What is a Point Spread?
A point spread bet is a bet on the margin of victory by the winning team in a sporting event. To win the point spread, sports bettors have to decide whether the favored team will be victorious by a minimum number of points scored. Either the winning team will cover the spread, i.e. score the minimum, or the underdog will achieve enough points to close the gap. Bettors therefore make a decision on whether to bet on the favorite or the underdog. Unlike moneyline bets, point spread betting isn't about who will win the game outright. Instead, it is the number of points scored by each team respectively that matters. Let's consider an example:
Say the Kansas City Chiefs are playing against the Dallas Cowboys in an upcoming football game. One of the Texas sports betting apps sets the spread at -6.5 for the Cowboys and +6.5 for the Chiefs. In this case, according to the sportsbook, the Cowboys are the favorite while the Chiefs are the underdog. Covering the spread would mean that the Cowboys would score at least seven points more than the Chiefs in the victory. On the other hand, if the Chiefs end up winning or the Cowboys score less than seven points over, the point spread win would go to the underdog. It is up to the bettor to decide whether their faith lies with the Cowboys or the Chiefs in this matchup. As you can see, the final score specifically does not matter. Instead, it's the margin of victory that counts.
How Does Point Spread Work?
Point spreads are actually quite simple to understand. It is up to the online sportsbook like BetMGM Texas to set the spread, often using careful analysis and statistics to determine a betting line that is balanced for the two teams and provides an attractive betting opportunity whether you opt to wager on the favorite or the underdog. Once the spread is set, all you have to do is decide if you believe the proposed margin of victory holds up or not. If you're confident in the performance of the favorite, bet on this team to cover the spread. Alternatively, if you think the underdog has a good chance of scoring more points, this will be the team you'll want to put your money on. Remember, it's not about simply if the favorite team wins or not. A point spread wager takes into account the degree to which the favorite team wins (or potentially loses) by.
How to Read a Point Spread
Before you begin betting point spreads in Texas, it’s important to make sure you know how to read a point spread. Point spread odds are easy to get the hang of, so don’t worry. Remember, all you have to consider is the scoring outcome between the two teams. The point spread reflects the margin of victory proposed by the sportsbook such as Caesars Sportsbook Texas, while the betting odds give you more insight into the potential winnings from a successful bet.
The spread is fundamental to point spread lines. This is where the sports betting site determines which team is the favorite, which team is the underdog, and the margin of victory necessary for the favorite to cover the spread. When reading point spreads, you'll notice sets of numbers associated with two teams. A negative (-) number indicates the favorite, which means the number itself represents the minimum points necessary for the favorite to win the spread. A positive (+) number indicates the underdog. If the underdog loses by this number of points or fewer, then a bet on the underdog would be successful. Something worth noting is that the spread for a specific sporting event is not consistent across sportsbooks, and in fact can vary quite significantly from one sports betting site, say, FanDuel Texas, to another.
All you have to do to identify the underdog when point spread betting is to look out for a plus sign. For a point spread bet on the underdog to win, the underdog team as determined by the sports betting site must lose the game by fewer points than the positive spread number. A win outright for the underdog team means a point spread bet on the underdog would also be successful. Next to the point spread you'll likely notice another number in brackets. This is where the betting odds are presented. In most cases, sportsbooks like DraftKings Texas present odds in the American odds format.
By looking for a minus sign next to the point spread. This number indicates the minimum amount that this team must win by in order to cover the spread. Similar to the above example, next to point spread the sportsbook will display American odds for the bet in brackets. Whether the odds have a plus or minus sign in front of them does not impact whether the team itself is the favorite or underdog. Only a minus sign in front of the point spread itself is the favored team indicator.
Even or Pick ‘Em
In certain cases, a sportsbook will not provide a favorite or an underdog for a point spread bet. This is called an Even or Pick 'Em point spread. What this means is that the sportsbook considers both teams to be equally as likely to win the game. This makes a Pick 'Em or Even bet quite similar to a moneyline, as the bettor now only focuses on which teams will win the game as opposed to the margin of victory of the winning team. This type of bet is presented using "PK" or "EV" in the place of the point spread number. No need to worry about plus or minus signs, favorites or underdogs. Simply pick the team that you have the most faith in to win the match.
