What Is Spread Betting Basketball


A teaser gives the bettor an opportunity to add or subtract 4 points from the point spread or total. The catch is that two separate spreads or totals have to be wagered in the same bet in order to use the 4 points. Basketball Point Spreads. Point Spread betting is basically betting by how much a certain team will win or lose. The whole concept of point spreads is based on the principle of underdogs and favorites.

  1. Point Spread Betting Basketball
  2. Spread Betting Basketball Explained
  3. How Nba Spreads Work

Point spread betting is the most popular form of sports betting. The vast majority of sports wagers use a point spread thanks to the popularity of football and basketball. Even though this type of betting is so popular, it may take awhile to understand.

The point spread is sometimes known as an equalizer for sportsbook operators. All teams aren’t created equally, so sportsbooks can create a point spread for a game so that each team playing has an almost even chance of winning the game. In a way, the point spread will even the field for both teams.

The point spread gives a reason for bettors to risk money on both teams. The better team playing in the game is considered favorite. They have to win by the point spread offered by the sportsbook. The favorite in a game is listed as being minus (-) the point spread.

The worse of the teams playing in the game is called the underdog. The bettor wins if this team wins the game outright or loses by an amount smaller than the point spread. The underdog in a game is listed as being plus (+) the point spread.

Let’s use this past Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs as an example.

Using this example, the Chiefs were 3-point favorites over the Buccaneers. The Chiefs needed to win by 4 or more points to cover the spread.

Likewise, the Buccaneers were 3-point underdogs. That means the Buccaneers needed to win the game outright or not lose the contest by 4 points or more. At Chiefs -3, if they won by exactly 3 points, the betting result would have been a “push” and bettors for both sides would have gotten their wagers refunded.

The Buccaneers pulled off the upset, winning by a score of 31-9, and rewarded bettors who backed them at +3.

Point spread betting odds

Point spreads are usually set with -110 odds, but pricing often fluctuates at online sportsbooks. This is the sportsbook operators’ house edge. The odds guarantee the sportsbook operator will see a little money over time. When the odds are set at -110, the bettor must wager $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10).

The odds on a point spread are most commonly known as the vigorish or “vig” for the sportsbook. You might hear this small profit margin for the sportsbook called the “juice” by some sports bettors.

Point spread FAQs

What does ‘pick em’ or ‘pick’ mean in NFL betting?


A “pick em” (sometimes seen as “pick”) is when the teams have a point spread of zero, meaning neither team is favored. In this instance, you’re essentially picking moneyline and your bet will be determined on the winner alone.

What does -7 and +7 mean in NFL betting?

A spread of minus-seven (-7) means that a is favored to win the game by a touchdown (technically, a touchdown and the extra point). A team favored by -7 must win the game by eight or more points to win the bet. If the team wins by seven, the result is a “push” and the bet is refunded.

A spread of +7 means the team must win the game or lose by fewer than seven points to win the bet. A loss by seven would result in a push.

What does -3 and +3 mean in NFL betting?

A -3 spread means that the favorite must win by more than a field goal to win the wager. A three-point win would result in a push and the sportsbook would refund the wager.

A spread of +3 means the team listed as the underdog must win the game or lose by fewer than three points to cash the bet. A three-point loss would be graded as a push by the sportsbook and the bet would be refunded.

Why are point spreads in the NFL so much lower than in college?

In 2019, the Baltimore Ravens led the NFL in point differential per game at +13.7 points; the Miami Dolphins ranked last in the NFL in point differential per game at -11.7. Even Kansas City– known for their explosive offense– had an average point differential in 2019 of just 9.7 points. The net point differential in the NFL is -14.1, or -0.9 points per game. Basically, the talent differential in the NFL is so minute that even mismatched teams often draw games within a score of each other.

NFL spreads are most commonly between one point and four, with six being a heavy favorite and extremes coming out around 15-20 point favors. (For those wondering, the 1941 Chicago Bears hold the NFL record of point differential at +15.7 points per game. Conversely, Ohio State had a +33.1 average point differential in 2019.)

Point spread and odds movement

Sportsbook operators often aim to have equal money on both sides of a point spread. When the money is exactly split the sportsbook operator will see the exact vigorish as their profit margin. If all things are equal over time this will maximize how much money the sportsbook operator can make.

