What Is Spread Betting?

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: June 13, 2024

In spread betting, the bookie sets a spread for a specific stat like total goals. Then, you need to predict whether the result will be higher by buying the spread or lower by selling.

Your profit and losses are calculated by multiplying your stake by how correct or incorrect your prediction was. For example, if you buy the 2.8 – 3.0 total goal spread and bet £10 and 5 goals are scored, your profit is £20 (2 x £10).

Join me as I explain this style of sports betting in more depth, show you how to place a spread bet, and share some of my favourite spread betting strategies!

How Does Spread Betting Work?

Spread Bet Example

Spread betting is similar to over/under style betting, where you need to guess whether in-game stats will be higher or lower than the line set by the bookmaker. However, the key difference is profit and losses aren’t fixed. The further away the result drifts from the spread, the bigger the profit or losses are. You can win or lose many multiples of your original stake.

Here are a few examples so you can see how spread betting works in the real world:

Example 1. Tottenham Vs Arsenal Total Goals 2.8-3 Sell

If you think the North London derby will be a tight affair with few goals, you might opt to sell the 2.8-3 total goals spread and bet £10. If the final score is 1-1, your profit would be £10. However, if the game ended 4-2, you would lose £30.

Example 2. Man Utd Vs Man City Total Corners 13.5-14 Buy

After crunching the numbers, you’re convinced that the ball will constantly cross the touchline in an EPL game between Man Utd and Man City. So you decide to buy the total corners spread at 13.5-14 and bet £10.

If your analysis ends up being correct and there is a record number of 21 corners, you would win £70. However, if the players are constantly diving to keep the ball in play and there are only 10 corners, you would lose £40.

Best Sports For Spread Betting

The best sport for spread betting is, no doubt, football. You’ll find spread betting markets for all EPL, Serie A, Championship, La Liga, and Bundesliga games. Bookies don’t just offer spreads for total goals. You can bet on 50+ football statistics, including total number of corners, goal times, bookings, and player performances.

Cricket is almost designed for spread betting thanks to the high scores, and the fact teams can go on a tear, smashing six after six. There are markets for runs, wides, fours, sixes, next wicket bowler and batsman performance.

Basketball is also a lot of fun to make spread bets on. You’ll find spreads for all NBA games and markets, such as point supremacy, total points, and team points.

Spread Betting Pros & Cons

Spread Betting Example

Spread betting injects instant excitement into any game you watch. Suddenly, you can bet on all kinds of statistics, from total goals to winning scores to shirt numbers. There are 100s of different markets.

The main reason punters are drawn to spread betting is the massive upside potential. Compared to fixed-odd betting, you have a much greater chance of hitting big wins. With a standard fixed odds over/under bet, you might only double your stake if your prediction is right. However, with spread betting, 5x or even 10x wins are common.

The big drawback of spread betting is the uncapped downside risk. In fixed-odd betting, the most you can ever lose is your stake. However, in spread betting, you can lose multiples of your stake. For example, if you bought the total goal minutes spread at 140 and the game ended in a draw, you would lose 140x your stake. A small £10 bet would turn into a £1,400 loss.

Pros:

  • Potential for huge wins from modest bets
  • Low commission
  • Bet on all kinds of sports statistics
  • Adds extra excitement to the game

Cons:

  • Losses can spiral out of control from even small wagers

How to Place a Spread Bet?

Placing a spread bet is just like placing an over/under bet and is super simple. If you need a little help, follow these steps:

1. Create an Account

Head to a major spread betting bookie like Smarkets and tap the sign up button. Then, fill out the quick registration form. You need to share your full name, date of birth, email, address, and mobile number, and upload your ID and proof of address.

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2. Deposit

Head to the cashier or hit the deposit button in the top right-hand corner. Select your payment method, for example, debit card and type in the amount you wish to deposit, say £100. Then enter your payment details and confirm the transaction.

3. Find a Spread Bet

Now your account is funded, click on a sport and a specific game, for example, football and Arsenal vs Chelsea. Choose a spread betting market like total goals.

4. Place Your Wager

Select a spread and whether to buy or sell. For example, total goals 2.8-3 buy. The selection will be added to your bet slip. Then enter your stake, say £10, and hit the place bet button.

Spread Betting Tips & Tricks

Here are some of the strategies I use when spread betting and have proved profitable over the years:

  • Buy total corners when two high-scoring teams are playing – Corners and goals scored are highly correlated. Also, look for games between teams that cross the ball a lot and rely on long passes, as this strategy often results in a high number of corners.
  • Sell total goals when the weather is bad – Wet, cold, and miserable conditions significantly reduce the number of goals scored in football games. Based on EPL data, for every degree Celsius decrease in playing temperature, the odds of the total goals being less than 2.5 increase by 1.2%
  • Buy supremacy on big NFL underdogs playing at home – Underdogs tend to overperform when playing at home and are far more likely to beat the spread. Look for underdogs playing favourites from the other side of the country. For example, the New York Giants playing the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Take advantage of free bet offers – Most bookies will give you free bets after you’ve placed your first wager. You can convert these bonuses into cold hard profit without taking any risk by placing a spread bet.

Give the above strategies a go, and let me know if you managed to pick any winners!

Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, parlays, and other betting strategies.