What Does Point Spread Mean in Betting?

While moneylines are probably the most popular way to gamble on sports, point spreads are a pretty close second. They require a bit more thought than a moneyline and they carry a greater risk, but this means more cash that can possibly be won. But, what does point spread mean in betting? Let's explain!

What Does Point Spread Mean In Sports Betting?

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You can think of a point spread as the difference in points between two teams/players.

For example, in soccer you may see something like:

This is a simple point spread. In order for this to be a winner, Brighton must beat Crystal Palace by 1.5 goals (which would round up to 2). The point spread may not even stipulate which team needs to win, although that is much rarer. 

Point spreads can be used in any sport where goals/points are on the line. So, you wouldn't see a point spread in horseracing, but you would see it in baseball.

A point spread normally applies to a team's final score in a game.

However, in theory, it can appear at any point or for anything in the game that can be measured in points.

For example, in soccer, you may bet on a team to have more corners than another.

In football, you may be on one player to have more points or touchdowns scored than another player on the field.

Honestly, it is a pretty self-explanatory bet. The betting line on your selected online sportsbook will tell you everything that you really need to know.

We do want to point out one last thing here, though. That is the .5 in the bet.

Not all sportsbooks will do this. They may have a round figure at the end.

You will have to read the terms and conditions of how the online sportsbook deals with things when the number on the spread is a round figure (i.e. no half points), because some sportsbooks will void the bet if the bet lands on the cusp.

For example, if you saw this:

Then the bet would be void (or a loser) if the game ends at Brighton winning by just 1 goal.

However, thankfully, most online sportsbooks do not do this nowadays.

You are much more likely to encounter this sort of thing if you want to a standard high-street bookmaker

What Is a Point Spread Bet and How To Place One

what does point spread mean in betting example with the Colts playing
Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith in NFL action during the 1990's

We have already given a description of what a point spread bet actually is, so let's tackle the actual process of making a point spread bet, shall we? Thankfully, the process isn't all that difficult.

Now, at this stage, it is worth noting that no sportsbook is going to explicitly call a bet type a point spread. They are just going to assume that you already know what a point spread is and how to identify one.

You can easily see a point spread on any sort of betting sheet if you see the following (we have grabbed these point spread examples from various sites)

So, how does this work? Well, let's assume that the Colts are playing against the Dallas Cowboys.

You have two separate bets here. The – tells us that the Dallas Cowboys can be 3.5 points behind the Colts and it would still be a winning bet.

You will normally see the – behind the underdog. For most sportsbooks, the idea of a point spread is to try and bring the two teams a bit more in line with one another. Basically, it evens out the playing field.

The + means that the Colts would need to beat the Dallas Cowboys by at least 3.5 points to be a winner.

If they score less than this, or the Dallas Cowboys win, then the Dallas Cowboys are a winner in the eyes of the point spread. 

Basically, look for the + or the – sign next to something that vaguely resembles points or a goal, then you will probably be looking at a point spread.

You can add the point spread to your betting slip just like adding any other type of bet to your betting slip. It will take seconds to do. Select the amount that you want to stake, and you should be good to go.

Remember, you can place that spread bet at almost any time that you want.

While most people will place their spread just before a game starts, you can also place them as part of a live bet but, as always, if you go down that route then the odds tend not to be as brilliant.

Researching Your Point Spread

As with all bets, if you are going to place a point spread bet, then it is imperative that you do your research beforehand. If you do not research your bet, then there is little to no chance of winning.

When you are looking at point spread bets, you will want to include the following in your research:

By looking at these three key data points, you should start to get a rather solid idea as to whether a bet is likely to be a winner or not. 

The Pros ; Cons of Point Spread Betting 

By now, you should already have an idea about whether you want to engage in a touch of point spread betting or not. However, we think that it is only right that we wrap up with the pros and cons. This way, you get to enjoy the whole picture.

The Pros of Point Spread Betting

While point spread bets do carry a little bit more risk than moneylines, they are not that difficult to win, assuming that you do your research.

They tend to be far, far easier to win in a game with multiple points (e.g. football) as opposed to games were a single goal can win it (e.g. soccer), but the bets should even out a little bit.

This route is often the best route to go down if you do want to bet on the underdog, but don't think they can win on the moneyline. 

The Cons of Point Spread Betting

They can be tricky to bet on, and the risk can be somewhat too high for some gamblers.

Some people also find them a bit tougher to research than moneylines.

After all, a moneyline is simple. You know who is likely to win and lose. With a point spread, the teams are made to be much more even, and this makes things trickier. 

What Is Point Spread Betting – Summary

Point spreads are a common type of bet. All you are really betting on is the difference in points between the two teams/players at the end of the game. It is not much different to a moneyline, although it does carry a little bit more risk. A point spread is a great way to up the amount of cash that you win from your bets.