Spread Betting Explained
Spread betting is applied to games in order to create an even playing field when there is a perceived favourite, which there almost always is. That’s a basic spread definition, but we will delve deeper into this topic, explaining important terms like “against the odds” and give examples of point spread betting to make it clear to our readers.
Once our readers have finished reading this article, they’ll have a grasp of how to bet the spread and to make quality mix bets. From mix bets to “ATS”, all will be made clear. Much like we did with all our betting guides, we will cover the topic comprehensively and use examples to make things clear where they may seem confusing at first.
ATS: Against the Spread Betting
Firstly, what does ATS (against the spread) mean in betting? It means the bettor is taking the underdog and the points in a game. To win the bettor needs the underdog to win outright, or lose by less than the “point spread” provided by the oddsmaker. Let’s start things off with some examples of odds, so we have something to work with:
- Baltimore Ravens – Spread +7.5(-110) / Moneyline +155 / Total 48.5 (-110)
- New Orleans Saints – Spread -7.5(-110) / Moneyline -210 / Total 48.5 (-110)
In the example above, the Saints are the favorite by 7.5 points (you can tell this by the negative “-” symbol used before the odds; the underdog is indicated by a plus “+” symbol). Oddsmakers will often use half-points in the spread to avoid “pushes”, or ties (see our betting glossary for more).
So, the Saints are said to be “laying” 7.5 points, which means you take 7.5 points away from their total score when the game comes to an end. If they still have more points than the Ravens, then they “covered.” Ergo, the Saints need to have won the game by at least 8 points for the bettor to see a payout.
But what about the Ravens? Well, while the Saints are “laying” 7.5 points, the Ravens are “getting” 7.5 points. This simply means that you add 7.5 points to their total score when the game comes to a close. Having done that, if they have more points than the Saints, then they “covered.” This means, if the bettor is playing the spread on the Ravens, they must not lose the game by more than 8 points for the bet to come in – the spread isn’t interested in who won the game, just the scoring within the game. Hopefully, that’s point spread explained, if not try going over the points briefly again to clear up any misunderstandings.
Calculating the payout for spreads
In the example we provided above, there is a three-digit figure next to each spread. This figure is used to indicate how much the bettor has to wager in order to win $100 (much like a moneyline bet).
Typically, bettors will see “even bets,” meaning the payout is the same regardless of who the bettor wagered on. However, this isn’t always the case with spread betting.
- Dallas Cowboys – Spread +4 -105 / Moneyline +115 / Total +49.5 (-110)
- Los Angeles Rams – Spread -4 (-115) / Moneyline -140 / Total 49.5 (-110)
So in this case, if a bettor is betting against the spread they would need the Rams to lose by no more than 4 points in order to be “covered.”
What can affect the spread
Spread betting is largely dictated by the amount of money being wagered on the lines that week, as well as weekly injury reports. For example in football, if there Patrick Mahomes breaks his ankle in pre-season, it means that the Chiefs will get a decrease in the spread, probably putting them somewhere around -3.5.
Which sports use spread betting?
We’ve covered the NFL already, but it is unrivaled when it comes to spread betting. There is no other sport that comes close to spread betting when it comes to American football. While this is true, there are also spread betting opportunities in the NHL, MLB, and MLS (including in soccer betting for all competitions).
For the MLB, the spread is called the puck line and is fairly popular among bettors. In baseball, it’s the run line and in soccer; it’s known as the goal line. Keep an eye out for these betting options when searching through the odds with any provider.
Due to the nature of the sports of baseball and hockey, the spread line is almost always set at 1.5. In sports where the scoring is less frequent, there is naturally going to be a lower figure used for the spread.
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