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Point Spread Betting

Steven D. Thompson


Do you want to back a favourite and get competitive odds? Try point spread betting markets. Backing a favourite to cover the spread comes with better odds than betting on that same team to win the game outright. Sounds enticing? Why not back an NBA team to cover the spread right now?

Table of Contents

    Point Spread Betting Explained

    Point spread markets allow bookmakers to make two uneven teams equal by handicapping the stronger and helping the weaker side with the same number of points, also known as the spread. The spread illustrates the difference in quality between the two competing teams. So, when you place a point spread bet, you predict whether the stronger team will cover the spread or if the other team will benefit from the points advantage given by the bookmaker.

    Let's use an example from American Football, a sport particularly popular among point spread bettors, to illustrate how this betting market works. Let's say the Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) are playing against the Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5). As you can see, if you back the Chiefs to win, they will have to triumph by at least a four-point margin of victory. On the other hand, if you are betting on the Bengals, even a defeat by three points won't affect your bet, and you will win your wager.

    Point Spread Betting Point Spread Betting

    Potential Outcomes of The Point Spread Bet

    In the dynamic world of point spread betting, there are 3 possible outcomes: win, lose or push. Understanding the outcomes is key to navigating this exciting space where they define the experience.

    • Win: When your chosen team covers the spread, it's a straightforward win. Enjoy collecting your payout without any complications.
    • Lose: Experiencing a loss is part of the sports betting game. Take it in stride and remember that losses happen. Just know that a loss means forfeiting your initial wager if your team doesn't cover the spread.
    • Push: Sometimes, a push is a possibility. Sportsbooks often use spreads with half points (like -3.5 or +8.5), but occasionally, they set whole number spreads such as -8 or +14. When these whole number spreads come into play and the team's performance aligns exactly with the set spread, a push can occur.

    Let's look at an example from basketball betting, to help you better understand the potential outcomes of the point spread bet. For instance, if you are thinking about betting on the match between the Denver Nuggets (-8.5) and the Los Angeles Clippers (+8.5), you will have two options. You can either back the Nuggets to cover the spread and win by at least nine points or you can go with the Clippers and hope they won't lose by more than eight points. These are the potential scenarios that can happen:

    • If the Denver Nuggets win 109-100, they have covered the spread (-8.5 points), and they are the winning bet;
    • If the Denver Nuggets win 109-102, they haven't covered the spread despite winning. In this case, the Los Angeles Clippers are the winning point spread bet;
    • Lastly, if the Los Angeles Clippers win by any margin of victory, for instance, 110-109, they are logically the winning bet again.

    As you can see, the extra half point in both examples ensures that point spread bets are 2-way and not 3-way betting markets. In other words, the chance of a draw or tie is removed, reducing the number of possible outcomes from three to two.

    Point Spread Betting Examples

    You can place point spread bets on various sports, but essentially the sports betting market is more or less the same. The only difference is the size of the spread and the number of alternative point spread betting markets. Let's look at the most popular types of point spread bets and the sports that offer these betting options.

    NBA Point Spreads

    When it comes to the number of point spread betting options, the Euroleague, college basketball and, of course, the NBA offer the most wagering alternatives. If you join a betting site from the list of top-quality bookmakers featured at Betpack, you can get 20 or even 30 different point spread options for the same match.

    Please note, that the betting odds will be different depending on the point spread you pick, but the fact you can choose from so many basketball betting alternatives allows you to wager on exactly the point spread you had in mind.

    Let's explain this with an example. Imagine the LA Lakers (+7.5) are playing the Golden State Warriors (-7.5). The 7.5-point spread makes the two teams evenly matched, also resulting in the same decimal odds for both sides, usually around 1.90.

    However, in addition to this point spread, the bookmaker will also give you a lot of alternative point spread betting markets, such as:

    • LA Lakers (+5.5) vs Golden State Warriors (-5.5)
    • LA Lakers (+6.5) vs Golden State Warriors (-6.5)
    • LA Lakers (+8.5) vs Golden State Warriors (-8.5)
    • LA Lakers (+9.5) vs Golden State Warriors (-9.5)

    The above example clearly illustrates that with so many options available to you, your chances of finding the right point spread favorite or underdog dramatically increase. At Betpack, we always tell you that the more betting options available, the bigger the probability you might win. The wide range of point spreads in basketball is a great example of that.

