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Sports Betting and NFL Point Spreads

Understanding the basics of  Point Spreads in NFL Wagering

The point spread is synonymous with sports betting and NFL football. In order to be able to place knowledgeable bets and have a chance at being successful, you’ll need to know how the point spread works.

Point Spreads and Sports Betting

The point spread is one of the ways by which handicappers even the playing field between teams, making it harder for the sports bettor to pick a winner. In sports betting, it also helps to spread the money more evenly between both teams.

A typical NFL spread will look like this.

New England Patriots           -3.5

New York Jets                        +3.5

With any point spread, the visiting team is listed first. The team that is in the negative is the favorite.  In the above example, if you wager on New England, they must win by more than three points for you to win your bet. If you bet on the Jets, they can lose by three points and you’ll still win your wager.

Sports Betting and Spread Odds

Although the spread is said to offer even odds, which can be expressed as 1-1, the fact is that the odds are not quite even. They are really 1- 1.10. That means that in order to win $1.00, you’ll have to wager $1.10. If you want to win $10.00, you’ll have to bet $11.00 and to win $100, you must put down $110. Why is this the case?

The sportsbook or bookmaker makes a commission on each bet. That commission, which is also known as vig, vigorish and the juice, is taken on the payback side of the bet. On a bet with true even odds if you wager $110, you would get your original wager back and $110 more for a total of $220. But when you win a spread bet you don’t get $220 back, you get $210. The bookmaker keeps the other $10.

More on Point Spreads

Those are the basics when it comes to sports betting and point spreads. Knowing how the spread works is the first step in understanding how they affect your chances of winning and your actual payoff. For more information on spreads and other aspects of sports betting, see our list of articles.