If you’re looking to learn more about point spread betting and the best Spread Betting Sites, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be aiding newcomers to the world of sports gambling by answering a number of popular questions related to spread betting; detailing the best sports spread betting sites, and providing detailed examples and explanations at every turn to help you increase your success rate when point spread betting online
To help you navigate your way to the correct segment of the page, we’ve listed the contents below:
- What does spread mean in betting?
- How does spread betting work?
- What is point spread betting and how does it work in US major leagues: NBA, NFL, etc.?
- What does + and – mean in spread betting?
- What is betting against the spread?
- What does covering the spread mean?
- What does beating the spread mean?
- Why you should go line shopping when spread betting?
- What is closing line value and why is it important?
- What is the best sports spread betting site?
We’ve also provided readers with a list of the best spread betting sites available in the US (see below), as well as more detailed reviews of our top 5 point spread betting sportsbooks towards the foot of the page.
What Does Spread Mean in Betting?
Point spread betting is a simple betting market that accommodates a small margin of error on both sides of a bet. When a player bets the point spread, oddsmakers will have pre-determined the difference in the number of points that they feel two teams/fighters, etc. will be separated by. A positive (+) number is then issued to the underdog, and a negative (-) number is awarded to the favorite.
What this essentially does is to give the underdog a slight advantage heading into the game, as well as increase the difficulty for the betting favorite. The game has changed. It’s no longer a case of ‘will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars’ (of course they will!). Now, instead, it’s ‘will the Buccaneers beat the Jaguars by -11.5 points, or will the Jaguars pull off an upset or lose by less than +11.5 points.
Note: Point spreads are usually displayed in the half-point format with the .5 decimal to avoid betting ties.
Still asking, ‘what does spread mean in betting?’ Read on:
How Does Spread Betting Work?
If you’re still asking yourself, ‘how does spread betting work?’ – then we direct your attention to the image above where you’ll see the spread betting market for the Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens NFL clash. Let’s break it down:
- The Bengals are the underdogs for this game – it’s easy to tell because of the + sign (+6.5) which indicates as much
- The Ravens are the favorites for this game, which is why their betting spread has a minus (-6.5) symbol before it
- So, how does sports spread betting work here? It’s simple: if you wager on the Bengals at +6.5, in reality, you are challenging the Bengals to either win the game as the underdog or to lose by less than 6.5 points. If either of those two outcomes were to bear fruit, your bet would payout at -116 odds as listed. If the Bengals lose by seven or more points, your bet loses.
- The Ravens, on the other hand, have been challenged to not only defeat Cincinnati but to do it in style, winning by a margin of -6.5 points. If the final score is Ravens 30-23 Bengals – a -7 differential – your bet wins and pays out at odds of -104 as listed. However, if Joe Burrow and co. make a fist of the contest and end up losing by between one & six points, your bet loses.
Do note, however, that we are talking about American spread betting in this article. European/Asian spreads are quite different. In Europe, spread betting is known as the ‘handicap,’ and spread betting refers to when the odds change but the line remains.
Point Spread Betting Explained
In the US, point spread betting is exactly as detailed in the above segment about spread betting, which is why we used the two terms (point spread betting and spread betting) interchangeably during the mini-reviews.
It is, however, important to remember that sometimes the sports betting spread might go under another name, such as the Puck Line in the NHL, or the Run Line in the MLB, and sometimes the spread will be a lot higher than it is in grid-iron football because, quite simply, more points tend to be scored in the NBA than in the NFL.
The underlying principles of point spread betting are the same as in the previous example with the Bengals and Ravens. But, to be clear, let’s take a look at a few other sports spread betting markets:
NFL Spread Betting
NFL point spreads remain the nation’s most popular betting line. The spread works perfectly in football because the joy of the NFL is in its competition – oftentimes it’s impossible to guess who will win. It’s much, much easier to state whether or not you think it will be a blowout or a tightly contested affair by betting spreads instead.
