Spreads: A Step Further

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Spreads takes things a step further than a simple winner/loser selection as a point range is also involved.

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DraftKings Sportsbook betting slips

Spreads takes a look at the competitive nature of a game from a different angle – since there’s a favorite and an underdog, a spread factors in the expectation of a team being more likely to win, so your betting odds are more stable and instead you’re betting on a favorite winning by at least a certain amount, or an underdog winning or losing by less than expected.

So, with spreads, the odds tend to be close to even, such as -110, but a second number appears, such as +5.5 or -3.5. These numbers indicate the number of points a game has to be won or lost by for the wager to be a winning one.

The column labeled total on this BetMGM screenshot shows the Over/Under wager options.
The column labeled Spread shows the spread wager options.

For example, if a game has a team that’s favored to win by 3 ½ points, you will see -3.5, which means the team has to win by more than 3.5 points (so at least 4 points) for the wager to be a winning one. Conversely, the underdog (which will be listed with a +3.5) can lose by less than 3.5 points, or win, for the wager to be successful.

That -110 works just as it would with the odds of a Moneyline bet – if you were to wager $110, you would be paid $100. Fractions still work here, so every $11 wagered would yield a $10 win if the wager is successful.

Since the odds are the same on both sides (with that baked in house advantage since there’s that extra 10 percent or so), the decision shifts to what the outcome of the game could be, hence the spread between the two teams.

Spreads therefore has two numbers you’ll need to pay attention to – one involving how much a favorite has to win by (or an underdog to win or lose less than), along with the odds that will be paid for betting successfully on the right outcome.

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