Point Spread Betting and Sportsbooks in 2024

Point Spread Betting Online

Point spread betting, commonly referred to as "spread betting" is a popular and widely-used method of sports wagering. It is a fundamental component of sports betting, particularly in the United States, and it adds an intriguing dimension to the outcome of sporting events.

Point spread betting is not only one of the most popular forms of sports betting but also one of the most significant. It plays a pivotal role in leveling the playing field between teams of varying skill levels and helps create balanced betting opportunities.

Point spreads, often known as pucklines in hockey, runlines in baseball, and goal lines in soccer, serve the same purpose as they do in basketball and football. While basketball and football directly track points, these sports use similar spreads to balance the betting odds.

These online sportsbooks have transformed point spread betting, offering bettors convenient access to a diverse range of markets across different sports leagues and events. With competitive odds, live betting features, and enticing bonuses, these platforms provide an immersive and dynamic wagering experience.


This point spread betting guide is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of point spread betting, from its basic principles to advanced strategies. By the end of this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to make informed bets, recognize the value in point spreads, and navigate the intricacies of this exciting aspect of sports wagering.

Let's begin with the fundamentals of point spread betting.

Basics of Point Spread Betting

Explanation of Point Spread:

What are Point Spreads in Sports Betting
  • Definition of point spread
    - Point spread, often referred to as the "spread," is a numerical margin or handicap assigned by oddsmakers to create a balanced betting opportunity. It represents the expected difference in score between the two opposing teams.
  • How it levels the playing field
    - The primary purpose of a point spread is to level the playing field in a sports matchup. Instead of simply betting on which team will win, point spread betting allows bettors to wager on whether a team will win by more points than the spread (cover) or lose by fewer points than the spread (cover as the underdog).

Key Terminologies

  1. Favorite and underdog
    - In a point spread bet, the team expected to win the game outright is the "favorite," while the team expected to lose is the "underdog." The spread assigns points to the underdog to make the contest more even.
  2. Covering the spread
    - When a team wins by more points than the assigned spread, it is said to have "covered the spread." Betting on the favorite means you want them to cover, while betting on the underdog means you want them to either win outright or lose by fewer points than the spread.
  3. Push
    - A "push" occurs when the final score exactly matches the point spread. In such cases, the bet is refunded, and there is no winner or loser.

Representation of a Point Spread

  • Example using NFL game
    - Let's consider an example with an NFL game: Team A is favored by 7 points, and Team B is the underdog. This means that Team A needs to win by more than 7 points for bettors who wagered on them to win, while bettors on Team B need them to either win or lose by fewer than 7 points.

  • Team A (Favorite) Spread: -7
    Team A has odds of -112

    Team B (Underdog) Spread: +7
    Team B has odds of +101

  • Reading and understanding the spread
    - Understanding how to read and interpret point spreads is essential for effective betting. We'll explore this further in subsequent sections to help you make informed decisions when placing bets.

How Point Spread Betting Works

Setting the Point Spread:

  1. Role of oddsmakers
    - Oddsmakers, also known as bookmakers or sportsbooks, are responsible for setting the point spread. They are experts who analyze teams' strengths, weaknesses, and various other factors to determine a fair and balanced spread. The goal is to encourage equal betting on both sides, ensuring that the sportsbook profits from the vigorish or "juice" rather than the outcome of the game.
  2. Factors influencing the spread
    - Oddsmakers consider a range of factors when setting the point spread, including team performance, injuries, weather conditions, historical performance, and public sentiment. These factors are synthesized into a numerical value, representing the expected margin of victory for the favored team.

Betting on the Favorite

  • Explanation of betting on the favorite
    - When you bet on the favorite, you are essentially wagering that the favored team will win by a margin greater than the spread. For example, if Team A is favored by 7 points, you would bet on Team A to win by at least 8 points to cover the spread.
  • Potential risks and rewards
    - Betting on the favorite typically offers lower odds and payouts compared to betting on the underdog. While it is considered a safer bet due to the favored team's perceived superiority, it may require a larger stake to yield a significant profit.
Point Spread - Bet on the Favorite

Betting on the Underdog

  • Explanation of betting on the underdog
    - Betting on the underdog means you are betting that the underdog team will either win the game outright or lose by fewer points than the spread suggests. In our example with Team A favored by 7 points, betting on Team B means you win if Team B either wins the game or loses by 6 points or less.
  • Potential risks and rewards
    - Betting on the underdog typically offers higher odds and potential for larger payouts. While riskier, successful underdog bets can yield substantial profits with a smaller stake.

