Understanding the Meaning of Spread in Betting: A Guide

When it comes to sports betting, the term 'spread' is one of the most common terms used. Simply put, the spread refers to the number of points by which a team is favored to win or lose a game. This concept is critical to understand if you want to wager on sports, as it can impact how much you stand to win or lose.

Spread betting is a prevalent type of betting in sports that requires a point spread to be placed on each game. This is due to the intricate nature of betting on sports and understanding the different strategies required to win consistently. Knowing the ins and outs of the spread betting system can give you an edge when placing your wagers and can help you maximize your winnings.

While the spread may seem intimidating at first, it is an essential aspect of sports betting that must be understood by both novice and seasoned bettors alike. In this article, we will dive into the concept of the spread, explore how it is calculated, and examine its impact on sports betting. By the end of this article, you'll have a firm grasp of the spread and be better equipped to place informed and profitable wagers on your favorite sports.

What is the Betting Spread?

Betting spread, also known in sports betting as the point spread or handicap, is a margin set by bookmakers or betting exchanges to even out the playing field between two teams or individuals. The spread aims to attract bets on both sides by making the weaker team or underdog more appealing to bettors. It serves as a way of balancing the odds and reducing the risk for bookmakers LeoVegas.

The betting spread is indicated by a number followed by a plus or minus sign. The minus sign represents the favorite or stronger team, and the plus sign represents the underdog or weaker team. The favorite will have to win by a certain number of points or more to cover the spread, while the underdog can lose by the same number of points or less and still cover the spread.

For example, if the spread for a football game is -3.5 for the favorite, it means they have to win by four points or more for a bet on them to be successful. On the other hand, if the spread for the underdog is +3.5, they can lose by up to three points and still win the spread bet. However, if the underdog loses by four points or more, the bet on the favorite will be successful.

The betting spread can change leading up to a game or event based on factors such as injuries, public betting patterns, and weather conditions. It is important for bettors to keep an eye on the spread and how it moves to make informed bets and maximize their potential winnings.

How Betting Spread Functions for Betting Lovers

Betting spread is one of the crucial concepts in sports betting that helps punters understand what they are betting on. Essentially, it refers to the difference between the number of points or goals a team is expected to win or lose by. The spread is used as a handicap by sportsbooks to make betting on both teams more attractive and even.

For example, let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing against the Boston Red Sox in baseball, and the spread is set at -1.5 for the Yankees. This means that the Yankees are favorites to win by 1.5 points, and they would have to win the game by at least 2 points for a bet on them to be a winning one. Conversely, if the spread was set at +1.5 for the Red Sox, they would be underdogs, and they would have to either win the game or lose by less than 2 points to cover the spread.

The point spread is determined by oddsmakers who take into account various factors such as team form, injuries, historical data, and other statistical information. The goal of oddsmakers is to create a balanced betting market where both sides have an equal chance of winning. Typically, they set the spread to attract equal amounts of money on both sides, which ensures that the sportsbook makes a profit regardless of the outcome.

In conclusion, understanding the betting spread is essential for any serious sports bettor, as it helps them make informed decisions and increase their chances of winning. While it may seem complicated at first, with practice, bettors can become proficient in analyzing spreads and picking the right bets that offer value and potential profit.

Why is Understanding Betting Spread Important?

Betting spread is an important concept in sports betting as it determines the point difference between the two teams playing. The spread is the margin by which the favorite team is expected to win the game. Understanding the spread is crucial as it helps bettors to make informed decisions and place bets accordingly.

Betting without a proper understanding of spread leads to losing money. Bettors who don't consider the spread often place bets based solely on their favorite team without analyzing the actual odds. This leads to a lower chance of winning and a higher chance of losing.

By understanding the spread, bettors can not only increase their chances of winning but also minimize their losses. They can make informed decisions based on detailed analysis of the odds, teams, and players.

Moreover, betting spread also helps bookmakers to balance the odds and ensure that there is an equal number of bets placed on both the favorite and underdog teams. Thus, understanding betting spread is crucial for both bettors and bookmakers alike.

  • Helps in informed decision making
  • Minimizes losses
  • Balances the odds for both teams

How to Read the Betting Spread

Understanding the Spread

Before you can start reading the betting spread, it's important to understand what it actually is. The spread is essentially the difference in points between two teams in a sporting event. The underdog team will be given a certain number of points to even out the odds. This is where the spread comes in.

