Sports betting is not just about being able to pick out the winner and loser of a game. Because of the various different bet types, there is a lot of different strategies that goes into how you approach them. Point spread bets are no different. One of the biggest tips we can offer is to make sure that you fully understand what you are betting on. A great pick is only great if you actually put your money behind it correctly. Thankfully, this guide should have you fully prepared for that.
It is a very good idea to shop around to find the best line when you are betting on sports. Books may offer slightly different lines, and you might be able to gain a point or half a point in your favor on certain markets. Consider an NBA game between the Heat and the Lakers – one firm has the Heat 9.5 point favorites and another have the Heat as 8.5 point favorites. You back the Heat with the second firm and they win by exactly nine points. Here you’ve gone from a loss to a win simply by shopping around, and in the long run this will make a big difference to your bottom line.
The odds given on the spread are usually -110 unless otherwise noted. It is not uncommon to see one side of the spread being -105, with the other side being -115. If you don’t see any odds listed for each side of NFL spreads you are supposed to assume the odds are -110 on each. Not sure how to read NFL betting odds? Check out our Sports Betting Odds guide.
What does this mean for how you win a point spread bet? Glad you asked. To win a point spread bet, you pick the team that you think is going to "win" after the point spread differences are calculated in. Let's look at an example that will make this clearer. In the above chart, we see that you can bet the San Diego Chargers at -3. This means, as we already stated, that the sportsbook thinks the Chargers are the favorites and that they are going to win by three points. Here are three potential scores of the game:
The first part of each line tells you who you are betting on. The first line is a bet on Mike Tyson and the second line is a bet on Old Man River. Next, you’ll see a plus or a minus sign. The plus sign signifies the fighter who is an underdog, and the minus sign signifies the fighter who is the favorite. As you can see, Mike Tyson is the favorite and Old Man River is the underdog.
Oftentimes a point spread will not be a whole number, and will be accompanied by a decimal point and a half number. This can be significant for a point spread. Essentially what it comes down to is that a whole number point spread gives the opportunity for a wager to push. A push means that if the favorite is favored by 10 points and wins by 10 points, bettors get their money back. Just like when betting on the over/under total for points, the spread is a half-point in addition to the whole number, there is no chance to push.
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.
The first number (56.5 in our sample line) is the book’s predicted total score, while the second number (110 in our Giants/Cowboys rivalry game) is how much a punter has to bet in order to win $100. If you were to bet the over-under on this game, you’ll have to decide whether you think the combined score of both teams will be higher or lower than the number put up by the book. Let’s say you bet the over, assuming the game will be a shootout between two talented offenses, you’re hoping that the final score will be anything that totals 57 or more. It could be Dallas 54, New York 3, or any other point combination that adds up to 57 or more and your bet will win. Betting the under means that the two teams cannot score more than 56 points combined, or else you lose your bet.
In this example, we have a favorite to win, and an underdog. The Packers are the favorites, and that is shown by the (–) value in front of the 6. Underdogs are represented by the (+) value. The 6 point value is how many points either team could win, or lose by. If you think the Packers will win by MORE than 6 points, then you’d bet on the favorite in this case, meaning that the Packers have to win by 7 or more points in order for you to win your bet.