Spread Betting

If a bookmaker has a betting exchange, such as Betfair, then spread betting is possible. This is a particularly exciting but also quite risky form of over / under-betting. In this guide, you will learn what spread betting is about, how to do it as well as what pitfalls to be aware of.

What is spread betting?

The starting point for spread betting is the bookmaker’s expectation for a match (their spread). A spread for an over / under bet can for example be 26-26.5 rounds. This means that the bookmaker expects the outcome to be in that range.

As with regular bookmaking, spread betting is market-dependent. If a lot of players bet on an overspread, the bookmaker will probably adjust the spread upwards. For example, from 26-26.5 rounds to 26.5-27 rounds.
Players can bet on either overspread (it is also called buy or go high) or under-spread (also called sell or go low). So just like a regular over/under bet.

spread betting illustration

But when the result is available, the spread points are calculated, i.e. the difference between the result and the bookmaker’s spread. And these spread points are multiplied by the bet, so the more rounds the result is from the bookmaker’s spread, the more money there is to win or lose.

If you have played the overspread, you subtract the upper spread limit (in our example 26.5 rounds) from the number of rounds. If you have played the under-spread, you subtract the lower spread limit (in our example 26 rounds) from the number of rounds.


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How does spread betting work?

Spread betting is as mentioned above a special form of over / under betting. A typical scenario in spread betting is that you bet on CS:GO and on the number of rounds in a match.

The bookmaker is offering odds 1.85 on over 26,5 rounds in map 1. The map ends 16-13 and if this was a normal over-bet, you would win your stake multiplied by 1.85. But what if the many rounds of this match – that is, far more than 26.5 – did not really surprise you at all? Your gut feeling was that there would be 28 or 29 rounds.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra reward for that gut feeling – while at the same time still wanting a profit despite the gut feeling being a bit too optimistic? Then you should have a look at spread betting. Here you win more, the more accurate your gut feeling is. On the other hand – and we must make this clear – you also lose more, the less accurate your gut feeling is. This is unlike regular bookmaking where your either win or lose a fixed amount.


What is the profit/loss?

The thing about spread betting is that you do not really know your winnings or losses until the match is over. Therefore, spread betting is so attractive – the increased excitement is not only about the outcome but also about the size of the win or loss.

Let’s look at a real example:

In a match between Astralis and Mousesports, there were 29 rounds on map 1. The bookmaker’s spread 26-26.5. At overspread bets, it amounts to 2.5 spread points (29 minus 26.5). At under-spread points, it amounts to 3 spread points (26 minus 29).

If you have bet 10 euros on the overspread, you get your stake back 2.5 times which amounts to 25 euros. If, on the other hand, you have bet 10 euros on the under spread there is a loss of 30 euros (3 times your stake).
Therefore, it is important to think carefully before spread betting: if you are unlucky the loss can be quite significant. On the other hand, it gives more excitement (because the size of the profit is unknown) – and perhaps more satisfaction (because, as previously mentioned, you are rewarded extra for that gut feeling).


Which strategy is best for spread betting?

As mentioned earlier in this spread betting guide, the most important thing is to think carefully before placing a spread bet as the losses can be quite significant. Imagine that you bet on a few rounds in the game between Astralis and Mousesports (the bookie’s spread is 24-24.5 rounds in map 1 and you bet 50 euros on the under spread). Unfortunately, there are 29 rounds in map 1 which means that you have lost 50 euros times 5 (24 minus 29) which amounts to 250 euros.

But it is precisely this mindset that makes many players prefer the over-spread – because then there is a natural limit to how many mistakes you can make. No less than 16 rounds in a map can be played. And when many players bet on the over-spread, the bookmaker adjusts their spread upwards. This can theoretically make it a good idea to play the under-spread as there might be a value bet to be found (simply because the bookmaker’s spread is based on an excessive amount of over-spread bets and not based on an actual analysis of the match). However, this does not mean that most under spread bets are value bets.


“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” – Albert Einstein



Written by KennyPowers

KennyPowers is a man of many talents, like being a Danish freestyle rapper with a bachelor's degree in Language and International Studies, English (LISE) from Aalborg University. Currently residing in Malta working as a SEO Executive for a big bookmaker, he offers a lot of insight into the gambling industry. He is also very well informed about the newest developments in FIFA and CS:GO.