With the point spread, the team that’s favored has points taken away, or another way to look at it is that the weaker club is given some points. Point spreads are common when wagering on football and basketball. Let’s say you’re putting money on the Patriots- Dolphins contest and the point spread is 3 ½ with the Pats at – 3 ½ . You put a sawbuck on Miami and they lose 21- 20.
They may have lost, but you won some money. Why? In terms of the point spread the handicappers have spotted the team from Miami 3 ½ points. For you to lose, New England would have had to win by at least 4 points. According to the point spread, the bookmaker’s score was Patriots 17 ½ (21 – 3 ½ = 17 ½ ) and Miami 20. You win.
The half-points that odds makers put in point spreads are meant to guard against a “push.” As an example: the Utah Jazz play the Timberwolves in Minnesota and the home team is -1. If the game ends with Minnesota winning by one-point, 86-85 and you had put your money on the Jazz – do you win or lose? Neither – it’s a “push,” which means via the point spread the teams ended the game tied and you simply get back the money you wagered. You don’t win, and you don’t lose.