Point spreads are a type of bet in which your objective is to predict which team will win the game. If you are correct in your prediction, you will win even money on your bet minus the vigorish. The point spread is used as a type of handicap so that both teams are worth betting on despite any perceived difference in skill.
On one hand, point spreads are similar to money line wagers because the goal in both is to pick which team will win the game. On the other hand, they are different because they use a “point spread” to make both teams attractive to bettors. The point spread takes points away from the favorite and gives points to the underdog to make it a more even matchup.
Point Spread Example
The example on this page should help explain how point spreads work. The following NBA game is an example that we took from one of our recommended sportsbooks.
L.A. Lakers -10.5
Washington Wizards +10.5
In this example, we have an NBA game between the Lakers and the Wizards. The Lakers are perceived to be better than the Wizards, so the Lakers are “giving” points to the Wizards.
If you place a bet on the Lakers, they need to win the game by at least 11 points for you to win the bet. If the Lakers win but they only win by 5 points, then you will lose the bet. If you place a bet on the Wizards, you will win the bet if the Wizards win the game outright or if they only lose the game by 10 points or less.
The basketball gambling site in this example have set up this bet in order to get action on both teams. Without the point spread, few people would be willing to bet on the Wizards. The point spread helps keep the action equal on both teams. This prevents the betting site from getting stuck on the hook for a bunch of money.
More You Need to Know to Help you Win
Point spreads almost always offer payout odds of -110. This means that for every $110 you wager on the game, you stand to win $100. The difference is kept by the NBA betting site as its income. With equal betting action on both sides of every event, bookmakers make a small profit no matter who wins the game.
The key to finding profitable spreads is to do more homework than the next guy. It is possible to find profitable point spreads if you research every team, every player and generally just keep yourself in the know. Knowledge is the biggest difference between the winners and losers.
What you want to do is find teams that are either over-rated or under-rated and place your bets accordingly. You won’t win every time, but if you constantly look for value and do your homework, it is possible to turn a profit when wagering on NBA games over the long term.