Last updated on: November 21st, 2023

Betting On The Spread

One of the most popular ways to bet on sports online is by betting the spread. The spread is a bookmakers’ attempt to even the playing field between two unevenly matched teams. The spread essentially deducts points from the favorite’s final score, giving both teams an even chance of winning the game, once the handicapped spread is applied. Betting with the spread means taking the points and betting on the underdog (the team considered less likely to win the game). The underdog’s point spread at legal sports betting sites will be listed as a positive number (+7). This means that seven points are added to the underdog’s final score. Betting against the spread means giving points betting on the favorite (the team considered more likely to win the game). The favorite’s point spread will be listed as a negative number (-7). This means that you would subtract seven points from the favorite’s final score. Everything you need to know about how to bet on the spread from many different types of sports is covered on this page. 

Betting Against The Spread

Rank Sportsbook Bonus Offer Play Now
1 Bovada Online Sportsbook Exclusive 50% Bonus Code up to $1000!Read Review BVD1000 in Cashier
2 BetOnline Online Sportsbook 50% Up To $1,000Read Review Visit BetOnline!
3 MyBookie Online Sportsbook 50% Up To $1,000 Read Review Visit MyBookie!
4 Xbet Online Sportsbook 100% Up To $300Read Review Visit Xbet!
5 Sportsbetting Online Sportsbook 50% Up To $1,000 Read Review Visit SportsBetting!

Applying The Point Spread

Team A is a 7-point underdog against Team B. If you bet on Team A with the spread and the final score showed a Team B victory 27-21, you won your bet and “covered the spread.” Since you bet on Team A +7, adding 7 points to Team A’s final score changes the outcome in favor of Team A 28-27. Even though Team A lost the game outright, the added points by legal sportsbooks online give them the advantage. Likewise, if you bet on Team B against the spread, subtract seven points from the final score. In a game that Team B won 17-7, the handicapped score of 10-7 still sits in favor of Team B.

Sports That Have Spread Bets

Betting on the spread has become a classic bet type of various types of sports in the world, but the NFL is the most common for this particular bet type. When betting on the NFL, bettors know that points are typically scored in increments of seven or three. With this knowledge, a projected close game would most likely have a spread of three. This type of idea is not as easy to predict as seen when betting the NBA, where free throws to stop the clock can suddenly make the result of the game a six-point differential instead of a three-point game, messing up a spread bets that were placed on a spread of -2.5. When betting on the spread for baseball it is called the run line, and hockey refers to it as the puck line, with most other sports sticking with the classic money line title. Examples for these sports are but not limited to:

  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Table Tennis
  • Darts

Sportsbooks That Offer Bets On The Spread


Bovada Sportsbook

Betting the Spread at Bovada

Since betting on the spread is one of the most popular ways to bet on sports online, most online sportsbooks will offer spread bets on most major events, but particularly football. The best and most popular online sportsbook that offers bets against the spread is Bovada. For over 20 years, Bovada has been providing users with the ultimate online sports betting experience to American clients. Bovada even offers several valuable welcome bonuses, granting qualifying customers with free play cash. Be sure to check out Bovada for all of your online sports betting needs, including betting against the spread.

Rating: 5 Star Rating

  • Live Betting
  • Big Bonuses
  • Easy To Use
  • Mobile Betting
  • Best Odds

BitcoinVisaMastercardAmerican ExpressZelle


BetOnline Sportsbook

Alterative Spread Betting On The NFL

When betting on the NFL season, BetOnline allows bettors to wager on many different alternative spreads from all of the NFL action during the regular season. If a bettor feels confident that the Bills will beat the Rans by more than 2.5 points, BetOnline offers props that range from 1 to 15-point favorites. This adds value to the bet because the alternate lines significantly increase the payout with longer odds since the original line is stretched. If the Bills were to end up winning by 14, BetOnline rewards bettors who took the alternative lines.

Rating: 5 Star Rating

  • Future Betting
  • Crypto Offered
  • Mobile Betting

VisaMastercardBitcoinEtheriumWire Transfer


MyBookie Sportsbook

Live Betting On Covering The Spread

As spread betting has always been one of the most popular bet types available for legal books, MyBookie offers spread betting for all of the most popular sporting events. Whether betting on a Grand Slam event or the NFL playoffs, MyBookie moves their game lines and spreads during the action of the game or match. Live betting o the spread gives bettors value that wants to bet on an underdog comeback. If a team was down by 21 at the half and the spread moved to 21, a bettor could win big by betting on the favorite team to not cover at MyBookie.

