What Is a Point Spread?
What’s going on, wannabe sports bettor? Today we are going to answer the question, “what is a point spread?”
Put simply, a point spread is a sportsbook’s way of adjusting for discrepancies between two teams.
This is a slightly edited transcription from the video.
For instance, if Team 2 was much better than Team 1, everybody would bet on Team 2. So to encourage action on both sides of the bet, sportsbooks have come up with what they call a point spread. In this case, in a football game, they deem Team 2 to be seven points better than Team 1 expressed here as little footballs.
This would commonly be written as plus and minus.
So if Team 2 is the favorite, they would receive a -7 on the line, and Team 1 would be +7.
The plus team is always the underdog, whereas the minus team, though it may seem counterintuitive, is always the favorite.
And this applies for the moneyline as well which is the outright winner, but we’ll cover that in a separate video.
That means that a bet on Team 2, the favorite, -7, to win the game– they not only have to win the game, they have to win it by more than seven points.
For Team 1 to win the bet, they don’t have to win the game, they just have to come within seven because they’ve already been given seven points.
Okay, so let’s take a look at how this might look on the scoreboard as a game plays out.
Let’s say Team 2, the favorite, kicks a field goal.
The score on the scoreboard is 3-0, but in terms of the spread, Team 2 is technically still behind.
As you can see, they have three points. Team 1 still has their seven footballs.
So team two is still not gonna cover this bet.
Let’s fast-forward the time a little bit to 11 minutes.
Now Team 1’s going to get on the actual scoreboard, they too will kick a field goal.
Our score is 3-3.
So even though the score on the scoreboard is tied, Team 1 still has more footballs and is covering the bet because as you can see they’re within seven points
But the game won’t end in a tie like Donovan McNabb thinks it is.
Let’s fast forward the game a little more down to seven minutes remaining.
Team 2 is gonna score a touchdown, so now they have 10 points. We’ll give them seven more little footballs. Now you can see Team 2 has 10 little footballs and 10 points on the scoreboard.
Team 1 only has three points on the scoreboard but because they were given seven in the beginning they were effectively a push or a wash or no one would win this particular bet if the game ended 10-3 because the difference would be exactly seven.
This is why a lot of times you’ll see lines expressed as 7.5 or 8.5 because you can’t score half a point and it guarantees that one side will win the bet. You’ll commonly hear half points refer to as the hook.
Now we can go a little bit deeper on this but generally speaking, sportsbook like to get equal action on both sides of the bet. They don’t want to push, they want one side to win and the other side to lose.
If we progress our game now down to two minutes remaining, Team 2 is up 10-3 on the scoreboard but the bets are going to push.
However, they got a field goal in them.
So now they get three more little footballs and on the scoreboard the score is 13-3, a margin of 10 points, meaning Team 2 currently is covering the spread of -7 because they are up by 10 points.
Now this is what will keep viewers tuned in. This game is probably out of hand for the lesser Team 1 who is down 10 points with two minutes to go. However, a single touchdown will actually have them cover the spread.
So with 30 seconds remaining, Team 1 scores another touchdown. Team 1 gets six more little footballs, they got greedy and went for two and didn’t get it.
Now the score is 13-9 with no time remaining.
So even though Team 2 has won the game, Team 1 has only lost by four points, meaning they covered the seven-point spread.
And that is what a point spread is.