictability of the weather makes it a good excuse to drink. For instance, when it is warm outside, it is only natural that you want to be outside, enjoying the weather. However, when the temperature is below freezing, it is not a good idea to be outside, especially when there is snow on the ground. In that case, you will want to stay indoors, where it is warm, regardless of the weather conditions outside. This is why even avid outdoorsmen prefer to stay indoors during the winter months. The bottom line is that there is no exact science to picking games. A good rule of thumb is to pick games when the spreads are in your favor. In other words, as long as you can find a matchup that is intriguing, go for it. Just make sure that you are not getting ripped off because there are always people out there who will try to take advantage of innocent bettors.