Are you looking for a different and exciting way to bet? Sports spread betting could be just the thing for you. But what is it actually, and how does it differ from regular betting? Well, instead of betting on fixed odds, you bet against a spread, and the more right you are, the more you can win.

Still unsure? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this fantastic type of bet.

Spread betting may be a little complicated at first, but once you understand the basics, the general concept remains the same for most sports and markets.

Basically, instead of a bookmaker offering fixed odds, spread bookies provide a ‘predicted score', which is what the operator thinks is the most likely outcome. You can then either bet that the actual final result will be higher or lower — this is called buying or selling.

Additionally, when placing a stake, you place your bet per point rather than as a fixed number. This means that you can win or lose much more money with a single bet. The following example below should help to clarify all this:

In football spread betting, the most common form of bet is the Premier League points total — that is, the number of points a team will accumulate by the end of the season.

Let's say a bookmaker predicts Manchester United will score between 68 and 70 points by the end of the season. If you think United will end with more points, you can buy, i.e. you predict that their score will be higher than 70. If, on the other hand, you believe they'll score fewer points, you can sell at 68. You decide to bet £10 per point.

Buying — If you decide to buy and Man Utd end up with 75 points, you win your stake multiplied by the number of points you're right by. In this case, 75 (actual points) – 70 (predicted points) = 5 → 5 x £10 = £50. This means you win £50.

If United actually picks up 65 points: 65(actual points) – 70(predicted points) = -5 → -5 x £10 = -£50. That means you lose £50.

If you choose to sell, you bet against the bookmaker's predicted sell point, i.e. 68. Otherwise, it works the same way, but with the opposite result: if Man United get fewer points, you win; and if United get more points, you lose.

Cash Out

We all know just how useful a cashing out can be — winning a chunk of your stake before you have the chance to lose it completely. However, in sports spread betting, cashing out is a bonafide strategy that you'll probably need to use to get the most out of your stake.

An example of this is betting on supremacy, especially in a high-scoring sport. In basketball, you may find predictions that one team will outscore another by a certain number of points.

Let's say you bet that the Denver Nuggets will beat Miami Heat by more than five points, you may want to cash out during the second quarter if the Nuggets are winning by 20 at that point. If you decide to hold out on your bet, Miami could end up winning, and you lose your stake plus a multiple of the point difference.

Spreadex Spread Betting Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

In-Play Betting

Bettors are even able to spread bet in play, which works pretty much the same way albeit with faster-changing markets. In this sense, it can be a little like exchange trading, where you can react to events in real time to help generate a profit or prevent a loss. Some punters choose to spread bet over longer-term events such as tournaments instead, meaning they can buy and sell positions as the tournament unfolds.

Sporting Index In-Play Betting Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)
Spreadex Homepage Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

One of the best spread betting sites out there, this UK-based platform is a serious powerhouse with a brilliant offering. Firstly, Spreadex offers both spread betting and fixed odds betting, which is perfect for all the new bettors out there.

The biggest highlight is the wide range of markets and depth of bets available on the site, with 24 sports to choose from. For the biggest events, there are often over 400 betting options, which is insane compared to traditional bookmakers.

If you prefer financial trading, Spreadex has you covered too. The website is just as good as their sports page, with an informative page to help you get started and become a financial trader!

And finally. Spreadex is excellent at supporting its users — whether it's through their ‘Get Started' page, with information about each market they offer — or through their FAQs and customer service options.

Sporting Index Homepage Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)

An absolutely brilliant spread betting site in its own right, Sporting Index is one of the leading sites worldwide when it comes to their specialty — spread betting.

The more focused site offers 15 different sports with some great depth in the market. They also love a future bet, with many season-long betting opportunities to choose from. If you want to play regular odds, you can do so too with their sportsbook section.

The highlight of the site is its stellar welcome offer — a 50% cash back on net losses up to £500. This means you could save up to £250 if you makes some big losses, which could happen when betting on spreads.

