One of the most popular ways to bet American football and basketball is the point spread. Commonly referred to as the spread or line. Whether your new to sports betting, on a vacation in Las Vegas or simply need a refresher on football betting or basketball betting, you’ll need to know how to bet the point spread.
What is betting against the spread?
A point spread is a number placed on NFL, NBA, college football and basketball teams for betting purposes only. This number is released by oddsmakers to generate interest among sports bettors and essentially it provides an equal playing field between two teams that may or may not be an equal match on paper.
For betting purposes, oddsmakers will release odds for a game listing a “favorite” and an “underdog”. In the even that both teams are evenly matched, oddsmakers will list what is known as even odds or even money. This simply means you bet a dollar to win a dollar. There is not a favorite and you must win your bet straight up without the help of a point spread.
Example of an NFL Point Spread
Let’s say the New York Jets are playing the New England Patriots, New England is the home team.
The NFL spread for this game would look similar to this:
New York Jets vs New England Patriots -10 (-110)
This line indicates that the New England Patriots are favored by -10 points as indicated by the minus symbol. If you wanted to bet on the New England Patriots you would wager that the Patriots would beat the Jets by 10 points or more. If the Patriots won the game 24-10, you would win your bet against the spread (ATS).
If you think the Jets have a chance of winning this game or may be able to cover the spread, then you would wager on the Jets +10. This means that the Jets receive +10 points so they must either win out right or lose by no more than 9 points. So if the final score ended with the Patriots winning 24-17, then you would win your bet against the spread (ATS) even though the Jets lost the game. Pretty simple, right?
Example of an NBA Point Spread
The Cleveland Cavaliers are playing the New York Knicks, the Knicks are the home team.
The NBA spread of this game would look similar to below:
Cleveland Cavaliers -12 (-110) vs New York Knicks
In this matchup the visiting team, Cleveland, is favored by -12 points so a wager placed on Cleveland would mean they would need to win the game by 13 points or more in order for you to cover the spread. If you liked the Knicks +12 points in this game then the Knicks would simply need to win the game out right or lose by no less than 11 points. Sound familiar to the NFL spread pick above? As you can see the point spread works the same way in American football and basketball. You’re betting against the spread so while the winner and final score have meaning, the only thing that matters to sports bettors is that you cover the spread.
What does the -110 mean next to the point spread?
If you take notice of the odds (-110) next to the point spread examples above, this is the vig or juice a sportsbook would charge to accept your wager. For better understanding, this means that you would need to wager $110 to win $100 back. The $10 is is the juice kept by the sportsbooks and not refunded with a winning wager. It’s the price of doing business. All casino sportsbooks and online sportsbooks charge a juice to accept your action so you need to pay attention to the odds so you know how to place your wager.
Smart sports bettors will always shop multiple books to find the best numbers and prices available. If you’re a long term investor then $10 here and $10 there adds up over the course of a season or year. Price shopping could be the difference between profit and loss at the end of a year.
Hopefully this brief tutorial on spread betting clears up any questions you may have encountered in sports betting. Just remember, take the time to find the best odds by using multiple sportsbooks which will save you money in the long run.
Article by Peter Trell