A Guide to Spread Betting

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Spread bets are some of the most popular and varied bets in any sportsbook. But what are they, how do they work, and should you consider using them? 

Let’s find out.

What Is a Spread or Line Bet?

Spread bets and line bets are two very different bets. They are also the two most common.

A line bet refers to the Moneyline. It’s a wager on the team or player you think will win.

A spread bet is a handicap bet. It gives a theoretical number of points/goals to one of the players/teams and takes them away from the other. In doing so, it creates bigger odds for the market leader and a higher probability for the outsider.

Example of a Spread or Line Bet

To show you how these two bets work, let’s suppose that Team A is playing Team B in a game of football.

Team A is a runaway favorite. They have the players and form, and everyone is expecting them to win. The moneyline odds might look something like this:

  • Team A -400
  • Team B +300

This means that a $100 bet will secure a profit of just $25 for a total of $125.

It’s not very appealing, is it?

A spread might look like this:

  • Team A -8.5 = -120
  • Team B +8.5 = +100

This means that the same bet would win $83.33, but to do so, Team A must win by 9 or more points.

What Does + and - Mean in Spread Betting?

The “+” is how many points a team has been given. The “-“ is how many they lose.

If you’re betting on a “-”, you need that team to win by more than the amount shown. If you’re betting on the “+“, the team can win, tie, or lose by less than the amount shown.

What Does – (minus) Mean in Spread Betting?

As noted above, the “-“ is essentially how many points/goals have been taken away, so the team must win by more to “cover the spread”.

How Do I Win a Spread Bet?

Either choose a “-“ wager where the team wins by more than the spread, or a “+” wager where they win, tie, or lose by less than the spread.

How Do I Lose a Spread Bet?

If you back Team A at -8.5 and they win by 8 points, you still lose. By the same token, if you back Team B at +8.5 and they lose by 9, the bet loses.

What’s the Difference Between a Moneyline and Spread Bet?

The moneyline bet is a simple wager on the eventual winner. The spread creates a handicap system that balances the odds a little and gives bettors more options.

Is My Spread Bet a Push if the Game Goes to Overtime?

It depends on the sportsbook. Many spreads use half points, such as 8.5 instead of 8 or 9. This means that there is always a winner and loser and never a tie (as no one can score half points).

If the game goes to overtime, your bet will either stand until the end of the game or it will be settled at the end of normal time. It depends on the site you use. 

How to Place a Spread Bet with FanDuel

Find your preferred sport using the icons at the top of the screen. You’ll see a list of all upcoming games with three of the most popular betting lines for each. The spread is the first of these. Click or tap one of the boxes to add the wager to your slip, confirm the amount, and place your bet.

How to Place a Spread Bet with DraftKings

Placing a spread bet at DraftKings is easy—just find your bet, click, add a wager amount, and select “Place Bet”. You can add up to a dozen bets to your slip at any given time and use these to place single or multiple bets.

How to Place a Spread Bet with Caesars Sportsbook

The spread bet is often listed first at Caesars. You can add it to your slip and then bet from there. For more spread options, click the name of the game and all other lines will appear.

How to Place a Spread Bet with PointsBet

Find your chosen sport using the sidebar. Once you click this, you’ll see a list of the most recent games, with the spread bet often listed first or second. Click one of the two options to add it to your bet slip. From there, simply choose your stake and then confirm your bet.


How to Place a Spread Bet with BetRivers

The spread bet is one of the three main bet types shortlisted on all betting lines. Click one of the two options and your bet slip will appear with the bet inside. Choose your stake and then click “Place Bet”.

How to Place a Spread Bet with BetMGM

You will find spread bet options for all major betting lines. Simply click to reveal your bet slip, add your stake, and then confirm your bet.

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