What is Point Spread in Betting?

The points spread is a market that is priced up by all Canadian bookmakers and is a way of making a seemingly one-sided contest into a more competitive one. Having the points spread explained can be tricky for beginners, so here at BettingTop10, we’ve compiled a short guide to this hugely popular method of wagering.

Some of the most popular leagues and competitions in Canada will stage a number of one-sided contests throughout the season and these ties tend to result in the hosts using home advantage in their favour. The points spread allows bettors to wager on a market that gives both teams a fighting chance.

The figures created offer the pre-match favourites a disadvantage (for example -5.5) whilst it gives the underdogs an opportunity to make it a fairly close contest (for example +5.5)

The favourites would be required to overcome the pre-determined deficit in order to win the points spread whilst the underdogs would need to stay within a set number of points of the predicted match-winners.

If the favourites are -5.5 pre-match, they would be required to triumph by at least six points in order to overcome this handicap.

How to Calculate Winning Point Spread Odds?

Although it may appear a little complicated at first, calculating your winnings on the points spread market is relatively straightforward. Many reputable wagering sites also offer a Point Spread Calculator which will automatically work out your returns.


Points Spread
Amount Wagered
Returns (with Sports Interaction)
Possible Winning Results
NY Giants

(10 x 0.91 = 9.10 + $10 stake)

10-16, 26-40, 16-17, 20-27
New England Patriots

(10 x 0.91 = 9.10 + $10 stake)

40-15, 26-7, 24-3, 30-10

The Patriots are adjudged to be the clear favourites for this fixture and therefore have been priced up at 1.91 on the -17 points spread. They would need to be victorious by 18 clear points in order for you to receive a pay-out. The Giants would be required to stay within 17 points of their opponents in order to win the Points Spread.

As these markets are designed to make the contest a more even playing field, the odds are usually always 1.91 or similar. This essentially makes it a 50/50 chance.

On rare occasions, the sportsbook will alter these odds and that can often be triggered by the sudden movement of the markets.

What is the Puck Line?

Whilst football and basketball are always priced up using the points spread. Hockey tends to use slightly different terminology. The Puck Line is essentially offering one side an advantage and the opposing team a disadvantage. With tighter games commonplace in the NHL, the margins are much smaller on the puck line.


On Wednesday 9th October 2019, Dallas Stars face the Washington Capitals and Sports Interaction have priced up the puck line:

Dallas Stars +1.5

Washington Capitals -1.5


The bookmakers are expecting a relatively close game between the pair. The smaller the points spread, the tighter the contest is likely to be.

The Capitals would be required to win by two clear points in order to pay-out on the points spread. If they won 3-1, you can subtract -1.5 from their total score (3) and they would still be leading (1.5-1). This would be chalked up as a victory on the points spread market.

The Stars would need to stay within a point of the Capitals in order to be successful on the points spread. 2-1 (+1.5) = 2-2.5.

Run Line

The Run line are almost exactly the same as puck line and points spread markets and are most commonly used in Baseball wagering. Every MLB match will have a run line market priced up by the bookmaker days in advance. This will most commonly be set at +1.5 and -1.5. This enables Canadians to place a bet on the favourites to win by at least two runs, whilst dictating that the underdog must stay within one run of the fancied team.


Houston at Tampa (9th Oct 2019)

Houston: J Verlander – 1.5 Points Spread @ 1.72

Tampa: D Castillo +1.5 Points Spread @ 2.16

What is a PK or Pick’em?

Occasionally there will be two teams that are extremely well-matched and there is no discernible difference between the pair. This is described as a ‘Pick’em’ and means that there is no favourite or underdog for the match. If you back either side in this situation – they must win the game in order for you to receive a pay-out.

What if it’s a Tie?

Ties are fairly common in sport and the bookmakers will simply ‘push’ the points spread market in the event of this occurrence. If the two teams cannot be separated then you get your money back. If you wagered $10 on -2.5 and the match ended 4-4, then your account would be re-credited with the $10 outlay once the game has concluded.