Push and Its Implications

  • What happens when the game ends with the exact point spread?
    - In cases where the game's final score matches the point spread, it results in a "push". When a push occurs, the bet is considered a tie, and the original stake is refunded to the bettors.
  • Refunds and tiebreakers
    - Some sportsbooks may handle pushes differently. Some refund the entire stake, while others consider it a loss for the bettor. It's essential to be aware of the sportsbook's specific rules regarding pushes when placing bets.

Understanding how point spreads are set and the dynamics of betting on favorites or underdogs is crucial for making informed decisions and maximizing your success in point spread betting.

How to Calculate Point Spread Payouts

Let's consider an example with an NFL game:

Calculating Point Spread Payouts
  • Team A is favored by 7 points, and Team B is the underdog. This means that bettors who wagered on Team A, need Team A to win by more than 7 points in order to win their bet. On the other hand, bettors who placed their wager on Team B need Team B to either win the game or lose by fewer than 7 points to win their bet.
  • Team A (Favorite) Spread: -7
    • Team A has odds of -112
  • Team B (Underdog) Spread: +7
    • Team B has odds of +101

Understanding how to read and interpret point spreads is essential for effective betting. Bettors must comprehend these dynamics to make informed decisions when placing bets on either the favorite or the underdog.

Calculating Payouts

For the Favorite (Team A)

Suppose a bettor places a $100 wager on Team A (-7) with odds of -112.

  1. Calculate the profit:
    • Profit = (Stake * (100 / |Odds Ratio|))
    • Profit = (100 * (100 / 112)) = $89.29 (rounded to two decimal places)
  2. Add the profit to the initial stake to find the total payout:
    • Total Payout = Initial Stake + Profit
    • Total Payout = $100 + $89.29 = $189.29

So, in this case, the bettor would receive a total payout of $189.29, which includes their initial $100 stake and $89.29 in profit.

For the Underdog (Team B)

Suppose a bettor places a $100 wager on Team B (+7) with odds of +101.

  1. Calculate the profit:
    • Profit = (Stake * (|Odds Ratio| / 100))
    • Profit = (100 * (101 / 100)) = $101 (rounded to two decimal places)
  2. Add the profit to the initial stake to find the total payout:
    • Total Payout = Initial Stake + Profit
    • Total Payout = $100 + $101 = $201

So, in this case, the bettor would receive a total payout of $201, which includes their initial $100 stake and $101 in profit.

Push Scenario

Sometimes, the final score of a game lands exactly on the point spread set by oddsmakers, resulting in a push. In a push scenario, neither the favorite nor the underdog bettors win or lose their wager, and their initial stake is returned.

Understanding these calculations is crucial for bettors to evaluate potential returns accurately when placing bets on either the favorite or the underdog.

Strategies for Point Spread Betting

Research and Analysis:

Strategies for Point Spreads and Betting
  • The importance of understanding teams and matchups
    - Successful point spread betting starts with thorough research and analysis of the teams involved. This includes assessing team strengths and weaknesses, recent performance, player injuries, and historical head-to-head statistics.
  • Using statistics and historical data
    - Utilize statistical data, trends, and historical performance to inform your betting decisions. Factors like scoring averages, defensive capabilities, home and away performance, and recent form can provide valuable insights.

Bankroll Management

  • Setting a budget
    - Establish a clear and realistic betting budget that you can comfortably afford to lose. This budget should not impact your daily life or finances.
  • Unit betting system
    - Implement a unit betting system to manage your bankroll effectively. A common practice is to bet a consistent percentage of your total bankroll on each wager (e.g., 1-3% per bet). This helps control losses and avoid excessive risks.

Timing and Line Movement

Line Movements on Point Spreads Betting
  • Recognizing the value in changing spreads
    - Point spreads can change leading up to a game due to various factors, including betting activity and injury updates. Learn to identify situations where the initial spread may have been inaccurate, providing opportunities for advantageous bets.
  • The impact of public perception on point spreads
    - Public sentiment can influence point spreads, especially for high-profile games. Sometimes, oddsmakers adjust spreads to balance betting action rather than reflect the true odds. Understanding these nuances can help you make more informed choices.

Hedging Bets

  • Using point spread betting to mitigate risk
    - Hedging involves placing additional bets to reduce or balance your potential losses or gains. In point spread betting, you can hedge by betting on the opposite side of your original wager if circumstances change or to secure a guaranteed profit.
  • Examples of hedging strategies
    - Explore various hedging strategies, such as middle betting (betting on both sides of a moving point spread) or correlated parlays (combining point spread bets with other bets) to minimize risk and optimize potential returns.

