Spread in Betting: Definition, Types, Applications & Tips For Secure Betting

spread in betting

Betting is a thrilling pursuit that combines strategy, knowledge, and a touch of luck. Among the myriad of betting options available, spread betting has gained significant popularity among enthusiasts worldwide. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the world of “spread in betting.”

Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or a newcomer seeking to understand the nuances, this article will unravel the intricacies of spread betting. Helping you make more informed decisions and potentially increasing your chances of success.

What is Spread in Betting?

what does the + and - mean in sports betting spread

Spread betting is a form of speculative betting that allows individuals to wager on the price movements of various financial instruments or the outcomes of events, such as sports events, without actually owning the underlying asset or participating directly in the event. It’s a popular form of betting in financial markets and sports betting.

In spread betting, you bet on the accuracy of your prediction regarding the extent of the price movement. This means you are essentially “betting on the spread” between the buy and sell prices offered by the provider.

How Does Spread Betting Work?

Let’s check step step-wise procedure for how you can work with spread in betting. 

Step 1: Selecting the Market & Choosing the Stake

The first step is selecting the market or asset you want to bet on. This could be a financial instrument like a stock, currency pair, commodity, or an event like a sports match. You decide on the amount you want to wager per point movement in the chosen market. This is your stake per point.

Step 2: Placing the Bet 

You place a bet on whether you think the price of the chosen market will go up (buy) or down (sell). If you believe the price will rise, you place a “buy” bet, and if you think it will fall, you place a “sell” bet.

Step 3: Spread and Points 

The spread betting provider will offer a spread, which is the difference between the buy (bid) and sell (ask) prices. The number of points you gain or lose is determined by how much the market price moves in your chosen direction. For example, if you place a buy bet, and the market price increases by 10 points, you win 10 times your stake per point.

Step 4: Profit and Loss

Your profit or loss is calculated based on the difference between the market’s final price and the price at which you opened your bet. If the market moves in your favor, you make a profit, but if it moves against you, you incur a loss.

Step 5: Risk Management & Settlement 

It often involves leverage, which means you can potentially gain or lose more than your initial stake. Many spread bettors use risk management tools like stop-loss orders, which automatically close a bet at a predetermined price to mitigate risks.  However, the bet is settled when you decide to close it or when it reaches a predetermined expiry date.

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Types of Spread in Betting

spread in betting

Each type of spread bet caters to different interests and strategies.  However, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the specific rules and types associated with each type of spread betting before placing any wagers.

1. Point Spread Betting

Point spread betting is a popular form of sports betting,  particularly in American football and basketball. In this type of bet, the sportsbook or betting provider sets a point spread. It represents the expected margin of victory or defeat between the two teams or participants in a game. 

How does it work?

The sportsbook assigns a point spread to each team. This indicates how many points they are expected to win or lose by. For example, if Team A has a point spread of -3.5 and Team B has a point spread of +3.5, it means Team A is favored to win by 3.5 points. 

2. Over/Under (Totals) Betting

Over/under betting, also known as totals betting, focuses on the total combined score of a game, match, or event. It’s widely used in sports betting, including basketball, football, and soccer.

How does it work?

The sportsbook sets a specific total score, and bettors wager on whether the actual total score will be over or under that predefined total. For instance, if the total score for a basketball game is set at 200 points, bettors can choose to bet on whether the final score will be over 200 points or under 200 points.

3. Spread Betting in Financial Markets

Spread betting in financial markets. It allows investors and traders to speculate on the price movements of various financial instruments. These instruments includes stocks, indices, currencies, and commodities, without owning the underlying assets.

How does it work?

In financial spread betting, the provider offers bid (sell) and ask (buy) prices for a financial instrument. Traders can place bets on whether the price of the device will rise (buy) or fall (sell). The profit or loss is determined by the difference between the opening and closing prices, multiplied by the stake per point.

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Advantages of Spread Betting

what is a push in betting the spread

Spread betting is popular because it allows traders and bettors to profit from both rising and falling markets. It offers flexibility in choosing markets, and provides tax advantages in some jurisdictions. Let’s check its advantages.

1. Potential for Profits in Both Rising and Falling Markets

One of the key advantages is its versatility. Unlike traditional forms of investing, where you profit only when the market or asset appreciates in value, it allows you to make profits whether the market rises (going long) or falls (going short). 