Something to remember when betting NFL spreads:
- The wider the gap on the spread, the more unevenly matched the two teams are. So, if you look at the NFL spread betting selection in the Bovada image above, you’ll notice that the Falcons vs Dolphins game has a marginal split on the spread of just +/-3.5. That’s because both teams boast similar losing records, and oddsmakers have deemed this game a tight call; perhaps just a field goal in it. Further down the image, you’ll see the spread for the Packers vs Football Team that’s been set to +/-8. This is because the Packers are heavy favorites for the win.
The most common range found when NFL spread betting is the three-point range. This is because countless football games are won/lost by late fourth-quarter field goals.
As mentioned in the mini-reviews, Bovada is our preferred choice for spread betting NFL because the sportsbook also provides countless alternate spreads. This means that if you’re confident the Packers are going to stuff the Football Team by -15 points, you can wager on the outcome at increased odds.
NBA Spread Betting
Basketball is more of a marathon than a sprint, in that the vast majority of the action takes place towards the end of the event. During the closing ten minutes or so of an elite basketball game, it’s common for the lead to change hands multiple times and for big leads to eviscerate as squads rest tired big-name stars for the next contest.
So, for most NBA games, the spread is a lot lower than you might think, usually hovering around the +/-3 – +/-7 mark. There are exceptions to this, however: if the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks play the consensus-agreed worst team, Houston Rockets, for example, you can expect to see an NBA point spread nearer the +/-10.5 mark – maybe more. Unless you’re a fan of NBA betting against the spread, you might wish to go with the Bucks should this line crop up this year!
Sites like Bovada provide tons of options on the NBA alternate spread market anyways, so you don’t need to get too bogged down in the logistics of the spread set by oddsmakers.
That said, though the site doesn’t boast much in the way of NBA spread betting alternates, we do prefer to use BetOnline for basketball because the odds are usually slightly more advantageous and the site offers more video live streams of select basketball matches than the chasing pack.
College Football Spread Betting
The only big point of difference between sports spread betting on NBA/NFL games compared to their college counterparts is that the spread tends to be a LOT wider for college games.
This is because we regularly see huge blowout wins in both the NCAAB and NCAAF. If you avert your attention to the image above, you’ll see the football spread betting gulf between No.2 ranked side Cincinnati and unranked Navy is -/+28.0! This is because Cincinnati is expected to completely obliterate Navy, and it’s much the same with the NCAAB fixtures – expect to routinely see wider spreads in the college games.
When it comes to point spread betting college basketball and football, we do vouch for BetUS because of the TV content the site produces – the hosts are switched on and it’s not uncommon to get winning picks out of fifteen minutes of screen time with them.
However, because of the deep markets and countless alternate spreads, Bovada is our go-to for the college game.
What does + and – Mean in Betting Spreads?
As detailed above, where betting spreads is concerned, the + sign indicates the underdog, meaning that the team has to either win or lose by less than the value of the + number in order for your bet to payout. So, for example, if you wagered on the Chicago Bulls on the NBA spread at +5.5, it means that should the Bulls either win the game as underdogs or lose the game by less than 5.5 points, your bet will payout.
The minus (-) sign indicates that the team is the favorite and has been challenged to win the game by a specified amount of points in order for your bet to payout. So, if Brooklyn Nets were listed on the NBA spread at -5.5, it means they need to win the game by six clear points minimum for your bet to win.
What is Betting Against the Spread?
Also known as ATS, Betting Against The Spread means that you are wagering on the underdog and the points in a specified game. So, in essence, you are wagering on the team with the + number.
So, when NFL betting against the spread, you’d be wagering on the Jaguars at +5.5 and crossing your fingers and toes for a win, for example.
What Does Covering the Spread Mean?
Covering the spread is a term used by analysts and bettors alike. The team that covers the spread is the favorite team (the one with the minus symbol) that beats the underdog by the exact/more points dictated in the spread.
