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Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is how sportsbooks even out the odds of a game, so regardless of which team you pick you will typically get the same odds. In basketball and football for example, the payout for point spread wagers is 11/10. So, for every $11 you bet, you earn $10 more on a win.

Point spreads work like this. A sportsbook will decide that team X is going to beat team Y. Then they decide how many points team X should win by, and that number becomes the point spread.

Sportsbooks don’t care who wins the game. Their intention is to create an even betting market where half of the bettors take one team and the other half take the opponent. Since this is the goal, many online sportsbooks also consider public opinion before setting their spreads. So, while the people setting the spread might think team X should be favored by 6 points, the public may think the spread should be 7 points. If that’s the case, they’ll generally set the point spread at 7, since creating an even market is the intention.

Point spreads look like this:

Denver Broncos -6

Kansas City Chiefs +6

In this case, the Broncos are expected to win by a 6 point differential. For those who pick the Broncos +6, the Broncos will need to win by 7 or more points to win their bet. If the Broncos win by 5 or less points (or lose), those who bet on the Chiefs will win. That’s because the Broncos had to give up 6 points to the Chiefs and they didn’t cover the spread.

For the game above, if the Broncos win by exactly 6 points, most sportsbooks call this a ‘push’ and all bettors get their wagers back, with no profit or loss. However, some sportsbooks call a tie a loss, meaning that everyone loses. Obviously this is bad for bettors, so always make sure of the rules of the sportsbook before placing your bets.

Many games will be listed with a .5 point spread, like 3.5, 6.5 etc.. The sportsbooks do this so there are no ties, every bettor is a winner or loser.