What Is A Cover? Sports Betting Terms Explained

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In sports betting, “cover” refers to a scenario where a team or participant wins a game by a margin greater than the point spread assigned by the sportsbook. To “cover the spread” means that the team not only wins the game but does so by a sufficient number of points to meet or exceed the point spread requirement.

How a Sports Betting Cover Works

To better understand the concept of “cover” in sports betting, let’s break it down:

  1. Point Spread: In many sports events, sportsbooks assign a point spread to create a more balanced betting market. The point spread represents the expected margin of victory for the favored team and the handicap given to the underdog.
  2. Covering the Spread: When a team “covers the spread,” it means they have won the game by a margin greater than the point spread indicates. This outcome benefits bettors who placed wagers on that team, as their bets are successful.
  3. Example: Suppose Team A is favored by 7 points over Team B in a football game. If Team A wins by 8 points or more, they have “covered the spread.” Bettors who placed bets on Team A will have winning bets.

Sports Betting Cover Example: Lakers vs. Nuggets with a +5 Point Spread

Let’s say you’re looking at an NBA matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. The sportsbook has set the point spread at +5 for the Lakers, indicating that the Lakers are the underdogs in this game.

If you decide to bet on the Lakers at +5, you’re essentially betting that they will either win the game outright or lose by a margin of fewer than 5 points. To “cover the spread” in this scenario, the Lakers would need to achieve one of the following outcomes:

  1. Lakers Win: If the Lakers win the game, even by just one point, your bet would be successful, as they have not only covered the spread but also won the game outright.
  2. Close Loss: If the Lakers lose the game by a margin of fewer than 5 points, for example, by 3 or 4 points, your bet would still be considered successful, as they have covered the spread.

However, if the Lakers were to lose by 5 points or more, your bet would not cover the spread, and you would lose your wager.

You can see below a couple of examples on both FanDuel and DraftKings of this Lakers vs Nuggets scenario and what this will look like on your bet slip.

FanDuel LA Lakers Spread Bet Example DraftKings LA Lakers Spread Example

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Griffin UlshGriffin Ulsh
Griffin Ulsh, a Journalism and Communications graduate from the University of Oregon, is the Customer Experience (CX) Manager at BettingHero.com. With a year at BH, Griffin transitioned from recruiting and sales in the book printing industry to customer experience with Betting Hero. He loves following college football and the NBA and enjoys digging into stats and insights for all sports to find stories to tell.