- ✅ What is a point spread?
- ✅ Point spread betting: wins, losses, and pushes
- ✅ Point spread betting terms you need to know
- ✅ How to bet point spreads
What is a Point Spread?
A point spread is a way to bet on the outcome of a game that takes into account the underdog and the favorite in the competition. Rather than simply placing a wager on who will win the game outright, the point spread factors in who is favored in a matchup and assigns a value to how much of a favorite they are.
For example, if the Kentucky Wildcats are playing the Mississippi State Bulldogs in basketball and they are slight favorites, you might see a Kentucky sports betting app offer point spread betting option with Kentucky at -3.5 and Mississippi at +3.5. All this means is that Kentucky is a 3.5-point favorite over the Bulldogs. This 3.5-point difference is called the point spread, and it allows you to place a point spread wager that you can cash in without relying on the overall result of the game.
How Does Point Spread Work?
Working with the above example, let's say you place a point spread bet on Kentucky in their game against the Bulldogs. Since Kentucky is a -3.5 point favorite according to the point spread, they will need to win by a minimum of 4 points in order to cover the spread. If Kentucky wins but the margin of victory is smaller than 3.5 points, your bet will lose. Conversely, someone who bets on the Bulldogs to cover the spread is betting that Mississippi will either lose by three points or less, or win.
How to Read a Point Spread
Point spreads have a few different aspects: the spread, the favorite, and the underdog. To understand point spread betting, you need to know what each of these things is and how they are depicted in a point spread line.
The spread will depict the anticipated margin of victory between two teams. If the projected final score is a difference of roughly 4.5, you will see a point spread number of -4.5 next to the favorite and +4.5 next to the underdog. The point spread will be very different based on the sport. For example, NFL point spreads may be as high as 15 or 20 points in a very uneven matchup, while soccer point spreads are typically between 0 and 2 goals.
The underdog is the team that is projected to lose the matchup. For the purposes of point spread betting, you will see underdogs with a positive number next to their team name. In order to place a winning point spread bet on an underdog, the team must either win outright or lose by a number of points that is less than the point spread.
The favorite is the team that is expected to win the game. You can find the favorite when looking at point spread lines by locating the team that has a number with a minus sign (-). When betting on a favorite to cover the point spread, a winning bet occurs only when the favorite wins by more than the margin depicted by the spread.
Even or Pick ‘Em
When two teams are so evenly matched that there is no favorite or underdog, you might see "evens" "PK" or "pick 'em" next to the line. There is no point spread for even matchups. Betting odds for even matchups will usually be around -110, meaning you must bet $110 to win $100. In high-scoring sports like football and basketball, even matchups are less common. In hockey and soccer, they are quite common.
Potential Outcomes of Point Spread Betting
Unlike many types of bets, spread bets actually have three potential outcomes, rather than two. You can win, lose, or "push" point spread bets.
A winning point spread bet occurs when you bet on the favorite or underdog to cover the spread, and they do. In a college football point spread bet, let's say the home team is the favorite with a spread of 5 points. If you bet on the favorite, they must win outright by more than 5 points. If you bet on the underdog, they must either lose by less than 5 points or win the game outright.
A losing point spread wager occurs when the team you bet on fails to cover. Using the above example, let's say that you bet on the home team (favorite)—but they only win by 3 points. The home team failed in covering the spread, meaning your bet loses.
You might be wondering what happens to point spreads when the game ends in a margin of victory that is exactly what was predicted by the spread. If, using the previous example with a spread of 5, the home team wins by exactly 5 points, the bet is a "push" and your original wager will be returned to you.
Points Spread Glossary: Terms Bettors Need to Know
If you're going to start point spread betting, you need to familiarize yourself with the following terms to ensure you understand how point spreads work.
Against the Spread (ATS)
Betting against the spread means that you are placing a point spread bet on an underdog to either win the game or lose by less than the spread. Conversely, betting "with the spread" simply means that you are betting on the favorite to cover. For example in NFL point spread betting, let's say the Kansas City Chiefs are -7.5 favorites against the 49ers. You think the 49ers can cover the spread, so you bet ATS on the San Francisco underdog. The final score is 42-35, with the Chiefs coming out on top—but since the Chiefs failed to win by more than seven points, your bet against the spread was successful.
In some cases, you might see 'against the spread' used to reference a team's record. For instance, "The New England Patriots are 5-0 this year against the spread." This simply means that in five games so far this season, the Patriots have been the winning side of the competition's point spread—meaning they either won by more than the spread as the favorite or covered the spread as the underdog.
Vig is short for 'vigorish', and this term can be used interchangeably with 'juice.' The vig is the mechanism through which the sportsbook makes a profit, and it is displayed as betting odds.. Usually, the vig is -110 for both sides of point spreads. This means that if you bet on the underdog or the favorite to cover, you'll need to bet $110 to win $100. The sportsbook is basically betting that roughly equal numbers of people will bet on the underdog and the favorite—in which case they will turn a profit. If many more people are betting on one team, the sportsbook will usually adjust the vig to make it more enticing to bet on the other team.
You will often see point spreads that include a half point, even though the score can only be comprised of full points. This half-point is known as the hook, and it functions to make sure that either the underdog or the favorite covers the spread, regardless of the final score. In games without a hook in the spread, a push is possible as a third outcome.
