Point Spread Betting

The most popular type of football and basketball betting is the point spread. The point spread is a number that oddsmakers come up with, which is then posted at sportsbooks, to make the betting more even, as there will be an underdog and a favorite. The oddsmakers come up with the number to try to get an even amount of money being bet on the game for the public. Many times this is still not the case, as the public tends to bet on the favorite in games. It is pretty basic, as with a point spread the favorite will be giving points and the underdog will be getting points.


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Let’s take a look at an example of a NFL point spread:

Philadelphia Eagles -3.5
Washington Redskins +3.5

In this example the team that has a + in front of the number is the underdog and shows the number of points they are getting and the – in front of the number is the favorite and the number of points they are giving. Getting points is adding those points to the number of points the underdog scores and giving the points is taking away points from the number of points scored by the underdog. In the example about let’s say you bet on the Eagles to cover the spread. If this is the case the Eagles will have to win by at least 4 points. Conversely, if you bet that the Redskins will cover the spread you are betting that the Redskins will lose by 4 points or less.

In looking at the example above and If you bet on the Eagles and the final score if Eagles 23 Redskins 17 you will win the bet, as they won the game by 6 points. If you bet on the Redskins and the score is the same 23-17 you will lose, as the Redskins lost by 6 points, which is more than the +3.5 spread.

The basketball point spread works in the exact same way. Here is an example of a NBA point spread:

Celtics +7
Lakers -7

As you can see the Lakers are the favorite and will have to win by at least 8 points and the Celtics are the underdog and will have to lose by fewer than 6 points, or win, for you to win.

If the point spread does not have a .5 after the number and the spread is exactly the number a team wins or loses by the bet will be a push and you will get your original bet back. In the NBA example above and you bet on the Lakers and they win 107-100 they won by 7 points, which is the spread and this is a push bet.

In theory the point spread is made since one team is seen as better than the other and the spread makes up the difference to make the wager a more equal one for both teams.