2. Tax Benefits in Certain Jurisdictions

Spread betting offers tax advantages in some jurisdictions, making it an attractive option for investors. For example, it is exempt from capital gains tax and stamp duty in the United Kingdom. This can result in significant cost savings for traders.

3. Leveraging and Margin Trading Opportunities

Spread betting often involves the use of leverage, allowing traders to control a larger position with a relatively small initial capital outlay. This can amplify both profits and losses. For experienced traders who manage risk effectively, leverage can be a powerful tool to maximize returns. 

Spread in Betting: Risks and Challenges

challenges in betting

It can be a powerful trading and investment tool, offering opportunities for profit in various markets and tax benefits in certain regions. However, it comes with inherent risks, especially due to leverage and market volatility. Hence, it is essential to note them.

1. Market Volatility

 While spread betting offers the potential for significant profits, it also exposes traders to market volatility. Prices can fluctuate rapidly, and unexpected events can lead to sudden and substantial price movements. This volatility can result in both substantial gains and significant losses, making risk management crucial.

2. Margin Calls and Stop-Loss Orders

The use of leverage in spread betting means that traders can potentially lose more than their initial deposit. In cases of adverse market movements, traders may receive margin calls, requiring them to deposit additional funds to cover potential losses. Traders should use stop-loss orders to protect their capital.

3. Managing Risk in Spread Betting

Effective risk management is paramount in spread betting. Traders should have a clear risk management strategy in place, which includes setting stop-loss orders, diversifying their positions, and not over-leveraging their investments. 

What is Spread Betting in Sports?

What is Spread Betting in Sports?

Spread betting in sports is a form of sports betting where wagers are placed on the accuracy of a prediction related to a specific sports event, particularly in terms of the margin of victory or defeat.  Spread betting in sports offers a unique way to engage with your favorite teams and events. Here are a few examples of how it’s commonly applied:

  • Point Spread Betting: In American football, you might bet on whether a team will win by more or fewer points than the point spread indicates. For instance, if the point spread for Team A is -7.5 and you bet on Team A, they must win by 8 or more points for your bet to be successful.
  • Total Goals (Over/Under) Betting: In soccer, you can bet on whether the total number of goals scored in a match will be over or under a specified number. If the set total is 2.5 goals, betting over would require 3 or more goals to win the bet.
  • Player Performance Betting: You can place bets on individual player statistics like the number of points, rebounds, or assists in basketball or the number of goals scored by a particular player in a hockey game.

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Tips for Successful Sports Spread Betting

Success in sports spread betting requires a combination of knowledge, strategy, and discipline. Here are some tips to enhance your sports spread betting experience:

  • Research and Analysis: Thoroughly research the teams or athletes, their recent performance, injuries, and any relevant news. Informed bets are more likely to be successful.
  • Understand the Spread: Take time to comprehend the point spread or over/under numbers. Recognize the implications of these numbers on the outcome of your bet.
  • Bankroll Management: Set aside a specific bankroll for sports spread betting and manage it wisely. Avoid betting more than you can afford to lose.
  • Use Stop-Loss Orders: Consider using stop-loss orders to limit potential losses. These orders automatically close your bet if it goes against you beyond a certain point.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest developments in the sports you’re betting on. Injuries, team dynamics, and coaching changes can all impact outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a negative spread in betting?

In betting, a negative spread, also known as a “minus” or “minus spread,” typically refers to a situation where the favored team or participant is expected to win by a certain number of points, goals, or runs. The negative spread indicates the points or goals the favored team must win by to cover the spread. For example, if Team A has a spread of -6.5 in a basketball game, they are expected to win by at least 7 points for bets on Team A to be successful.

Q2. What is a push in betting the spread?

In sports betting, a “push” occurs when the final margin of victory or outcome of an event matches the point spread set by the sportsbook or betting provider. In this situation, neither the bettor nor the sportsbook wins or loses; it’s a tie. The original stake is typically returned to the bettor when a push occurs.

Q3. What does the + and – mean in sports betting spread?

In sports betting, the “+” and “-” symbols are used to indicate the point spread for a particular team or participant. Here’s what they mean:

  • “+” (Plus): The plus sign indicates the number of points, goals, or runs the underdog receives. 
  • “-” (Minus): The minus sign indicates the number of points, goals, or runs the favored team or participant is expected to win. 


Spread betting is a dynamic and versatile approach, offering opportunities in various markets, from sports to financial instruments. However, like any form of betting, it carries inherent risks. This guide has equipped you with a solid understanding of the concepts, strategies, and precautions necessary for successful betting.

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