The point spread, which is sometimes referred to as the “handicap”, is the number of points taken from the favorite, or given to the underdog, in order to open up the chances of either team winning the wager evenly. In most games, there’s usually a team that is more likely to win, based on a number of statistical factors. If the only kind of wager available was on who would win between a very strong team and a poor team, it wouldn’t be all that exciting. The point spread was designed to make betting much more interesting, since it allows a bet on the losing team to win you money. How? Let’s break down an example:
Used in high-scoring sports like NFL and NBA, the point spread is a handicap that is placed on the favorite team in terms of points for betting purposes. If 10 points favor the Broncos over the Seahawks the point spread is 10. The Broncos must win the game by 11 or more points for you to win your wager. If you’ve made your bet on the Seahawks, you’ll win your bet if your team wins the game or losses by nine points or less. If the Broncos manage to win by exactly 10 points then the bet will be a tie.
Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.
The key to successful betting lies in quality and not quantity. Your overall chances of winning are much greater if you pick your spots carefully, and only bet when you find real value. There isn't a huge number of NFL games each week, but there's enough that it's simply not realistic to think you can handicap them all. And if you're also betting on college games then this is even more of an issue.
A teaser is a bet that alters the spread in the gambler's favor by a predetermined margin – in American football the teaser margin is often six points. For example, if the line is 3.5 points and bettors want to place a teaser bet on the underdog, they take 9.5 points instead; a teaser bet on the favorite would mean that the gambler takes 2.5 points instead of having to give the 3.5. In return for the additional points, the payout if the gambler wins is less than even money, or the gambler must wager on more than one event and both events must win. In this way it is very similar to a parlay. At some establishments, the "reverse teaser" also exists, which alters the spread against the gambler, who gets paid at more than evens if the bet wins.
Armed with the knowledge of how to remove vig, it's now possible to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes that the majority of bettors make. Most bettors understand the importance of line shopping (i.e. comparing the lines and odds at different bookmakers and betting sites). However, if they fail to also understand how moneylines and vig work, then they're probably going to make wagers where they think there's positive expected value (+EV), even though there's not.
By far the largest part of the official market in the UK concerns financial instruments; the leading spread-betting companies make most of their revenues from financial markets, their sports operations being much less significant. Financial spread betting in the United Kingdom closely resembles the futures and options markets, the major differences being
For example, if you’re betting on teams A, B, and C to win outright, you’ll have two round robin options available. Your By 2’s option includes all possible 2-team parlays for these three wagers (A+B, B+C, and A+C). And your By 3’s option includes all possible 3-team parlays on these 3 wagers (A+B+C). If you wager $30 on the By 2’s option, that money will be split evenly among the 2-team parlays ($10 on each of the 3 wagers).
The house vigorish - and your chances of winning - get worse with the more teams you add. So while some sportsbooks will let you place a 15-teamer with astronomical odds, you probably have a better chance of being struck by lighting - twice - before winning one. You are much better off sticking to two-team parlays exclusively, if you insist on taking poor odds and placing parlay wagers.

If the bookmaker was only confident enough to give Seattle a field goal’s lead on the Patriots, it was clearly going to be a tight game. Oddsmakers aren’t often that wrong about flagship games like the Super Bowl. All things being equal, it’s likely the betting public would have taken the Seahawks to win the game and have been done with it. But throw in the point spread that gave the Patriots 2.5 points, and the proposition seems more equal.


Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.
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