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What is Point Spread?

Points spread +/- is the most common sports bet type made on many US sports. It is a bet that can give excitement to one-sided games because you can’t just bet the favorite to win. You have to work out if they will win by more than a certain number of points.

The point spread is betting on who will win the game with the favorite being handicapped a given number of points. This could equally be expressed as the underdog getting that number of points head start.

Applying the point spread can make a game even. Let’s say the betting community thinks Argentina are 1.5 goals better than England. Sportsbooks will put up a points spread market of

Selection Odds
England + 1.5 1.92
Argentina – 1.5 1.92

Let’s say you backed the underdog with the head start, indicated by the “+”. To determine if your bet was a winner, take the final score of the game then add the underdogs’ head start to their score and see which team is ahead. So if the final score is

England 1
Argentina 2

Add England’s head start of +1.5 goals and you get

England 1 + 1.5 = 2.5
Argentina 2

So with the points spread added you have a winning bet.

If you back the favorite to win with a -1.5 goal handicap, 1.5 goals will be deduced from the favorite’s final score. As such you need the favorite to win by more than 1.5 goals for that to be a winning bet. So in this example the final score is

England 1
Argentina 2

Deduct Argentina’s handicap of -1.5 goals and you get

England 1
Argentina 2 – 1.5 = 0.5

If you bet on Argentina to beat the spread of -1.5, you have a losing bet.

The Hook

Points spread will usually be a number and .5, known as the hook. This removes the chance of a draw which would result in a push where all bets are refunded. If a team had a handicap of -2 goals and then won the game by 2 goals there would be a draw. But with a handicap of 2.5, there can be no draw.

The odds

When the points spread represents the betting community’s view of how much better one team is than the other, the odds will be 50:50 or “pick’em”, which means the same for both teams. This indicates there is an equal chance for the favorite to cover the spread or not.

Asian Handicap

An Asian handicap is simply goal-spread betting on soccer. It is popular because it removes the frequent outcome of a draw in soccer by handicapping or head-starting a team by a number of goals with a .5.

A 2 way Asian Handicap such as Chelsea -1.5 & -2 means half of your stake is put on Chelsea -1.5 and the other half is put on Chelsea -2. This is sometimes displayed as Chelsea -1.75, so be aware if you see an Asian handicap listed as Home +.25 this will split half your bet as Home +0 and a half as Home +0.5.

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