What Is A Point Spread?

Point Spread is simply a numerical representation of how the oddsmaker sees a game or event. It is also an indication of the direction the betting market seems to take. The point spread is represented by numerical points with negative or positive signs assigned to both the favorite and underdog. 

The evolution of sports betting is unmatched. We have experienced this aspect of the online gambling industry emerge from its shadows into the mainstream sector. With the continuous legislation on sports betting across the globe, everybody wants to know more about the industry. Every sports fan wants to explore every possibility in the gambling space; investing, betting, and more.

It becomes easier to place a bet with a positive outcome with basic knowledge and strategies. Point Spread betting is one of the numerous bet types available. This betting form is also referred to as Spread betting or betting the Spread.

This guide covers all aspects of Point Spread betting, including what they are, how they work, practical examples, tips, and more. If you are a fan of NBA betting or NFL betting, you need to understand how to place a Point Spread bet because these games have more points or goals scored. Aside from the popular Moneyline betting, Point spread betting is another popular form of wagering. 

Point Spread Betting

The point spread betting is a handicap betting type, also referred to as betting the Spread. Instead of an entirely win-or-lose situation, the payout is linked to the accuracy of the bet. The team that wins or loses has to do so by a definite number of goals/points/runs. Essentially, the bet is beyond who wins or loses but who can also beat or cover the Spread accurately.

Points Spread betting involves a favorite and underdog. Punters who bet on the favorite can only win the bet if the team has goals, points, or runs that exceed the assigned Point Spread. For instance, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) Vs. Los Angeles Rams (+7.5) would require at least eight points or goals if a bettor bets on the Buccaneers to win the game.

Similarly, if you decide to place a bet on the underdog, the bet would only be successful if the team wins outrightly or loses the game by a small margin compared to what was assigned. That is, the Rams would lose by seven or fewer points. Additionally, a wager on the Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) would be won if the football team loses by three points or lesser or outrightly win the match. 

It is crucial to take advantage of Point Spread betting. Pay attention to certain details, such as line movement and point spread on a couple of bookies. This guide would help you create your luck in this type of betting. Let's continue.

How Does A Point Spread Bet Work?

First, a point spread is set up based on a projected outcome of the event or game, either home, away, or on a neutral ground. For example, let's consider a match between Kansas Chiefs and Denver Broncos with the former playing host. The host is given a point spread of -10.5 for the game, making them the favorites to win because they are home. Ideally, the point spread would be different if the Chiefs were on the road.

Furthermore, considering the game between Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. The Lakers playing host to the Celtics automatically makes them the favorite. Most punters would go with the lakers if asked to pick a winner. The iconic LeBron James side would be doing some wonders on the court. But assume the oddsmaker gave more points to the Celtics team? Exactly, this is what point spread is all about, creating a leveled playing field, including the odds. Let's take a look further.

  • Los Angeles Lakers (-3) 
  • Boston Celtics (+3)

The bookies favor the Lakers by 3 points over the Celtics. The Lakers need to win the game by 4 or more points to cover the Spread. The bettor will lose his bet if the Lakers win the game by 3 points or less. On the other hand, the Celtics were given 3 points appearing as +3. As the underdog, the game would need to have an outright win or lose with less than 3 points for the bettor to cash out. The game would be a "push" if the Lakers won with 3 points or the Celtics lost with 3 points since the Spread is -3. The bet is neither a win nor a loss.

A push is simply a tie in the outcome between the bookie and the bettor. When a "push" happens, punters have their wagers refunded. Although this is hardly a scenario, it does happen. Interestingly, most bookies set the point spread as -3.5 or -2.5; a 0.5 point is added to the number to avoid a bet becoming a push. It is impossible for half a point in football, basketball, etc.

What Does Point Spread Odds Mean? 

Luckily, the Point Spread odds are easy to understand. Most games have a favorite and an underdog, and its associated odds show the bettor the amount of cash he stands to win if the bet wins. A more popular betting odd is -110; both teams are usually issued this number. This is very common among several odds you would find on the internet regarding spread betting. Should a bettor decide to stake $100 on a game that has a -110 betting line, the total payout would be $210.

Some bookies could reduce the price, meaning you could stake less and win the same $100 profit on your bet. For instance, considering a game with -107 odds, should the player wager $107 and the bet wins, he would get a total profit of $207. There is a commission or fee by the bookie for brokering this deal. The commission or fee is flexible, keeping the bookie in operation.

The total profit is a combination of the wagered amount and the win. You can't get the whole profit due to the tax, fee, or commission to the sportsbook. However, in the second example, you would notice the player has to wager $107, saving $3 for himself.

