Sports Gambling spreads are the backbone of how sports gambling works. A lot of beginners seem to get hung up on the concept, but it actually is quite simple. Think of it as a way of Vegas leveling the playing field. Obviously, there is parity in sports. In every matchup, one team, although maybe very slightly, is typically better than the other. Vegas sets spreads to basically say who they think is going to win the game and by how many points. This way, it makes it so you can’t always just say the better team is going to win,
When it comes to spreads they will be displayed two ways: As either a positive or a negative. A negative means that team is the favorite. A positive number means that team is the underdog. This will be very important to remember. The spread will always be the same number, just opposites.
Example: Favorite -3
If a team is a favorite, that means that a team has to win by more than that number. If a team is an underdog, that means the team can’t lose by more than that number. If the game ends at the exact spread, then that is considered a push and you do not win or lose and you get your money back. Here is an example:
In 2017, the Cleveland Browns had a historically bad year finishing the season with a record of 0-16. That same year, the New England Patriots won the Superbowl. If the Patriots were to play the Browns, it wouldn’t make sense for Vegas just to allow people bet on who wins the game. Everyone would bet the Patriots. So, via advanced algorithms and stats, Vegas sets a spread. In this example, a spread of Patriots -14 would make sense. This would mean that the Patriots have to win by more than 14 to win the bet. If the Patriots win by 10, you lose the bet. If they win by 20, you win the bet. On the other hand, if the Browns lose by 10, they win the bet. If they lose by 20, they lose the bet. If the Patriots win by exactly 14 points, then that is considered a push and neither side win. All betters will have their bets returned.
It is very common to see a spread have what gamblers call “the hook”. This is when a spread isn’t on a whole number. Vegas sets lines in increments of 0.5. For example, you may see a line set at -3.5. This means the push is taken out of the question. If the favorite wins by 1-3, or loses outright, then that bet loses and the underdog was the winning bet. If they win by 4 or more, then that bet wins.
Another important concept to understand is what is called “juice”. All spreads have juice. Typically, spreads have juice of -110. This means that you have to bet 1.1 times what you want to win. So, if you wanted to win $100 from the bet, you would have to risk $110. This is how Vegas always keeps their edge. Spreads arn’t always -110, though. They typically range from -100 to -120. If a spread is -120, that means you would have to bet $120 to win $100. Or, $12 to win $10. If a bet is -100, that is consider “even”. That means that if you bet $100, you win $100.
Exercise: Determine who wins the bet and how much a better would have to risk to win $10:
Line: Favorite -10.5 (-110)
Underdog +10.5 (-110)
Final Score: Favorite: 40
Answer: The underdog wins the bet. The better would have to risk $11 to win $10.
Spreads are a very important concept in Sports Gambling. Now that you have mastered spreads, you are ready to learn what totals are and how to bet them.