Betting Against the Spread

‘Betting against the spread’ – depending on your level of gambling experience, this phrase might not be overly familiar to you. Even if you have heard of it, given the baffling figures and terms involved, it might seem as alien to you as brain surgery.

However, given today’s sports betting climate, it’s a phrase you’re sure to hear a lot more often in the near future. So what does it mean to ‘bet against the spread’ and how can you, the punter, benefit from it?
Here, we’ll explain betting against the spread in simple, easy to understand terms.

Well, as we know, sport is becoming an increasingly top-heavy industry; money flows freely to the upper echelons – therefore, the ‘elite’ teams get better and better while the gap between them and their competitors grows exponentially. One of the by-products of this occurrence is that most match-ups tend to have a clear favourite and, consequently, gamblers are generally less likely to bet on the underdog.

This phenomenon was anticipated as early as the 1920s and, to combat its negative repercussions, the bookies introduced spread betting. This betting market offers a way of levelling the playing field in that the outcome of the bet depends on the margin of victory rather than just the outcome of a particular fixture. But it’s not as simple as placing a bet such as ‘Manchester City to win 3-0’ or ‘Broncos to win 24-20’.

Instead, a fixture is given a ‘spread’, meaning each participant is assigned a figure which theoretically gives or takes away points from the final score.

Here’s an example of a spread in soccer:

Let’s say you’ve placed a bet on Manchester City to beat Watford, but have done so ‘against the spread’, with the odds modified accordingly. You’d have to look at the final score with reference to the numbers assigned to each team in the spread to see if you’d still won your bet.

Theoretical outcome: Manchester City win 3-0.

Manchester City -2
Watford F.C +2

So, if you bet on Manchester City, you’d have to subtract 2 goals from their winning margin, as per the spread. So, in this case, the outcome would be 1-0 to Manchester City rather than 3-0 because they were given ‘-2’ in the spread. You would still win the bet.

On the other hand, if you’d bet on Watford to win, the theoretical outcome would be 3-2 – you would lose the bet.

Betting against the spread then is an alternative method of sports betting and can reap big rewards. So what advice should you bear in mind when betting in this market? Well, you should do your best to avoid close fixtures in which the two participants are very equally matched – the spread in these games is unlikely to offer much of an incentive and the unpredictability of these encounters isn’t conducive to productive spread betting.

Instead, focus on match-ups where you think the favourite is likely to win by a larger margin than is quoted in the spread, or those in which you think the underdog will run them closer than anticipated