Understanding Point Spreads in Sports Betting

Sports betting has become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether you are a seasoned bettor or new to the world of gambling, understanding point spreads is essential to increase your chances of success. In this article, we will explain what point spreads are and how they work in sports betting.

What are Point Spreads?

Point spreads, also known as betting lines or spread betting, are a method used by bookmakers to even the playing field when one team is significantly favored over the other. The goal is to attract an equal amount of money to be wagered on both teams, ensuring the bookmaker makes a profit regardless of the outcome.

How do Point Spreads Work?

Point spreads are represented with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign followed by a number. The minus sign indicates the favored team, and the plus sign represents the underdog. The number following the sign is the spread, which determines the margin of victory needed for a bet to be successful.


If the New England Patriots are playing the Miami Dolphins, and the point spread is -7 for the Patriots, it means the Patriots must win by more than 7 points for a bet on them to be successful. Conversely, if the spread is +7 for the Dolphins, they can lose the game by less than 7 points or win it outright for a bet on them to win.

Why are Point Spreads Used?

Point spreads level the playing field between two teams of different skill levels, enhancing the excitement and betting opportunities for the spectators. By adjusting the point spread, bookmakers encourage bettors to wager on both sides of the game, minimizing the risk of heavy losses.

The Importance of Vigorish (Juice)

The vigorish, also known as “juice,” is the commission charged by the bookmaker for accepting the bets. It is usually around 10% of the total wager and ensures the bookmaker makes a profit regardless of the outcome.

Understanding Line Movements

Point spreads are not static and can change leading up to a game. Line movements occur due to various factors such as injuries to key players, weather conditions, or changes in public perception. Monitoring line movements is vital for bettors to spot value and make informed decisions.


Learning and understanding point spreads is crucial for anyone interested in sports betting. Point spreads add an element of strategy and provide opportunities for both novice and experienced bettors. By grasping the concept of point spreads, monitoring line movements, and considering the vigorish, you can maximize your chances of success in sports betting.