Identifying the Favorite and Underdog

To read the betting spread, you need to identify which team is the favorite and which is the underdog. The favorite team will have a "minus" sign next to their name, indicating the points they need to win by. The underdog team, on the other hand, will have a "plus" sign next to their name, indicating the points they are given as an advantage.

Example of Reading the Spread

Let's say the New York Giants are playing the Dallas Cowboys. The spread is set at -6 for the Giants and +6 for the Cowboys. This means that the Giants are the favorite team and need to win by at least 6 points to cover the spread. The Cowboys are the underdog and only need to lose by less than 6 points, or win the game outright, to cover the spread.

Impact of the Spread on Betting

Understanding the spread is essential when it comes to making informed bets. By taking the spread into account, you can determine whether a team is worth betting on or not. For example, if the spread is too large in favor of the favorite team, it may not be worth risking a bet on them. On the other hand, if the spread is relatively small, it might be a more favorable bet for the underdog team to cover.

The Different Types of Betting Spread

There are several types of betting spread that you may encounter when placing bets on various sports events. Each type of spread has its unique set of rules and payout structures, and it's important to understand them before placing any bets. Below are the different types of betting spread.

Point Spread

Point spread is the most common type of betting spread, particularly in football and basketball. It's used as a way of leveling the playing field between the two teams by assigning a point value to the favorite team and the underdog. The point spread is essentially a handicap that the favorite team must cover to win the bet. For example, if the point spread is -7.5 for the favorite team, they must win the game by eight points or more. The underdog team, on the other hand, must either win the game outright or lose by less than the point spread for the bet to payout.


Moneyline is a straightforward betting spread that involves picking which team will win the game. With moneyline, there is no point spread or handicap involved, and the odds are assigned based on the perceived skill level between the two teams. The favorite team will have lower odds, while the underdog will have higher odds. Moneyline is commonly used in baseball and hockey.

Total or Over/Under

Total or Over/Under is a betting spread that involves predicting whether the total outcome of a game will be over or under a specific number, which is determined by the sportsbook. For example, if the total is set at 210 in a basketball game, you can bet over if you believe the total score will be higher than 210 or under if you believe it will be less than 210.

Proposition Bets

Proposition bets, also known as prop bets, are bets that are not directly relating to the outcome of the game. Prop bets can involve predicting who will win the coin toss in football, how many points a specific player will score, or whether a player will get injured during the game. Prop bets are commonly found in major sporting events such as the Super Bowl.


Futures bets are a way to bet on the outcome of an event before it happens. For example, you can bet on which team will win the World Series before the season even starts. Futures bets typically have high odds to reflect the uncertainty of the outcome and are considered long-term bets.

How to Bet on the Betting Spread

Step 1: Understand the Spread

To be able to bet on the betting spread, it is important to understand what the spread actually means. The spread refers to the difference between the favorite team's score and the underdog team's score. This number is then used to determine the outcome of the bet.

Step 2: Pick a Game

Once you understand the spread, you can start looking for a game to bet on. Choose a game that you are knowledgeable about and understand the teams and their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3: Choose a Betting Platform

There are many betting platforms available online, such as Bet365, William Hill, and Ladbrokes. Choose a platform that you feel comfortable with and that has a good reputation.

Step 4: Place Your Bet

Once you have decided on a game and a betting platform, it's time to place your bet. Look at the spread and decide whether you want to bet on the favorite or the underdog. Then, choose the amount of money you want to bet and place your wager.

Step 5: Monitor the Game

After you have placed your bet, keep an eye on the game. Watch the scores and how the teams are playing. If the game is going the way you predicted, your bet may be looking good. However, if things are not going as planned, you may need to adjust your strategy.

Step 6: Collect Your Winnings

If your bet wins, congratulations! You can now collect your winnings. Depending on the betting platform you used, your winnings may be credited to your account immediately or you may need to wait a few days for them to be processed.

The Pros and Cons of Betting on the Spread

Spread betting is a popular form of betting that is commonly used in sports. It involves placing bets on the point spread, which is the number that determines the margin of victory for a game. There are both pros and cons to betting on the spread, and it is important to understand them before you decide to place your bet.

Pros of Betting on the Spread

  • The spread provides a level of excitement to the game, as it makes every point counts.
  • Betting on the spread can provide a higher payout than betting on the moneyline, especially if you are able to accurately predict the margin of victory.
  • Spread betting allows you to bet on the underdog, giving you the opportunity to win big if they beat the spread.
  • Spread betting can be helpful in games where there is a significant skill or talent gap between the two teams, as it evens out the playing field.