By incorporating these strategies into your point spread betting approach, you can enhance your chances of making informed and profitable bets. Remember that discipline, research, and prudent bankroll management are key to long-term success in sports betting.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Chasing Losses:

Stop Chasing Losses in Sports Betting
  • The dangers of trying to recover losses
    - One of the most common pitfalls in point spread betting is chasing losses. This occurs when bettors try to recoup previous losses by increasing their bet sizes or making impulsive wagers. Chasing losses can lead to further financial setbacks and poor decision-making.

Overvaluing Favorites

  • The pitfalls of blindly betting on favorites
    - While favorites are favored for a reason, blindly betting on them without careful consideration can be detrimental. Overvaluing favorites may result in unfavorable risk-reward ratios and missed opportunities to capitalize on underdog bets.

Ignoring Key Statistics

  • The importance of in-depth analysis
    - Neglecting thorough research and analysis of teams, player statistics, and historical data can lead to uninformed bets. Ignoring critical information can result in poor betting decisions and unnecessary losses.

Not Considering Home-Field Advantage

  • How home-field can impact point spreads
    - Home-field advantage plays a significant role in sports, affecting team performance and point spreads. Failing to account for this factor can lead to inaccurate assessments of teams' abilities and impact betting outcomes.

Understanding and avoiding these common mistakes is essential for becoming a successful point spread bettor. It's crucial to approach sports betting with discipline, a rational mindset, and a commitment to responsible gambling practices.

By doing so, you can mitigate risks and increase your chances of long-term profitability in point-spread betting.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Point Spread Bets

Example 1: Super Bowl XLII (2008)

In Super Bowl XLII new window, the New York Giants faced the undefeated New England Patriots. The Patriots were heavily favored to win, with a point spread of around 12 points. However, the Giants considered the underdogs, pulled off a stunning upset by defeating the Patriots 17-14.

Successful bettors who took the Giants with the points not only covered the spread but also won their bets. This case illustrates how informed bettors recognized the potential for an upset and capitalized on the point spread to secure significant winnings.

Example 2: March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament)

During the NCAA basketball tournament, often referred to as March Madness new window , there are numerous instances of point spread upsets. In one memorable game, a lower-seeded team with a significant point spread advantage overcame the odds and won the game outright.

Bettors who believed in the underdog's ability to perform above expectations were rewarded handsomely. This example underscores how March Madness can be a fertile ground for successful point-spread bets, with informed bettors seizing profit opportunities.

Stories of Common Mistakes Leading to Losses

Story 1: Chasing Losses

John, an enthusiastic sports bettor, had a bad streak of the point spread bets where he lost several wagers in a row. Frustrated and eager to recover his losses, he made impulsive decisions to increase his bet sizes on subsequent games, thinking he could quickly make up for his deficits.

Examples of Point Spreads in Sports Betting

Unfortunately, his luck didn't turn around, and he ended up losing even more money. John's mistake was chasing losses, a common error that many bettors make, which ultimately led to significant financial setbacks.

Story 2: Overvaluing Favorites

Sara was an avid fan of a particular basketball team known for its dominant performances. In an upcoming game, her team was a heavy favorite with a double-digit point spread in their favor. Blinded by her loyalty and confidence in her team, Sara placed a substantial bet on them to cover the spread.

However, the underdog surprised everyone by putting up a strong fight, and Sara's team won the game but failed to cover the spread. Sara's mistake was overvaluing the favorites and not considering the risk associated with large point spreads, which resulted in a loss despite her team's victory.

These real-life examples serve as cautionary tales, highlighting common mistakes that can lead to losses in point spread betting. Chasing losses and overvaluing favorites are pitfalls that bettors should be aware of and strive to avoid to make more informed and profitable wagers.


A Comprehensive Guide to Point Spread Betting

This comprehensive guide has taken you from the basics of point spread betting, where we explored the definition and key terminologies, to the intricacies of how it works, including the role of oddsmakers in setting spreads and strategies for both favorites and underdogs. We also discussed the potential pitfalls to avoid, such as chasing losses, overvaluing favorites, and neglecting key statistics.

In conclusion, point spread betting is a dynamic and engaging aspect of sports wagering that can offer both challenges and rewards. By understanding the basics, employing sound strategies, learning from both successes and mistakes, and maintaining responsible betting practices, individuals can enhance their chances of success in this exciting realm of sports betting.