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Spread betting in sports: what is spread betting?

Spread betting is one of the most complex forms of betting. At least it seems that way until you start.

The thing that puts off your average punter is that it is extremely volatile and the potential for loss is greater than normal betting. It is for this reason that you need to understand spread betting and how it works before you get too heavily involved.

We suggest that if you start spread betting, then you are a little more knowledgeable about betting than average.

What is spread betting?

We’ll touch on financial spread betting in this post as it’s the most popular form, but we’ll focus on how spread betting works in sports.

Financial spread betting

Spread betting is hugely popular, especially among people who work in or have an interest in finance. This is because it allows easy access to speculate on the movement of financial markets. This simplified form of betting on financial markets has meant an increase in popularity for spread betting.

The variables are quite high when spread betting on financial markets. The volatility of these markets means that, without paying due care, you can lose thousands in the blink of an eye. Your investment capital can go further, but you can also lose more than you initially deposited.

It’s important to understand the risks involved and have suitable strategies in place to manage this.

Whilst financial spread betting is the most popular form of this kind of betting, it can also be done in the sports world.

Sports spread betting

The way spread betting differs from traditional betting is that you’re betting on the movement of the market rather than an event. With traditional betting, you’re betting a set amount on the market to have a defined result at a set price. For example: you’re betting on a spread for a Premier League team’s total points and the spread is set at 70. You’ll bet a set amount per point that you think their final tally will be above or below the spread.

So, if you stake £5 per point that they will achieve a higher points tally than the spread, you’ll win £5 for every point over. However, should they get a lower points tally than 70, you’ll lose £5 for every point they miss that target by.

This means that there’s the potential for high wins. However, it also means that your potential for loss can be quite high should the team fail to hit this target.

There is a mechanism that you can build into your bet to minimise losses. It’s called a stop loss. This is the point that you define in your bet that you want to cancel and take a loss.

Let’s look at how that works: you buy on a spread but the share price of the company you bought dramatically takes a hit. Your bet will be closed out at your defined price meaning you can’t lose any more than you’ve set.

How does spread betting work?

The best way to answer the question ‘how does spread betting work?’ is to look at football spread betting. It’s a sport that everyone understands, and therefore it makes it easy to compare spread betting to normal betting in football.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the example we touched on earlier.

Example 1

Points betting over a season is one of the most popular spread bets. The prediction from the spread betting company may look something like this:

Manchester United points: 76 – 77.5

This means they are predicting Manchester United may finish on either 76 or 77 points. The lower one is the selling price. The higher one is the price you buy at.

If you buy the spread at £10 per point, and Manchester United finish on 84 points, you will win £65. That is £10 per point and £5 for the half a point.

However if Manchester United finished on 75 points, then you would have lost a total of £25.

Should you sell Manchester United points, you’re betting that they will finish with lower than 76.

If you bet at £10 per point, and they finish on 70, then you will win £60. However, should they finish on 80 points then you lose £40.

But perhaps the long term markets take a little bit too long for you, and you’d prefer to bet per match. You can do that with spread betting too.

Example 2

One of the most popular match markets to bet on is player goal minutes. The spread for a star striker will be set at something like 37 – 40.

At the end of the match, the times they scored the goals are added up. If you buy the spread, it means you’re hoping the total points are more than 40. For example, in the following situation:

Harry Kane Player Goal Minutes: Sell 37 – Buy 40

Then he scores a goal on the 15th minute and the 45th minute. These obviously add up to 60 minutes. If you bought for £10 per point at 40, then you would win £200. However, if he only scored in the 5th minute then unfortunately, your luck is out. You would lose £350. Which shows perfectly the amount of risk involved with spread betting.

Spread betting strategies for football

There aren’t as many spread betting strategies as there are in other types of betting. At least not in the same way. But there are a few handy hints you can follow to make the process a little bit easier for yourself.

Firstly, did you know that you can close out your bets in-play for many spread betting markets?

This is because the spread moves in-play, based on what is happening during the game.

Let’s say you bet on a Total Goal Minutes market and the spread was 167 SELL – 177 BUY. You bought the Total Goal Minutes thinking there would be a lot of goals in the match. But there were a few goals in the 20th minute of the game, to give you 50 points. The line would move to reflect this.

Say it moves to 200. This gives you an opportunity to get out of your bet and make a profit. By selling at this price, you’ll make an automatic profit.