Potential Outcomes of Point Spread Betting
Point spread betting depends on the number of points scored by two teams individually, and how these numbers compare to one another. There are three potential outcomes to a point spread bet: a win, a loss, and a push.
A winning point spread bet is achieved by wagering on the correct team. If you bet on the favorite, then this team must win the game by at least the minimum number of points determined by the spread. If you bet on the underdog, this team will have to lose by fewer points than the spread or win the game. For example, if you bet on the Kansas City Chiefs as the favorite in an upcoming game with a -4.5 spread, they will have to win by at least 5 points in the final score for your bet to be successful.
A point spread loss occurs when the team you bet on does not score enough points to cover the spread. In the case of the favored team, this would mean scoring fewer points than the minimum margin of victory. If you bet on the underdog, a loss would entail not scoring enough points and allowing the favorite to reach the winning margin. For example, in a game where the Detroit Lions are the underdog with a +4.5 spread, a losing bet would be a situation where the Lions lose by more than 5 points.
A push occurs when the margin of victory or defeat of a team exactly matches the point spread assigned by the online sportsbook. In this instance, the tie means it is not possible to determine a winning or losing bet. For example, if a sportsbook sets the spread at -5 for a favored team and the favored team wins by exactly 5 points, then the result is a push and there is no straight up winner for the bet. In most cases, if a push occurs the sportsbook simply refunds the original wager amount to the bettor.
Terms Points Spread Bettors Need to Know
There are some point-spread-specific terms that are worth knowing. Being familiar with these terms and what they mean will help you feel more comfortable and confident when betting point spreads in Texas.
Against the Spread (ATS)
Betting against the spread is a common way to refer to betting on the underdog in spread bets. Rather than wagering on the favored team to cover the spread, you are banking on the fact that the underdog will lose by fewer points than the spread or win the game outright. You might see "ATS" which is a commonly written abbreviation for against the spread betting.
The vig or vigorish, also known as juice, refers to the fee charged by the sportsbook when placing a sports bet using their platform. All sportsbooks add an additional charge when placing wagers in order to ensure they make a small profit on each bet. You can think of the vig as the sportsbook's commission for accepting wagers. It's important to keep the vig in mind, as this reduces the total payout that bettors receive.
For most point spread bets, you'll likely notice that a half point is added to the spread provided by the sportsbook. This half point is known as the hook. The hook is an easy way to prevent a push, or tie, from occurring. Since it is impossible to score half points in most sports, the hook guarantees that the final margin of victory will never equal the spread.
Key Numbers in an NFL Point Spread
The most common numbers found in NFL point spreads are three points and seven points. If you know football, you'll quickly understand that this is due to the way scoring is structured in the sport. Many NFL games come down to a final field goal, which is three points, or a touchdown, which is seven points. It therefore makes sense for sportsbooks to frequently use these numbers for the point spread.
Point Spread vs Moneyline
A point spread and moneyline are two very common bet types in Texas. They are closely related but serve quite different purposes. A moneyline is one of the most straightforward betting options out there, focussing simply on which team will win the game outright. A point spread, meanwhile, takes into account which team will win in addition to the margin of victory of the winning team. You can think of a point spread as moneyline with an added layer of detail.
One nice thing about a point spread is that the actual winning team doesn't necessarily matter as much as it does when betting moneylines. It is possible to have a successful point spread bet on the underdog even if the favored team wins, as long as the underdog loses by fewer points than the spread. While moneyline bets and point spreads are fundamentally different, both of these common bet types complement one another by focussing on different aspects of the final outcome of a game.
How to Bet Point Spread in Texas
Now that you know more about what point spreads are and how they work, you're almost ready to begin betting on point spreads in Texas. In this section, we'll dive into some of the best practices used by professional bettors when betting point spreads. These simple tips will help you make the most of your betting to hopefully secure some big wins in the future.
Use Multiple Betting Sites
One of the best strategies to get the best bang for your buck when point spread betting in Texas is to sign up for and use multiple online sportsbooks. Most sportsbooks will offer different point spread lines and odds, meaning there is a great range of betting options and potential payouts to be found. Line shopping across numerous sites is an effective way for sports bettors to find the best betting option based on their betting strategy and preferences.
