Updated: October 2019

What is Point Spread Betting – Guide for Beginners

19 July 2019

In sports betting there are many betting terms which are not easy to understand for a person who has never bet before.

It’s very complex and almost impossible for a bettor who has just discovered betting/online betting not to encounter difficulties.

What is Point Spread Betting

To make it easier, we have written a guide that will explain betting terms and make them more understandable for the less experienced bettor.

In this article we will explain what point spread betting is and how it works, so new bettors can get the most from it when betting.

What is Point Spread Betting?

Point spread betting is a form of handicap betting that is extremely popular among those who like to wager on American sports, such as basketball or baseball.

The point spread is basically a number set by the bookmaker, along with a plus (+) or minus (-), which acts as a way of levelling the playing field with regards betting.

Sometimes, betting on a sporting event in the moneyline or match result market is pointless due to extremely short odds. These short odds increase the risk compared to the reward on offer. So, the bookmakers decided to create a point spread market to attract more bettors.

Lets look at an example to show you exactly how a point spread bet works and how it alters the odds on offer in the moneyline market.

A Major League Baseball match between Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers has the following moneyline odds.

• Philadelphia Phillies +163
• Los Angeles Dodgers -225

This means that a bet of 100 would make you a profit of 163 if you bet on Philadelphia and they won. However, you would need to stake 225 on LA Dodgers to make a profit of 100. As mentioned before, this increases the risk compared to the rewards on offer.

If you fancied Los Angeles Dodgers to win comfortably, you could instead look to back them at better odds in the point spread market. The odds on offer here are:

• Philadelphia Phillies (+1.5) +100
• Los Angeles Dodgers (-1.5) -137

The 1.5 in brackets is the point spread, meaning that effectively Philadelphia start with a 1.5 head start for betting purposes. So, Philadelphia would win the bet if you backed them and they lost by just one run. Los Angeles Dodgers would need to win by two runs for them to return a successful bet.


[su_bookmakeradvisor_bookmakers_table button_text=”Show All Bookmakers” bookmaker=”72,33,78,592,586″]
But, the odds reflect this. Philadelphia now have more chance of returning a winning bet, if they can manage to win or lose by just a single run. Now you would only need to place a stake of 137 on Los Angeles Dodgers to make a 100 profit and a bet of 100 on Philadelphia would return a profit of 100.

Because most baseball games are won by smaller margins, you will see the underdog in the match betting can become the favourite by just raising the point spread by one point.

• Philadelphia Phillies (+2.5) -150
• Los Angeles Dodgers (-2.5) +120

This is where shrewd bettors can cash in by spotting those games where the betting favourite has the potential to win by a wide margin.

One thing to be aware of is that some bookmakers will set the point spread as a whole number, such as +4 or -2. This means that if the team with -2 in the point spread won by exactly two points this becomes what is known as a push. The bettor gets their stake money back because they have neither won or lost the bet they placed.

How Does Point Spread Betting Help to Increase Profit?

Points spread betting in itself doesn’t help to increase profit but it does increase the potential to win more money when betting on favourites, or indeed win more bets when backing the underdog.

As you can see above, the odds are higher for the favourite to win by two runs than they are for them to win by just one. This increases the amount of profit you can make by decreasing the stake you must place when using American odds.

If using fractional or decimal odds, you will notice the odds are higher in the point spread market. Although you will also notice the market will usually be called handicap instead of point spread outside of America.

Tips for Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is different to moneyline betting as you don’t need to know who will win the actual event. You can believe a team will win an ice hockey game but still back the other team at a point spread of +4.5.

How to Point Spread Betting

In order for you to become successful at point spread betting, you must first carry out research and only bet when you truly believe you have a chance of winning based on analytical thinking.

Here are a few tips before you even think about placing a point spread bet.

1. Understand the sport you’re betting on
2. Study statistics
3. Create your own point spread before looking at betting odds
4. Take home advantage into consideration
5. Shop around for the best odds

Looking at our list of tips above may give you more questions than answers, but we can explain.

1. Understanding the sport you are betting on is key regardless of the betting market. You must have knowledge of the league format, the teams involved, who the better teams are, etc. Finding out and understanding as much as you can about the sport you are betting on will give you a higher chance of placing a winning bet.
2. Studying statistics will give you the information required to formulate your own points spread. Look back at past results for each team, note down every result, look at previous meetings between the teams involved, and note down any other interesting or useful stats.
3. Creating your own point spread is relatively simple once you have the information required. List down results for each team, work out how many runs/points/goals scored and conceded and then calculate the predicted score in the upcoming match. More about this further down the guide.
4. Home advantage can play a big part in American sports and it’s something you must consider before placing a bet. The away team may have the better record overall but they may struggle to win against a team with a solid home record.
5. Shopping around for odds will enable you to find the best way of increasing your profit. Even if one bookmaker enables you to win just five more pounds or dollars than another, it’s still a bigger profit.

Now, a bit more on setting your own point spread. One little tip for this is just to pay attention to home stats for the hosts and away stats for the visitors. You could first use overall stats and then spot the impact of home advantage, if there is any.

Use the following formula for working out your own points spread.

• (Home points scored + Away points conceded) / Total games = Predicted home score
• (Away points scored + Home points conceded) / Total games = Predicted away score
• Then deduct the lowest score from the highest to create your own point spread

So, using some recent baseball stats for two unnamed teams we can translate that into:

• (62 + 54) / 20 = 5.8
• (54 + 39) / 20 = 4.65
• 5.8 – 4.65 = 1.15

Our calculations predict that the home team will win by 1.15 points, so for the benefit of point spread betting we would probably back the away team at -1.5 even though we think they will lose.



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