Finally, the site itself is well designed and intuitive to use. The help section is very detailed, and it’s easy to contact the operator via email, 24/7 calls, and live chats are available between 8am-11pm.

If you can bet on it, you can spread bet on it. Most bookies offer a wide range of sports to pick from, so you'll be spoilt for choice either way. That being said, some of the most popular sports offer even more markets and bet types. Here are some of the most popular sports for spread betting.

Football Spread Betting

More than half of all spread bets are placed on football. This should come as no surprise, as it's by far the most popular sport, and the huge range of markets is a match made in heaven. Some of the most common markets in football spread betting are total goals, winning margin, cards, corners, goal minutes, among many others, including supremacy and binary markets. If you're looking to place bets on these markets, check out our brilliant stats pages.

Winning Margin Betting at Betway Sports Betting
(Source: Betway)

American Football (NFL) Spread Betting

The National Football League (NFL) is not a big league for providing shock results, with the best team winning the majority of the games most of the time. The Americans, who are spread betting fanatics, use spreads as a way of handicapping the favourite team to improve their betting ranges and value.

Betting this way on the NFL allows any bets on the favourites that cover the spread to pay out much more than with fixed odds betting, known in the US as money lines. It also allows bets on an underdog to have the same opportunity to win that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Spreadex American Football Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

The most popular NFL markets are similar in principle to supremacy and can be considered as a form of handicap betting, giving you a chance to bet on the underdog without it being such a long shot.

Golf Spread Betting

Golf spread betting works on most golf markets but is particularly popular with European and PGA tour events. As with all other sports, your bookie will make multiple predictions on a tournament and you decide whether that prediction is too high or too low. It can be used to bet on markets such as Finishing Position, leaderboard finishing places, hotshots (aggregate scores from set groups of players), winning score, winning margin and supremacy match bets.

Tennis Spread Betting

Spread betting on tennis has two particularly popular options, the first being betting on the individual games of a tennis match. Again, you are required to predict a player that will perform at least as well as the bookmaker thinks. If your pick does even better than the bookmaker predicted, then great, you will collect even more.

Remember, the favourite must win by the number of games laid by the spread, or the underdog must win fewer games by the required amount in order for your bet to win. You can also bet by match, aces or by set. With set spread betting, you are looking at how many sets a player will win, whereas ace betting requires your player to hit a pre-designated amount of aces in the match.

Tennis Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)

Basketball Spread Betting

Basketball spread betting is the most popular way to bet on the NBA. It is a great way of levelling up a match that can be tricky to bet for value on using just fixed odds, due to some teams being unevenly matched. Point spreads are the most common type of bet in basketball, and again require you to decide how you feel about the bookie’s published points prediction.

As with all spreads, you will need the team to match, or better still, beat what the bookie has predicted in order to pick up a return on your investment.

Spreadex Basketball Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

Horse Racing Spread Betting

With horse racing spread betting you can bet on such variables as winning distance, jockey index, or on the distance of places between individual horses. Distances are offered on both individual races or across entire cards of seven or maybe even eight races at a meeting.

These markets have a limit cap of 15 lengths in national hunt races and 12 lengths in flat horse racing. Another option is to bet on the match bets where your horse doesn’t need to win the race but must do better than the horse it has been matched with. You can also bet on the favourite's index, where each favourite gets a certain amount of points.

Sporting Index Horse Racing Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)

The best way to learn is by example. The same goes for sports spread betting — and with so many different markets across a huge range of sports, it's pretty normal for punters to feel overwhelmed at first. Here are some of the best examples to ensure you get a good understanding of all the most popular spread betting types.

Classic Spread Betting

This can come in all shapes and sizes depending on the league, competition, and indeed sport. Let's take football as the main example, as it's the most extensive sport to choose from. Below are a few examples of classic spread bets:

Total match goals: In this example, let's take Manchester City against Inter Milan in the final of the Champions League. Our bookie predicts that between 2.8 and 3.2 goals will be scored during the match. As mentioned earlier, the first number is ‘sell' and the second is ‘buy'. You believe that more goals will be scored so you decide to buy at £10 per goal.