If you look at the betting lines in the image above, you’ll see the Boston Celtics are the favorites to beat the Toronto Raptors on the NBA spread betting game line. If the result ends up being Celtics 100-90 Raptors (or really any score whereby the Celtics win by at least 6.5 points), we say that ‘Celtics have covered the spread,’ meaning they did what was asked of them from a betting perspective.
What does Beating the Spread Mean?
Beating the spread is the opposite of covering the spread. Using the same game (Celtics vs Raptors) seen above, should the Raptors either beat the Celtics as underdogs or lose by less than the specified 6.5 points set by the oddsmakers, we would say that ‘the Raptors have beat the spread.’
Why Go Line Shopping when Spread Betting?
The trick to making winning bets and maximizing your payouts when you do place a successful wager is to go Line Shopping. By line shopping around US spread betting sites, you’ll uncover the best odds and the best spreads for your selected sports wager. So, what are you looking for when you go line shopping?
Well, you want to find the best +/- spread betting line for your prediction. Let’s – for the sake of explanation – imagine that you favor the Ravens to beat the Bengals. However, when you checked the spread betting market for the game (as seen above), you were thrown off by the -6.5 spread. At the time of writing, these are the two top teams in the AFC North, so it could well be closer than a -6.5 point differential for the Ravens.
At this point, you need to be strong and avoid placing the bet until you’ve been line shopping. As detailed in the mini-reviews, MyBookie doesn’t offer much in the way of alternate spreads; the sportsbooks CTA is geared more towards competitive odds than it is the selection of markets. So, you’ll need to visit another site…
On this occasion, Bovada’s alternate market has come up trumps, offering narrower sports spread betting margins at decreased odds. So, if you are still confident that the Ravens will win, but feel better about them winning by just 2.5 points (-2.5), you can bet on that at Bovada with odds of -215 (as per the image above).
In terms of line shopping for value on the odds, there’s no difference between Bovada and MyBookie. However, a quick visit to BetOnline pays dividends on the moneyline (at least) on this occasion:
BetOnline offers the exact same odds on the Ravens vs Bengals spread betting market. However, the sportsbook also boasts fractionally better -275 (-280 on MyBookie & Bovada) odds on the moneyline.
This is just one particular example of hundreds and thousands of possible examples in which one site will better another based on the sport, date, etc.
The point of the example is more to champion the idea of opening multiple accounts at different sportsbooks so that you can take advantage of the better odds, better spreads, and all the bonuses and competitions, etc. on offer at all of them.
What is Closing Line Value?
The point spread is typically set by oddsmakers about a week before the scheduled sports event takes place. However, the spread does not always remain exactly as it was originally stated; there can be plenty of fluctuation over the course of the week, especially in injury-heavy sports such as the NFL or for events where the weather is likely to play a role, etc.
The spread as it is seen just before your sporting contest of choice gets underway is called the closing line. And professional bettors often assess themselves and their bets against the closing line value (CLV). They want to know if they placed their bets at the best possible moment to take full advantage of the spread and, thus, a higher probability of placing a winning wager.
For example, if a bettor vouches for Orlando Magic at -4.5 vs Cleveland Cavaliers on a Wednesday, but then the line closes just prior to the commencement of the game with Magic at -5.5, then it looks a good bet as you’ll need one point less than most other bettors who got the line at -5.5 just before tip-off.
As mentioned, seeking out CLV is a pro-betting tactic and something of a Vegas buzzword at the moment because, over time, it gives bettors a better chance of winning.
With that said, it’s not absolutely essential that you do it as a beginner – just focus on getting your selections right and placing simple bets and parlays, to begin with.
The Best Spread Betting Sportsbooks 2021
Now that you know how spread betting works, it’s time to select your preferred point spread betting site. There are many to choose from but, fortunately, our team has done the hard yards and assessed dozens of America’s favorite sportsbooks to uncover the best sports spread betting sites available on the market.
