A point spread in sports is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. The “favorite” team (labeled with a “-” sign) would be at the disadvantage as they would need to win the game by a set number of points while the “underdog” team (labeled with a “+” sign) would be given an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points. The reason oddsmakers do this is to provide betting interest for both sides due to one team typically being better than the other.

As a proud Canadian and a lover of hockey, this article shouldn't really surprise my American counterparts. You already know we like to do things differently here in Canada with our pro sports. A prime example is the CFL. However, hockey is no different. If you bet on hockey, you're usually betting the money line - who you think is going to win the game straight up. But in crazy Canadian fashion, sportsbooks offer something called the "puck line" which is exactly like the American version of the point spread. Read More >>
The point spread is essentially a handicap towards the underdog. The wager becomes "Will the favorite win by more than the point spread?" The point spread can be moved to any level to create an equal number of participants on each side of the wager. This allows a bookmaker to act as a market maker by accepting wagers on both sides of the spread. The bookmaker charges a commission, or vigorish, and acts as the counterparty for each participant. As long as the total amount wagered on each side is roughly equal, the bookmaker is unconcerned with the actual outcome; profits instead come from the commissions.
What's the difference between an oddsmaker and a bookie? A bookie's job is purely mechanical. He gets the line from Vegas or another source, offers bets at those odds, then collects money from the losers, pays out to the winners and keeps the vig. Oddsmakers don't actually take bets -- they study the games and set the lines. Bookies often adjust the spreads for their games, so they do a little oddsmaking, and oddsmakers work for casinos, which operate sports books that take bets.
For example: If it is universally believed that Alaska State is better than Hawaii Tech, a standard win/loss wager wouldn't work, since most likely people would bet more money on Alaska State. Therefore, the Sports Book could put the point spread on Alaska State at 6.5 points. This would mean if you bet on Alaska State, not only would they have to win the game, they'd have to win by at least 7 points to make you a winner, otherwise a ticket on Hawaii Tech, even though the team might have loss, would be a winner.
Okay, so the other betting option available to you is the total or ‘Over/Under.’ You can choose to bet that the total points between the two teams will either be greater (OVER) or less than (UNDER) the projected total. Again, if you bet either way and the game ends up being 20-21, for a total of 41 points, then you will receive a refund of your wager amount.

In football the money line is often a popular choice for bettors who have been burned by last-second scoring that actually had no actual affect on the outcome of the game. With the money line you just have to hope your team wins rather than cover a point spread. Of course, the one downside is having to risk more money to return the same amount that a point spread bet would net you. 

The key here is to target the point spread five and seven, because these are virtually tied as the most common margins of victory. It's important to recognize that most betting sites are only willing to sell 2 or 3 half points for 10 cents each, after which point they start charging more. Some sites sell up to four half points at this price though.
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The spread - The point spread is used in high-scoring sports like football and basketball. It is basically a handicap used to make all games competitive in the eyes of bettors. The spread gives one team an advantage of a few points. Standard notation for the point spread shows the favored team first, followed by a negative number (the actual spread). The home team is shown in capital letters. So if Buffalo was playing against Green Bay in Green Bay, and they were favored to win by seven points, it would look like this:
Because the spread is intended to create an equal number of wagers on either side, the implied probability is 50% for both sides of the wager. To profit, the bookmaker must pay one side (or both sides) less than this notional amount. In practice, spreads may be perceived as slightly favoring one side, and bookmakers often revise their odds to manage their event risk.
What this spread means is that, for the purposes of wagering, the Chargers will have 3.5 points deducted from their final score. For a bet on them to be successful, they would therefore have to win by four points or more. The Colts, on the other hand, will have 3.5 points added to their final score. A bet on them would be successful if they won the game, or lost by 3 points or less.
Placing a point spread bet means gambling on how much a team will win or lose by. In our above example, the Cowboys are the favorite. How do we know that? The minus symbol in front of the point spread indicates that the bookmaker thinks the final score will have Dallas winning by 7.5 points or more. The underdog, in our example that’s the New York Giants, will always be indicated with a plus sign. If you wager on the Cowboys on the point spread, America’s Team will have to win by at least 8 points for your wager to pay off. Should the Cowboys win by less than 8 points, your bet is lost.

Remember that betting on NFL games with an online sportsbook or offline is not legal in all jurisdictions. So if you are planning on using FootballLOCKS.com's NFL selections to gamble on various NFL games, such as betting the NFL Super Bowl spread with an online NFL sportsbook, it might be wise to check if NFL gambling is legal in your specific jurisdiction.
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