A Comprehensive Guide to Point Spread Betting

Conquer the spread! Master point spread betting with our ultimate guide: tips, strategies, & examples. Win more, bet smarter, & enjoy the thrill of sports!
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Point Spread Betting Guide

What is a Point Spread?

Point spread is a tool bookmakers use to predict the margin of victory for a favored team in a game. A positive or negative number represents this. If you place a bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win by -7.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles, they must win by at least eight points for you to win. On the other hand, if you place a bet on the Eagles +3.5, they can either win or lose by three points or less for you to win your bet.

How does point spread betting work?

Picture a boxing match between a heavyweight champ and a promising contender. The champ is given a point “handicap” of -7. To win your bet on the champ, they must knock out the contender or win by at least 8 points. On the other hand, if you bet on the underdog with a +7 point spread, they can win outright or lose by 6 or 7 points for you to cash in. Point spread betting requires predicting the winner and the margin of victory, providing strategic options, reducing risk for favorites, and keeping you riveted to every point of the game!

Point spread betting example 

Here are a few examples to illustrate point spread betting in action:

NFL Example

  • The Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • The point spread is set at Chiefs -7.5.
  • You bet $110 on the Chiefs to cover the spread.
  • The Chiefs must win the game by at least 8 points to win your bet.
  • If the Chiefs win by 7 points or less or the Chargers win the game outright, you lose your bet.

NBA Example

Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics are playing a basketball game. The Nets are favored to win by 5.5 points. You can bet $110 on the Celtics to win with a 5.5-point advantage. You’ll win if Celtics win or lose by 5 points or fewer. You’ll lose if the Nets win by 6 points or more.

MLB Example

If you’re betting on the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox and have put $110 on the Yankees -1.5, they need to win the game by a margin of at least two runs for you to win the bet. However, you will lose your bet if they win by only one run or if the Red Sox win the game.

How to Bet on Point Spread? 

  1. Pick your sport and sportsbook: Choose a sport and find a legal sportsbook in which to place your bet.
  2. Find the game and spread: Locate the game you want to bet on and check its point spread.
  3. Understand the spread: When betting on sports, it’s important to understand the point spread. A minus (-) sign indicates the team expected to win. This means that they must win by more than the point spread. The team considered the underdog is designated by a plus (+) sign. This means they can win outright or lose by less than the spread.
  4. Choose your side: Choose whether the favored team will cover the spread or the underdog will exceed expectations.
  5. Set your stake: Enter the amount of money you want to bet.
  6. Confirm and enjoy: Double-check your bet slip and place your bet! Then, watch the game and see if your prediction is correct.

Why Spread Betting Matters

Point spreads offer several advantages over traditional moneyline bets, where you pick the winner:

  • Reduced Risk for Favorites: Betting on heavily favored teams on the moneyline can often involve hefty risks. For instance, if 12 points against the Sacramento Kings favor the Golden State Warriors, you might need to wager a significant amount to win a small payout. Point spreads allow you to exploit the Warriors’ dominance without incurring such a high financial risk. You can bet on them to win by more than 12 points at a more favorable price.
  • Underdog Opportunities: Point spreads don’t require your chosen team to win the game for you to cash in. Even if you bet on an underdog like the Kings, you can still win your bet if they lose by a narrow margin or even pull off a stunning upset. This opens up exciting possibilities for strategic betting on underdogs with promising potential.
  • Added Excitement: Point spreads add suspense and anticipation to any game. Every point scored, every missed shot, and every defensive stand takes on added significance as you track your team’s progress toward covering the spread.

Simple Strategies for Success

  1. Key Numbers: Remember 3, 7, and 10? Scores often fall within these margins, so pay attention to spreads around these numbers.
  2. Home Sweet Home: Home teams usually get a point advantage, so consider this when making picks.
  3. Shop Around: Compare spreads and odds at different sportsbooks to find the best deal.
  4. Know Your Sports: Different sports have different nuances. NHL’s close games make spreads risky, while MLB’s larger margins offer more options.
  5. Play Responsibly: Set a budget and stick to it. Betting should be fun, not a desperate money grab.

Moneyline vs Point Spread betting 

Moneyline bets are simple win/loss predictions with potentially big underdog payouts, perfect for the casual fan seeking excitement. Point spreads add complexity and strategic options, rewarding careful analysis and offering reduced risk for favorites, ideal for those who enjoy the thrill of tracking the margin of victory throughout the game. Choose your weapon: pure win/loss adrenaline or strategic margin mastery?

Want to Dive Deeper?

Check out our detailed betting guide, where we’ll explore advanced strategies like reverse line movement, bankroll management, and even arbitrage betting!


Always bet on the favorite to win by more than the spread. Never bet on the underdog to win outright or lose by less than the spread.

Point spread bets have -110 odds, requiring a $110 risk to win $100. Higher odds, higher risk; lower odds, lower risk.

If the final score lands exactly on the spread, the bet is pushed, and your money is refunded.

Home teams usually get a slight point spread advantage due to fan support. Consider this when making picks.

Know the importance of score margins at 3, 7, and 10 to make informed choices.


More Betting Guide

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