Of all the US wagering options available to the US sports bettor, placing a bet on the spread is by far the most popular wager. The spread is that number you will see given to both teams, with one side being a minus and the other a plus, and a simple example of a points spread would be NY Giant -7.5 @ Dallas Cowboys +7.5, therefore the spread on that game is 7.5. The spread on the game is created by the bookmaker, however what most sports bettors will not know is that the ‘line’ or the spread is not exactly the amount of points that the bookmaker believes a team will win or lose by, it is there in an attempt to get an equal amount of money on both sides of the bet.
In the example above, the bookmaker has put the Giants as the Favorites by 7.5 points, with Dallas being the 7.5 pont underdogs, however that doesn’t mean the bookmaker believes that the Giants will win by at least 7.5 points, but he believes that, that particular line will obtain an equal amount of money on each side of the spread. Should the bookie be correct and that happens, with equal amounts of money wagered each side, then he will not care at all who wins as he will simply collect the juice. The juice, or vig, is the bookmakers cut, i.e you will wager $11 to win $10 etc.
Placing your wager on the points spread is the easiest part of the job and online sportsbooks will simply offer the line and all you need to do is check the box where you want to place your money, the hard part is beating the bookie. You will see lines, or points spreads, change as the game gets nearer, and this is simply the bookmaker moving the line to attract more bets to the other side, again, in an attempt to even out the money they are taking. You will not see a huge difference in the spread among all online sportsbooks and once the line is set it usually stays the same in all books, there won’t be a book that moves the line sufficiently enough so that it attracts a large amount of bets to one side of it, as this would lead to large amounts of liability for the bookmaker, and that is exactly what they are trying to avoid.
Last point of note is that most point spreads, or at least a large percentage of them will be a round number and a point five, i.e the 7.5 in the example, as the .5 cuts out any chances of a tie.