Point Spread explained

point spread wagers explained

The point spread indicates which team is favored and applies a handicap to the favourite in order to even the play. Therefore the returns on the favourite become better due to the disadvantage played on the favorite through the point spread system. However the opposite applies whereby the odds shorten against the underdog in a point spread system.

The bigger the point spread, the more the disparity in perceived ability between the teams in play.

Let’s take a look at some examples;

What is Point spread betting?

Three columns are shown in all of the image examples below. The left hand column represents the point spread offering. The middle column shows the Moneyline (outright win market) and the right hand column displays the over/under market. For the purpose of this illustration focus will be on the point spread column found on the left.

Point spread in American Football

In this first example you can see that there is a spread of 1.5 points. As Green Bay packers are very slight favorites they are allocated the -1.5 points for this market and Detroit have the +1.5 points. This essentially gives the Detroit Lions a hypothetical 1.5 point lead at the beginning of the game.

American football point spread betting

Views and opinions will determine which selection you make (if any). If you think that Green Bay will win despite Detroit obtaining a virtual +1.5 point head start then you would select Green Bay. If you believe that Detroit would end up victorious with a +1.5 advantage, you would select the Detroit option.

The point spread option has increased the returns for Green Bay when comparing to the traditional Moneyline, whereas the Detroit option has now decreased the return against the Moneyline. This is down to the level of risk now being less for Detroit and more for Green Bay as Green Bay not only have to win, but win by 2 clear points.

With this example your points spread wager can either win or lose. It is not possible to achieve half a point so if Green Bay win by 2 points or more, the -1.5 selection pays. If Green Bay win by less than two points, draw or lose then the +1.5 selection would be the winner.

Three way spread

In this example there is a large point spread, indicating that the Patriots are strong favorites in this particular face off. As you can see the 10 point swing has evened things up almost identically as far as returns go.

NFL point spread

This wager is slightly different than the first example. As the point spread is a whole number this indicates what is known as a three way spread. When a whole number is used it is possible for the wager to be pushed. If the Patriots were to win this game by exactly 10 points the +10 selection would neither win nor lose. Therefore the stake amount would be returned back. If the Patriots won by more than ten points the -10 Selection would cover the spread and win. If the Patriots won by less than ten points, drew or lost, the +10 pick would end up being the correct selection. This is where the three way spread gets its name as there are three possible final outcomes.

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Point spread in Baseball

In baseball the point spread market is also known as the run line and works in exactly the same way. In baseball the run line is traditionally set at 1.5, meaning the favoured team have to win by 2 points or more. Alternatively the underdogs will need to either lose by one, draw or win the match.

With the run line being set at 1.5 there isn’t much change to the returns when there are strong favorites in play. But when the match is expected to be close the odds can change substantially, like in this example.

MLB point spread betting

The moneyline here for the cubs displays odds whereby you would need to place a $124 bet in order to return back $100 (plus your stake). Once the -1.5 run line is in place the returns change to winning $170 from a $100 stake (plus your stake back). There is a substantial difference in returns here for such a small variation in spread, in our opinion.

Point spread in Basketball

The NBA point spread or the basketball point spread works in the same way as the NFL point spread. The spread can change depending on how favored the favorites are. Some matches may have a 1.5 point spread whereas others may have 7.5 or above. Three way spreads are also offered in certain games (see above for three way spread explanation).

basketball point spread example

In this example the point spread has evened things up exactly so no matter which selection you choose the potential returns will be the same. The point spread here is 2.5. If Phoenix win by 3 points or more, the -3.5 selection will cover the spread. If Sacramento lose by 2 points or less, draw or win, then the -2.5 selection would cover the spread.