Welcome back to Betting on Basketball: 101. Today we’ll go through the essential knowledge of point spreads.
We can call point spreads handicaps. Here again you have a clear favourite and a clear underdog. Obviously anyone in their right mind would pick the team which is likely to win to put their money on, but bookies have found a way to bring fun and excitement back to betting, while making a buck for themselves as well.
It all comes down to bookmakers creating an artificial tie between the two teams. Let’s look at a real-life example:
There’s an upcoming match between Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are positioned upper in the rankings and have been performing great in the last few games. Naturally, people will prefer to bet on them, so the bookies will create a point spread to attract money to Heat as well.
The Cavaliers will be put out as a 7-point favourite: Cavaliers -7; whereas the underdog will look like this: Heat +7. These numbers are actually not too confusing, all they mean is that if you put your money on the Cavaliers they’d have to win by at least 8 points for you to come ahead. So if the final score is Cleveland Cavaliers 27 – 19 Miami Heat, you’ll win your wager, but if it’s 27 – 24 you won’t because the required 7-point advantage is missing. Finally, if the difference is exactly 7 points (27 – 20), it’ll be a tie and all bets will be refunded.
Usually when betting against point spread you’ll lay 11-to-10 odds, meaning that you’ll have to risk 11 bucks to win 10. This is the magic trick bookmakers use to keep their business up and running. If one person bets $11 on the Cavaliers and another $11 on Heat, the bookie gets $22 and only has to pay out $21.
Make sure you read our next chapter of basketball betting where we’ll explore totals!