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What is spread betting? Meaning & Definition
Spread betting is a form of betting that is very different from the traditional way in which sports bets are typically placed with online bookmakers. If you’ve bet on sports online before, you’ll know that you make a wager according to a predetermined odd, and your return is basically your stake multiplied by the odds in question. This is traditional sports betting, or fixed price sports betting if you will, but spread betting can be quite different.
Of course, to engage in true spread betting, you need to find online bookmakers that offer this kind of specialized betting to begin with. There are multiple sites out there in the UK today that offer this kind of betting, and we will be getting to all of this later in the post. For now, however, you simply need to understand that in spread betting, you will never be betting on the outcome of the game in the sense of win or lose – you will be betting on key scoring factors and other elements of a game in the hunt of profit.
This is why you will notice that with the top spread betting sites, there will always be countless markets tied in with a particular element of a sport. Such examples might be the number of goals in a game of football, the number of games in a tennis match, and countless other formats for other sports. Let’s now get into a bit more detail about how spread betting traditionally works with the best sports.
An in-depth look at UK spread betting
Just to confirm what we are talking about here – spread betting is very different from placing your typical wagers on sports. A classic example of a standard type of sports wager would be to bet on Manchester City to beat Chelsea in a football game. As you may already know, Manchester City will have a predetermined odd to get the victory here, and you effectively will compare this odd with the wager placed to calculate your return.
The two main elements here are that you are backing a pre-set outcome (a Manchester City victory in this case), and the odds are also fixed – say 1.5 for a Manchester City win. In contrast, the odds can change depending on how much you drift from the bookmakers’ predictions for the element that you are betting on. Let’s work from this example again to highlight how a spread bet works.
If we take the total number of goals as the element that you are betting on here, the bookmaker might have come up with a target spread of between 2.9 and 3.1 goals. With this being the window of goals that the bookmaker has predicted the game might finish with, you can effectively ‘buy’ a market that is above this range, or ‘sell’ a market that is below this range.
This is naturally down to your own thoughts and predictions, and the more that you are correct here, meaning that the further away the outcome is from the bookmakers spread, the more you could potentially win. However, the contrast is also true, where you could also be liable to pay out a bunch of money if you bet incorrectly. As you can see, the rewards can be great with sports betting, but so too can the losses. After all, this is the risk associated with all kinds of sports betting.
Spread betting with sports
Spread betting in sports is often compared to spread betting in the financial markets, which is why we are making this section in the first place. Now, in sports, the underlying element is always going to be a particular scoring outcome or a number related to a feature of a game such as the number of goals, corners, points, and so on and so forth. Of course, the element is always different depending on the sport you are betting on.
There is one constant here, however – a bookmaker will always create a target spread that it thinks the outcome will finish within. This is where the term ‘spread’ actually comes from, as the market can spread above or below this prediction from the bookmaker. We will be looking at the various examples of spread bets for different sports a little later in the article.
There are a couple of other terms you need to be familiar with in sports spread betting. If you feel that the outcome will be higher than the prediction created by the bookmaker, then you are said to be on the ‘buy’ side of the spread. If you are betting that the outcome will finish lower than the window offered, you are said to be on the ‘sell’ side of the spread.
Always remember, you will win/lose according to the number of units outside of the spread window that you are correct or incorrect. Once again, this is why you can win big or lose big, and you will need enough money in your account to cover both eventualities.
Spread betting in the financial markets
Now that you have a better understanding of how spread betting works in the sports betting markets, let’s make a quick comparison as to how this works in the financial markets. While the underlying factor with spread betting on sports is the outcome of the element in question, in the financial markets, the underlying factor is always the price of the asset. Let’s work through a stock price shift as a quick example.
If you are betting on the spread in the financial markets, you are betting on whether the price of the stock will increase or decrease, it’s that simple. If you are betting on the stock price rising higher, you are on the buy side, and if you are betting that the stock price will fall, you are on the sell-side. This is also referred to as ‘shorting’ a stock, which can also be correlated across to the spread betting factor with sports.
Both forms work exactly the same in terms of the payouts. Let’s say that a stock price is listed at £2, and at the end of the spread timeframe, the stock closes out at £2.50, then the units on the buy-side are clearly very favourable. If you had chosen to go against the spread and be on the sell side, you would be liable to pay out quite a bit of money here.
Examples of spread bets by popular sports
Just to give you an idea as to how flexible spread betting is concerning the many different sports of this world, we wanted to work through some examples to give you a much better understanding of how this complex form of betting works.
Tennis is an excellent sport for spread betting as the scoring system is set up in such a way that it is perfect to bet for and against particular spread outcomes. As promised, let’s work through a quick example to show you how spread betting could potentially work in tennis. Of course, you might choose to go for a different element of a tennis match, but in this example, we will run through the number of games played, which is a favourite among online bookmakers.
