Michael Tradford
Last Update:
September 15, 2021
This author was thoroughly tested and approved by the experts at before joining the editorial board to ensure a high content quality.
Author Bio:
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.

Spread Betting 2021: Strategy, Tips & Top Betting Sites

When it comes to wagering, there isn’t a betting market that is more synonymous with the industry than spread betting. A timeless classic for bettors both new and old, the spreads bet is one of the best tests for trading handicappers, as they look to prove that they can win money at a high enough rate to get themselves profits in the world of betting. In this guide to spread betting, find out the spreads bet meaning and have spread betting explained in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. Whether a beginner or a seasoned trading vet, this guide will help bettors learn the tools of the trade to cover the spread and make money.

Some facts you should know about Spread Betting
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  • Bettors can pick a side plus or minus a handicap amount

  • The higher total after that amount is applied wins

  • One of the most commonly pursued wagering markets

What is spread betting?

So what is spread betting? The definition of a spread bet is a wager that is easy to place and doesn't even necessarily require a bettor to be on the side that ends up winning the matchup. Betting against the spread requires bettors to choose which side they think is going to win or lose once an amount of points or goals are added to the total of the underdog or subtracted from the total of the favorite. That is done with the idea of evening the two teams out on the field, and it is always interesting to see just how close to the actual spread number the final result of a contest ends up being.

Spread bets are one of the most popular forms of sports betting in America, as they fit naturally with football trading, which is the most popular sport from a betting perspective in the country. With home field advantage and different matchup edges on the field all playing a part in which squad is the favorite and which squad is the underdog when betting against the spread, following the price and lines throughout the week is one of the highlights of football season.

How does a spread bet work?

Fortunately for bettors, the spread bet is one of the easiest bets to place in all of the sports betting universe. Bettors don't have to follow a long list of steps or worry about any complications like they do with system bets or other exotic wagers. They can simply go to the sport they want to wager on in their sportsbook, pick the event they want to bet on against the spread, enter their risk amount, and finalize the bet. To make things easier, most sportsbooks make spread betting markets the most easily available, putting them at the front of each page upon logging into an account as opposed to making bettors dig for them in their account interface.

On a more refined level, spread betting sports works by taking a predetermined amount away from the squad that is favored, or giving that amount to the squad that is the underdog. Only one of those handicaps will be applied for each matchup, and it will be the one that applies to the squad a bettor has decided to back in a game. At the end of the contest, if the squad a bettor has backed still has more points or goals than their opponent after the spread is applied to their total, the bettor wins their wager and has had success betting against the spread.

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Advantages of betting ATS

The biggest advantage to the betting ATS is the fact that it is virtually the foundation of sports betting. It can be used in multi bets, teasers, and many exotic wager types due to its simplistic nature and the fact that it applies to just about any sport. From spread bet soccer wagers to betting against the spread in tennis and football and beyond, the versatility and simplicity of the spread bet is terrific. With so many options bettors are free to choose from, spread betting is often enough to keep bettors entertained by itself.

Another big plus to spread betting is the fact that bettors have access to so many pieces of information related to betting against the spread. Bettors can find handicappers who work with spread betting no matter where they look due to the popularity of the bet type. If they can sift through all of that coverage to find the truly reliable voices in the sports betting community, bettors can easily get reliable second opinions on this common sports betting market. They can also take on a wide variety of spread markets, such as these.

  • Full-match wagers
  • Halftime wagers
  • Individual quarters
  • In-game markets

Drawbacks to spread betting

If there is a drawback to be found from spread betting, it could be the fact that it can be difficult to handicap sporting events against spreads. Unlike moneyline bets where bettors just need to pick a winner, there is a lot more involved here. That can be a turn off to some bettors who want higher potential profits on their deposit, even if the point spread bet is still beloved.

There is also the fact that the earnings for point spreads can be capped when a spread bet is placed as a single wager. Instead of being able to take an underdog for a large possible payout the way that bettors can when they bet on the moneyline markets, those who bet against the spread have to instead consistently churn out winners to overcome the vig that the books take out of each spread wager. And while this is absolutely doable, some bettors might not want to deal with the grind that it takes to be a profitable against the spread bettor.

Example of spread betting

For this spread betting example, we will act as though we are betting on a football game, given the popularity of doing so in the United States. For this example point spread market bet, Team A is a three point favorite at home against Team B. For the purposes of this example, we will take Team B to cover the spread, with three points being added to their score when all is said and done. The most common odds for a spread bet are –110 with no added tax on either side, which means that a bettor has to wager money of $110 to win $100. Some bookmakers might offer odds that are slightly more or less than this example number and the money risk can be adjusted proportionally to match a player’s money situation.

If, at the end of the game, Team B manages to win the game, force a tie, or lose by less than three points, the spread bet was a winner. If Team A beats Team B by more than the three point spread markets had set, the bet would lose. And if Team A won by exactly the three point amount, the bet would be ruled a push and the original amount of risk would be refunded without a win or lose outcome.

Of course, throughout the game would have been opportunities to place a new bet against the spread, as live spread betting is rapidly growing in popularity. If things weren’t looking good in this example wager, there may have been a way to trade some of the risk thanks to the use of the live betting functionality at most sportsbooks that can turn a situation where a player might lose into one where they would win instead.

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Betting against the spread strategy

There is a ton of strategy involved with betting against the spread, as there is more involved to it than simply choosing one squad or another to win a game. Bettors need to evaluate countless factors, such as which squad is playing at home, how impactful being on the home and road is for the teams playing, and if there are injury concerns or other factors to think about heading into a game. These aren't nearly all of the factors that point spread market bettors need to consider, but suffice it to say that spread betting strategy requires an extensive series of critical thinking abilities.

  • Understanding line and price movements
  • Analyzing public perception relative to spreads
  • Not being afraid to trade against the grain

The other important thing to remember about spread bet strategy is the fact that spreads can move up or down depending on how heavily they are bet on either side. This is commonly referred to as a tax on one side or a tax on the other. This allows bettors the opportunity to trade at better financial lines depending on when they place their wager. Some instances see bettors benefit in a financial sense from grabbing a line or price early, while others enjoy financial benefits by being among those who wait. Either way, understanding that possibility should absolutely impact a bettor's strategy when betting the spread.

Another smart strategy is to utilize a tool like a spread betting calculator that will help bettors figure out what their win probability is relative to the money that they would receive if they were to win their bet. Any time data can be used to help win money a wager, it is a huge plus, and the spread betting sports market can be won with the use of data more than most.

Compare sportsbooks to find the best for your spread wagers

Now that you have been given an encyclopedic knowledge of betting against the spread, you can put that knowledge to the test. But first, you are free to choose a sportsbook to test that knowledge with. Our sportsbook comparison tool allows bettors to feel free to take a look at how sportsbooks stack up against one another in different areas, such as deposit bonus qualifications, to help you determine your ideal bookmaker. Don’t waste any time, compare sportsbooks now and get your deposit bonus.

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Sports: 21+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -190
Sports: 10+
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Min. Odds: N/A
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Min. Odds: -300
Sports: 16+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -150 to +10,000
Sports: 20+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -200


Spread betting is a classic for a reason
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While spread betting is sometimes overshadowed by more flashy wager types, bettors still flock to betting spreads. This is thanks to its simplicity and the fact that it is an incredibly versatile type of bet. And with football being the perfect vehicle for spread betting, expect it to remain popular in the USA for a long time.
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