If the game ended 4-2, you'd have won: 6 (actual goals scored) – 3.2( predicted goals scored ) = 2.8 –> 2.8 x £10 = £28. If the match ends 1-0, you'll lose: 1( actual goals scored) – 3.2( predicted goals scored) = -2.2 –> -2.2x £10 = -£22 which means you'll lose £22. This tables below will help explain this better.

Placing a £10 buy bet at 3.2:

Total Goals ScoredWorkingWinnings / losses
11 – 3.2 = -2.2£10 x -2.2 = -£22
22 – 3.2 = -1.2£10 x -1.2 = -£12
33 – 3.2 = -0.2£10 x -0.2 = -£2
44 – 3.2 = 0.8£10 x 0.8 = £8
55 – 3.2 = 1.8£10 x 1.8 = £18
66 – 3.2 = 2.8£10 x 2.8 = £28

Placing a £10 sell bet at 2.8:

Total Goals ScoredWorkingWinnings / losses
02.8 – 0 = 2.8£10 x 2.8 = £28
12.8 – 1 = 1.8£10 x 1.8 = £18
22.8 – 2 = 0.8£10 x 0.8 = £8
32.8 – 3 = -0.2£10 x -0.2 = -£2
42.8 – 4 = -1.2£10 x -1.2 = -£12
52.8 – 5 = -2.2£10 x -2.2 = -£22
Spreadex Classic Spread Betting Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

Similar markets to this one are team goals, total corners, total cards, goal minutes, tournament winners, total points, and many more.

Supremacy

A brilliant form of spread betting, especially for high-scoring sports, supremacy is a head-to-head bet where two opposing teams are pitted against each other for a specific event. Here's an example:

The Denver Nuggets face Miami Heat in this year's NBA playoff finals. The bookmakers predict that the Nuggets will win the game by a margin of 13 to 16 points. If you think the difference will be smaller, or Miami will win, you can sell. If Miami wins 88 – 86, you'll win: 2(actual points) + 13(predicted difference) = 15. If you bet £10: 15 x £10 + £150 won.

Placing a £10 buy bet at Nuggets to win by 16 points

OutcomeWorkingWinnings/losses
Miami to win by 5p-5 -16 = -21£10 x -21 = -£210
Nuggets to win by 5p5 – 16 = -11£10 x -11 = -£110
Nuggets to win by 10p10 – 16 = -6£10 x -6 = -£60
Nuggets to win by 20p20 – 16 = 4£10 x 4 = £40
Nuggets to win by 30p30 – 16 = 14£10 x 14 = £140
Nuggets to win by 40p40 – 16 = 24£10 x 24 = £240
Sporting Index Supremacy Betting Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)

In supremacy betting, the scores can fluctuate greatly during a match, and a good cash-out strategy could be the best way to win your bet. Similar markets are anything which involves a team outperforming their opponents, such as corners, cards, points, rebounds, lengths in horse racing, and many more.

Binary

Binary betting is an alternative point system that can give you higher winnings or lower losses. Instead of the usual multiple of the stake depending on how right you are, binary bets only offer two outcomes: 100 or zero. Here's an example:

England take on Ireland in a cricket Test match, and the bookies are predicting more than 250 runs at 21 – 29. If you decide to buy at £10 per point and they hit 251 runs, you'll win 100(binary score) – 29(predicted score) = 71. That means you win 71 x £10 = £710.

The downside is that you lose the bet: 0 (binary score) – 29(predicted score)= -29. This means you'll lose £10 x -29 = £290. The bet can be quite risky, but also very rewarding if you can find the right value.

Placing a £10 buy bet on over 250 runs at 29 predicted odds.

