by Stal Herz - 02/27/2006
For all of you just starting off in the world of gambling, here is an introduction course on how to bet point spreads.
So, your first question would naturally have to be, "What is a point spread?" The point spread is the amount of points a team is favored to win by.
For example, lets use a Philadelphia and Boston in the NBA as an example and the Sixers are favored to win by 5. This means that the Sixers must win by 6 or more points. If the Celtics loose by 4 and you bet the Sixers, you loose.
Same thing goes for Football. It's the reason why you see so many maniacs on the floor of sportsbooks loosing their minds even when the outcome of the game is already decided. If the Chargers are favored by 10 ½ over the Raiders in San Diego, that would mean that San Diego would need to win by 11 or more to "cover" that bet.
Football and Basketball, because of the high number of points scored in both sports, give the bettor the option of betting against the spread. Baseball does not offer up the same option because of the minimal numbers scored in games.
So how do you know what side of the spread to bet on, the favorite or the underdog? The truth is that most teams are usually right around 50 percent when it comes to covering the spread. Now understand that this can be either a team that is on a championship run or on their way to the corner store for a lottery ticket.
What you need to do is be adept at honing in on the right situations.
For example, there is an old adage that if you can find a home team that's playing as an underdog - often times called a "Home Dog" you might want to look into that game and lay some money down. Remember, a team doesn't have to win, only cover the spread.
When looking at the paper or the Internet for point spreads, you will usually see something like this: Sonics -3 Vs. Detroit. The -3 means that Sonics are GIVING three points to Detroit. Whichever team has the minus symbol in front of it is the favored team. In contrast, if you see: Detroit +3, this means that the Pistons are GETTING three points and are the underdog.
So how can you figure out who will cover the spread that night? Well, Doc's Sports has been studying this business for decades now and have their own formulas for success, but you can cook up a little brew as well. By doing your homework and taking a couple of dry runs, you will find what kind of point spreads you identify as "weak".
For some, football Sundays give one an entire week to analyze injuries, potential, weather - anything and everything. The lines (point spreads) in these games sometimes change from when they are set at the beginning of the week because of the amount of money being bet on either side. So, if you see a line that interests you when it comes out, if it seems extremely high or low, jump on it before it moves.
The same holds true for NBA betting. The first lines here are called overnight lines because they are set the night before the game. They change quickly, so stay on top of the lines to get the best action you can.
Before the proliferation of Internet information, most of these line moves were held within the secret smoky lounges of the Vegas big shot's, but in the modern world, you have almost as much information as they do. Be sure to take advantage of each piece of information available to you, because you can be sure the people setting the point spreads are doing the same thing.
Before you jump right in and try for real, take a week to practice how to bet point spreads. Pick five games a night and see if you can pick who will cover and who won't. See what patterns develop and what you're best at. Remember, doing it with money is no different other then the pressure you feel, so take the same strategy and nerves into your real betting world as you did in your practice realm.
Find yourself a team and follow it for a few weeks to see how they do against the spreads. If you can pick out a pattern and see a trap game looming for them, you could cash in because you did your homework and found the pattern.
Study which coaches like to run up the score, who were friends before they coached against each other, which games are rivalries, what happened the game before - everything and anything goes into making a spread.
It's up to you to find the information that will navigate you through the matrix and to the cashier's window.