What Is a Point Spread?


Sports betting is an attractive hobby to many gamblers, especially those who love sports and like to study athletic seasons. However, some of the terminology and concepts involved in sports betting, such as "point spread" or "ATS," can be a little intimidating to first-time bettors. With a little knowledge and understanding, you can master these concepts and start betting on sports to win money.


  • A point spread is basically an adjustment to the final score of a sports game, decided upon by the bookies of a given sports-betting website. For you to win the bet, the team you bet on must win the game by at least one point more than the spread. Lopsided games will have a larger spread than even match-ups.


  • The reasoning behind a point spread is simple. A point spread makes it more attractive for potential bettors to bet on the underdog. For example, let's say the previous year's Superbowl champion is about to play a team that hasn't won a game in two years. Point spreads make it much easier to place money on the losing team.


  • The point spread for a Lions vs. Steelers match-up might look something like this: Detroit Lions +15, Pittsburgh Steelers -15. Those are the adjustments made to the final score of the game. So if the final game score is 24-17, Steelers over Lions, the Steelers have failed to make up for the 15 point spread, winning the game by only 7 points, and people who bet on the Lions would win. "ATS" means "against the spread," and in this example, the Steelers are 15 points ATS.


  • Typically, a point spread will be followed by a number in parentheses, indicating the payout odds. For example, if this number were -65, you'd have to bet 65 dollars to win the cash purse plus your original bet. Higher numbers indicate the safer bet, and betting for the opposite team will generally award a higher payout.


  • As with any type of gambling, your odds of winning increase if you have a strong knowledge of what you're betting on. Sports betting can be addictive, and you should always remember to bet no more than what you can afford to lose.

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