How To Bet Point Spreads

The most popular wager in sports betting is betting the point spread. But, if you’re a new bettor who doesn’t even know what a point spread is, let alone how it’s written out, that means very little.

In laymen terms, a point spread is a number devised by the oddsmakers to make both sides in a game desirable to bettors. The best team in the league may be playing the cellar dwellers, but by adding a spread the top team loses the tag as the obvious choice. For bettors.

Here’s an example from the NFL of how a point spread looks at bodog :

Minnesota -10.5 (-105)
St. Louis Rams +10.5 (-115)

The favored team is always given the minus value (-). In this case the Vikings are -10.5 which means they are favored by 10.5 points. The underdog receives a plus value (+) and in the example the Rams are a 10.5-point underdog.

If you think the Vikings can win the game by at least 11 points, then you would bet on them. However, if you think the Rams can at least finish within 10.5 points of the Vikings on the final score you would bet on the Rams.

So, if the final score turned out to be 28-14 for the Vikings, then Minnesota has won by 14 points and covered the 11 points. In this example, a wager on the Vikings would be a winning bet.

But, let’s say the final score was Vikings 28-20. Here the Vikings have won by only eight points and have failed to cover the 10.5-point spread. A wager on the Vikings would be a losing bet.

However, if you wagered on the Rams here, you would have a winning bet. If you bet on the underdog, they do not have to win the game for you to win the bet. They simply have to lose by less than the point spread, which in this case was less than 10.5 points.

There’s one other part to spread betting and that the value next to the spread. In the example the value next to the Vikings is -105 and the value next to the Rams is -115.

This is the commission, also know as juice or vig, going to the sportsbook for your wager. So at -105 you must wager $105 to win $100 and at -115 you must wager $115 to win $100.

If you can find books with reduced juice, you can get more value out of your point spread bets. If you can find a book offering the Vikings at -10.5 at -101 you can get the same spread at better odds because you only have to wager $101 to win $100.

Look for the best ‘price’ to maximize your point spread winnings over time. It’s like going to the grocery store and finding a product for $1.59 and the exact same product across the aisle for $1.39. All things being equal, why not pay less for the product?