OutcomeWorkingWinnings/losses
200 runs0 – 29 = -29£10 x -29 = -£290
240 runs0 – 29 = -29£10 x -29 = -£290
260 runs100 – 29 = 71£10 x 71 = £710
300 runs100 – 29 = 71£10 x 71 = £710
Spreadex Binary Betting Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

You can find most of the typical spread betting UK markets in binary form, and they can either serve as a higher risk, higher reward bet (as in the example above), or they can be safer. With normal spreads, you can end up with a negative result, but with binary bets, zero is the lowest you can go.

Multiples

The final set of markets you should keep an eye on are multiples. These are basically the regular markets but multiplied together to give even higher odds. here's an example below:

Goals x corners x bookings: In this case, the total number of goals scored is multiplied by the total number of corners and multiplied by booking points. In this case, the predicted points can reach up to 1200 – 1500 — massive numbers with a huge possibility to win or lose a massive amount of money.

Spreadex Mutliples Betting Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

You’ll be able to find many other variations of multiples, depending on the sport or event. In some cases, operators may even offer bet builders with a similar premise, although some will be offered as binary bets.

While the rewards of successfully beating the spread can be very high, so too can the losses, so it’s best to dip a toe in the market rather than jump right in with both feet first.

As strong believers in safe and responsible gambling, we recommend some strategies below to give you a better chance of winning your stake. It might seem tricky at first, but remember the essentials are that the more the result (or market) moves in your favour, the more you make, and your payout is based on the accuracy of the wager rather than just the result.

Choosing Your Stake Wisely

One of the biggest risks with spread betting strategies is the fact that you have to place your bet per point. As mentioned earlier, this means two things: you can win a lot more or lose a lot more. When betting, you definitely need to be prepared by keeping an eye on your stake so that you don't lose too much in the event that a bet is not going your way. On the flip side, there's no such thing as winning too much.

Study the Options

With spread betting, you can find a huge and often overwhelming choice of markets on a particular match or tournament. To maximise your chances of success, study the wide range of options to ensure that you are only putting the money into something you truly understand.

If you bet on a sporting event you know well, you'll always have an advantage over betting on a sport you know nothing about. This also applies to the different markets — the best way to find value is to go through the various options and pick the best available. We recommend always being cautious until you're sure you understand the market properly.

Cashing Out

In fixed odds betting, cashing out is simply a way of securing your winnings before you lose your stake. In spread betting, it's so much more, and should even be considered a top strategy when betting on fluctuating markets.

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The main reason for this is that you might reach the highest potential winnings halfway into a match before it drops again. The same goes for losses, as an early cash-out could save you from even bigger losses.

Of course, this is difficult to predict and patience is the key to finding the right time to cash out or deciding whether you should cash out at all.

Tread Cautiously

Only bet on the games you know and only wager low, at least when starting out. Also, make sure that you truly understand what spread betting is and how it works before you put money down on it. In short, be cautious and tread carefully when getting involved in this alternative betting option.

Research is Key

Perhaps the most vital tip: the key to a successful bet is research. The bare minimum can make a huge difference in the long run, as even the slightest insight can change your mind about an event or market. One of the best ways to do research is through statistics.

A gut feeling may be right every now and then, but only statistics can give you a true pre-match picture. Our dedicated stats pages are the perfect introduction to football data. If you want to bet on other sports or are looking for even more stats and numbers, you can check out our list of the best football stats sites.

To learn more betting terms you may encounter whilst spread betting, you can also check out our betting terms page where we explain 150+ terms from A to Z

So you've seen the examples and some of the best sports for spread betting, but is it really worth it? Should you make the switch — or at the very least, try out the uncharted betting alternative? We have compiled a comprehensive list of advantages and disadvantages to help you make up your mind.

