When it comes to sporting events, teams and individual players are not exactly on par or evenly matched when you consider their skill or ability and overall performance. The perceived gap is often evident when they face off in games or matches, and this is precisely where — and why — the spread bet is needed in the booming sports betting arena.
Spread betting is one of the most popular sports betting types in basketball and American football, and to level the playing field between teams in a match and to ramp up the thrill and excitement for gamblers, sportsbooks, oddsmakers, bookmakers, or ‘bookies’ create point spreads that add allure to both the favorite (considered more likely to win) and the supposed underdog (considered less likely to win). What this means is that point spread bets essentially add a handicap to the better team by creating a margin of points or goals or runs that they have to win by. On the other end, with a point spread in place, the underdog benefits from an advantage that allows them to lose the game by a certain number of points and still cover the spread.
Betting rookie? The concept may seem confusing, but it’s pretty straightforward — let’s make it simpler by looking at a real example.
When you see a point spread list, you’ll notice that the two teams have a number alongside them. This number is the point spread. You’ll also see a minus (-) sign or a plus (+) sign beside it.
- The minus (-) sign indicates the team in question is the favorite to win.
- The plus (+) sign indicates the team in question is the underdog.
Let’s pretend there’s an NFL match approaching, and this is the point spread:
- Rams -110 -5.5 (must win by 6 or more points)
- Bengals -110 +5.5 (can win or lose by 1 to 5 points)
Now, let’s say the game is played and the Rams team wins, as anticipated, with a score of 30-27. This is a 3-point margin, but because the above example states they must win by 6 or more, it would make the Bengals' spread bettors victorious. If the score ended with a larger margin of, say, 10 points, then the Rams' spread betters would win their bets.
And -110, that's also next to the spread. What does it mean?
These are the payout odds, commonly referred to as the ‘vig’ (short for vigorish) or ‘juice’ or American Odds. The vig is what the bookies charge for accepting a wager.
-110 is the classic figure and that means that for every $1 a bettor wants to win, they must risk $1.10. If they want to win a more lucrative amount of, say, $100 at -110 odds, they would have to risk $110.
Point Spread Bet Results
In a spread bet, there are 3 possible outcomes: win, lose, or a push. We already know what it means to win and lose, but what is a push? Well, a push is when the result falls exactly on the spread bet margin. While a win will see a sportsbook paying the bettor in full based on the price of the wager, a push (which is often -110) ends in a canceled bet, and bettors get their original wagers repaid.
Evenly Matched Teams
In some instances, games are listed as ‘evens’, ‘pick ’em’, or simply ‘PK’, which means that the two teams up against each other are seen as standard or equal in their likelihood to win or lose. When this happens, there will be no point spread, but both sides may be listed at -110 for the price. The side you bet on can win the game outright by any margin for you to win your wager, and a push will only be the outcome if the score is a tie — if so, you’ll be refunded your original wager.
This is another common term for spread bets. In a nutshell, the hook is the half-point that has the potential to swing the outcome regardless of the whole point number.