    NFL Point Spread Betting Markets

    NFL games and college football matches come with many sports betting markets that you can choose from. Point spreads are probably the most popular ones. Unlike basketball betting though, there are fewer NFL point spread options.

    However, that's not because sportsbooks have something against NFL bettors. Instead, it is the nature of the game. For instance, a touchdown is worth six points, and a field goal is worth three. So, there are fewer options for point spread bets compared to basketball where there is a wider range of winning margins.

    One of the most common margins of victory in the NFL is seven points. Therefore, you will frequently see point spread options such as Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) vs Seattle Seahawks (+6.5). In this example, the Chiefs have to finish the match with at least a seven-point winning margin, while the Seahawks can lose by six and still be the winning bet in this NFL game.

    Run Lines in Baseball

    Point spread bets are called run lines in baseball. When you are placing a run line bet, you can expect to see a situation such as the following one. The Detroit Tigers (+1.5) are playing the Baltimore Orioles (-1.5), and the expected margin of victory is two runs. That means the Orioles will have to win by two runs for you to have a winning ticket. On the other hand, if you are predicting that the Detroit Tigers are the winning bet, they will have to win or lose by a maximum of one run.

    As with the other sports listed here, run line betting is super popular in baseball and sports bettors often choose it over moneyline bets. As you might know, when betting on a baseball money line, you predict which of the two teams will win but without the runs handicap i.e. you are wagering on the final score of the match and don't have to worry about your team covering the spread or not.

    Puck Lines in Ice Hockey

    Puck lines are the point spread variant that you can select when betting on ice hockey. With a puck line bet, much like all other point spreads, you predict that one of the teams will cover the spread or back the underdog to benefit from the puck line advantage.

    For example, if the Dallas Stars (+1.5) play the Montreal Canadiens (-1.5), there are two possible winning point spread bets in this 2-way market. First, the Dallas Stars can win or lose by a maximum of one goal, while the Montreal Canadiens have a spread to cover, meaning they have to win by two goals to be the winning puck line.

    How to Place Point Spread Bets 

    Few bets are as exciting as point spread lines. So, it is not surprising they are among the most popular wagers with sports bettors. And it is super-easy to join in on the fun. Read our informative four-step guide and start placing point spread bets like professional bettors.

    • Estimated Time Needed: 10:00
    • Tools Needed:
    • Supplies Needed:
    Choose a Trustworthy Bookmaker Step 1

    Choose a Trustworthy Bookmaker

    Start your point spread betting adventure by going through the list of bookmakers at Betpack. Choose one of our top-rated picks by analyzing the bonuses and perks it offers.

    Sign Up and Deposit Step 2

    Sign Up and Deposit

    Next, set up your betting account. Enter your personal information and verify your new account as soon as you are done. Then make your first deposit using your preferred payment method.

    Find Point Spread Options Step 3

    Find Point Spread Options

    Now, go to the sports betting section and select the matches you want to wager on. Find the point spread bet type and choose the one you would like to include in your bet slip.

    Place Your Point Spread Bet Step 4

    Place Your Point Spread Bet

    It is now time to place your bet. Check that you have included all the games you wanted to bet on and enter your stake. Submit your wager and watch your selections to see if your bet wins.

    Strategies and Tips for Point Spread Betting

    As with many other bet types, using proven wagering systems and betting strategies can improve your chances of winning your point spread bets. In general, even just spending some time to analyze the form of teams and players has a significant impact on your chances of winning. So, you can imagine how much more effective a point spread betting strategy or some well-researched betting tips will be. Here, we list five handy point spread tips.

    Tip 1: The Home Field Advantage Matters

    Tip 2: Keep Tabs on Point Spread Changes

    Tip 3: Use Bonus Bets to Place Riskier Point Spread Wagers

    Tip 4: Back In-Form Underdogs

    Tip 5: Stay on Top of Point Spread Odds Changes

    You might notice that sometimes when you are placing point spread bets on matches between the same teams there is a point spread change. For instance, you might be betting on the game between the Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) and Cleveland Browns (+2.5), but notice that the reverse fixture, Cleveland Browns (-1.5) vs Dallas Cowboys (+1.5) comes with a different point spread.

    The reason for this is the home-field advantage. Of course, there are other factors, such as form, injuries, and suspensions. However, the home advantage and support from loyal fans affect the performances of teams. Bookies know this, so they adjust the point spread.

