So, you’re new to sports betting and need to know what a point spread is?
Don’t worry, all of us were in the same position at one time. The easiest way to learn is to look at an example of a point spread wager. Point spreads are the most common bet type in the NFL and NBA.
· Point Spread Example: New England Patriots -6.5 (-110) vs. Philadelphia Eagles +6.5 (-110)
The first number (Not in brackets) is the point spread. When the number is negative, that team has to win by that many points. If the number is negative, that team can lose by that many points and still win the bet.
For example, the Patriots are -6.5 point favorites, which means they need to win by 7 points to cover the point spread. The Eagles are +6.5 point underdogs and can lose by 6 points or less and still cover the spread.
The team with the negative spread is the “favorite” and the team with the negative spread is the “underdog”. It’s important to know these two terms, as you’ll often see them when reading sports predictions.
The reason sportsbooks set a point spread is to make the match-up as close to 50/50 as possible. The spread will move from the opening line based on how much action each team takes at the betting window.
For instance, if the Patriots open up at -6.5 and the books get hammered with NE point spread bets, the line will start to move upwards to -7 points. It’s recommended to bet opening lines to get the best value.
Since a point spread bet is deemed to be a 50/50 proposition, the odds are always the same. Most bookies offer a standard $.20 line (-110/-110), which means you need to bet $110 to win $100 on either team.
You may be wondering why you have to risk $110 to win $100. That’s because the bookie always needs to make a profit and they can guarantee a profit by charging juice (vig).
So, why wouldn’t you just bet on a team to win straight-up without a point spread?
Let’s take a look at an NBA example.
Tonight the Miami Heat are -14 (-110) point favorites against the Philadelphia 76ers (+14 / -110). You could bet on the Heat to win straight-up with no spread involved, but the odds are -1900.
That means you’d need to risk $1900 to win $100 on Miami. No one does that, which is why the point spread is popular . The money line bet only makes sense when the game is expected to be real close.
At -110 odds, a handicapper only needs to win 52.38% of their bets to breakeven. Professional handicappers only hit about 56% of their bets and anything over 60% is considered an incredible season.
Imagine betting at -1900 odds. You’d need to basically win every bet, as one loss would negate profits from 19 winning bets. The point spread is the best way to bet on football and basketball in most situations.