The Point Spread Betting Handbook

If you’ve dabbled in a bit of sports betting, then you’ve probably come across point spread betting, available in most sportsbooks.

Point spread betting is the most popular form of online sports betting which allows you to bet on major professional sports at the tap of a finger. It’s a rewarding way (cha-ching, cha-ching!) to boost the pleasure and intensity of watching your favorite teams go head-to-head.

Whether you’re a seasoned sporting event bettor or new to the game, here’s a guide to help you understand the basics of what point spread bets are, how point spread works, the types of odds, placing a bet, and more.

Priya Sharma
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Point Spread Bets Explained

Point Spread Bets Explained

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.

The Hook

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.

Point Spread Bets Explained
Spread Betting Considerations

Spread Betting Considerations

We could easily turn this basic guide into a heavily detailed piece, but that will overwhelm you. Instead, we’re focusing on the key mechanics of point spread bets, and with that, we will take some considerations to heed before diving in:

Spreads can change

When placing a point spread bet, the odds you commit to initially are the odds used to determine your payout if you win. It’s very normal and pretty common for a spread to change and for line moves to occur as the game draws closer, but it's important to note that these modifications will not affect the bet you took.

Bet the Middle

In the initial stage of wagering, it’s common for one team to rack up most of the bets. When this happens, the spread shifts to entice bettors to swing to the other side. Again, it’s a way for sportsbooks to level the playing field. This creates a chance to bet in the middle, which is betting on both sides, with each side having its own spread. If the result or outcome of the game is in the middle of both, you win twice.

Buying Points

Yes, it’s a thing! In the case of American football and basketball, you can boost your odds of winning a spread by buying points to rework the line in your favor.

Home Field Advantage

Apart from determining the favorite team with a more popular form, there are other factors oddsmakers must consider when creating point spreads. Like where the game is being played, because having a home field advantage benefits the team playing in their own stadium — we see this in most sports disciplines.

Spread Betting Considerations
Moneyline Bets vs. Point Spreads

Moneyline Bets vs. Point Spreads

Moneyline and point spreads are both relatively easy betting types, perfect for beginners. We’ve explained what point spread betting is, but what is a moneyline bet, and which is superior? It depends.

A moneyline bet is the most basic sports betting type and it’s also the simplest to grasp. Essentially, bettors predict who will win (the final score isn't a consideration) in a given game or sporting event. If your guess materializes, you win and make a profit. If you’re wrong, you lose.

Point spreads require a bit more contemplation, since bettors are not choosing an outright winner — they’re selecting a team to win against the spread. A spread bet is largely focused on the final score and is slightly more intricate than a moneyline bet, but it has the advantage of bigger payouts.

Moneyline Bets vs. Point Spreads
Other Sports Betting Types

Other Sports Betting Types

Parlays: A parlay or an accumulator is a mix of several wagers into one bet. Each wager, or leg as it’s commonly referred to, must come through for you to win a parlay. While parlays are the riskier bet option, they are attractive because the odds are greater and bettors can wager on more sporting events with a single stake.

Over/Under: With an over/under bet, the bookie determines the total score, and bettors predict whether the result will be over or under that amount. If you choose and the teams’ combined score is, indeed, over the set total, you win.

Other Sports Betting Types
How to Bet on Sports Online

How to Bet on Sports Online

Most importantly, when placing a bet, choose a licensed sportsbook or casino that is renowned for using sophisticated software from leading providers in the trade. This guarantees a first-class betting service, delivering an elite overall gambling experience.

Unique Betting Software to Look out For


OpenBet creates the betting interface for some of the biggest online bookies in the world. They’re deemed tops in the software market, and the provider’s legendary Informix Dynamic Server allows millions of bets to be placed seamlessly and simultaneously through several bookmakers.


Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, Geneity is a software provider that falls under Playtech. The multi-channel bookie platform is most notable for being able to create over 100 football betting markets for a given match.


Many new sportsbook operators in the UK team up with SBTech for their award-winning white-label solution that offers competitive odds across a variety of sports betting markets.


Betradar is the brains behind sports-related live scores and digital content on many leading bookie sites, like bet365.

Inspired Gaming

Another software trailblazer in the industry, Inspired Gaming, knows a thing or two about producing world-class virtual sports betting services. They’re also leaders in Server-Based Technology and work alongside OpenBet to provide some of the best virtual sports products.


When visiting leading sportsbook operators such as Unibet, 888Sport, and Leo Vegas, you will notice that they all feature Kambi’s user-friendly interfaces. The Malta-based software provider also offers a white-label sportsbook platform with over 120,000 live betting events every year and some 250,000 pre-match events.

