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How to Read a Point Spread

How To Place A Point Spread Bet

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Online Sportsbooks · Betting Tools · Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is a heavily statistical type of betting that centers around a team's performance. It's a popular form of wagering among advanced bettors since it offers more of a challenge than a straight bet.

What precisely is a point spread bet though? Read on to learn what this type of wager is and how to place a point spread bet.

What Is a Point Spread?

A spread, in its simplest form, is a prediction of each team's performance. Let's say that team A and team B will face each other. The bookmaker believes that team A will win by a certain amount, giving it a positive number. Conversely, team B will have a negative number.

You then get to wager whether the win or loss will be higher or lower than the bookie's prediction.

How to Read a Point Spread?

Let's have a closer look at the mechanics of point spread betting. Typically, the opposing teams are each assigned a positive or negative number. The number is always equal since one group cannot lose by more points than the other team won.

Let's look at an example. Team A opposes team B, and so the spread is as follows:

  • Team A: -7.5
  • Team B: +7.5

From the above selection, it's apparent that the bookie expects team A to win. However, to the uninitiated, the half-point can be confusing. After all, most sports don't allow you to score half of a point.

To be clear, the bookie doesn't expect the team to win by 7.5 points. The spread indicates that the bookie expects a seven-point win. Where does the extra half point come from?

If the spread was only seven points, and team A then won by precisely seven points, then it would be a tie. When a tie happens, the bookie has to pay back the wager money to all the bettors. In this case, the sportsbook makes no profit. This is called a “push”.

Of course, the bookie wants to profit from your point spread bet, so they added a tie-breaker. The half-point prevents a tie since it's impossible to win by a half-point. If team A wins by precisely seven points, you lose. But you would profit if team A won by eight or more.

Likewise, if you bet for the other team (team B), they have to win outright, or not lose by seven points for you to win the point spread bet.

Point Spread Betting Odds?

Most sportsbooks in the United States use moneyline odds, also known as American odds, for point spread betting. This odds format can take a while to get used to but isn't hard to understand.

Since you already comprehend the spread itself, you're familiar with a part of the moneyline odds. As with the layout for point spread betting, a plus (+) indicates the underdog, and a minus (-) indicates the favorite.

However, when you look at moneyline odds, they're always expressed in terms of a $100 bet. If you see a point spread bet with odds of -150, you have to wager $150 for the chance to win $100. Alternatively, with odds of +150, you can win $150 from a $100 stake.

American odds are by far the most regularly used odds for point spread betting in the US, but some sportsbooks allow you to change odds. For example, if you're more comfortable with decimal or fraction odds, you can swap to one of those formats.

If the variable odds are essential to you, be sure to check if an operator offers them before registering.

How Is a Point Spread Determined?

Before we tell you how to place a point spread bet, we'll let you know how bookies establish the spread. For every type of sport that the sportsbook offers wagers on, they have a world ranking.

They call this ranking system a power ranking and it takes various statistical factors into account. Depending on how far the teams are ranked apart, the initial spread becomes larger or smaller.

The next step in determining the spread relies on whether the game in question is home or away. As we all know, most teams perform better on the home field.

Finally, the bookie takes into account public perception and any miscellaneous facts. Has either team suffered any traumatic experiences since their last game? Are some key players receiving criticism on sports radio stations? Even these small factors affect the team's odds.

In the end, the spread is a culmination of all the factors affecting a team's performance, converted into a statistical likelihood of victory.

What Does PK or Pick 'em Mean in the Point Spread?

The PK wager is unique to the point spread betting system. A pick 'em bet has no predicted points, giving each team a score of 0. This wager gives you the opportunity to bet on either team as a winner or loser.

If you place a point spread bet on either team, and they win by one point (or lose, depending on your bet), then you win the wager. This form of point spread betting is much like a straight wager.

Why Does a Point Spread Change?

One of the factors for determining a spread that we didn't mention before is early performance. Bookies may change their point spread betting predictions due to the initial playing performance of either team.

If the underdog is executing exceptionally well, then the bookie may shift the odds in their favor to a certain degree. Other last-minute changes before the game often come from information that wasn't initially available.

