What Is Spread Betting?

Spread betting is one of the most common bet types in all of sports betting, and is particularly popular when betting on the NFL and NBA.

The spread is essentially a sportsbook’s way of leveling out two unequal opponents, Dimers.com breaks it all down for you below. 

The underdog team is given a ‘head start’ in the form of points. To cover a spread, a favored team/athlete needs to win the game by the specified amount of points. Meanwhile, an underdog can either win, or lose within the number to cover.

The line can move prior to games and even during the match. It will fluctuate depending on injuries, momentum and naturally, the scoreboard.

What’s more you can bet on spreads within a particular period of time, such as a half in football, in addition to the standard full game spread betting

Spread Example 

Sunday Night Football – Broncos @ Patriots

New England Patriots -3.5

Denver Broncos +3.5

Using the example above, if you bet Denver at +3.5, they would need to lose by 3 points or less — or win outright — to cover the spread.

Conversely, if you bet New England (-3.5) at the spread, the Patriots would need to win by 4+ points to ensure a profit. 

In the event of a push — where the bettor and sportsbook tie —  your stake will be refunded. 

Push Example 

Bet: New England -3 vs. Denver  

Final: New England 24 – Denver 21

Given the Patriots only won by 3 points, and not MORE THAN 3, this is considered a push. You would be refunded your bet, and yes, sadly that means no profit.

MORE: What Sports Can I Bet On?

Alternate Spread

You will also see alternate spreads available for sports games. Often the spread number is shifted slightly, enabling you to choose between multiple options - all of which give you either a better chance of covering, or larger odds.

However, make sure you shop around to check if any book is offering a bigger spread number. Not sure where to look? Read on!

Dimers’ Best Odds section provides you with the juiciest odds from the United States’ best sportsbooks. We’ve also listed today's best promotions available with each sportsbook. Don’t say Dimers ain’t good to you!

MORE: The Top 10 Sports To Bet On

What is a Puckline or Runline? 

The puckline and runline are the spread within hockey and baseball respectively. They are absolutely 100% the same as spread betting in the NFL, CFB, NBA and every other sport. The reason they have their own name is because the sports are uniquely low scoring.

Both the puckline and runline largely sit at either +1.5 for the dog and -1.5 for the favorite. Rarely will you see this move unless you have the LA Dodgers playing the Colorado Rockies.

MORE: Where Do Sports Odds Come From?

What does PK or Pick ‘Em Mean in Spread Betting?

Seeing PK or Pick ‘Em on a spread betting is fairly common with soccer and occurs often in Premier League, MLS, Liga MX and La Liga betting. It can occur in other sports too when a match is incredibly tight and too close to call.

Often it looks like this:

If you choose a team with PK next to their name, all they need to do is win the game — there’s no cover needed. If the squad gets a W, you’ll receive a nice little payout in your account.

MORE: Most Common Sports Betting Mistakes

What is a Teaser?

Teasers are a form of a parlay and involve the manual adjustment of the spread line. 

This type of bet allows you to shift the point spreads or totals to suit you. Often this will see a dramatic decrease in odds, in exchange for friendlier spreads. 

Sportsbooks will generally give you the opportunity to adjust the spread by 6.0, 6.5 and 7.0 points within NFL betting, 0.5 to 1 in Baseball and Hockey, while Basketball generally allows anywhere from a 4.5 to 7.5 point shift.

No different to a parlay, all legs need to be correct for you to win. 


Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) v Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions (+10) v New York Jets

If you feel Pittsburgh may win handily in their matchup you could move them to -9.

Additionally, you may think the Lions are going to keep it close, so you tease/adjust the spread to +3. 

If the Steelers were to win by 10+ points and Detroit lost by 2 or less — or won outright — you would win this teaser parlay. 

Be mindful when placing teasers, some sportsbooks may void a leg or the entire teaser if one leg is a push.

With betting options like points totals, prop bets and spread betting in play it can be hard to know what each bet means and what is best for you.

For a breakdown of how to bet every major sport in America and around the world, check out our guides to sports betting:

Now you know everything there is to spread betting, go and have some fun! Always remember to gamble responsibly and keep Dimers on hand to help you find your next winner.


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