Below is our list of the top 10 as per our research:
- BetOnline – Best point spread betting odds available
- MyBookie – Great selection of tips and info for weekly spreads
- Bovada – Deep spread betting markets
- BetUS – Best welcome bonus available anywhere
- XBet – Promotes the best betting lines available & lucrative Odds Boosts
- Intertops – A great site for hockey point spread betting
- Sportsbetting.ag – One of the better sportsbooks for soccer spread betting
- BetNow – Competitive odds and deep markets for basketball spread betting
- GT Bets – Boasts among the best odds for NFL spread betting
- BUSR – Point spread betting site featuring an exceptional racebook
Best Spread Betting Sites Reviewed
For more detailed explanations of our ranking process when assessing the best spread betting sites US, see the top 5 mini-reviews below:
1. BetOnline – Best Sportsbook for High-Value Spread Betting Odds
When it comes to point spread betting, few other sites can hold a torch to BetOnline. It’s a sportsbook that boasts deep markets and provides spread betting options wherever it can, which includes enabling bettors to wager on the spread by the quarter and the half.
Looking at the image above, you’ll notice the popular market is open for New York Knicks vs Orlando Magic, as it is for all NBA games, as well as most other popular US sports leagues, including betting the spread NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, etc. All of these leagues (and many others) are available for point spread betting when games are live and in play, and video streaming of select sporting events is possible, too.
BetOnline doesn’t offer much in the way of alternate spreads which is a slight letdown, but we rank it first because this sportsbook always broadcasts the best odds available, and particularly when combined into parlays. In fact, it’s rare to see BetOnline outdone on game line value, period.
On top of that, the BetOnline code found available at the link provides a welcome bonus that’s worth up to $1,000. So, if you deposit enough, you could be betting on NBA point spreads (or whatever else) using the house’s money for quite some time!
- Deep market
- Best spread betting odds available
- Supports prop bets, teasers, and if bets
- Spread betting is available live & in play; video streaming is also available
- $1,000 welcome bonus
- Lacking in alternate spreads for NBA/NFL (or if they are there, we can’t find them)
2. Bovada – Best Sportsbook for Spread Betting Alternates
Bovada is our second favorite sportsbook to use for point spread betting, and the reason for our stance is the quality variety of options that Bovada serves up:
Clicking on any of the 30 or so sports that Bovada has on offer will you give access to the oddsmakers’ specified spreads. So, in the image above, you’ll notice the baseball point spread for Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros (note: in baseball, the point spread is known as the Runline).
Unlike some of its competition, however, Bovada doesn’t stop there: the site offers multiple alternate spread betting options once you hone in your game of choice. Red Sox vs Astros, for example, had 10 alternate run lines, and if you’re looking for a variety of spread betting options on the NFL in particular, Bovada comes up trumps, offering 30+ alternate point spreads for most games.
Bovada also makes betting point spread possible in the live arena, providing HD-quality video streaming, so you can watch the action unfold. The odds update in real-time and, though not the best available, are usually competitive enough.
Finally, the Bovada bonus code found at the link offers a $750 welcome bonus for new sports bettors in the form of a 100% deposit match. So, it’s possible to sign up and spend the first month betting on point spreads using your bonus earnings instead of your own capital.
- HD quality streaming and live betting
- A deep selection of alternate spread betting markets for all major US sports
- Free withdrawals from $10
- Great site for basketball spread betting
- $750 welcome bonus
- Doesn’t tend to broadcast the best odds
3. MyBookie – Best Spread Betting Site for Strategy and Picks
MyBookie is another solid option for the bettors among you who like betting spreads. All the major US leagues are featured on the site, including NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and college sports, and MyBookie offers plenty of European spread betting options too, with its EPL, UCL, and cricket coverage.
As with the two previously mentioned sportsbooks, MyBookie also makes it simple to create parlay bets of your spread selections for better value odds, and there’s live in-game betting too. The odds at this site are competitive but not the absolute best available.