In an effort to have equal money on both sides of a wager, the sportsbook operator will move the point spread to attract money on the side that customers aren’t betting on. The odds for a point spread might change before the actual point spread. There are certain point spread numbers, like 3 and 7 in football, the sportsbook operators would like to avoid moving away from since the final score margin falls on these two numbers most often.

For example, if a lot more money is wagered on the New England Patriots -3, the vig may shift from -112 to -115 and -120 before the line moves to -3.5.

Run and puck lines

Football and basketball games are mostly bet using a point spread. The less popular major sports, baseball and hockey, are mostly bet using a moneyline. In an effort to make baseball and hockey more appealing to point spread bettors, the sportsbook operators offer run and puck lines, respectively.

These alternative lines give point spread bettors a chance to wager on other sports using a more familiar method of betting. Since points (runs and goals) aren’t as easy to come by in baseball and hockey, the odds with the lines may have a wider spread than a football or basketball game.

Point Spread betting is basically betting by how much a certain team will win or lose. The whole concept of point spreads is based on the principle of underdogs and favorites. The favorites (a team that is expected to win) “lays” points to the underdog (a team that is expected to lose) to make up the difference in equality. Do not confuse it with over/under betting, where you are betting whether the total score of the teams will be over or under a predicted amount (see our Basketball Over/Under Betting article). The whole point is to provide an incentive for the bettors to wager on the underdogs and balance the sides on betting a little.

* Please see illustration below to help understand point spread bets, text explanation follows.

(-110) Line
Unless specified otherwise, it is always assumed that the money line for spreads is (-110). That is, if you bet $110 on either of the teams, you will get $100 back. Once in awhile you will see different money lines for different spreads. This will most likely happen in some kind of alternative bets, like proposition wagers.

Point Spread Examples:
– Boston Celtics are playing against Miami Heat in the NBA playoffs.

  • Boston Celtics (+5)
  • Miami Heat (-5)

If you are betting on Boston, then they have to win by 5 points for you to win. For example, if the final score is 96-90 for Boston, then Celtics won by 6 points, which is larger than 5; thus, if you bet $110 on Boston, you will win $100 profit, assuming that it is a standard (-110) line. How much money should i bring to a casino.

Point Spread Betting Basketball

If you are betting on the Miami Heat, then they can lose by no more than 5 points – or win. For example, if the final score is 103-100 for Boston, then Miami Heat only lost by 3 points. 3 is less than the 5 point spread, so you will win $100 profit if you bet $110.

A “Push”

In the above example, if the final score is 105-100 for the Celtics, then the spread is exactly 5 points. Thus, Boston did not win by more than 5 points, but instead, they “tied” it. In such cases, sportsbooks have to return the wagers to the bettors.

To prevent this, a lot of the times sportsbooks will utilize a 0.5 element. That is, they will show the same odds as:

  • Boston Celtics (+5.5)
  • Miami Heat (-5.5)

In this case, Boston has to win by more than 5 points and Miami could lose by 5 or less points, for it to happen. If the spread is 105-100 for Boston, those who bet on Miami will win the spread.

Basketball Point Spread Betting Tips and Strategies

Spread Betting Basketball Explained

Point spreads are the most widely available type of bet in basketball. A lot of the time, the best spreads will be the biggest ones. It sounds counter-intuitive at first but it is rather easy to grasp once you get a hang of it. Will the Bulls lose to the Lakers by less than 1 point or by less than 20 points? If you are betting that the Bulls are going to lose by less than 20 points, then they can still lose by that 1 point and your bet will be a winner. Hence, look at different sportsbooks and find the biggest spreads. The money line for it will most likely be at (-110) anyways, so you will be getting the same money for a higher probability of winning.

Be Objective

How Nba Spreads Work

Another important basketball point spread betting tip is to always stay objective. Many basketball fans tend to let their emotions get in the way of their wagers. For example, Notre Dame is playing UCLA in the NCAA playoffs. Maybe you went to Notre Dame and you are a huge fan of their basketball team. Clearly you are biased towards that team. Even if you know that Notre Dame might lose, you are inclined to bet on them regardless of any spreads, simply because you like them. That is a subjective bet that will lead you to losing money. The best thing to do when you know that you have a bias towards a certain team is to stay away from that bet entirely; think strategically and not emotionally when dealing with money.

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