Cons of Betting on the Spread

  • The point spread is determined by oddsmakers, meaning it is not always an accurate reflection of the game's true outcome.
  • When betting on the spread, you must be correct about the margin of victory as well as which team will win the game.
  • Betting on the spread can be difficult, as it requires a thorough understanding of not only the teams but also the statistics and trends associated with the game.
  • Spread betting can be risky, as it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game and make a rash decision.

Ultimately, whether or not to bet on the spread comes down to your own personal preferences and betting style. It is important to understand the pros and cons of spread betting before making your decision, and to always bet responsibly.

How to Calculate the Betting Spread

Step 1:

Find the point spread which indicates the number of points by which the favorite team is expected to beat the underdog team. For instance, if the point spread is -7, then the favorite team is expected to win by more than 7 points and the underdog team is expected to lose by less than 7 points.

Step 2:

Determine the payout odds which indicate the amount of money to be won for a successful bet. For example, if the payout odds are +200, then a bet of $100 would yield a profit of $200 if the bet is successful.

Step 3:

Calculate the implied probability which represents the likelihood of a particular outcome occurring based on the odds. It can be calculated using the following formula:

Implied probability = (1 / (odds + 1)) x 100

Step 4:

Determine the expected value which represents the amount of profit or loss for a particular bet based on the probability of a successful outcome. It can be calculated using the following formula:

Expected value = (implied probability x payout odds) - 100

Step 5:

Compare the expected value to the actual value to determine whether the bet is worth placing. If the expected value is positive, then the bet is likely to yield a profit over the long run. If the expected value is negative, then the bet is likely to result in a loss over the long run.

By following these steps, you can calculate the betting spread and make informed decisions about which bets to place.

Factors that Affect the Betting Spread

When it comes to betting, there are several factors that can affect the betting spread. Some of these factors are related to the sport or event being bet on, while others are related to the bookmaker or the bettor themselves. Understanding these factors can help bettors make more informed decisions and successfully navigate the world of sports betting.

  • Strength of the teams/players: One of the most important factors that affect the betting spread is the strength of the teams or players involved in the event. If one team or player is significantly stronger than the other, the spread may be larger to balance out the betting.
  • Recent performance: Another factor that can affect the betting spread is the recent performance of the teams or players. If a team or player has been performing well, the spread may be smaller to encourage more betting on the underdog.
  • Weather conditions: In outdoor sports like football, basketball or baseball, the weather conditions can be a major factor that affects the betting spread. A sudden rainstorm or heavy snowfall can greatly affect the outcome of the game, and bookmakers will adjust the spread accordingly.
  • Public opinion: Another factor that can affect the betting spread is public opinion. If the public is heavily favoring one team or player over the other, the spread may be adjusted to encourage betting on the underdog and balance out the betting.
  • Bookmaker's strategy: Finally, the bookmaker's strategy can also affect the betting spread. If a bookmaker wants to encourage more betting on a certain team or player, they may adjust the spread in their favor to make it more attractive to bettors.

By understanding these factors, bettors can develop a better sense of how the betting spread works and make more informed decisions when placing their bets.

Popular Sports for Spread Betting

Spread betting is a popular way of betting on sports games that attracts many sports enthusiasts. Most sports such as football, basketball, and tennis can be bet on using a spread.

Football is a sport that has gained a lot of popularity among sports bettors. Spread betting on football games involves placing a bet on a point spread that is set based on the expected margin of victory. Basketball is another popular sport to bet on using spread betting. Spread betting on basketball games involves predicting the winning team and the number of points they will win by.

Tennis is also a sport that attracts spread betting enthusiasts. Spread betting on tennis matches involves placing a bet on the number of games or sets that will be played. Golf is another popular sport for spread betting. Spread betting on golf involves placing bets on various outcomes such as predicting the winner or the number of shots a player will take to complete a hole.

  • Horse racing, cricket, and rugby are other sports that can also be bet on using the spread betting method
  • Spread betting gives sports enthusiasts the opportunity to bet on their favorite sports and win money while enjoying the games.

Common Misconceptions About Betting Spread

When it comes to sports betting, the term "spread" is commonly used to refer to the point spread, which is the number of points that the favorite team is expected to win by. However, there are some misconceptions about betting spreads that can confuse new bettors and lead to costly mistakes.

