football betting

A Closer Look at the Point Spread from a Bettor’s Perspective

nfl ats trends1 - A Closer Look at the Point Spread from a Bettor's Perspective
As far as football and basketball go, the point spread is what really makes the engine go in the world of sports betting, at BetAnySports and elsewhere. And why is that? Well, because the effect it has is to equalize things between two teams. Time was when games were wagered on using “straight odds,” and in situations like that, the odds could have a tendency to be so “long” on the favorite that it made betting on the game positively unappetizing. Who wants to lay 5/1 or more, even though that is what the situation called for? But some enterprising bookmakers, going back 60 years or more, came up with a way to, in effect, even things up by putting forth a handicap that was based on points, as opposed to win a game “straight-up.” And frankly, when they did that, the floodgates opened.

The Point Spread Explained:

In almost all cases, there is a “favorite” and an “underdog” in any game with a point spread. The favorite “lays” (gives up) points, while the underdog “gets” points. And it really becomes a very simple proposition, as the favorite must win by more than the number that is indicated in the point spread.

So for example, if you have a team that is favored by six points, they are going to have to win by seven points to “cover” the spread. Otherwise, you can either lose the bet with the favorite, or “push” if you fall right on the number of six. In this instance, if the underdog loses by less than six, or wins the game outright, anyone who bet on the “dog” is going to be a winner.

Here is how the point spread may look, in simple terms, as it is displayed in the BetAnySports interface. We use Game 1 of the 2015-16 NBA Finals as an example:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers -6 -110
  • Golden State Warriors +6 -110

Here you see that the Warriors are listed on the bottom because they are the home team, while the Cavaliers are the visitor. Golden State is “laying” six points, so they must win by MORE than six to bring a profit to anyone who bet on them. If the Cavaliers win the game or lose by LESS than six points, they will be part of the winning ticket. If the game falls exactly ON six, with Golden State winning, then what you have is a tie, which is more commonly known in the sports betting world as a “push.”

That situation would not exist if Golden State was a 6.5-point favorite, which would appear obvious. That is to say, there are not going to be any pushes on games in which the point spread involves half-points. And if there was excessive action on the Warriors after this point spread figure, or “line” was set, then the oddsmaker might feel compelled to make an adjustment to 6.5 points. That is because there is an objective on the part of sportsbooks like BetAnySports, who do considerable volume, to get a reasonable “balance” in terms of the “action” they get on both sides. Using the point spread, that is achievable.

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By Charles Jay