Home Betting Guides What are Points Spreads Betting?

What are Points Spreads Betting?

Point spreads is very common, and it is used in sports betting to make games more even for betting purposes. This type of wager is mainly used in football and basketball but not too much on other sports like baseball and hockey, where smaller margins decide games. The main principle of points spreads betting is that underdog teams are usually given points before the match starts, while favourites have points deducted. So with points spreads, the favourites have to win by a certain margin for the bettor to win the bet: in this way, odds are more or less similar for the two teams, even if we have massive underdogs. This is because the sports betting site will decide the spread and can modify it based on circumstances.

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What is a Point Spreads Bet?

Let’s do an example to understand better points spreads betting. Let’s say, for instance, that the Browns are taking on the 49ers. The 49ers are the favourites and are given a 3.5 points spread. This means that if you back the 49ers to win, they would have to win with a margin of at least 4 points for your bet to be successful. On the other hand, if you decide to back the Brown +3.5, that means that your bet will be won if they win or lose with a margin smaller than 4 points. 

The favourite will always get a negative number as spread, while the underdogs will always get a positive number. All you need to do is add that number to the final score on whatever team you have taken, and if they win with the new total, it means that they have ‘covered the spread’ and, therefore, your bet was successful. 

It is also essential to check the lines that are associated with the spreads options. Usually, odds will be very similar as the spread aims to make lines for both teams even, so they will be at around -115.

Another thing to note is that spreads tend to be with half points in the NFL. In this way, there is no way for the spread to be a tie. However, in some situations, the spread can also have full points like +5/-5, and a tie or a ‘push’ can also happen. If that is the case, you will get your money back as if the bet never happened.  

In some cases, you might find a note saying ‘PK” or ‘Pick’em’. This means that the game is already very close, so a spread cannot be determined. In this scenario, the odds will be pretty even on money line wagers, so the spread is unnecessary. 

You might have noticed that point spread tend to change pretty frequently as you approach the games. They are influenced by several factors and more recent news being available to sports betting sites. For instance, if a top player is unavailable just before the game, this could influence the strength of the teams, and as a consequence, the spread will be adjusted to a new level. If, however, you have placed your bet before the change, you have locked the spread so you won’t have to worry about your bet, which will stay as when you placed it. 

For instance, let’s say you wager on the 49ers -3.5, and then the Browns QB is ruled out due to injury. At that point, the new spread might move to -7.5 or something similar, but if you have placed your bet earlier, you have taken advantage of the previous spread that cannot be moved anymore, as it has been locked. So it could go either way when you place early bets, so it is important to make a call in every situation to decide if it is worth taking advantage of early lines.

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John was born and raised in London, John has always been in love with American sports. He started to write football articles back in 2006 on his own blog and has also worked for several newspapers. John other passion was betting and has worked as a trader for several top sports book in the UK. As sports trader and has joined leading UK betting tipping site BettingTips4You in 2013 and he is now head of content. He has a great passion for US Sports so hasn't wasted the opportunity to write also for NewJerseySafeBetting, now that online sportsbetting has been legalized in the state.