The all-important element that sets MyBookie apart from other spread betting sportsbooks is that this betting site offers up a ton of useful tips. At MyBookie, users will find pages upon pages of blog posts and articles that data how to spread bet on a particular sport, what spread betting is, and the best weekly picks for the NFL and NBA (among others). In this sense, as well as being a great spread betting site, it’s also a great resource.
Right now, this MyBookie promo code gifts new players a $1,000 welcome bonus through a 100% deposit match, which you can of course use when betting spread. Plus, there are weekly reloads and a $250 sports rebate bonus on offer, too.
- Wide range of spread betting options from all the major leagues
- Parlay builder for complex bets
- $1,000 welcome bonus
- $250 sports reload bonus
- Tons of spread betting strategy content; great for spread betting football
- Lacks the alternate spread betting lines of some of the competition
- No live stream sports
4. BetUS – Best Spread Betting Site Welcome Bonus
BetUS is another of our favorite spread betting sites. It’s particularly good for NFL and European soccer, mostly because it tends to broadcast among the best spread betting odds for these two sports in particular.
Besides that, BetUS offers spread options for most sports associated with the line (hockey, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, etc), and live betting the spread is a feature. The odds update quickly in the live arena but there is no live streaming video and a distinct lack of alternate spreads.
Our favorite thing about BetUS where spread betting is concerned is the selection of media available to watch during the build-up to the weekend’s sports action. The site has a dedicated BETUS-TV channel that broadcasts NFL, NBA, EPL, Serie A, and UEFA Champions League shows, in which hosts and betting experts sit down and chew the fat over the best betting options available for the weekend. It’s a good watch and, of course, this means tons of great spread betting tips, too.
BetUS also stands out because of the huge welcome bonus currently on offer. Newcomers can claim up to $2,500 with a 125% deposit match using the BetUS bonus code found at the link.
- Bet on US & international sports markets
- Spread betting available for all the major US sports
- Betting the spread live and in-play is an option
- Competitive odds; especially when spread betting football games
- $2,500 welcome bonus
- TV channel with shows that provide tips for betting spreads
- Only 14 days to meet the welcome bonus wagering requirement
- A lack of alternates when betting the spread
5. XBet – Best Spread Betting Site for Odds Boosts
The final entry to our top 5, XBet provides plenty of solid options for spread betting sports, too.
At XBet, users will find it possible to wager on all their favorite US/European sports pre-game or live and in play. Xbet also allows you to try betting spread by the half or quarter, too. So, you can wager on Washington Football Team to win the first quarter by -2.5; the Packers to win Q2 by -2.5, and the Packers to win the game by -5.5 (for example). Parlay betting is available, too. But, do note that you can’t combine the above selection into a parlay.
XBet doesn’t offer much in the way of alternate spreads and there’s no live streaming. The site does, however, upload a lot of useful betting content, including spread betting tips written by professional bettors, so it’s a great place to get your tips.
At present., XBet is offering a $500 welcome bonus with a 100% deposit match to any newcomer to the site, and it’s always worth keeping an eye on the XBet Odds Boosts since you’ll regularly find enhanced odds on the spread, as well as NBA Locks, etc at this portion of the site.
- Spread betting available on full games/halves/quarters
- Live in-game betting is a feature
- Excellent site for soccer spread betting – deep markets
- $500 welcome bonus that doesn’t expire
- Enjoy betting the spread with regular Odds Boosts
- Doesn’t offer live streaming
- Doesn’t offer alternate spreads
Conclusion: What is the Best Sports Spread Betting Site?
It’s a bit of a toss-up between Bovada and BetOnline for our No.1 spot on this list. But, with its superior odds on most sports betting spreads; the HD quality video streaming available on the site, and the marginally better selection of bonuses/ in-play bonuses available, BetOnline narrowly edges out the competition for first place.
Sign up at BetOnline, take advantage of the great $1,000 welcome bonus, and begin sports spread betting today.
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What is the spread in betting?
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