Understanding the Odds – Spreads


Along with a moneyline, the idea of the spread is central to not only tennis betting, but sports betting in general. Often, the matchup between two players, or teams, is so lopsided that no one would be interested in betting on it. That’s where the spread comes in to make things more interesting. The spread adjusts the total score to make the competition more balanced. The following scenario will make the concept very clear. Let’s stick with our matchup of Federer vs. Verdasco from the previous article. Instead of betting on the match winner, this wager is on the total number of games each player wins in the match. The odds might read like the following –

Total Games Won – Federer -6.5 -110 vs. Verdasco +6.5 -110

As you can see, the moneyline is now even on this wager. In both cases, a wager of $110 would bring back a $100 win if the right player is chosen. The payout is even because the spread has balanced out the competition between the two players. After the match is finished, we see the following result –

Totals Games Won – Federer 18 vs. Verdasco 12

In this fictitious match, Federer won all three sets by a line score of 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. So which side of the total games won wager would be a winner? Despite losing the match in straight sets, a bet on Verdasco would have been the winner in this case. The spread of +6.5 games for Verdasco gets added to his total of 12 games won to give him 18.5. That is a half-game ahead of Federer in this case, and so a bet on Verdasco would be paid out.

It’s easy to see how the spread can make betting more interesting. Hardly anyone would bet on Verdasco to win more games than Federer without the presence of a spread. However, when adding 6.5 games to his total, the match gets far more competitive. Understanding the influence of the spread is a vital component of making smart live tennis wagers.