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Spreads, Lines & Totals: What are they?

Spreads, Lines & Totals: What are they?

Now that you’re familiar with Bonus Bets and how they work, you’ve got the ammunition to start putting some bets on. However, if you’re new to online betting like most of us are in the US, then there’s a few simple yet key terms that you need to understand to make sense of it all. Here, we look at spreads, lines and totals, what they are and when you should look to bet on them.

Spread Betting?

Besides from the money-line (head-to-head market), spread betting is the most popular market to bet on in the sporting industry. Whether it’s football, basketball, soccer or badminton, you’ll nearly always have a market to bet at the spread (ATS) at major online bookmakers.

In all sports, the favorite in a game is listed as being minus (-) the spread, while the underdog is listed as being plus (+) the spread. If betting the favorite, the bettor wins if this team wins by enough points to cover the handicap (- spread) that the better placed a wager at. If betting the underdog, the bettor wins if this team wins the game outright or loses by an amount smaller than the handicap (+ spread). The spread is always designed by the bookmaker so that around half of bettors will play the (-) spread and half will play the (+) spread, so that they are unconcerned with the outcome of the game and are likely to profit regardless. As a bettor, our job is to identify the correct spread to take so we can profit in the long term.

Here’s an examples of the spread for an NBA game between the Warriors and the Pelicans at Sugarhouse.

Point Spread

What this means is if you believe the Warriors will either win the game or lose by less than 6.5 points, you should bet the Warriors to ‘cover’ the spread. On the flip side, if you believe the Pelicans will win by more than 6.5 points, then you should bet on them to cover the spread.

Line Betting

If you understand what the spread is, then line betting is pretty easy to get your head around. Simply, bookmakers will provide alternate spreads for sporting events that are called ‘lines’. You can bet on these lines if you want to get higher odds at greater risk, or lower odds at lesser risk.

Let’s go back to the Warriors and Pelicans NBA game that we looked at previously.

line betting

See above, you can also bet on the Warriors to either win or lose by less than 9.5 points (as opposed to 6.5 that the spread was set at). It’s effectively the same as betting on them ATS, but you have a few more points to work with and will get lesser odds as a result. It’s a lower risk, lower reward option. Likewise, if you believe the Pelicans can win by more than their spread, you might want to take the alternate line of -9.5 that’s on offer, which will give you +150 odds for them to beat the Warriors by more than 9.5 points. This is higher risk, higher reward.

Total Betting

Betting on the total points is as simple as it sounds, so we’ll make this brief. The graphic below is again from the Warriors and Pelicans NBA game. Simply, if you believe the two teams will combine for more than 209.5 points, then bet on the over. On the flip side, if you believe it will be a low scoring game, then you should bet the under.

Note: you can bet on alternate total points, just like with the spread and line betting we talked about above. The same principle applies here.



That wraps up today’s article on Spreads, Lines & Totals, but if you have any questions, then make sure to hit us op on Twitter or Facebook where we’ll be more than happy to have a chat! Also, if you’re keen to give spread betting a crack, make sure you take advantage of the huge deposit bonus available at BetRivers by clicking here or by clicking the image below. Happy punting!


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