Understanding Point Spreads - Why the Favorite is Not Always Favored

Have you ever looked at a point spread for a particular sporting contest and thought, "Wow, that's not right. Must be a misprint." While misprints do occur, real-world and online sportsbooks are super careful not to allow a published error that could wind up costing them a fortune. Most of the times, the reason for a point spread between two teams or individual athletes that looks out of whack is due to one of two occurrences. First, you either possess an above average knowledge of the particular sport in question, or second, the sportsbook posting the point spread line is trying to even up the amount of bets made on both teams. Understanding how to evaluate what the spread means can have a dramatic impact on the success of your online sports betting results.

That second point brings us to the true understanding of what a point spread really is. For instance, if I was to play Kobe Bryant one-on-one in a basketball game with the winner being the first player to score 24 points, you would have to be a rather uninformed bettor to place even the smallest of wagers on my ability to win that match. That is why point spreads and wagering lines were developed. If you knew that Kobe had to spot me 21 points before play even started, then you may consider giving me a chance. This concept applies whether you are considering the Vegas odds on basketball or any other mainstream or active sports event, game or match, and really impacts how you read the betting lines.

If no one had any faith in me even scoring a single point, you would see that 21 point spread grow to 21.5 points, 22 points, and maybe even larger before the betting started to swing to my side. And that is all that online and real-world sportsbooks want, is the same amount of wagers placed on both parties. That is because they charge the loser of any bet a 10% fee. Therefore, if a sportsbook knows that before any contest they offer for wagering, the exact same amount of money is placed on both teams, they are a guaranteed winner. They will simply pay the winners, and then collect the 110% of the amount wagered by the losers.

As good as professional handicappers are at predicting public opinion, they simply are not right 100% of the time. When you see a point spread between two teams that you believe are similarly matched, and the point spread is too large, the most common reason is that the sportsbook offering that line has been aggressively adjusting the spread because of an unnaturally large amount of money being wagered on one team. Here's an example. If you believe that the New England Patriots and New York Giants National Football League teams are evenly matched, and before the game New England is favored by 4 points, you will want to get your money down on the Giants as soon as possible.

With New England favored by 4 points, that means that before the game even begins, New York is winning 4 to 0. Starting the game knowing that four points will be added to the Giants' eventual score, given that the two teams are evenly matched, might cause an undue amount of betting on New York. Therefore, in this imaginary instance, you would probably see that point spread shrink to New England -3.5, then New England -3.0, and so forth, until the sportsbook has exactly the same amount of money wagered on both teams. That is why it is so crucially important to strike quickly when you see a point spread or betting line that looks "out of line", so you can exploit this disparity and improve your odds of a winning bet.

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