    Therefore, the next time you think a favourite will have no problem covering the spread, consider if that team is playing home or away. If it is the second, the bookmaker has already taken the home advantage of the other team into account. In other words, the spread is quite realistic, and it is not the great value bet you thought it was. So, don't break the bank to back the favourite playing away from home. You might be backing a losing bet.

    When the point spread changes, that is indicative of the bookmaker knowing something you might not. Similar to betting odds changes, the altering of the existing point spread tells you that there might have been a last-minute injury to a key player or a dressing room problem for one of the teams.

    Whatever the reason, a point spread change is not something you should ignore. Instead, investigate what might have made the bookmaker update its existing point spread. If you can't identify the reason for the change, either adjust the bet stake size to reflect the new point spread or consider placing a different wager, such as a money line bet, for instance.

    Most sportsbooks, especially the best ones, have enticing betting offers and free bets. You can use these promotions to wager not with your own funds, but with the bonus credits the bookmaker has given you. That, in turn, will allow you to eliminate the fear of losing your wagers and facilitate riskier wagers which also come with higher odds and better potential winnings.

    For instance, you might be tempted to bet on a team that hasn't covered the spread yet, but you have a feeling that might change. One of the best and safest ways to do that is to use a free bet or some of your bonus funds. If your bonus bets win, you will be glad you went with your instincts and didn't pass up on the opportunity to capitalize on some great odds. If you lose, no problem. It wasn't your money that you wagered with after all.

    However, before claiming a bonus, make sure what it takes to activate it and then withdraw your winnings obtained for the promo. For instance, for some bonuses you need to enter a promo code, while others are only activated when you use predetermined payment methods, such as credit or debit cards. More importantly, some promos come with steep wagering requirements, meaning you might find it hard to withdraw your winnings from the bonus.

    One of the great things about point spread wagers is that they allow you to get great odds when backing the favourites. However, with point spreads, you can also bet on underdogs, especially when they are in good form and you think they can spring a surprise.

    Moreover, the positive spread the underdog comes with will serve as a safety cushion. So, your team might lose but stay within the range of the spread, and you might have a winning bet even when the side you backed fails to win. That won't be the case if you put your money on that team to win outright.

    It is always smart to keep tabs on the odds of the events you are betting. Most bettors don't do this, so they don't know if the odds they are betting on are higher or lower than they were two days ago, for instance. Even a small change in odds can signal a significant development for one or both teams leading up to the match.

    When the odds are dropping for teams, sportsbooks and punters think their chances of winning are improving. In contrast, when the odds increase going into the game, that tells you bettors worldwide are backing the other team. And they often have a very good reason to do so. Your job is to find out what that reason is and see if you can find value in those bets.


    Point spread bets are super popular with bettors. And for good reason. With point spreads, you can bet on sure-to-win favourites and still get good odds. Of course, your team will need to cover the spread, but that is often a risk worth taking. Since underdogs get a points advantage, they are also a good choice.

    As with most bet types, it is crucial to do your research and analyze all wagers before placing them. Using a proven strategy can also go a long way while checking out the betting tips at Betpack is of crucial importance too. So, find a top sportsbook and locate the sporting event you will bet on. Place your point spread bet with Betpack's help and hope your team wins!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How does a point spread work?

    A point spread works by handicapping one of the teams, the favourite, and adding points to the other team, the underdog. The bookmaker does this to level the playing field. So, for the favourite to win it will have to win by a bigger margin than the points subtracted, while the underdog can win or lose, but not by more than the points advantage given by the sportsbook.

    What does the minus sign mean in point spread betting?

    The minus sign in point spread betting tells you that you are betting on the favourite to win. The number next to the minus sign shows by how many points that team has to win to become the winning bet. So, if Team A (-2.5) plays Team B (+2.5), Team A must win by three points or more.

    Are there point spread bets in live betting?

    Yes, there are. You can bet on point spread markets in both the pre-match sports wagering section and in the live betting part of the sportsbook.

    What are the rules for point spreads?

    In point spread betting, the better team has negative points, while the underdog is given a points advantage. That means the stronger team must win by a bigger margin than the negative points subtracted from its final score. If you are betting on the underdog, you will benefit from the extra points added to its side of the final result.

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