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.
If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.
Here’s a less extreme example. Let’s say that Fighter A is fighting Fighter B and you think that Fighter A is going to annihilate Fighter b. Like you don’t even think it’s going to be close. Let’s say you decide that you would be willing to bet even if the odds were -400 on Fighter A. You’d only be getting $25 back on your bet, but that’s what you think is fair.
On the other hand, underdog moneylines can be lucrative wagering opportunities. Upsets happen more often than some of us think and moneyline betting is a great way to take advantage. For example, for a moneyline wager of +250, a bettor will only need to win about 28% of the time to break even and for a +300 wager the bettor would only need to win 25% of the time to break even. If you can spot upsets even decently well, moneyline wagers on underdogs can be profitable bets.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
For UK spread betting firms, any final outcome that finishes in the middle of the spread will result in profits from both sides of the book as both buyers and sellers will have ended up making unit point losses. So in the example above, if the cricket team ended up scoring 345 runs both buyers at 350 and sellers at 340 would have ended up with losses of five unit points multiplied by their stake.
Point spreads are more common in the United States, but you can see them throughout the world. A point spread, in theory, is the sportsbooks attempt to create a "level playing field." Let's look at an exaggerated example that will make this clearer. Let's say the New England Patriots are playing a game against a junior varsity high school football team. They're also using deflated footballs, and the Patriots get to see the high school team's playbook before the game. If a sportsbook were to allow you to bet on which team would win, everyone would bet on the Patriots as they would probably annihilate this other team.
Spread betting has moved outside the ambit of sport and financial markets (that is, those dealing solely with share, bonds and derivatives), to cover a wide range of markets, such as house prices. By paying attention to the external factors, such as weather and time of day, those who are betting using a point spread can be better prepared when it comes to obtaining a favorable outcome. Additionally, by avoiding the favourite-longshot bias, where the expected returns on bets placed at shorter odds exceed that of bets placed at the longer odds, and not betting with one’s favorite team, but rather with the team that has been shown to be better when playing in a specific weather condition and time of day, the possibility of arriving at a positive outcome is increased.
Buying points: Changing the point spread in order to favor your chances of winning. The odds here are proportionally lowered. Buying points allows the option of moving the point-spread on totals in your favor when betting on football or basketball (college and pro). You’re able to move the line up to 2 points. For every ½ point you want to buy, you must risk 10% (10 cents) in extra juice (except when buying on/off of a 3 in NFL).
A money line, used in baseball and hockey, takes the place of a point spread. Money line betting is simply wagering on the contest based on a given price rather than a point spread. The team wagered on has to win the game outright, regardless of the score. The minus sign (e.g.-130) always indicates the favorite and the amount you must bet to win $100. The plus sign (e.g.+120) always indicates the underdog and the amount you win for every $100 bet. Using this example, therefore, you would bet $130 to win $100 on the favorite, while for the underdog you would bet $100 to win $120.
In general, the betting public tends to gravitate towards favorites when betting the games regardless of the actual pointspread. This is especially true with high-profile teams such as Dallas and Green Bay in the NFL and Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA. The sportsbooks are well aware of this phenomenon and often times they will adjust the betting spreads accordingly. This, in turn, actually adds some value to the underdog when you consider that a pointspread is nothing more than a handicapping tool that is designed to even out the match.
Now, just to point out, the fractional odds and the moneyline/American odds give us our profit. The decimal odds give us our full payout which includes the return of our original bet. You are still getting your original bet back with the moneyline/American and decimal odds, it’s just not reflected in that calculation. If you want to see your full payout (basically how much money they should hand you), simply add your original bet amount to your profit number.
For beginners, the moneyline bet on an underdog is a great choice as it will allow bettors to win 50% of the bets and still earn a profit. Each of these bets have benefits and drawbacks. With moneylines, punter shave the appeal of betting on a winning side. This is a great choice for die-hard fans. Many people find it more appealing to bet on a winner of a game instead of betting on the end score of the game. Spread betting does offer some nice benefits. They are simple yes or no bets. Either the team covers the spread or they don’t. However, moneyline bets typically offer the chance to win more than is bet, so these are often the choice for many bettors online.
Without point spread betting, placing a wager on our team to win these games would be financial suicide. Point spreads create an even playing field for sports bettors. Even if your team is supposed to lose by 20 points, you can still bet on them if you think they're going to have a better day than predicted. If you've ever wondered why someone was still cheering and going nuts at the end of a blowout, you can bet they were sweating a point spread bet.
There is no such thing as a half point in sports, but there is in sports betting! The half point ensures that a side will win and that the match will not end in a push, where the spread equals the actual difference in points between the two teams. In a push all bettors get their money back, which is no good for the oddsmaker! Half points also give oddsmakers more control over lines, allowing them to set more specific values.
Especially in major tournaments, some sports books offer odds on unusual golf propositions, such as the over/under on the winning score, the over/under on the lowest round by any golfer or the over/under on the finishing position by a particular golfer. For example, the over/under on Woods' finishing position may be 3 1/2. If he finishes first, second or third in the tournament, the "under" wins; if he finishes fourth or worse, the "over" tickets cash.