When wagering against the spread, you bet on the team that will cover the betting line, and not necessarily win the game. Obviously by taking the favorite, a bettor believes that team will not only win the game, but also win the game by a certain number of points to cover the betting line. But when wagering on the underdog, that team does not necessarily have to win the game to cover the line. For examples of point spreads and how those bets are won, please keep reading below where we explain betting odds for the spread in detail.
When betting on the underdog, the first step is the same. Divide the positive moneyline by 100, which in the case of the Grizzlies in the above example would give you 2.10. Then, multiply your stake by that number to get your potential winnings. $450 multiplied by 2.10 is $945. Essentially, this means if you risked $450 on the Grizzlies, you would stand to win $945.
If the team is an underdog, then the moneyline number represents exactly how much you would get paid in profit for a correct pick. So if we were to bet $100 on the Boston Celtics and won, we would get paid $145 in profit. Seems easy enough, but you may already be asking what happens if you don’t want to bet in increments of $100. This is totally fine and still straight forward to figure out.
For example, imagine a game where the odds were -550 for the favorite and +450 for the underdog. A bettor shopping around for lines might be delighted to see the same favorite offered at -490 and enthusiastically back the team at those odds simply because those are the best odds available. However, if we removed the vig from -550 and +450, we'd see that the fair odds are actually -466 and +466. So, placing a wager at odds of -490 doesn't actually offer any value.
You may have heard the term “covering the spread” or the phrase “betting against the spread.” This means that if the favorite team wins an event with the point spread taken into account or that the underdog team wins with additional points, they have covered the spread. If the Packers win that game by more than 7 points, they have covered the spread.