Practical Example 

Get some practical examples that would help drive home the essence of this guide. Here is a scenario describing how Spread betting works. The game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The oddsmaker favors the Chiefs to win. They are the favorites, while the Buccaneers are the underdog. Here is a representation of the situation:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4
  • Kansas City Chiefs -4

In this scenario, both teams are 4 points apart. The odds are usually set at -110 on both sides. As mentioned earlier, City Chiefs are the favorites while the Buccaneers are the underdogs. The game was played on neutral ground, and the Point Spread was a contrast between both teams. Here, there was no home advantage factored into the Spread.

For City Chiefs to cover the spread, they have to win the game with 5 points or more. If they win by four points or less, the punter will lose the bet despite winning the game because they did not cover the Spread. On the other hand, bets placed on the Buccaneers would only be won if they win the game, an outright win, or lose with 3 points or less.

If City Chiefs win the game by four points, the game goes to a "push." This is also possible if the Buccaneers lost the game by four points. In both scenarios, the punters would be refunded their wager. Here is another example:

Line Movement and Point Spread Odds 

Line movement is common to Spread betting. There is a possibility for a change up until the game starts. The oddsmaker could make changes for various reasons such as player injuries, one side getting more money, weather conditions, change of venue, coaching decisions, etc. Additionally, these reasons push the sportsbook to adjust the odds. Mostly, they increase the odds on the underdog, giving everyone a fair playing field.

Due to these movements, it is best to wait to place the bet early or till a few hours before the game starts to place a wager. However, there is a risk if you choose to wait. Waiting for the line to move could favor the bookmarker. Here is an example of a line movement between the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Denver Broncos is playing host.

  • Cleveland Browns -3.5 (110)
  • Denver Broncos +3.5 (-110)

This was the line on Tuesday. But by Thursday, Baker Mayfield is not cleared to play due to an ankle joint injury. So, here would be the new line:

  • Cleveland Browns -2.5 (110)
  • Denver Broncos +2.5 (-110)

The line shifted by a full point in favor of Denver. Interestingly, the line would move again if the doctor clears Baker Mayfield by Sunday. Timing is vital if you are considering Spread betting. However, whatever line you place the bet, your outcome does not change with various line movements.

Strategies For Placing Point Spread Bets

Point spread betting beats Moneyline wagering concerning the risk and reward. It takes a closer look at the punter to decide what side he should place his bet on. Over time, generating your strategy would help you in the long run. However, here are a few strategies that you could build on.

Home-field advantage

Most teams have a good advantage when they play on their soil than on the road. But this depends on the team; how they can use the support of their fans. In football, the home-field advantage is factored in the odds. The point spread is usually more for the home side.

However, if you notice that the spread point for the home side is small, it simply means that the road team is superior. This is how the oddsmaker makes his statement. For instance, an NFL home team favored by -2.5 is an indication that the oddsmaker thinks they are less likely to win.

Essentially, home-field advantage is tricky. It depends on how well a team can utilize it. Some teams lack a vibrant, cheering crowd or atmosphere compared to others. Additionally, it is important to take note of factors like current forms, injuries, and more. Get information on the latest news to get a good value on the Point Spreads.

Power Ranking

Usually, websites publish a list of sports teams based on certain criteria. These handicapping sites could apply a total number to the various teams. This could be used in projecting their odds.


Various statistics can help you arrive at a good conclusion. For football fans, red zone success and the turnover differential points for and against and others could be helpful. Basketball enthusiasts should check out the shooting percentage, turnover, and rebounding success.

Recent Play

It won't be wise to bet against a team with a streak of successive wins. Consider the team's latest form while getting ready to place a wager. On the other hand, a team could have had a rough start but have had their last three games won.

Benefits of Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is often a preferred betting type due to its high payout, simplicity and betting options. 

Here are some of the benefits of utilizing point spread betting: 

High Payouts 

Payout odds in point spread betting are usually around 90%. This provides a good opportunity for bettors to win big. Seeing a total return of over $190 on a $100 bet is what often attracts bettors to point spreads.


Some lines in betting can be confusing and hard to read. With point spread betting, once you understand how to read the spread and how to determine the odds, placing a wager and knowing exactly what you’re betting on is simple.  

More Betting Options 

Point spread betting allows you to place a wager on a team that you think is going to lose. This is a nice alternative to other betting types, such as moneyline betting, which require you to place a wager on the team that will win the game. Therefore, if your favourite team doesn’t often win, you still have an opportunity to bet on them (and win) by wagering on the spread.

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Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 4/27/2022