What does Point Spread mean in Sports Betting?

There are many ways to bet on sports. These include straight bets, money line bets, parlays, teaser bets, futures and point spread bets. Among the most popular is the point spread betting.

The History

This type of betting first arrived onto the scene in the 1940s. There’s some debate about who started point spread betting. Still, many believe that it was Charles McNeil, a professional punter and bookie from Connecticut.

McNeil borrowed some concepts from other professional bettors that used a wholesale odds system. Many bookies adopted this betting style because it evened out the betting on each side. After all, the spread reflected the points of the game. It also created a guaranteed profit for the online bookmakers for each event.

Many sports allow point spreads, but bookies mostly use them in American football and basketball. This is because these sports points are a lot easier to score in than football or hockey. That means that the chances of having more significant point gaps are a lot more likely in American football and basketball.

Since the 1940s, many bettors have used point spreads for their sports gambling. We’re going to give you more information about this betting type, and you can try it out on the next big match.

What is the Point Spread Betting Odds?

what is point spread sports betting

A point spread is a figure that a bookmaker creates. It details which team is likely to win and which team is likely to lose. It also provides the margin of points the team is going to win or lose by.

The team in favour of winning will have a “-” symbol in front of the point spread, whereas the underdog will have a “+” instead. The bookies determine these before the match starts, based on how the teams usually perform.

The numbers after represent the point margin. The value after the favoured team represents the amount that the team needs to win by or more. For the underdog’s number, this shows the number of points that they need to not lose by. If the underdog wins the game, the bet goes in their favour.

Explained Further

For example, let’s say that the Cowboys and the Patriots are playing a game this weekend. The point spread is Cowboys +4.5, and the Patriots are -4.5. This means that the bookies think that the Patriots are going to win the game.

If you bet with the spread for New England, then you’ll win if the Patriots indeed win the game and by five or more points. On the other hand, if you go with Dallas, they’ll need to win the game, or not lose, by more than four points to win.

The final result of the game is that the Patriots won 20 to 17. This is only a 3 point difference. This means that if you bet with the spread for the Patriots, you’ll lose because they didn’t win by five or more. If you wagered on the Cowboys, you’d win because they didn’t lose by more than 4 points.

What about the other numbers?

The number in the parentheses is the odds or the house edge. Punters also call it vigorish, or vig for short. After the point spread, there’s another number that can be 102 to 120. This number represents how much the bookies will commission.

The previous example is Cowboys +4.5 (-110) and the Patriots -4.5 (-110), this means that you need to wager €/$/£110 to win €/$/£100. Regardless of the outcome, the bookmakers will profit €/$/£10.

Again, let’s say that you bet with the Cowboys and won the bet. You’ll get back your €/$/£110 first chance, along with €/$/£100, so the bookies will pay you €/$/£210 in total. If you bet with the Pats, then you’ll lose the €/$/£110.

Even if you bet again next week, wager €/$/£110 and win, you’ll still never get the €/$/£10 back from the sportsbook.

What if the Point Spread is a Tie?

This often happens with point spreads that don’t use the .5 system. Some sportsbooks will have spread of Cowboys +4 (-110) and Patriots -4 (-110) if the Patriots win 21 to 17.

The spread is a tie because the Patriots won by 4, yet the Cowboys didn’t lose by more than 4. When this happens, the sportsbook will give back the money on both sides.

What is Point Spread and Odds Movement?

The way sportsbooks make their money with point spreads is to have equal amounts of bets on each side. So when the bookie has to pay the winners, they have enough of the profit from the losing bets to pay everyone, and they can still make a profit.

When one side receives more bets, the sportsbook will move the point spread. The bookies do this to get more people to bet on the side that isn’t receiving bets. The odds for the spread will change before the actual point spread changes.

For example, the point spread for the Patriots is -4.5 (-110), and many people bet on this. The bookie will change it from Patriots -4.5 (-110) to -4.5 (-115) or (-120). They’ll do this before changing the -4.5 value.

This will make the bookies earn more money on the losing bets so that they can pay for the winning one.

What are Puck lines?

what are puck lines

As mentioned above, point spread betting is most common in American football and basketball because of the high amount of points that players score within a game. Although it’s more familiar with these sports, it doesn’t make it impossible to do with others.

Point spreads for hockey are known as punk lines. For baseball, they are known as run lines. Puck lines usually are +/- 1.5 for both teams. This actually makes it better for the underdog.

The winning team needs to win by two or more goals to win, whereas the underdog has to not lose by more than 2. In hockey, the goals are harder to score, and many games have only one point in the difference.

Point Spread Betting Strategy

Many new bettors think that betting on the favourite will guarantee the most wins. However, the sportsbooks aren’t that naive. They create point spreads that are closer to 50/50.

This is because you don’t win simply if the favoured team wins. They have to win by a certain amount for you to win the point spread. When betting on the spreads, you should look at which outcome is more likely to happen, rather than betting on the team that’s more likely to win. That must be the basis of your sports betting strategy when you search for the best point spread line.

The Bottom Line

Point spread betting is one of the most common ways to bet for American football and basketball. Before the game, the bookies will create these spreads.

You can also use these spreads to get an idea of how the bookmakers think the game will go. You can use the spreads to help you place other types of bets. Overall, you should take a look at the spreads and try it out for yourself.

Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Kristiyan KyulyunkovKristiyan Kyulyunkov specializes in bookmakers’ analyses. He has years of experience betting online and always keeps an eye on the different operators. His tasks in Nostrabet include writing, editing and publishing expert reviews.