What is a Point Spread Bet?

Betting against the spread goes beyond the simple wins and losses of a sporting event. Betting on the favorite with the spread requires your team to win the game by a certain point margin. Betting on an underdog with the spread allows your team to lose the game, as long as it’s not by more than the given number of points.

When looking at the odds board, the favorite will be displayed with a minus sign in front of the spread. That is the number of points that team has to win the game by in order to cover the spread. You won’t always see a number for the other team, the underdog, because it’s understood that they are receiving the same number of points. The underdog can lose the game, as long as it’s not by more than the points they are being given.

Why Should I Bet Against the Spread?

The point spread is the great equalizer. Who would want to bet on a football game between the best team in the league and the worst? The outcome gets a lot more interesting when you give the bad team a 20-point head start. It creates a level playing field between the teams. Every football and basketball game will have a point spread associated with it, with the rare exception of a pick’em game between two evenly-matched teams where there is no favorite or underdog.

Hockey and baseball also have point spreads, but they work a little different. In hockey (the puckline) and baseball (the runline), the favorite is always -1.5 on the spread with the underdog at +1.5. Betting on the favorite requires your hockey or baseball team to win its game by two or more goals or runs. Conversely, betting on the underdog at +1.5 means that your team can lose by either one run or one goal, and your ticket will still cash.

How Much Can I Win on a Point Spread Bet?

When looking to bet an individual basketball or football game against the spread, you will traditionally have odds of -110. That juice can vary from sports book to sports book, but laying -110 is the industry standard. That means that you need to lay $110 to win $100 (collect $210 on a winning bet). You need to lay $11 to win $10 (collect $21 on a winning bet).

How Does the Point Spread Get Made?

How do Las Vegas oddsmakers make the point spread in sports gambling? WagerTalk co-founder The Prez sat down with Golden Nugget Race & Sports Book Executive Director Tony Miller to go over what goes into creating point spreads.


Free sports picks allow you to monitor a handicapping service to see how they perform before signing up for a long term package. WagerTalk provides daily free predictions to our visitors so they can find a handicapper that is right for them.

Looking for more free sports picks and sports betting tips?

  • Latest Betting Odds and Public Action: Vegas lines updated in real time, including who the public is betting on.
  • Last-Minute Handicapping Advice: Check out our extensive library of handicapping tips and advice from professional Vegas handicappers (we also recommend taking the time to look over our sports betting tips video library)
  • Want an expert opinion? Check out the latest Free Sports Picks and Best Bets from our team of expert sports handicappers.

Make sure to bookmark all the above!