The Point spread is a form of betting that levels the playing field between two teams. Oddsmakers estimate the difference in strength of a team and then add or subtract points to or from that number to create the Point spread. The goal of the Point spread is to attract more bets on the underdog and less on the favorite.
In high-scoring sports such as basketball and football, there can be a wide range of score outcomes. This makes the use of Point spreads more effective. The line can shift in the run up to a game for a variety of reasons, including the amount of action at one book, injury news, or respected money (i.e. bets from knowledgeable, long-term winning bettors) being placed on a particular side.
A key point to understand when betting on a Point spread is that it doesn’t necessarily mirror the final outcome of the sporting event. If a team wins by a margin identical to the Point spread, bettors on that side will receive their full wager back, called a Push in betting lingo. This is particularly common in the NFL, where games are often decided by three or seven points.
In most cases, a team will see more action on the opposing Point spread than expected due to a strong fan-base and/or the belief that they are better than their opponent. This will often cause the line to move, especially on a big game like an interconference matchup. For example, a 4-point spread might move to 3-points as the public places more money on the Celtics. In order to prevent ties, sportsbooks will sometimes add a half-point to a Point spread, known as the Hook in betting lingo.