Point Spread Betting Guide

Financial markets and betting markets are more similar than many imagine. Successful gamblers practice many of the same due diligence techniques as stock market analysts and financial planners.

And although the quick-hitting content you will find from handicappers on a particular sporting event will be more immediate than the long-range forecasting for stocks, bonds, and commodity markets, written by investment planners, there is still plenty of analysis involved.

Simply selecting one’s favorite team is not a recipe for successful sports betting. Many different bet types are available for moneyline, total, futures, and point-spread bettors. All of these topics will be discussed in detail as we go forward, so let’s get acquainted with the sports betting nomenclature and understand point spread betting.

The Best Sportsbooks for Point Spread Betting

How Point Spread Betting Works

Point spread betting is the most popular form of wagering on many sports, including the NFL, college football, NBA, and college basketball. Much like financial spread betting in the stock market where an investor buys at the lowest price but never takes possession of the stock, point spread betting can also be used as a hedge, as the lines are dynamic and move according to the amount of money being wagered on one side or the other.

An astute gambler will try to find weak lines on a game or total when those lines are released by the online sportsbook and can then hedge their bets later on with a straight wager on the other side, creating what is termed a “middle” in the sports betting parlance. This is akin to arbitrage in the financial markets and it is a popular type of betting system practiced by seasoned spread bettors.

Calculating Point Spreads

Much like a bid price and a market price where price movement affects both in the financial markets there is also movement on point spreads in the sports betting realm. Position size and sell price are often predetermined by stock brokers just as sports handicappers will assess their position on a particular game.

Oddsmakers shift point spreads based on how much money is being wagered on both sides. After an initial line has been determined, based on how the oddsmakers believe the public will perceive the matchup, the lines are then open to the public and the betting commences.

A typical point spread would look like this: Giants -4/Browns +4.

This simply means that the New York Giants are favored by four points while the underdog Cleveland Browns are getting four points. If the Giants defeat the Browns by five or more points, then those who bet the Giants would cover the spread and win the amount wagered on their bet. However, if the Browns lose by three points or less, or win the game outright, those bettors would cover their bet and win the amount they wagered.

One last scenario would be the Giants winning by exactly four points which, in this instance, is called a “push” or a tie. All wagers on both sides in this scenario would be returned with no profit or loss to the bettor.

Making a Spread Bet

Before you make a wager of any kind, it is critical to research the best online sportsbooks in the business because there are many predatory sportsbooks that are eager to take your money but have no intentions of releasing it when you win.

The titans of the industry like BetOnline, Bovada, Bookmaker, and Heritage Sports all have proven track records of superior customer service, generous bonuses, a vast array of betting markets, as well as minimum and maximum limits tailored for all bet accounts. They also accept debit cards, bank checks, and even cryptocurrency.

But the most important attribute all of these books have in common is paying out in a timely manner when a payout is requested by their customers. There is nothing more important than that because it is one thing to sweat the game but never the payout.

The types of bets we have previously discussed are straight bets involving the point spread. Point spread betting accounts for an overwhelming number of wagers but other kinds of wagers involve moneylines and totals. All of these can be wagered on for an upcoming game or another event further in the future.

It is best to have two or more of the A-rated books at your disposal so you can get the lowest price on the favorites and the highest odds on your underdog wagers. An extra deposit at any of these top-ranked sportsbooks will likely get you a loyalty bonus as well.

Spread Types for Different Sports

Betting lines are common in football games and college football to name two of the most popular. The stronger team is designated as the favorite and will be giving up points while the weaker team is known as the underdog and will be getting points.

It is a way to level the playing field, similar to a handicap in golf where a much weaker player can be competitive against a much stronger player given the number of strokes they will get.

There is a wide range of point spreads depending on the disparity between the two teams playing. The most critical point spread in football is three, as many football games are decided by a field goal.

Although moneylines are more common for a cricket match than a football match, point spread betting applies to both. We often see a version of a point spread in MLB baseball and NHL hockey which is called the run line and puck line, respectively. Because fewer points are generally scored in both, the point spread betting is usually reserved to -1 ½ runs or goals for the favorite and +1 ½ goals for the underdog.