Pro & Cons of Spread Betting

Pros:
  • It's a new and exciting way to bet
  • The more accurate you are, the more you win
  • The largest sum you can win is much higher
  • There are many sports with incredibly in-depth markets available
  • Simple once you understand the concept
  • Perfect for high-risk, high-reward seekers
  • Bets tend to last the entire duration of a match
  • Higher odds for underdogs and seemingly obvious events
Cons:
  • It may be tricky to understand at first
  • You could end up losing more than you bargained for
  • Bets tend to be risky
  • You have to stay alert for the duration of the match to cash out at the right times

Spread betting or trading with the markets is a very similar principle to sports spread betting. It is a cost-effective alternative to buying actual shares, which is sometimes known as commodity trading, and is appropriate for speculating on short to medium term price movements.

Basically, it lets you generate a profit from the movements in the values of a financial asset by reading the markets in order to correctly predict when the stock’s value will rise or decline, thus maximising profits and eliminating losses, or at the very least, reducing risks.

With these kinds of bets, traders are required to trade on margins, which means your risk isn’t assumed to the asset itself. Margin rates vary depending on the type of asset you place your bet on and are calculated by multiplying the value of the position against the margin rate for that particular asset. The tighter the spread, the cheaper it is for you to trade; and in traders’ terms, to buy is to go long and to sell is to go short.

Even though you do not own the asset outright, if its share price doesn’t react as expected, you are still liable for the full amount of any loss occurred as if you actually did own the asset. Because of this, the potential losses can be greater than your initial outlay.

Also, remember that with this type of trading there are two prices for an asset, the offer and the bid. The offer is the price you buy at and the bid is the price you sell at. As ever, this is a timing game and buying and selling at the optimum moment is the key to success.

Key Stats

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    In 2015, a group of investors in Britain’s biggest spread betting firm took just a few minutes to wipe £18 million off their books after failing to close their assets down in time when they were betting on movements in the Swiss franc.

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    The author of the book 60 Minute Trader, Chris Kobewka, started out with a $360 stake and took less than a month to turn it into $19,800. He once made over $2,000 in under an hour with just three simple trades of around $20.

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    in 2017, Teacher Chris Stringman from the UK lost £130,000 spread betting on how the Dow Jones would react to an impending announcement on the US economy.

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    Scotsman Barnett Alexander made £1 million in 18 months using his self-designed betting model called System X, which he operated from his home in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire.

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    Prior to the launch of the €uro Currency in 1999, one unnamed French broker capitalised on the fluctuating interest rates of the doomed Franc before liquidating his positions for the best part of £5 million.

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    One savvy trader capitalised on Facebook’s slow start all those years ago by betting against the firm’s New York stock for more than $8,000 a point before closing for almost $3 million.

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    One absent-minded spread bettor bought in to Google after they floated in 2004 for $99 at £1 a point before completely forgetting about the wager, only to remember one whole year later when her account was showing a profit of £20,000.

The righter you are, the more you win. This is true for spread betting. Unfortunately, this means that the opposite is also true: the more wrong you are, the more you can lose.

However, as a form of wagering, spread betting does provide bettors with better returns, rewarding or punishing your judgement based on the accuracy of your prediction which is why it is so popular. You can find spread betting markets on most sports, although some are better suited than others to this alternative method of gambling.

This article has all you need to know to begin your spread betting journey. Good luck!

It’s quite simple once you know. With sports spread betting, you are betting on the result of a sports event being above or below the spread as offered by your bookmaker.

Football definitely dominates the sports spread betting markets, but golf, tennis, basketball, and American football are all also very popular.

Yes, betting on horse racing is available and increasing in popularity all the time.

Yes, you can. At the right bookmaker, you will see in-play betting on a wide range of sports daily. This way, you can follow how a game is developing and which way things are heading before placing a bet.

Yes, not only is cashing out available, but in many cases, advised too.

WRITTEN BY Jeremy Sant Fournier View all posts by Jeremy Sant Fournier

If there’s one thing Jeremy loves, it’s sports. A football fanatic at heart, Jeremy can always been found watching, playing or talking about sports. It’s in his blood, and with a keen interest in sports betting, sports writing is a match made in heaven.

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