If we assume that the window allocated by a bookmaker is between 17 and 19, as Roger Federer is playing against a lower-ranked opponent, you can ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ this spread according to what you feel will happen. Let’s say that you choose to go on the sell side of the spread, and Roger Federer actually beats his opponent by a score of 6-1, 6-1, the total number of games played will have been 14, which is 3 games lower than the bottom end of the spread quoted by the bookmaker.
In this instance, you would profit in the form of 3 units multiplied by your initial stake. Therefore if you bet £10, you would enjoy a profit of £30. Note that this is only an example, and there is obviously no guarantee that this is how the game would play out.
Football is another hugely popular sport for spread betting, for multiple reasons really. There are games played throughout the entire year, and football can be quite an unpredictable sport by its very nature. This can provide an ideal opportunity to potentially profit from the games, but to work through a popular market here, let’s focus on a spread for the number of corners that occur during a game.
Let’s say that Arsenal is playing West Ham in this example, in a classic London derby. If the bookmaker quotes a spread of between 14.5 and 16, once again, you can select to buy this spread or sell the spread. Say that you opted to sell the spread by a stake of £5 at 14.5, yet there ended up being 20 corners in the game, you would actually lose £30.
Naturally, there is always the chance that you would have placed the bet correctly and won some cash, but this is just to highlight that spread betting can be a risky strategy depending on how your bets perform.
Finally, let’s work through a brief basketball example to display how a spread bet would work for this sport. Just like football and tennis, basketball is popular because there are so many games played throughout a season, not to mention the fact that there is no draw in basketball – there is only ever a winner or a loser.
For this example, let’s say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing the Bolton Celtics, and the spread element you are looking at is the number of points scored for the Cavaliers. If we assume that the Cavaliers had a very strong offensive lineup and the Celtics were not too hot on defence, the bookmaker might create a spread window of between 90.5 and 97 points for the Cavaliers.
Before making your spread selection in this one, you’d probably want to look at factors like what players will hit the court for the Cavaliers, and whether any key players are in hot form. If you went for the spread in this one, and you believed that the Cavs would have a terrific game, you would need them to score more than 97 points to be correct.
If you backed this spread with a stake of £10 and the Cavs went on to score 100 points, you would take home a profit of £30. Basically, the more the spread of points goes above 97, the more you could potentially win. Once again, this is a hypothetical example, and there is obviously no promise that you would win your bet in basketball.
Welcome offers at spread betting sites
At this point, you are hopefully feeling a bit more comfortable with how spread bets work and how you can potentially make this form of betting work to your advantage. We have some more good news to hit you with in this section too, for spread betting bookmakers tend to have welcome offers that you can claim, just like any other sports betting site in the UK would offer. Let us show you what kind of offers you can expect to see at the very best UK spread betting sites right now.
Risk-free initial bet
Whenever you see the term ‘risk-free’, it’s always a pretty exciting time, and yes, these offers really can be risk-free to a certain extent. The reason that they are quoted as being risk-free is that if you lose money on your first spread bets, the betting site will reimburse your money up to a certain amount. Of course, the best spread betting sites in the UK will have a pretty large figure for how much you can be reimbursed by.
This figure can sometimes be as high as £100, but this does vary based on the site that you choose to sign up with.
A deposit match is another pretty common welcome bonus that you’ll get with the best spread betting sites. It is usually given as a set percentage of the value of what you deposit for your initial transaction, and we’ve seen offers that go all the way up to 100% and even higher. You’ll typically need to deposit at least £10 to qualify for such an offer, but then every pound that you deposit up to the stated maximum value will be matched by the site.
Of course, you can then use this bonus money to place your spread bets, which is a great way to become familiar with this form of betting without risking too much cash.
Bet £10 receive £10
This bet £10 get £10 is just a hypothetical example, but the way in which this kind of welcome offer works is always exactly the same. Rather than receive any free bets based on just your deposit, here you must actually place a bet that is in line with the predetermined value so that your free bets are credited to your account. Sometimes the value of the free bets can be even greater than the initial amount you must wager, which is what you should be looking for to get involved with UK spread betting with a bang.
The best sports spread betting sites
Now that we have run through pretty much all that you need to know to engage in spread betting in the UK, you still need to know what sites to consider signing up with to get the best online betting experience. It just so happens that we have a couple of recommendations for you too, as you can see below.
Sporting Index really is one of the best platforms in the UK market, and as the name might suggest, this bookmaker focuses purely on spread betting. You can find markets for a whole scope of sports on this site, including ones that are popular with UK based punters such as tennis, football, rugby, and others. As a new customer signing up with Sporting Index, you can even enjoy up to a £75 risk-free bonus, which is a great offer to consider claiming if you get the chance.
The second site we would like to recommend is SpreadEx, which is another spread betting platform with a great variety of options for all members. Interestingly, SpreadEx actually has a section dedicated to spread betting for sports, but it also has a financial trading section if you wanted to explore this too. As you can see, this gives you a platform where you can effectively kill two birds with one stone, although the primary focus should really be on sports betting so that you become familiar with it.
This website is absolutely loaded with sports spread betting options, and it even has features like live streaming to make things even more convenient for members.