Progress Publishing Co.

 Football Point Spread

 

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Football Point Spread

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Football betting

The purpose of the point spread

Explanation of the football point spread

Who establishes a point spread

The changes in the football point spread during the week

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Football betting

American football is an extremely exciting game with the millions of crazy football fans not only in the United States but all over the world. The game becomes even more exciting and interesting for the fans when they have an opportunity to bet on the outcome of the football match. Billions of dollars are bet during four months of the football season with the bets handled by legal and illegal bookies all over the country. However, betting can only be possible if both teams in the football match are perceived by the public as equally matched. If one team is considered to be a heavy favorite and the other one is an obvious underdog, then an overwhelming majority of the bets will be on the favorite against few bets on the “dog”. If a favorite team will win, the monies bet on the “dog” won’t be enough to cover winning bets on the favorite. The betting in this situation will not be possible.

The purpose of the point spread

The point spread was created and introduced into football betting with the purpose of making betting possible on any football match regardless of the level of the teams’ performances on the field. The point spread is the accepted presumed difference between the total numbers of points to be made by the opposite teams during the match, which will determine winning and losing bets. Point spread equalizes the betting chances of the public on both sides of the betting proposition. It requires a weaker football team not to win but only to lose by less than accepted point spread in order for the bettors on that team to win. It also requires for the favorite team to win by more than the point spread or the bettors on that team will lose their bets. Thanks to the point spread, both football teams are perceived evenly matched not in winning or losing the game but in beating the point spread. That gives every bettor a 50-50 chance of winning regardless of the team he bets on and regardless of the actual result of the match.

Explanation of the football point spread

Football point spread explained with the few examples of the spread betting makes the concept of the point spread easy to understand. Football betting is not about which team wins or loses the game. Instead, it’s focused on which team beats the point spread. Suppose, New York Giants are going to play against Minnesota Vikings and the point spread is 8 in favor of the Giants. Even though the Giants are heavy favorite to win the match an 8 point spread makes the match for the bettors an even-money contest. Both football teams have even chances to beat the spread. The bookie will quote the point spread to his customers as “New York is 8 points over Minnesota”. The point spread in the newspapers will read like “NEW YORK – Minnesota +8” or “NEW YORK-8 Minnesota”. The favorite team is always shown first in the quotation and the capital letters indicate the home team.

If a football bettor decides to “get down” on New York and trust the Giants with his bet, he can only win his bet if the Giants will beat the Vikings by 9 points or more. In this case the Giants will beat the point spread. If the Giants will win the game by 7 points or less, a bettor will lose his bet. If a bettor chooses to bet on the Vikings, he will win if the Vikings lose by 7 points or less or, obviously, if they’ll win the game. In this case the Vikings will beat the point spread. If the football match ends with the total points difference equal exactly the point spread of 8 points, then it’s a tie and the bets should be returned to the public. Needless to say, the bookies don’t like to return the money, so they add a half-point to the point spread and make it “New York 8˝ points over Minnesota”. This way a possible tie will be eliminated. In this case the difference of 8 points means a win for the Minnesota bettors and the difference of 9 points delivers a win for the New York fans.

Who establishes a point spread?

A football point spread is established by a group of football experts. Each of them comes up with a point spread based on his analysis of the upcoming match. After that they compare their results and choose an average number for the initial point spread. That original point spread is known as “Las Vegas line” and it’s originated in Miami, Florida. It is sent to Las Vegas where it goes through additional adjustments made by another group of football experts including few big bettors. The Las Vegas line becomes published and distributed through the news organizations on every Tuesday of the football season.

The changes in the football point spread during the week

The Las Vegas line is the initial point spread. As soon as betting is on the way and monies are rolling in, the point spread goes through many changes. The money is the big factor that changes the point spread. The reason for that is that the bookie always needs to balance his book and have equal amount of money bet on both teams. Otherwise he runs a risk of going broke. If there is a lot more money bet on one team than the other and that team beats the spread than the bookie will have to pay off many bets out of his pocket. That’s why the bookie always watches the flow of the money. He regulates that flow in the right direction of the balanced book by changing the point spread. If the initial point spread was New York plus 8 over Minnesota and more money is bet on New York, a bookie can change the point spread from 8 to 9 to attract more bettors on Minnesota. One huge bet can increase or decrease a point spread by a point or two. Few huge bets can even turn a “dog” into a betting favorite.

Copyright Progress Publishing Co. 2006

Selected References:

John Scarne  New Complete Guide to Gambling The Gambling Times Guide to Winning Systems
Kelso Sturgeon  Guide to Sports Betting Alice Fleming  Something for Nothing/A History of Gambling
Carl Sifakis  The Encyclopedia of Gambling Alan Wykes   The Complete Illustrated Guide to Gambling
Edwin Silberstang  How to Win Big in Football, Baseball etc. Bert Randolph Sugar  Sports Book of Betting
Diagram Book   Rules of the Game Ralph Hickok  The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History
Dave Ominsky and P.J. Harari  Football Made Simple Charles Fellows   Football Rules Illustrated