Betting Spreads 101
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Betting 101

Betting Spreads 101

Justin Bales

What is a spread? 

A spread is a short term for point spread, but can also be referred to as the line. It’s the amount of points a team will win or lose by. It’s a number utilized to make both the favorite and underdog enticing in any given game. 

The spread either takes points from the favorite or gives points to the underdog. For example, if the New England Patriots are favorites with a 15.5 point spread, they must win that game by 16 points to cover. If they’re playing the Miami Dolphins, the latter can lose by 15 points or less and still cover. 


When to bet on a spread? 

You should be betting on spreads when looking to mitigate risk. The odds on the majority of spreads sit at -110, although they could go as high as -120 or as low as +100. Ultimately, betting spreads is a way to limit risk in sports betting. You don’t need to rely on underdogs consistently winning, and won’t lose a large portion of your bankroll similarly to if a sizable favorite gets upset. 

Ultimately, you need to win at a 52.4% rate to break even when betting -110 odds. For comparison, you would need to win at a 75% rate to break even at -300 odds. Betting spreads needs a significantly more reasonable win percentage than betting large favorites, limiting volatility in sports betting. 


When not to bet on a spread? 

There is a very specific time that I don’t like betting spreads, though. Oftentimes books will offer even (+100) odds on a team that is a +1 (-110) underdog. Paying 10 centers for a point in this situation is less than ideal. These underdogs would need to lose by exactly one point over 2.4% of the time for betting the spread to be profitable. 

There will be the occasional team that loses by one point, making for a bad beat. While this is frustrating, it isn’t an overly likely scenario. Keep in mind, this style of betting is based on preference, as some will use this theory for more than only one point. 


In conclusion…  

Spreads are my favorite type of bet, specifically in basketball. The close odds (-110) allow for a much higher room for error in your bets. When dealing with volatile sports, betting spreads limit risk overall. 

There is only one specific situation in which I’m not willing to bet spreads. Small underdogs are a situation to avoid spreads, although you can bet them. Keep in mind, as is the case with any type of betting, it all comes down to your preference and style.


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