Steps for Placing an Online Bet

The best solution to betting online is to simply dive in and begin. Start small and always remember to have fun!

  1. Find a reputable, regulated sportsbook or an online casino that you trust. We’ll share a few of our favorite sites in just a bit.
  2. Create an account or log in to place a bet.
  3. Browse the sports betting offerings and choose one that appeals to you.
  4. Make a direct/demand deposit.
  5. Familiarize yourself with betting rules and strategies.
  6. Always set a budget and never exceed the amount.
  7. Place your bets.
How to Bet on Sports Online
How to Choose the Best Sites for Point Spreads

How to Choose the Best Sites for Point Spreads

When weighing in on the right sportsbook to pave the way for a fun and successful betting journey, it’s important to look at these non-negotiable features:

A Licensed Casino

Always choose a reputable and trusted bookmaker with a recognized online casino license that guarantees an experience that is safe, secure, regulated, and fair. Also, look at the site’s deposit and withdrawal methods to see if the payment options align with your needs.

Read Reviews

Do your research, find third-party reviews and engage with other bettors who know a bit about the market and where to bet. A good sportsbook review will include information about the platform’s available payment options, bonuses, promotions, the sports covered, etc.

Online Sportsbook Promotions

Bonuses, promotions, free bets, and other concessions can truly boost winnings, especially for first-time bettors.

Customer Service

A reputable online bookmaker will be transparent about its operations, and this includes having an expert help ‘desk’ or similar available to gamblers. Whether it’s a physical address, a call center, email, or chatting to a consultant via social media — customer service should always be available.

How to Choose the Best Sites for Point Spreads
Top Sports to Bet on

Top Sports to Bet on

We’ve said it before: sports betting, particularly partaking in a point spread, is a fun and entertaining activity that will keep you on the edge of your seat thanks to the thrill and excitement. It also happens to offer an opportunity for wagering to win real money. With these in mind, we’ve narrowed down our favorite sports to bet on and insist you give them (and the point spread bet) a try:


Of course, we’re leading in with the most popular point spread team sport, football. Not only is it an iconic sport loved and followed by millions around the world, but football also offers many benefits from a betting perspective. It boasts remarkable markets in betting due to its heavily strategic style. And what’s more? It’s easily and widely accessible in trusted sportsbooks, and it also features incredibly competitive odds on several events.

Horse Racing

When you mull over betting, there’s no way you can overlook the horse racing bet market. It’s huge on a global scale and presents a great strategic advantage. Sportsbooks with the offering provide live coverage and streaming availability is readily accessible. Horse racing also offers several unique promotions and, just like football, the market range is profoundly impressive.


Basketball is possibly one of the most fast-paced, thrilling sports to watch and bet on. Teams are generally highly skilled and adept, so playing each other often results in very close games to stir even more excitement. Bettors who are intrigued by strategy and statistics can really delve deep into NBA betting.

Top Sports to Bet on
Sports Betting Tips and Tricks for Success

Sports Betting Tips and Tricks for Success

Learn the Odds

Go back to basics, whether it’s online or live betting. Discover the ins and outs of betting odds to improve your opportunity to win.

Switch Things Up

Instead of plugging all of your money into one wager, spread it out over multiple bets.

Root for the Underdog

It’s normal to want to back the more popular, statistically better team, but generally, betting on the underdog offers greater value and a bigger payout if the outcome goes in your favor.

Sports Betting Tips and Tricks for Success
About the author
Priya Sharma
Priya Sharma

Mumbai-born Priya is India's rising star in the realm of online casino guides. With a knack for fusing traditional Indian gaming narratives with cutting-edge digital dynamics, she's an essential bridge between classic and contemporary gaming for a vast Indian audience.

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Everything you need to know about casinos

What is the point spread betting?

Point spread betting is a form of sports betting that focuses on matching or leveling the playing field between opposing teams. In a nutshell, a point spread is a bet on the margin of victory in a sporting event like football or basketball.

Is point spread betting good for beginners?

Yes, point spread betting is a straightforward betting option, perfect for novices. There is definitely some skill and knowledge required for success, so if you’re only just diving into betting, perhaps consider moneyline bets first — it’s basic and easy to grasp.

What are the top sports to bet on?

Sports betting covers several events, but the favorites to bet on include football, horse racing, and basketball.

What is in-play betting?

In-play, in-running, or live betting is betting in real-time while the event is taking place.

What is a home field advantage?

A home-field advantage is an intrinsic benefit a team has over another when playing a game or match at their own ‘home’ stadium.