Guide to the what, now? If point spread is an alien term to you, we recommend heading over to our guide to spread betting first, then coming back here. This guide is a more in-depth look at point spreads, how they work, and what they mean for sports betting.
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To recap, spread betting provides bettors with an option to bet on a more detailed outcome of a game than a simple win, lose or tie. In spread betting, bookmakers don’t only calculate who is likely to win the match-up, but also what the difference in their scores will be.
Spread betting, or the points spread, is commonly known as the ‘great equaliser’ when it comes to sports betting. That’s because, regardless of which team you bet on, both outcomes are equally likely. As a result, games that offer spread betting tend to attract a more even distribution of bettors, rather than one team standing out as a bettors’ favourite.
But how does this benefit players? As far as winnings go, the outcomes for gamblers are pretty similar to moneyline betting. From a betting perspective, it’s a matter of choosing what types of betting you prefer. Spread betting can be great for gamblers who enjoy delving into the statistics of games, figuring out whether they believe the odds are favourable, and selecting games where they believe the desired outcome is likely. It adds an edge of excitement, interest and control to betting.
From the bookmaker’s perspective, it’s more financially viable to ensure betting is more evenly spread across bettors. Bookmakers, much like casinos, need to remain profitable to stay in business, so they developed spread betting as a way to kill two birds with one stone, creating a more exciting betting experience, and keeping themselves in business.
For sports betting fans, absolutely. It’s a way to really think about the bets you place, rather than simply betting on your favourite. It’s another story for bookmakers, however, because, well, people.
The thing about creating a level playing field is, you need everybody to cooperate. However, not every person who bets on sports is spending time reading statistics, comparing odds, and placing bets based on rational, logical choices. Plenty of gamblers will absolutely bet on their favourite team because they simply can’t believe they will lose this time or that they won’t be able to smash the point spread. There are several high-profile teams across all kinds of sports that attract this kind of attention, usually accompanied by a fanatic supporter base who don’t believe their team can do any wrong, regardless of actual performance statistics. Come on, you know what kind of team we’re talking about – you’ve got one in mind already!
These teams, referred to as ‘public teams’ in the bookmaking industry, tend to throw off equal betting. If one team attracts a disproportionate percentage of bets, it can result in potential losses for the bookmakers. Don’t worry too much about them, however, because their odds calculations are designed to make sure they always make a percentage of wins, aka the ‘vig’. They will also take the popularity of such public teams into account when calculating odds and payouts.
To sports bettors, points spreads can be useful indicators of how teams are performing, where the smart bets lie, and what the general zeitgeist of the betting industry is. It’s a way to separate sports betting from the emotional pursuit of betting on your favourite team and hoping, against all odds, that they might not let you down this time, and into the realm of bettors who play with their heads. Points spreads are a tool that you can use to compare your own conclusions about teams and their chances.