Indianapolis Colts -13 at St. Louis Rams

 

Understanding Spread Betting – Beginners Guide to Point Spreads

Point spreads, or just spreads, were created to make lop-sided games more interesting. Instead of just betting on whether a team wins or loses, you bet on whether the team is able to beat the point spread.

Spread betting is common in team sports where each team scores and the winner is the team with the most points like football, basketball and hockey.

A weak team doesn’t have to win to pay off. If they lose by less than the spread, then that’s considered a win (by anyone who bet on them at any rate). Conversely a strong team has to win by a lot to pay off. If they win by less than the spread, then that’s considered a loss Cmd368 sports.

Understanding Point Spreads

Point spreads are expressed by a number with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign in front. The minus sign means the team is the favorite and has to win by more than the spread. A plus sign means the team is the underdog and has to lose by less than the spread or win outright to payoff.

Spreads are always paired so if the favorite is -6.5, then the underdog will be +6.5. This is useful to remember because your local newspapers will often just show one number after a team name when slipping odds in to an article:

Indianapolis Colts -13 at St. Louis Rams

When you visit an online sportsbook like betED to place your bet, the spread will often have a second set of numbers in a similar format:

Indianapolis Colts -13 (-110)
St. Lous Rams +13 (-110)

The second set of numbers show how much money you have to bet to win $100. So in the above example, if you bet $110 on the Colts to win and the Colts win by 14 or more, you win your bet of $110 plus another $100.

If they win by just 12, then you lose your $110 bet.

You may wonder why you don’t win double your bet back since the point spread is supposed to make the odds of winning even no matter how lop-sided the match-up. However, you are not betting against the sportsbook. You are betting against other bettors and the sportsbook is just acting as an intermediary.

The extra $10 dollars for each $100 dollar bet is the commission the sportsbook takes for holding the bet. It is known as the vigorish or, more commonly, the vig.

The sportsbook wants to have exactly the same amount of money on each side thereby guaranteeing a profit regardless of the result. As bets come in, the spread or the vig will move up or down in order to entice bettors to one side or the other and keep both sides in balance.

Often you will see point spreads with a half a point like -13.5. This makes it impossible to tie. If there is a tie, Indianapolis wins by exactly 13 points in the above example, then the bet is a push and no money is won or lost.

Most reputable sportsbooks return the money, but you should definitely check what an individual sportsbook’s policy is before placing a point spread bet as some sportsbooks award a win or a loss on a push.

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