Different Types of Spread Betting Football Markets

To give you an idea of what types of markets you can bet on when you’re spread betting, here’s a list of the most common football markets, along with a brief explanation of how they work.

Supremacy Markets

A supremacy bet is where the spread betting firm predict how dominant one team will be over another. This is where they set a spread based on how many goals a team will beat another by.

If you feel that Tottenham will win, you can buy them at 0.4 goals for a stake of £10.

When Tottenham win with a 5-1 scoreline, their supremacy is 4 goals. This means the actual result was +3.6 and you won £36.

Time of First Goal

This is where the spread predicts the time of the first goal in the match. They may set a spread of 19-22, and favour the first goal being scored in the first half.

However, expecting a quiet first half, you buy this for £10 per point. Eventually, during the match, the first goal is scored in the 32nd minute.

Given the 10 minute discrepancy, you win 10x your £10 stake giving you a profit of £100.

Total Corners

Total corners is an interesting spread betting market and gives you another angle to consider. The spread states how many corners they think will be taken by both teams during the match.

If a lot of corners are expected, the line might be set at 14.5 – 15 corners. You may feel that this is too high so decide to sell at 14.5 for a stake of £10.

But bad news: during the game, records were broken and there were 35 corners during the match. This would give you a whopping loss of £205. Ouch!

Goalscorer Shirt Numbers

This is one of the more fun spread betting markets. It takes a lot of research and a big sprinkling of luck to have success with this market.

At the end of the game, the shirt numbers of all the goalscorers in the market are added together.

For argument’s sake, the spread betting firm may set the spread at 52-56.

Noticing the star striker likes to stand out and has the number 88 on his shirt, you buy at £10 per point.

However, disaster strikes, and after many missed chances, the game finishes 0-0. You run up a loss of £560.

7 spread betting tips to remember

Spread betting can be exciting because the ceiling for profit is quite high. However, this is why some people can also get carried away.

So during your spread betting journey, make sure you follow these rules to keep your losses to a minimum.

  1. Always choose an even stake. Make sure that it’s one that you’re comfortable with. Remember: this isn’t like normal betting where your stake is all you can lose.
  2. Always assess the worst-case scenario and make sure that you’re comfortable with it happening. Spread betting can produce some nasty surprises for people that don’t think things through!
  3. Play it safe. If you’re in two minds what to do, it’s always prudent to close your position out at a profit and play it safe. It’s better to win a small profit than to lose!
  4. Never bet with money you cannot afford to lose. It should go without saying, but with spread betting, you can easily run up losses you weren’t expecting.
  5. Do not bet just to get out of as hole and chase another bet that is going badly. The hardest thing to do after losing a bet is to walk away. That is also the behaviour that gets people into trouble when betting.
  6. Always fully understand the market and the rules before betting. Especially if you’re new to spread betting. Double check you understand what you’re getting yourself into before you place a bet.
  7. Don’t bet unless you’re feeling completely focused. This means never betting when you are experiencing extreme emotions like anger or sadness. Also, never bet when you’re drunk!

Alternatives to spread betting

While spread betting can be fun, unfortunately, it can also be quite costly. It’s hard to get serious with spread betting and follow any real strategy. Unless you’re well into the financial markets and really know your stuff. And that can take A LOT of time and effort…

Something which doesn’t require as much time and effort, though, is matched betting. Now, it’s nowhere near as on-the-edge-of-your-seat as spread betting, but it’s sure as hell a lot more profitable. And the profits you do make from matched betting are completely tax-free.

So how does matched betting work?

Well, it’s quite simple actually…

Bookmakers are in a constant fight to try and win customers due to the never ending growth of the industry. They offer free bets and other promotions to attract sign ups. Matched betting is a process where you can turn these free bet offers into real money. Money that goes from the bookmakers’ pockets, straight into your account.

The great thing is that anyone can do it, from university students to stay at home parents. You don’t have to be a sports fan. Hoards of people are profiting from this and earning anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds within the first few months.

Why waste money betting when you can win it? To find out more about matched betting, download our free introductory guide.

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About the author:

Ian OddsMonkey

Ian OddsMonkey

Wondering how to make money from matched betting once you run out of ‘welcome’ offers? Ian’s here to document his journey on life after sign ups.

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