In sports betting, the point spread is a popular method used to even out the betting odds between two teams or competitors. It is primarily used in sports such as football, basketball, and hockey, where the final scores can be relatively high. The point spread aims to create a balanced wagering environment by assigning a handicap or “spread” to the favored team and providing an equivalent advantage to the underdog.
Here’s how it works:
- Favored Team: The sportsbook or oddsmaker designates one team as the favorite (expected to win) and assigns a negative point spread to them. For example, if the New England Patriots are considered the favorites against the Miami Dolphins, the point spread might be set at -7.5 for the Patriots.
- Underdog Team: The opposing team is known as the underdog and is assigned a positive point spread. In our example, the Miami Dolphins would have a point spread of +7.5.
- Point Spread Betting: Bettors can then place wagers on either team based on the point spread. The objective is not just to pick the winner but also to consider whether the team can cover the point spread. The favored team needs to win by a margin greater than the point spread for a bet on them to be successful, while the underdog can win the bet even if they lose the game, as long as they keep the margin within the point spread or win outright.
Let’s illustrate this with an example:
Suppose the New England Patriots are playing against the Miami Dolphins, and the point spread is set at -7.5 for the Patriots. If you bet on the Patriots, they must win the game by more than 7.5 points for your wager to be successful. If the Patriots win by exactly 7 points, it would be considered a “push” or a tie, and you would get your original wager back. However, if the Patriots win by less than 7 points or lose the game, your bet on them would be unsuccessful.
Conversely, if you bet on the Miami Dolphins with a +7.5 point spread, they can win the bet even if they lose the game by 7 points or less. If the Dolphins win the game outright or lose by 7 points or fewer, your wager on them would be successful.
Point spreads are used to create more balanced betting odds and encourage betting on both sides. It adds an extra layer of strategy and complexity to sports betting, as bettors need to consider not just the outcome of the game but also the margin of victory.
It’s worth noting that point spreads may vary between different sportsbooks or bookmakers, and they can also change leading up to the game based on betting patterns, injuries, and other factors.