What Is A Point Spread? Sports Betting Terms Explained

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In sports betting, the point spread stands as a fundamental concept crucial to various wagering strategies. It represents the margin by which the favored team must win the game to “cover the spread.”

Defining the Point Spread

The point spread, or simply “spread,” serves as a tool employed by sportsbooks to level the playing field in contests featuring teams with differing abilities. It assigns a numerical handicap to the favored team, aiming to create a balanced betting proposition.

How Point Spread Operates

Consider an NBA match between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers, seen as the stronger team, assume the role of favorites, while the Kings are deemed underdogs.

NBA Example:

Suppose the point spread for this game is Lakers -5.5 and Kings +5.5. In this case, betting on the Lakers requires them to win by more than 5.5 points for a successful wager. Conversely, betting on the Kings necessitates either an outright win or a loss by fewer than 5.5 points for a winning bet.

Understanding The Odds

Bets placed on the point spread typically carry 11 to 10 odds. This means that for every $11 wagered on the favored team, a successful bet yields $10 in winnings. In total, the bettor receives a payout of $21, including their initial $11 stake.

Alternatively, wagering on the underdog entails betting $110 to win $100, resulting in a total payout of $210 if the bet succeeds. These odds serve to attract balanced betting action on both sides. Below you can see two examples of this on both FanDuel and BetMGM.

Versatility of These Bets

Point spread bets exhibit remarkable versatility and find application in a wide spectrum of sports, encompassing basketball, football, and beyond. They infuse an additional layer of excitement into sporting events by transforming games into compelling betting opportunities.

The point spread constitutes a pivotal concept in sports betting, working to level the field and enhance the engagement of bettors. Proficiency in comprehending its mechanics, along with the associated odds, can significantly enhance your sports betting experience. Whether you’re delving into NBA wagering or other sports, the point spread remains a valuable tool to consider when formulating your betting strategy.

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Eamonn KeenanEamonn Keenan
Eamonn Keenan, with a Digital Arts Degree from the University of Tampa, brings over a decade of sports betting experience to his role as Creative Director at BettingHero.com. Starting with Betting Hero in the Fall of 2020, Eamonn has been deeply involved in the industry, assisting customers with major sportsbook and casino operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and others. A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, he has a keen interest in professional hockey, MMA, NFL, NCAAB, NCAAF, and MLB. Eamonn enjoys researching teams and players to predict game outcomes, highlighting his passion for sports betting.