Spread betting guide

Point spreads were firstly used to give some further options on betting markets regarding the outcomes of basketball matches. As betting evolved and the variety of markets got bigger, so did the spread betting.

It's now to every sport and it's described differently. You will find this with synonyms like Asian lines, spread points, spread lines, handicap points, handicap lines and a variety of similar words.

It's actually used by the bookmakers to create an equal market for the bettors, from the perspective of mathematical chances.

The offer with equal mathematical chances is called the starting or the real spread (handicap), while many bookmakers set additional spreads with odds going as low as 1.10 and as high as 10.00+.

It is still very popular in basketball but can be found also at Hockey, Tennis, and Volleyball, or any other sport that is defined by points or goals.

Let's say in a basketball match we have a complete favorite playing against a weaker side.

In this case, the fixed odds are completely pointing out that the stronger team will win, with the most stakes going in such direction. However, with spreads, we have a range of possible outcomes that are not coming to the simple question of whether one team wins or not.

Spread betting is essentially a handicap towards the underdog, so the favorite needs to cover it and the bet becomes actually a question: "Will the favorite cover the points spread?".

Since the method has the intention to create the primary spread (handicap) correct, the probability to win these bets would be mathematically equal to 50%.


The bookmaker offers a handicap of 10.5 points in a certain NBA game:

Golden State Warriors - Los Angeles Lakers (+10.5)

Home to win odds - 1.11, Away to win odds - 8.00
Home spread odds - 1.91, Away spread odds - 1.91

So, in this case, we have a clear favorite offered with unattractive odds for most of the bettors, but the odds become attractive with the spread betting once again.

* You bet 100$ on Golden State to win -10.5 points at 1.91 odds. To win your bet, you need Golden State Warriors to cover the spread and with the game with eleven or more points difference. If they do, you win 100$ X 1.91 = 191$. Your profit is 191$ – 100 = 91$.

Some of the online bookmakers still use half of a point difference, just to avoid possible draws and money return situation. If Golden State Warriors doesn't win the game with eleven points or more, the bet is lost disregarding the final outcome and real winner of the game.

* On the other side, if the bet was Los Angeles Lakers to win with +10.5 points at 1.91 odds, in order to win your bet, you will need Los Angeles Lakers not to lose the game with more than ten points, no matter if they have actually won the game, or lost it with ten or fewer points difference.

The most reputable bookmakers are now offering half-points fractions, but also spreads handicap including round number when setting the spread. It includes the possibility of the money being returned but also gives an extra feeling for the punter.

This way a regular punter can rely on his exact feeling and has a belief completely being in charge customizing the bet the way he wants to.

As already mentioned, bookmakers are now having a set of different handicaps called a teaser bet in the United States, or simply additional points handicaps within Europe.

It's a variation of spread (handicap) betting that allows the bettor to alter the spread and choose the margin he wants in his favor.

Users can alter the point margins on NFL betting with

As an example, if the bettor is convinced in a huge victory for Golden State, he can opt for the handicap of -18.5 and get much higher odds than the ones offered for the starting spread.

On the other side, if he believes that the Lakers will be far more competitive or even have a chance to win, he can lower down the spread and cover the underdog with much higher odds.

In both cases, a punter is changing the starting spreads (handicaps) which is the predicted probability by the bookmakers, in his favor - at the expense of real chances, but with a significant increase of the odds.


Use a solid bookie like Bet365 or Pinnacle as the first choice for spread betting. They tend to have the biggest varieties of betting markets, but also an excessive variety of alternative lines of handicap betting.

Do not alter the spreads a lot. Odds compilers are usually well studied and they offer the margins correctly and near to reality.