It makes sense that win bets should be the most popular wager type in the field of sports betting, as they’re relatively simple and capable of delivering viable returns.
Interestingly, point spread bets are arguably the next most popular option, despite the fact that they remain a source of confusion amongst mainstream punters.
In this post, we’ll appraise points spread betting in further detail, while creating a viable strategy to help you leverage this to your advantage.
Before we start to conceive a viable points spread betting strategy, we need to determine how this type of wagering works.
In simple terms, a points spread is a wager in which you bet which team is going to outperform their expected performance in a particular game or contest. It’s bookmakers who set a guideline which dictates how they think each side will perform during the game in question, and punters must select which team they believe will exceed these expectations.
In football terms, let’s say that Germany are playing Mexico in the World Cup. Initially, Germany are likely to be the overwhelming favourites, and this will be reflected by the provided odds. While these odds are likely to be prohibitive, operators will usually see the majority of bettors back the Germans while using options such as handicap betting to improve the price.
In order to offer greater value to punters and improve the appeal of Mexico as a betting selection, bookmakers will offer points spread betting on chosen games.
In this instance, let’s use a two-goal spread and apply it to the game’s real-time odds. Before the match, Mexico can be backed at decimal odds of 2.0 (or evens in fractional terms), while Germany are priced at 1.5 (1/2 odds-on).
To negate this, you’ll apply a +2.5 points spread to Mexico and a -2.5 spread to Germany, and this will alter the nature of the bet and potential outcomes.
With this spread, Germany needs to win by more than two goals for you to win, so a 3-0 victory for the side would see your wager come in. Conversely, Mexico has to lose by two goals or less with a two point spread, as a 1-0 defeat would also deliver a return.
In many ways, point spreads bets are similar to handicap wagers, as they offer flexibility to punters and enable them to access higher value odds in perceived mismatches.
On a final note, you’re probably wondering why points spreads are used in 0.5 increments? The answer is simple, as a simple spread of exactly two points or goals creates the potential for a draw and a void bet.
This is hardly ideal for punters or operators, so 0.5 is added to the selected spread in order to guarantee a decisive result.
The next stage is to calculate the potential returns on your point spread bet, depending on the precise wager that you place and the win bet odds.
To illustrate this, we’ll use Rugby Union and the ongoing Six Nations Championship as an example. Next week sees Scotland entertain Ireland at Murrayfield, as the home side look to build on a run of seven consecutive Six Nations victories against the side ranked second in the world.
This is likely to be a close game, and you may decide to apply a low points spread and back Scotland to win by three or more points. This is known as a supremacy bet, and one that refers simply to the winning margin associated with a specific game.
In this instance, you’ll essentially buy Scotland’s supremacy at three, before staking a £10 on the final outcome.
Now let’s say that the final result sees Ireland win by 18 points to 10. In this case, your loss will be calculated by multiplying 11 (the margin of your loss) by the initial stake, in this instance creating a loss of -£110.
However, if you hedged against the Scots winning by three clear points, the operators will multiply eight (the margin of your win) by the initial stake to generate a return of £80. While this is a relatively low volatility bet, it perfectly highlights how you can enhance the odds on your favour by points point spread bets and altering probability.
Conversely, you may look to wager on the total points scored in this game. For instance, a bookmaker may estimate that the match will produce either less than 41 points or more than 44 points in total, creating a tight point spread and a simple proposition.
If you think this will be a tight and relatively low-scoring game, you’ll essentially sell points at 41. However, if your analysis suggests that the match will be open and high scoring, you can choose to buy total points at 44 and place your wager.
Using a basic £10 stake as a reference, we’ll also assume that the same score of 18-10 is recorded. In this case, a total of 28 points have been scored, and those who sold points at 41 will have beaten the spread by 13 points. This is then multiplied by the stake to create a win of £130, which is an outstanding return on a modest bet.
However, if you’d bought points at 44, you’ll have lost by a 16-point spread and will ultimately incur a hefty loss of £160.
With an understanding of point spread betting and its value proposition, the next stage is to hone your wagering strategy and develop a solid foundation for sustained success.
The most important consideration is to calculate your spread predictions before looking at lines, as this helps you to make informed selections and build on any analysis that you’ve performed concerning specific matches.
So, start by selecting a number of games that you’re interested in and estimate the potential spread, using various data sets such as team form (home and away), playing conditions and the recent performance of individual players.
Then, you take these spreads and compare them against specific operators, keeping your eyes peeled for lines that are equal to or superior than your own calculations.
This way, you know that you’ve identified a value wager with a potentially lucrative return, and this can be hard to find in a complex field like point spread betting. This also enables you to realise the full potential of analysis and profit accordingly, while comparing the market to achieve the best possible value for your hard-earned cash.
It’s also important that you consider the line movement, which continues throughout the build to a game and during it (impacting real-time markets in the process).
One prominent trend often sees bettors wager heavily on the favourite in the days prior to a high-profile game, and this can have a dramatic impact on the odds associated with the match.
More specifically, heavy betting on the favourite lengthens the odds on them winning, while bettors will also react to this by shortening the underdog’s price to make this more appealing to punters.
So, if you want to hedge against the favourite with a close points spread wager, you should hold your nerve and strive to wait for as long as the line movement continues in your favour.
Conversely, if you do witness a significant line movement a week or so before the match, this should offer an insight into whether or not you’re barking up the right tree. After all, early bets are usually made by seasoned punters with a high bankroll, so following their lead at least suggests that you may be on to a winner.
Ultimately, timing is everything with point spread betting, so ensure that you’re watchful and measure the line movement in line with your analysis and betting selections.
So there you have it; our detailed point spread guide for interested sports bettors! If you follow these tips and manage your initial expectations by wagering small amounts from the outset, you’ll quickly hone your craft and become a spread betting expert!