When speaking of betting on football and basketball, bettors should have a good understanding of the point spread if they expect to get profit.
The point spread is a handicap made on one team for wagering purposes only, and it is made to give both teams in any game an equal chance of winning in the eyes of sports gamblers.
How the Point Spread Works
When 2 teams meet on the football field or on the basketball court, one team is often better than the other. If all sports bettors had to do is to pick the winning team in a game, everyone will simply bet on the best team and get their money.
Using a case from Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers played the Denver Broncos. There was little doubt Carolina was the better of the two teams, at least in the opinions of the general public, and if all one have to do was to pick the winning team, the majority of bettors could have taken the Panthers.
What the sportsbooks and bookies did, yet, was to make a point spread, to make both teams equally tempting in the eyes of gamblers.
In this case, Carolina was installed as a 6 point favorite, which is commonly indicated as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is usually written as Denver +6.
If you wager the favorite, Carolina, the Panthers need to win by 7 points or more so that you can win your wager. Keep in mind that, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we minus 6 points from their final score for wagering purposes. If Carolina won 24-17, Panthers bettors would win their bet. If the Panthers won 21-17, Carolina bettors would lose since they didn’t win by more than 6 points.
If you wager the underdog, the Denver Broncos, you win your bet if the Broncos win the game or if they lose by 5 points or less. Because the Broncos are the underdogs, we plus 6 points to their final score for wagering purposes.
If the Panthers won the game by exactly 6 points, 23-17, it would be a tie or a push and all bets are refunded to bettors.
Money Lines Vs Point Spreads
In the case of football and basketball, not only will you see a point spread, you will often be given the options to also bet on the game with the money line in which all you need to do is pick the winner of the contest. There is one disadvantage, however, and that is if you want to bet on the team expected to win, you will risk much more than you stand to win.
Determining when to wager using the point spread and when to use the money line is known as one of the decisions gamblers should make on an ongoing basis.