What is The Spread In Betting?
If you are new to sports betting or simply a fan of watching sports and continually hear the word spread when sports analysts talk about matches, you might wonder what the spread means.
The spread, also known as the line or handicap, is used by bookmakers to even the odds between two unevenly matched sporting teams. The bookmakers will set a spread to entice punters to make a wager on both sides. If a side is more fancied than their opponents and favours winning a specific matchup, the spread, line, or handicap can be taken to make the matchup a little more interesting for punters. This also gives sports enthusiasts some idea of how much of an underdog a specific team might be for a given matchup.
The spread can range anywhere from 0.5 Points to as high a number needed based on what the bookmakers think the strength difference between the teams may be.
To give you an example, there is an NBA match this evening between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staple Centre on the day of writing this post. The Lakers are one of the favourites to win the title this season but do have some injury issues at the moment with their top scorer Anthony Davis out through injury. Lebron James will be playing, and the Lakers are still the favourites to defeat Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers are the favourites in the Head to Head Matchup or Moneyline, based on the current lineup projections, and the spread is 4.5 points. If a punter predicts the Lakers will win the match but wants better odds than what’s on offer for the Head to Head Market or Moneyline, it may be a better option to choose the Lakers to Cover the Spread.
What Does it Mean to Cover the Spread?
In the example above, the Los Angeles Lakers would need to win by more than 4.5 Points to Cover the Spread. The spread, line or handicap would look like this (Lakers – 4.5) from a bookmaker, and a punter will know that they have to win the match by 5 points or more for that wager to be successful.
This is what sports fans mean when they mention that a particular team will cover the spread.
The actual odds for the specific spread will change based on the number of bets the bookmaker might be taking and the wager’s popularity. This will mean the odds will shorten to cover the spread, and the odds will increase to go against the spread.
What is Against the Spread?
In the example above, this would simply be choosing the underdog team.
To go Against the Spread would mean to back the Golden State Warriors in the above scenario. This means that the Golden State Warriors would have to lose by no more than 4 points or win the match for the bet to be successful.
The actual point spread number can change before a match, based on lineup projections and injuries.
Punters can do their research and decide whether they will take the money line, cover the spread or go against the spread for a given matchup.
The spread is an option for mainly team sports and can be used on some of the individual sports like golf and tennis.
It can be somewhat volatile for some sports and hard to predict, but a slight edge can be made with research.
The spread is a points handicap that can make the matchup a little more exciting for punters. An underdog team may be considered a slight chance of winning a match, and if they are given a 10+ point head start, it may seem like a wise wager.