So you want to be a successful gambler, but what’s all this talk about covering the spread? Well, spread betting is a specific form of wager in which the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager instead of a win or lose situation involved with fixed-odds. The spread is the range of outcomes and the bet is either above or below it.
Spread betting has grown exponentially in the UK recently and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority, not the Gambling Commission.
The purpose is to create a lot of action on each side of the bet, even if popular opinion leans towards one side. For example, if a strong team is facing the worst team in the league, most people will favor the better team. The point spread increases the action for bookies, who work on commission so they want all the action they can get. If the amount of bets on each side is almost equal, the bookie is not concerned with the outcome as profits will come from commissions. Spreads often change up to the start of the game.
Seeing numbers can help.
Let’s say the bookie has a spread of 3 points for the game. If the punter wagers on the underdog, they “take the points” and win if the underdog’s score plus the spread is greater than the favorite’s score.
- Wins if the final score is Underdog 6, Favorite 8 = 6 + 3 > 8.
- Loses if the final score is Underdog 6 , Favorite 10 = 6 + 3 < 10.
If you bet on the favorite, they “give the points” and win if the favorite’s score minus the spread is greater than the underdog’s score. Let’s use the same spread of 3 points.
- Wins if the final score is Underdog 5, Favorite 9 = 9 – 3 > 5.
- Loses if the final score is Underdog 7, Favorite 9 = 9 – 3 < 7.
Sometimes, spreads use half-point fractions to eliminate the possibility of a tie, also known as a push. All wagers are returned to the punters and the bookie actually loses because time is money.
Another more simple form of spread betting in the UK includes a side bet on a game. This is called the over/under in the United States. For example, in a football match, the bookie thinks that 10-11 corners will occur, setting the spread at 10-11.
Let’s say a punter believes there will be more than 11 corners and buys 25 a point starting at 11.
- If the number of corners is 14, the bet wins (14-11) = 3 x 25.
- If the number of corners is 8, the bet loses (11-8) = 3 x 25.
Sporting Index dominates the UK market for sports spread betting. Other players include Spreadex and Extrabet, both in the UK, and Australian-based Sports Alive.