What Does Betting Against the Spread Mean?

What Does Betting Against the Spread Mean?

One of the things that a sports bettor needs to know is the spread. It can be confusing at first, but once you understand the concept, you will be betting against the spread at an online casino and betting sites in no time. So, how do you do it? We will explain it in detail to help you out. 

What is the spread?

Sometimes, people call it the point spread. It is a numerical expression, the purpose of which is to level the playing field. The spread exists because there is a mismatch between teams. For example, one team is severely underpowered, and the other has several star players. 

Instead of picking a winner outright, you win if the margin of victory is achieved. If you bet and pick a winner outright, that bet is called Moneyline bet. 

What happens in a spread is that a mismatched game becomes a 50/50 proposition. It is far better for the sports betting company and the bettors than an even-money bet or a moneyline bet. In essence, even if you pick a team and this team wins, it does not mean you win on your bet unless you win the spread bet. In money line betting, a negative sign indicates that the team is a favourite. A positive sign indicates that the team is an underdog.

To cover the spread, the favourite must win by certain points. On the other hand, the underdog must not lose by more points than the spread.  

How does the point spread work in sports betting? 

Take a look at the table below: 

Bobcats +7.5 +175 48.5 O
Lakers -7.5 -220 48.5 U


Here, the Lakers are the favourite, as indicated by the negative sign in the spread, which is -7.5. They are sure to win.

Here is the way to interpret the spread for the Lakers: they are laying 7.5 points, so you have to subtract 7.5 points from the Lakers’ total score after the game. If, after subtracting 7.5 points, the Lakers still have more points than the Bobcats, it means that the Lakers have “covered the spread.” 

What does that mean? It means that the Lakers must have at least eight points of lead to win your bet on them. 

Let us say that the final score is this: 

Lakers: 110

Bobcats: 90

Now, since the spread for the Lakers is -7.5, we deduct 7.5 from 110, and we get 102.5. As we can see, 102.5 is greater than 90 points of the Bobcats, so the Lakers still win. Therefore, if you wagered on Lakers for this spread, you win. On the other hand, if the points of the Lakers are lesser than the Bobcats after subtracting 7.5, you lose (if you bet on the Lakers).  

Conversely, the Bobcats, being the underdog, get an extra 7.5 points. If, after adding 7.5 points to the Bobcats, they get a higher score than the Lakers, the Bobcats win. 

Here is an example of the final score:

Lakers: 100

Bobcats: 95

Now, we add 7.5 points to Bobcats, giving us a final score of 102.5. It is higher than the Lakers’ 100 points, so the Bobcats cover the spread. 

Can spreads change? 

Yes, spreads can change. It happens as injuries occur in sports teams. The oddsmaker will factor in these occurrences and change the spread. For example, let us say that Lebron James got injured. In this case, the spread will change. The same thing happens if one team gets a new player on board. Any incident that can impact a team’s performance will affect the spread. 

Sometimes, sports betting companies will also change the spread just to encourage people to bet on the other side of the matchup. They need to do this to guarantee that they have enough bets on all sides. At the end of the day, they will still earn profits no matter who wins.

How do you calculate your wins? 

Bet spreads also contain other numbers, not just the spread. Below is an example: 

Bobcats +7.5 (+110) +175 48.5 O
Lakers -7.5 (-110) -220 48.5 U


In this case, you need to wager $110 on Lakers to win $100. The negative value indicates the amount you have to water to win one unit. 

On the other hand, you have to wager $100 on Bobcats to win $110. Again, you only win if the spread was “covered.” 

The Moneyline column is where you wager if you do not want to play the spread. In this case, you bet $220 on Lakers to win $100, and you wager $100 on Bobcats to win $175. The money line bet is a straightforward pick of who wins (no spread is involved). 

All sports have a spread. If there are no spreads, can you just imagine what will happen? No one will bet on Bobcats, knowing that they are not likely to win. 

With spread betting, the bettors have better chances of winning. As such, the bettors will wager on both sides, and the sports betting company will profit no matter the game’s outcome. 

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