What this means is that in each contest, there is going to be a favorite and an underdog. It’s important to point out that when you look at a moneyline bet, and you see that a team is a favorite or an underdog, this is only in relation to the money that is being bet. While these numbers will usually be in line with which team is the actual favorite and underdog, it could be different. Remember, the betting lines are tweaked so that the sportsbook can get the right amount bet on each side of the contest.
Here’s an analogy. Remember when you played basketball growing up with your older brother or the older kid from down the street? It wasn’t fair if you played straight up, so they would spot you a few points to try and even things out. For example, let’s say you decided that you would play to 10 points. They might spot you 5 points in order to try and make things fairer.
According to an article in The Times dated 10 April 2009, approximately 30,000 spread bet accounts were opened in the previous year, and that the largest study of gambling in the UK on behalf of the Gambling Commission found that serious problems developed in almost 15% of spread betters compared to 1% of other gambling. A report from Cass Business School found that only 1 in 5 gamblers ends up a winner. As noted in the report, this corresponds to the same ratio of successful gamblers in regular trading. Evidence from spread betting firms themselves actually put this closer to being 1 in 10 traders as being profitable, with a high number of clients suffering from the volatility that is supposed to be one of the benefits of spread betting.
A wager on the Giants on the spread does not mean that New York has to win the game in order for you to win cash. All the G-Men have to do is come within 8 points of the ‘boys, and you’re a winner. You determine a winning or losing point spread by adding or subtracting 7.5 from the final score, depending on which side you laid your bet. If you’re confident that New York will at least come within a touchdown of beating the Cowboys, or beating them outright, then you’d wager on the spread in favor of New York.
Oftentimes you’ll see a point spread that has a half-point added to the number. Of course, there’s no such thing as half a point in a football game, so why do we so often see point spreads with a (.5) attached to the score? Sportsbooks do this to make sure there isn’t a chance of a push. Let’s take another look at our game from above with the half point added.