Let’s say you locked in your sports bet for Team Red +7.
Example 1) Team Blue: 21, Team Red 17
If the real life final score is Team Blue = 21 and Team Red = 17, then your betting score is actually Team Blue = 21 and Team Red = 24.
Game Score: Team Blue = 21, Team Red = 17
Spread = Team Red +7
Betting Score: Team Blue = 21, Team Red = 24
Team Red WINS
You win! (If you need to understand how we got that betting score, check out our in-depth look at understanding the spread.)
However, let’s say the real life final score is Team Blue = 25 and Team Red = 17.
Game Score: Team Blue = 25, Team Red = 17
Spread = Team Red +7
Betting Score: Team Blue = 25, Team Red = 24
Team Red LOSES
With your Team Two +7 your betting score is Team Blue = 25 and Team Red = 24. You lose. In this instance, you would have been better off waiting to see if the spread moved to Team Red +8 (a tie) or Team Red +8.5 (a win!). Over the long run, adding these half points to your betting score make more difference than you initially think.
Half points are an extra boost of penalty or encouragement for one side or another.
If you have Team Red +7.5, the importance of that extra half point is a really big deal in football, as 7 is a key figure. What happens if Team Red loses by a touchdown? You still win because you have the extra half point!
Conversely, if you have Team Red +6.5 that is a much weaker betting position than Team Red +7. If they lose by a single touchdown, you lose your bet with just 6.5 points added to their score. Whereas a +7 betting position would have garnered you a tie.
More on Half Points
Bookmakers are incredibly attentive to how they shift the line. Most often, the bookmaker starts the line within a point or two of where they need to be to get equal action. They move the spread for a particular game only a half point at a time typically. And they do so quickly; sometimes within minutes.
It’s a notable event in sports when oddsmakers move the line off of a key figure. We might think of that type of action as an option of last resort. If they take a football spread from 7 to 7.5, we can interpret that oddsmakers are very uncomfortable with the current betting action and they are taking a dramatic step to balance out the betting action. Experts in the sports betting world pay close attention to the key figures and how the line moves around those figures.
When bettors watch the betting line move, it is an attempt to read tea leaves. If you’re a novice or average bettor, you are not likely to know how the public at large is betting. For advanced bettors, there is data available that reveals all of that public betting information. Sports Insights is one such example.