Take Advantage of Texas Sports Betting Promotions
All sportsbooks in the state are expected to offer unique Texas sports betting promotions. Whether you are new to the site or a long-term user, chances are you'll be able to take advantage of bonus bets. These bonus bets come in a variety of forms but always offer users some sort of way to reduce the risk or increase the potential payout associated with wagering on sports. Make sure you check out the promotions offered by each sportsbook to see if you can apply these bonuses to betting point spreads.
Understand Home-Field Advantage
The home-field advantage is very real and always something to consider when placing sports bets, including point spreads. When a team plays at home, in a familiar environment surrounded by their own fans, they tend to perform better than when playing elsewhere. Even if two teams are evenly matched, playing on a home field can drastically influence the performance of a team. An underdog on their home turf likely has a greater chance of scoring more points than they would when playing away.
Understand Key Numbers
Depending on what sport you are betting on, there are generally some key numbers that you should keep your eye on when placing a point spread wager. For example, as we saw earlier, 3 and 7 are numbers commonly found when point spread betting on football games due to the fact that field goals and touchdowns often determine the final score of the game. A point spread line moves often according to these key numbers, so being aware key numbers for the sport you are betting on will help you make better betting decisions.
Monitor the Over/Under
When betting point spreads, it's a good idea to monitor the over/under lines for a game. The over/under, or total, is a reflection of the total number of points that the online sportsbooks expect to be scored by both teams in the match. A high total suggests that the game is anticipated to be high-scoring, while a low total indicates a potential low-scoring. While these numbers won't tell sports bettors anything about the margin of victory, getting a sense of the expected number of points in a game can inform bettors on how the teams are expected to perform.
Consider the Moneyline
A moneyline wager is a bet on which team will be the outright winner of a game. It is good practice to consider the moneyline prior to placing a point spread wager. The moneyline explicitly presents the odds by which a sportsbook expects a certain team to win an upcoming sporting event. This information, in turn, can be applied to a point spread betting strategy. By getting a sense of the degree to which an online sportsbook favors a team in a moneyline, a sports bettor can get a better sense of the value of the point spread bet and how likely it is that the favored team will win the match.
Start Point Spread Betting in Texas
Point spread bets are one of the most popular bet types in Texas. Rather than simply betting on what team will win the game, point spreads let you take things a step further to consider the margin of victory and the final score that the favored team may or may not win by. Whether you're a fan of basketball, college football, baseball, or many other sports, you'll be able to find point spread betting options for your favorite sporting events. In this article, we took a look at how point spreads work, how to win the bet, and some other useful tips. Now you're ready to be a successful point spread bettor!
Texas Point Spreads FAQs
A point spread refers to the margin of victory that a sportsbook proposes for an upcoming sporting event. The favorite team, or the team expected by the sportsbook to win, must "cover the spread" and win the game by the minimum number of points determined by the point spread. If the underdog team scores more points than expected, the favored team no longer covers the spread.
A point spread bet is a bet on the margin of victory by the winning team. Rather than considering which team will be the outright winner, the final number of points scored by the winning team compared to that of the losing team that matters. Point spreads are a great way to level the playing field and provide a balanced betting option for both teams. Point spread lines are adjusted based on each matchup.
In point spread betting, -7 indicates the favorite team is expected to win by more than 7 points. It is not enough for the favorite to simply win the match, they must score more than this indicated amount for a point spread bet on the favorite to be successful. If the underdog team loses by 6 points or less or wins the game outright, a wager on the favorite would be a losing bet.
Point spread bets are offered for a range of sports. A -7 for a point spread on football means the same as it would for any other sport. Once again, a -7 point spread indicated the favorite team is expected to win by more than 7 points. If the margin of victory for the winning team is only 6 points, a point spread bet on the favorite would not be successful.
Now that you're a pro at reading point spreads, you'll know that a -3.5 means that the favorite team must win by at least 4 points to cover the spread. A minus sign indicates that the team is the favorite, while the number indicate the minimum margin of victory.
Stefan Krysa is a freelance sports writer based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Born in the U.S. and raised in Canada, he is an avid fan of both American and Canadian sports and is committed to providing up-to-date information regarding sports betting across North America.