Key Numbers in an NFL Point Spread
If you're planning to place point spread bets on an NFL game, you need to be aware of some key numbers. Certain margins of victory are more common than others in NFL games. The most common margin is 3, which occurs over 14% of the time, followed by 7 which occurs about 9% of the time. Margins of 6 and 10 both occur around 6% of the time. This is important when placing NFL point spreads because it means that spreads with an extra half point above or below these margins, for instance, 3.5 or 2.5, offer much better odds than spreads that land precisely on these margins.
It's never to early to start reviewing Super Bowl odds to get ready for the Week 1 NFL launch in Kentucky.
Point Spread vs Moneyline
A moneyline bet is the most simple type of sports bet you can make. Moneyline bets are simply choosing which team you think will win, regardless of the number of points the team wins by. While the point spread and moneyline for a certain game are different, they are also related.
If a game has a large point spread, it means that one team is highly favored to win. This affects the moneyline bet odds, and it means that in order to win a given amount of money by betting on the favorite, you'll have to wager more. As the point spread gets smaller, the moneyline odds will tilt the other way, meaning you can win more by betting a given amount on the favorite.
How to Bet Point Spread in Kentucky
Point spread betting can provide opportunities to make money wagering on various games, but you'll want to follow some basic rules and guidelines to be successful. Keep reading to learn our top betting strategies for placing successful point spread bets.
Use Multiple Betting Sites
No matter what type of sports betting you are doing, line shopping is an important way to ensure that you are making the most of your wagers. By signing up for accounts with multiple Kentucky sportsbook apps, you can compare the lines for your point spread bets and make sure that you place your wager with the best possible odds and spread.
Take Advantage of Kentucky Sports Betting Promotions
Many Kentucky sports betting platforms offer promotions and bonus codes that can be used to get extra value out of your bets. Sportsbook bonus codes might include welcome offers, deposit matches, or special promos on certain games or types of bets. Keep an eye out for Kentucky promo codes that you can use to get extra value out of your point spread betting.
Understand Home-Field Advantage
Home-field advantage is an important consideration for sports fans that want to bet the spread on their favorite games. Since point spread betting is all about choosing the favorite or the underdog, you have to be aware of factors that could influence the outcome of the game. The home team gets a boost from their crowd and familiar surroundings in just about all sporting competitions, but the potency of the advantage varies from sport to sport and even from team to team.
Understand Key Numbers
Certain sports, including the NFL and college football, have key margins of victory that are important for bettors to be aware of. When games are likely to be won by a certain number of points, it is best to find point spread lines that include half points or 'hooks' that are close to these numbers, rather than the numbers themselves. For example, since football games are so commonly won by a spread margin of 3, you should look for lines that offer a 2.5 or 2.5 spread, instead of a 3 spread. This way you can avoid a push and have a better chance of winning the bet.
Monitor the Over/Under
The over/under is an important indicator of how high-scoring a contest is likely to be. The over/under lines take into account the offensive and defensive prowess of each team as well as other factors in the matchup to predict how many total points are likely to be scored in the game. When point spread betting, it's a good idea to monitor the over/under for the game you want to bet on. When the over under total is high, it could indicate that a blowout is more likely if the teams are not evenly matched.
Consider the Moneyline
The moneyline for a given game shows the odds of each team winning. The greater the odds that the favorite will win, the greater the point spread should be in the game. You can use information from the moneyline to help you determine whether the point spread for the favorite or underdog is a better value.
Start Point Spread Betting in Kentucky
Point spread betting can be one of the most fun and lucrative types of sports betting if you play your cards right and follow some basic guidelines. While point spread wagers might seem a little more complicated than a traditional moneyline wager, they offer a nuanced way of betting on the outcome of a sports matchup.
By using best practices like line shopping, monitoring the over/under and moneyline, and understanding key factors related to the point spread, you can increase your chances of placing winning spread bets. Plus, betting the spread allows you to wager on your favorite teams with a real chance of winning, even if they are heavy underdogs in their next game.
More Sports Betting Guides:
- How To Bet On Sports
- What is a prop bet?
- What is a parlay bet?
- What is a moneyline bet?
- What is a futures bet?
- What is a totals bet?
- What is live betting?
Point Spread Betting FAQs
The point spread is the projected difference in point totals between two teams that are facing off in a game. Point spreads will give you insight into which team a sportsbook believes will win a game and how many points that team will win by.
The point spread is the number of points that a game is projected to be decided by. "Minus" point spreads mean that a team is favored by a given number of points and "plus" point spreads indicate that they're underdogs by a given number of points.
If a team is listed as -7 in the point spread for their next game, it means they are 7-point favorites in that game. This means that the team must win by at least 8 points in order to cover the spread.
If you see that a team has a -7 next to their name in a football game, they are favorites to win the game by 7 points, or one touchdown. In order to cover a spread of 7 points, the team must win by 8 points or more.
A -3.5 in a point spread line means that this team is favored to win their game by about 3.5 points. Therefore, the team must win by at least 4 points to cover a spread of -3.5. If the team only wins by 2 points, they did not cover the spread.
Adam Wernham has over eight years of professional copywriting experience. Growing up in the Bay Area, Adam developed strong ties to local teams including the Giants, Warriors, and 49ers. His passion for sports and writing make him a strong voice on all things sports betting and a great asset to the BetKentucky staff.