  • Myth: The spread predicts the margin of victory - While the spread does give an indication of which team is expected to win, it is not a guarantee of the final score. It is simply a tool used by bookmakers to balance their books and attract equal betting on both sides of a game.
  • Myth: Betting on the favorite with the spread is always a safe bet - It may seem like betting on the favorite with the spread is a sure thing, but upsets can and do happen in sports. When betting on the spread, it's important to consider all factors such as team form, injuries, and matchups before making a wager.
  • Myth: The spread is set to predict the outcome of the game - Bookmakers set the spread based on the betting patterns of their customers, not on the expected outcome of the game. Their goal is to make money by attracting equal betting on both sides of a game, regardless of the final result.
  • Myth: Betting on the underdog with the spread is always a good value bet - While betting on the underdog with the spread can be a profitable strategy in some cases, it's important to consider whether or not the underdog has a realistic chance of winning the game outright. If the underdog is facing a much stronger opponent, betting on them with the spread may not be the wisest choice.
  • Myth: The spread is always an accurate representation of the teams' abilities - While bookmakers do their best to set an accurate spread, they are not perfect. In some cases, the spread may be influenced by outside factors such as media hype or public perception, rather than the teams' actual abilities.

By understanding these common misconceptions about betting spreads, bettors can make more informed decisions and improve their chances of success in the sports betting world.

Strategies for Betting on the Spread

One common strategy for betting on the spread is to look for value in the line. This means finding a point spread that you believe is inaccurate or too high/low compared to the actual abilities of the teams involved. This can require some research into team stats and trends, as well as a understanding of the tendencies of the sportsbook setting the lines.

Another strategy is to bet on the underdog. This can be especially profitable when the underdog has a history of performing well against the spread or when the favorite has some key players injured or missing from the game. Betting on the underdog may also mean taking points on a teaser bet to increase the chances of a win.

Many bettors also use a "middle" or "scalp" betting strategy, where they place bets on both sides of a point spread in order to secure a profit regardless of the outcome of the game. This requires finding a line that allows for enough of a gap between the two bets to guarantee a profit but also carries more risk if the game results in a push or a loss on both sides.

  • Tip: Always keep an eye on the line movements and adjust your bets accordingly if it changes. This can indicate where the smart money is going and may offer opportunities for advantageous bets.
  • Important note: These strategies are not foolproof and can still result in losses. Always bet responsibly and with a clear understanding of the risks involved.

How to Choose the Best Betting Spread Bookmaker

When it comes to sports betting, choosing the right bookmaker can make all the difference in your success. Here are some tips to help you find the best betting spread bookmaker:

  • Reputation: Look for a bookmaker with a good reputation in the industry. Read reviews and ask other bettors for recommendations.
  • Range of sports: Choose a bookmaker that offers a wide range of sports to bet on. This will give you more options and increase your chances of finding value bets.
  • Betting options: Look for a bookmaker that offers a variety of betting options, including spread betting. This will allow you to diversify your betting portfolio and take advantage of different betting strategies.
  • Competitive odds: Make sure the bookmaker offers competitive odds that are in line with other bookmakers in the market. This will ensure that you get the best value for your bets.
  • Customer service: Choose a bookmaker with good customer service that is responsive to your needs and queries.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can find a betting spread bookmaker that meets your needs and helps you maximize your profits.

Legal Issues Surrounding Spread Betting


Spread betting is subject to strict regulations in many countries. In the UK, for example, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates spread betting activities. The FCA requires spread betting providers to adhere to specific rules and guidelines, including anti-money laundering and customer protection measures. This is done to ensure fair markets and protect traders from unscrupulous brokers and financial misconduct.

Responsible Gambling

Betting spread can also have a detrimental effect on individuals who are vulnerable to gambling addiction. As a result, many regulatory bodies now require spread betting companies to provide information on responsible gambling. This includes self-exclusion options, deposit limits, and other measures aimed at limiting the potential harm caused by excessive gambling.


One of the legal aspects of spread betting is taxation. In many countries, profits gained from spread betting are treated as tax-free income. However, tax laws vary from country to country, so it is important to check the local regulations. In the UK, spread betting profits are classified as gambling winnings and are therefore exempt from taxes.


Spread betting providers must obtain appropriate licenses to operate in many countries. In the UK, for example, spread betting companies must have a license from the FCA. This ensures that they have met the regulatory requirements and are authorized to provide spread betting services. Failure to obtain a license can result in significant penalties and sanctions.


Spread betting can be a risky venture, and it is important for traders to understand the potential dangers. Many regulatory bodies require spread betting companies to provide information about the risks involved, including the possibility of losing more than the initial investment. This helps traders make informed decisions and avoid making hasty or ill-informed trades that could lead to significant losses.