What Is a Point Spread in NBA Basketball?

Basketball sports gambling
Pgiam/E+/Getty Images

If you have stumbled upon this page, chances are you are hoping to learn the definition of a point spread when it comes to sports gambling, specifically basketball gambling. Or maybe you already know what a point spread is, but you are hoping to learn as much as you can before you put some money down on a specific team or game. Whatever the case, you have certainly come to the right place! Keep reading to learn everything you could have ever hoped to know regarding a point spread in sports gambling.

Definition:

Given that a matchup of real equals in any sporting event is exceedingly rare, sports books create a point spread to handicap the superior team. It works as follows:

Team A is a real powerhouse. Team B is promising but inconsistent. When teams A and B meet, A has a clear advantage. So the sports book might set a point spread of 10 points on the game. That would mean the favored team -- team A, in this example -- would need to win by at least 11 points to "cover" the spread.

The sports book will manipulate a point spread to ensure that there's a fairly even distribution of bets on both teams in any contest... which ensures that the house makes money no matter the outcome.

For a more detailed explanation of point spreads and how they are set, check out Allen Moody's Sports Gambling 101.

How to Play the Point Spread Effectively 

The first thing you must know before playing the sports spread, or before betting on sports period, is that the oddsmakers are professionals at their job.

They are masters at setting a line that is very difficult for anyone to bet on. Obviously, they do this on purpose because, at the end of the day, they are in the money making business.

The one thing to remember is that basketball games are rarely blowouts, especially when they are expected to be. Personally, I like to bet the on team that's expected to get blown out because when you bet on a team that has a gambling line of 15+, even if they lose by 14 points, you still win your bet!

But there are certainly instances when it is smart to put money on the favored team. There will be circumstances when an elite team is only favored by a couple of points (or -2). In this situation, it may be smart to put money on the favored team because it would seem likely that they will cover the point spread and win by three points or more.

Fight the Addiction

Sports gambling can become very addicting, so please seek help if you believe you are starting to have a problem. Betting on games makes them much more enjoyable, and it provides you with an adrenaline rush on some games that you would otherwise not care one bit about.

Some gambling from time to time is certainly OK, but please watch yourself carefully and don't let things get out of hand. Remember: More people lose money gambling than they win.

Some people consider sports gambling a disease which is why it is outlawed everywhere in the United States besides Las Vegas. However, many Americans still bet on sports illegally with various overseas bookies. Because of this, many Americans believe sports gambling should be made legal throughout the Unites States because the country is missing out on millions of potential tax dollars by sports gamblers using overseas bookies.

This article was updated by Brian Ethridge on 9/14/15.