Ratings: 5 Star Rating

  • Live Betting
  • Bitcoin Deposits
  • Big Bonuses


Why Does The Points Spread And Odds Change For Spread Bets?

There are various reasons why a point spread may change before kickoff. One of the most common reasons is lopsided betting action on the game. Legal sportsbooks always strive to garner an even amount of money on both sides of the outcome, in order to guarantee profitability. If a lopsided amount of money is bet on one side over the other, bookmakers will do one of two things: if the disparity is large, they will adjust the actual point spread, giving more or less points to the underdog (sometimes even flipping the favorite and underdog); if the disparity is small, they will change the “juice” or odds for the lesser-bet side.

Breaking news, like an injury to a key player or impending inclement weather, can also change a point spread. It is important to place your wager as soon as possible if you like a specific spread, as spreads are always subject to change – most point spreads change several times before settling at the closing spread at kickoff. However, once you place a wager, the point spread will be locked in at the number you took.

Betting An Alternate Spread

Alternative spread betting is the best way for bettors to control how they want to wager. By altering the line of a game, a bettor can increase the odds and the potential payout on the game. Take the Alabama Crimson Tide, who were 20.5-point favorites over the Texas Longhorns in 2022. Bama opened as 17-point favorites but the legal sportsbooks moved the lines. Texas ended up losing by a single point but alternative lines would have allowed a bettor to place a wager on Texas to cover from anywhere between +0.5 to +30.5. Those who had faith when betting on the Texas Longhorns spread and took an alternate line saw a payout 2-5x higher, depending on their line.

What Is Line Movement?

Live movement is where the spread is altered before the game by either where the public is laying their money or the sportsbook altering it themselves. As an example, lets say there is an opening spread of 6.5 points between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets in favor of Miami. If the public really likes the Dolphins to cover in this one giving them 85% of the total money that is bet on the game, sportsbooks will look to alter the spread and could push it to 7 or 7.5 in an effort not to get burned if the Dolphins were to cover 6.5. There is also reverse line movement where the sportsbook could alter the line in the opposite direction of where the public is betting trying to persuade bettors to take it if they have a strong feeling that the team will cover. When learning what is spread betting, it is important to also understand how line movement works in the industry.

Bovada Sports Betting

The Different Types Of Spread Bets:

How to bet point spreads is popular amoungst sports that do not even called the scoring “points”. Sports like baseball, which counts runs instead of points, or hockey, which counts goals, will have different names for their spreads. These spreads function the same as a point spread, but with a different name.

Puck Line

A puck line is simply a point spread when betting hockey online. It functions in exactly the same way as a point spread.

Run Line

Similarly, a run line is a point spread in baseball. Run lines at legal MLB sports betting sites are almost exclusively 1.5 runs, but alternate spreads are usually available.

Goal Line

A goal line is a point spread in soccer. It functions the same as a typical point spread. Unlike a run line, goal lines at legal soccer betting sites vary depending on the teams involved.

Spread Betting FAQs

Why Don’t I Make More Money Betting The Spread?

Because of the nature of taking the spread, sportsbooks don’t host the odds too high, usually setting them between (+110) and (-115). The aim is to set the spread as evenly as possible, making it a great betting choice for betting on the favorites, but not so great when betting on underdogs as the payout is bigger on the moneyline. If you would like to increase your potential payout and still play the spread, alternate spreads are your best choice.

What Happens If The Spread Ties?

A tie against the spread is referred to as a “push.” Often, sportsbooks will set their spreads with half points, often referred to as a “hook”, in order to avoid this. However, a push can still happen on occasion. If a push occurs in a single spread bet, most sportsbooks will return your original wager but offer no winnings. If a push occurs in a parlay, there are two possible avenues for a sportsbook to take: one is to count a push as a loss, therefore causing the bettor to lose the parlay; the other is to remove the bet from the parlay entirely, lowering the payout but still keeping the parlay intact. Be sure to check your preferred sportsbook’s terms and conditions to see how they handle pushes in parlays.

What Does “PK” Mean?

Some games may not show a numerical spread, but instead show a “PK”. This is short for “pick,” meaning that the game is even without a point spread and bettors must choose the winner outright. Usually, sportsbooks will manipulate the “juice” in order to attract more bettors to the lesser bet side of a PK spread.

What Is “Juice”?

Juice is the odds for each side of a point spread. The juice functions exactly the same as a moneyline, indicating the payout rate for each side of the spread bet. For most point spreads, both sides will have the same juice, typically (-110). Sometimes a sportsbook will manipulate the odds in order to attract more bettors to the lesser bet side, but these changes are usually relatively minor and done in +-005 increments.