When bookmakers offer a certain advantage to a participant to match the odds, we speak of "spread", a very common term in the Anglo-Saxon world. Find out how it works in major sports.
Brian Dekker
Brian Dekker betting expert

We all know what handicap bets are - those markets where we give a certain advantage or disadvantage to a team in order to get a better odds than the one offered in the generic match winner market. One version of handicaps is the spread, a very common market in Anglo-Saxon betting, especially in American sports such as the NBA or the NFL, where the scores are usually quite high, offering Philippines interesting odds.

What is the spread

The spread is an advantage offered to a single participant to even out the odds in an event. Depending on the difference between the two contenders, this spread will be greater or lesser. This allows Philippines to develop a strategy to cover the spread, which reduces our risk. This strategy is based on betting on the underdog while covering losses with the handicap, and to do so it's essential to know how to manage the stakes and find the amount to bet that avoids losses or minimizes them.

Example: In an NBA Bostons Celtics-Miami Heat game, the Celtics have odds of 1.59 and the Heat have 2.50. On the other hand, the handicap in the spread Celtics -5.5 is paid at $1.91, the same rate that we find for the spread Heat +5.5. To cover the spread we bet $1 on the Miami win and $1 on the Heat +5.5 spread. The bet can be settled in several ways:

  • Miami Heat wins: we won both bets, and obtained a net profit of 2.41$.
  • Miami Heat loses by less than 5.5 points: you lose the first bet but win the spread, with only 9 cents of losses.
  • Miami Heat loses by more than 5.5 points: you lose both bets and the 2$ wagered.

How to bet on the spread

To bet on the spread you just need to go to your betting site and search for the different handicaps offered by the bookmaker until you find the spread, the point where the handicaps for both teams meet. Let's see how to bet on the spread in the most popular sports, although it can also be adapted to other sports such as handball, hockey, water polo,...

in soocer

The usual thing is to bet on the spread for a team, for example Naples +2.5 in a Real Madrid-Naples game. So, if Napoli wins, draws, or loses by 1 or 2 goals, it covers the spread and the bet is a winner, but if Real Madrid wins by 3 or more goals, the bet is a loser. Depending on the betting company, you can also bet on the spread for corners, fouls, cards, or offside.

in basketball

Again, we usually bet on the spread for a team, and again we have two outcomes. If in the Celtics-Heat example of coverage, Miami wins or loses by 4 points or less, it covers the spread and the bet is good; if it loses by 5 points or more, we have lost. We can find a spread by quarters or halves, triples or even on player points.

in american football

Works in a similar way to the previous ones, since in most betting houses we bet on a team's spread, although you can also find other spreads such as the number of touchdowns or player points. Thus, in a Patriots-Rams with a +8.5 spread for the Rams, we will color the bet green if they win, tie or lose by up to 8 points, but if the Patriots win the bet is a loser.

in tennis

Here things change, as there are spreads on the number of games played by a tennis player and the number of sets they will win. For example, if Nadal and Federer play at Roland Garros, we can bet on spreads such as Federer +2.5 sets and Federer +6.5 games. If Nadal wins 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, the first bet will not have won, but the second bet on games will have; if the result is 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, we win the first spread but not the second. The combinations are multiple.


Brian Dekker
Brian Dekker

Journalist, blogger, sports enthusiast and athlete in my free time. I must complain that the cards are shuffled wrongly until I get a good hand (Jonathan Swift).

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