When speaking of sports betting on football and basketball, bettors must have a thorough understanding of the point spread if they wish to have a profitable season.
The point spread is a handicap set on one team for wagering purposes only, and it is designed 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 pitch or on the basketball court, one team is usually better than the other. If all sports gamblers need to do was to choose the winning team in a game, everybody would bet on the best team and gain their money.
Take an example from Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers played the Denver Broncos. There was no doubt Carolina was the better of the two teams, at least in the eyes of the public, and if all one had to do was to select the winning team, the majority of gamblers would go for Panthers.
What the sportsbooks and bookies did, nevertheless, was to make a point spread, to make both teams equally appealing in the eyes of gamblers.
In this case, Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, often written as Denver +6.
If you bet the favorite, Carolina, the Panthers must win by 7 points or more so that you can win your bet. Keep in mind, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we deduct 6 points from their final score for wagering purposes. If Carolina won 24-17, Panthers gamblers would win their bets. If the Panthers won 21-17, Carolina gamblers would lose since they didn’t win by more than 6 points.
If you bet the underdog, the Denver Broncos, you gain your bet if the Broncos win the game or if they lose by 5 points or less. Since the Broncos are the underdogs, we add 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 back to gamblers.
Money Lines Versus Point Spreads
In the cases of football and basketball, you will see not only a point spread, you will also be given the option to also bet on the game with the money line in which all you have to do is pick the winner of the contest. There is one disadvantage, nevertheless, and that is if you wish to bet on the team which is expected to win, you can see yourself risking much more than you stand to win.
Deciding when to bet by using the point spread and when to use the money line is just one of the decisions gamblers need to make on an ongoing basis. There are no rules etched in stone when to use the point spread and when to bet with the money line.