Perhaps the star quarterback broke their arm skiing or the number one scorer has a concussion. Bookies always study incoming information to see how it affects the odds. For this reason, you can expect many changes during the buildup to any particular game.

The way people bet also affects the point spreads. If the underdog is receiving far more bets than the favorite, the underdog is the favorite where bettors are concerned. Since bookies take advantage of public perception, not team performance, this affects the odds.

How to Bet Against the Point Spread?

Newbies who aren't well-versed in how to place a point spread bet may be confused by the terminology. Betting against the spread means placing a wager on one of the teams on the spread.

However, perhaps you're not familiar with the mechanics of these wagers. Have no fear; by the end of this section, you'll be able to teach others how to place a point spread bet.

  1. First, log in to your account with the sportsbook of your choice. If you've yet to register, do so now.
  2. Next, navigate to your sport of choice, or the spreads, depending on how your bookie works.
  3. Find the wager you'd like to make and decide on what you want to place your bet on.
  4. Please select the appropriate wager, along with the point spread bet amount, and add it to your bet slip.
  5. Finally, process your bet slip by clicking on the 'bet now' or similar button. All that's left is to wait for the result.

Congratulations, you now know how to place a point spread bet.

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Point Spread Betting in Sports

Now that you know how to place a point spread bet, you’ll want some practical applications. Point spread betting can apply to an entire range of wagering topics. Nevertheless, the main application is for sports betting. Let's take a close look at how it works for various sports.

NFL Point Spread Betting

Football is one of the most popular sports for point spread betting. The NFL hosts regular seasons and predictable gaming schedules. Accordingly, many bettors look forward to the Super Bowl season every year.

Teams only ever face off in pairs of two, making this an ideal proposition. As the teams go through the matches and win or lose, bookies can predictably alter the odds as the season progresses.

NBA Point Spread Betting

For much the same reason as with football, basketball is a prime choice for point spread betting. As we explained earlier, bookies use power rankings to help determine the spreads.

Thanks to reliable seasons and game schedules, bookies can easily stay on top of each team's power rankings. However, perhaps more so than for the NFL, NBA spreads rely heavily on single players' performance.

Point Spread Betting in Baseball

Baseball is one of the most statistically diverse games in the spot ledgers. Every player contributes toward the odds and affects them significantly.

If you'd like to enjoy a wagering challenge, try point spread betting on baseball. The schedules are still reliable, but every team is a culmination of many players and their individual stats. Research and statistics are important when betting on these spreads.

Point Spread Betting in Hockey

There aren't any certainties involved in point spread betting. You study your teams as well as you can, do research, and make your best guess as to which team will win.

Hockey is the culmination of all the sports we've discussed. It is the ultimate combination of player and team stats. Dig deep with this sport, and learn about any factors that could affect gameplay. Hopefully, your dedication will pay off in the form of winning wagers.


Why Is There a Half Point on So Many Point Spread Wagers?

Simply put, no team can win by half a point, and bookies use this as a tie-breaker. When the sportsbook expects the team to win by six points, they change it to 6.5 to prevent a tie if the team scores precisely six points.

How Does a Point Spread Bet Pay Out?

Point spread betting pays out the same way as other similar wagers. Once you win, the bookmaker starts processing all the bets for that game.

It may take a while, logistically, but the sportsbook will finally accrue your point spread bet winnings to your account. Once your winnings have cleared, you're usually free to withdraw them from your account.

Why Are Favorites Marked With - and Underdogs With +?

With point spread betting, it may seem counterintuitive that an optimistic prediction has a negative symbol, and vice versa. The favorite gets a minus symbol because your payout will be less than the value of the odds. For example, a bet on a -150 line will net you $66 in profit, while a $100 bet on the underdog at +125 will net you $125 in profit.

Final Thoughts

To anyone well-versed in the workings of point spread betting, it's a worthy wager type. It brings together the basics of straight bets and the more complex analytics that advanced bettors seek.

While reading the odds takes some practice, it doesn't take long to learn how to place a point spread bet. This type of wager is a firm favorite for experienced bettors on US online sportsbooks.

In conclusion, we suggest doing your research and then trying a point spread bet yourself.

Other great betting types you can learn how to place thanks to our betting experts:

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