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Spread Betting – Betting the Points

When sports enthusiasts check the outcome of their favorite sports team’s recent game, the first two things they want to know include the winner and the score. Spread betting takes this natural curiosity and makes it a popular betting option.

Spread betting, betting the points and betting the point spread are all names for the sports betting practice of adding a scoring range to a standard money line bet. Money line bets are wagers on which team will win. A spread bet is a single bet that wagers on who will win and by how many points.

Spread Betting

Betting the points is a popular practice. Sportsbooks offer betting lines for Line or Spread bets as one of the main options on a betting coupon for a particular matchup. However, winning a spread bet is more challenging than winning a money line bet. Because a point spread bet is placed as a single bet, both the winning team and the point spread have to be correct to win the bet.

If you bet the favorite, your team must win by more than the listed point spread to win the bet. However, betting the underdog means that if the underdog wins, the bet wins. If the underdog loses, it has to be by less than the listed point spread to win the bet.

Spread betting is a straight bet that has better odds of winning than specialty props bets. Doing homework on a team and their scoring trends makes punters more effective spread bettors. The other advantage of betting the points is that, due to their combination of factors, spread bets usually have better payout odds for the cost of the bet than straight money line bets.

Reading Point Spread Betting Lines

On a standard betting coupon, the betting line lists the teams, money line odds, spread points and totals. In an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, the betting lines might read:

Boston Celtics Spread  +7.5 -110  Totals O 193.0 -110  Money Line +300

Cleveland Cavaliers Spread  -7.5 -110  Totals O 193.0   -110 Money Line -360

In this example, Cleveland is the favorite to win the game. Betting the spread as shown means Cleveland is a 7.5-point favorite. The underdog Celtics are spotted more than 7.5 points (8 points) toward their final score, thus balancing out the betting odds for those who want to bet on the Celtics winning this game.

To win a spread bet on Cleveland, the Cavs need to beat the Celtics by 8 or more points. If Cleveland wins with a final score of 98 to 92, the spread bet on Cleveland loses because they only won by 6 points. With that same final score, a bettor on Boston wins because Boston lost by 7 points or less.

If there is a whole number point spread and a team wins or loses by exactly that spread, the bet is a push and the original wager is returned. Bookmakers don’t make any profit on a tie. Thus, including half points in a spread such as 7.5 forces the bet to either win or lose based on the final game score.

Betting the Points in Specific Sports

Football and basketball are the two most common sports for betting the point spread. Betting the points in football and basketball looks like the example above. The bookmakers have set a handicap on the favorite to make the teams equal for betting purposes. The point spread accounts for the variance between the teams. Point spread in football and basketball will vary by the teams that are matched. More evenly skilled teams will have smaller point spreads and smaller payouts.

Soccer, baseball and hockey usually have much closer scoring spreads. For soccer matches, there is no real reason to place a spread bet. The most common bets are win-draw-win bets for the money line. Point spread betting still happens for baseball and hockey, but the bets are placed differently than football and basketball point spread bets.

Baseball Point Spreads: Run Line

For baseball, point spread bets are called run line bets. Again, these are money line win bets plus the handicapped odds of one team getting more runs than the other. There is a standard run line of 1.5 runs either for or against a team. So if the Detroit Tigers were playing with the Los Angeles Angels, the run line might look like this:

Detroit Tigers (M Scherzer)  Money Line +135    Run Line +1.5 -155

L.A. Angels (E Santana)    Money Line -170  Run Line -1.5 +115

Baseball betting lines list the starting pitchers as the names in parenthesis next to the team name. Strong pitching matchups that will likely produce a low scoring game can affect a bettor’s run line choice. In this case, home team L.A. is favored to win over Detroit. Bettors on L.A.’s run line have to bet $115 to win $100 if the Angels win by two or more runs. Tigers’ bettors bet $100 to win $155 if the Tigers lose by one run or if the Tigers win.

To figure out who wins the bet, add or subtract the 1.5 runs from your team’s total score. If you bet on the Tigers and the game finishes at Tigers 4, Angels 6, the run line makes the betting score Tigers 5.5, Angels 6. Angels still win because the +1.5 run handicap was not enough to help Detroit offset L.A.’s batting. However, if you bet on Detroit and the final score on the board was Tigers 5, Angels 6, the betting score would then be Tigers 6.5, Angels 6. In this case, the Detroit bet is a winner.

Hockey Point Spreads: Puck Line

To bet the point spread in hockey, bettors play the puck line. The puck line works just like baseball’s run line bet. The favored hockey team lists with a -1.5 goals given up and underdogs list with a +1.5 goals given to them. If the favorite wins by two or more goals, that bet wins. If the underdog wins or loses by one goal, the wager on the underdog wins.

For both hockey puck line and baseball run line spread betting, punters should check the players that are designated to start. Hockey goalies with strong defensive records will keep the score low or produce a win of only one goal. In baseball, tough pitchers will produce a similar one-run game win. Spread betting in both of these sports accounts for the fact that more than 60% of games in hockey and baseball are won by just a one-point spread.

Betting the points is one of the main ways that bettors make more invested choices in their team bets. Spread betting platforms add to the challenge of obtaining a fair money line bet by tying in the point differential between the teams. Though less popular in baseball and hockey than in football and basketball, betting the points in all four of these major sports can be a lucrative betting strategy.