Recreational Math

Sports Numbers

What is a point spread?

A point spread is the predicted scoring difference between a game’s two opponents; it is used by bookmakers to equalize two teams for betting purposes. For example, if a person chooses the team that is favored, the gambler has to win by more than the point spread in order to get credit for a correct pick. If the underdog team is chosen, the bettor must lose by less than the spread number in order to get credit for a correct pick. If a point spread is listed as “off,” this means there is no official point spread for the game.

For example, if a person picks Army to win, and the team is favored to beat Navy by five points (called a spread of five points), Army must win the game by six or more points in order for the bettor to win. If Army wins by exactly five points, the game is called a “push,” and no one wins.


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