Point Spread Betting Strategy

Online sportsbooks are the trading platform used to facilitate wagers. Successful gamblers invest a great deal of time in analyzing matchups in order to profit from spread betting.

There is always a house edge and that is the commission the sportsbooks affix to each wager for the luxury of being able to choose which side the bettor wants.

The lowest price normally seen on a standard point spread is 5% at some of the discount shops but a 10% commission is far more common.

Predict and Exploit

The job of professional bettors is to predict the potential outcomes of games and exploit the sportsbooks for the best point spreads or betting odds. Although there are no guarantees in sports betting or virtually anything else, a positive betting outcome is crucial for any sports bettor who gambles for a living.

The best way to exploit the sportsbooks is to shop around for the best lines. And the only way to do that is to have funded accounts at several different sportsbooks so that the bettor can choose the most advantageous position on a particular sporting event.

Calculate Before Looking

A tactic many professional sports bettors use is to make an educated guess as to what a particular point spread will be on all of the matches for that day or evening. Based on the teams’ current form and how they match up against each other will guide the bettor toward creating a line that will likely be similar to those that the oddsmakers are dealing.

Once all of the lines have been created by the bettor, they will look to the betting market of their choice whether it be football, basketball, or whatever sport they choose, and compare their lines with those of the oddsmakers. If a large discrepancy is found, the bettor can then take advantage of what they perceive to be a weak number.

The Public and the Sharps

Over the course of a season, the public (meaning those who bet casually or do not spend much time researching the games) generally loses. They lose because they generally bet on the favorites and over the posted totals. They often do so blindly without very much information on the games and often ignore injury reports to lesser players and are not aware of weather conditions that can have a drastic effect on the betting outcome.

However, the sharps (professional or informed bettors), peruse a range of markets with the sole intention of making money as opposed to entertaining themselves while watching a game. Their response to betting action from the public will be to take advantage of bloated lines on the favorites and to wager on the underdogs.

Double Down

An astute gambler knows when to say when. We all have good and bad betting days but the downfall of the average sports bettor is chasing their losses. The public is prone to doubling down simply to get even. That is a recipe for disaster and one that is learned the hard way – through experience.

A person’s bet size should always be commensurate with their financial pain threshold. Only bet what you can afford to lose and nothing more. This will allow a more comfortable approach to betting on sports and one that will keep it entertaining as well as potentially lucrative.

Should you place a point spread bet?

Spread betting accounts for the majority of sports betting wagers and although a specified margin of victory is required for a bettor to win or cover the spread, the financial risk is limited to the wager and the standard 10% commission attached to it.

The betting odds on the favorite, via the moneyline, on a straight wager, can run the gamut depending on how heavily favored the team is. And although the chances of winning a moneyline bet on the favorite are increased, with no point spread to contend with, the financial risks are likely to wear out a bankroll when it loses.

The same is true for underdogs as the point spread increases the chances of an underdog covering while a moneyline wager is less likely to win without the points. Bet accounts that are primarily comprised of point-spread betting tend to be the most successful.

Frequently Asked Questions About Point Spread Betting

In point spread betting, what is a “push,” and what does it mean for bettors?

A point spread bettor should know that whenever the game falls exactly on the point spread, it is considered a tie, also known as a push. This means that the original amount of the wager will be returned to those who bet the favorite as well as the underdog.

What does PK mean in point spread betting?

PK stands for a pick. This means there is no favorite nor underdog, and that all either team needs to do is win the game regardless of the margin of victory.

What are juice and vig?

House rules vary slightly from one online sportsbook to another but the industry standard on a point spread wager is 10%, known in sports betting parlance as the vig or the juice. It is the commission that the bookmakers receive.

Is point spread betting generally profitable?

An astute gambler will generally bet point spreads as opposed to moneylines. Profit from spread betting is generally considered to be higher than the heavily weighted moneylines on the favorites.

Are point spread bets good for beginner bettors?

The betting market is filled with all kinds of bets that appeal to beginner bettors but the point spread bets are the easiest to learn and are a good starting point for those trying to familiarize themselves with sports betting and earn a potential profit.

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