Defining "spread," one of the most common gambling phrases.
What does “spread” mean as a sports betting term?
An abbreviation for “point spread” or another term for “line.” The “spread” is the betting line or odds used to determine the parameters for wagering on either the favorite or underdog in a sporting event. Wagering on a spread is intended as a method to incentivize betting on both sides of the competition.
Rather than just selecting an outright winner, gamblers are able to bet on the final margin of victory, with the favorite needing to win by a certain number of points and the underdog needing to stay within a certain range of points.
For example: Dallas –9.5 means that Dallas is the favorite and must win by at least 10 points. Washington +9.5 means that Washington is the underdog and has been “spotted” or “given” 9.5 points; if Washington loses by 9 or fewer points, it is a winning bet (if Washington pulls an outright upset, it is also a winning bet).
Usually, a spread is listed with a corresponding money line. Traditionally, there is a 10 percent “juice” that the house or sportsbook charges as a way to minimize their potential losses, depending on the outcome.
For example: Dallas –9.5 (–110) or Washington +9.5 (–110) means you’d wager $110 for the chance to win an additional $100 if you bet on the spread.
Depending on which side is receiving the most action, a sportsbook will often move the spread up or down in order to incentivize betting on the less popular side. Injuries or unforeseen changes such as suspension or weather can also impact the spread.
Spreads are often listed with a half-point (ex: 9.5) in order to prevent the final margin from landing exactly on the spread number (ex: 3-point spread, final score of 17–14). A “push” or “tie” usually goes to the house or sportsbook, unless another arrangement has been agreed upon beforehand.