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A Guide to Spread Betting

Many people will have heard of the phrase ‘Spread Betting’ and this beginners guide should give you an introduction into this truly unique method of betting. 

In the most simple terms there is a ‘spread’ available on each game which falls into a range within which the operator thinks a result of a given market will fall. This spread is comprised of two numbers – a ‘Sell’ price and a ‘Buy’ price. These are two terms you’ll hear plenty of in this industry.  

If you think the final result of the market will be greater than the Buy price then you would ‘Buy’. Conversely, if you think it will be less than the Sell price then you would ‘Sell’. 

There are a few sites that offer spread betting. ‘Spread-Ex’, Sports Spread and Sporting Index are probably the three most prominent ones for UK bettors. 

As you can see in the image there’s a buy and sell price. So you’ve got an option, are they going to win or are they not going to win. 

What are the risks around Spread Betting? 

There are different risks with spread betting compared to your more traditional sportsbook or even exchange industries. You are liable to make significant losses if your bet is miles off being correct. For instance, if you bought Sheffield United points at 75 pre-season and they ended on 40 points then you’re likely to make a hefty % loss.  

In these cases your losses can obviously exceed your initial deposit. The most important factor and difference to consider in spread betting is the more right you are, the more you could win, but the more wrong you are, the more you could lose. 

Let’s say there is a Champions League game between Bayern Munich and Liverpool and with traditional sportsbook the goal line is set at 3.5. This on the spread betting format, if they agree with the general market will likely be displayed as a sell at 3.4 or a buy at 3.6. 

You may be thinking how can you get between 3 and 4 goals in a game, in essence you’d need a minimum of 4 goals to make profit in this case, exactly 4 goals will see a relatively small profit but it will just keep increasing the more goals that are scored.  

Flip that around and if you bought at 3.6 goals and there was 3 goals then your loss will be relatively small, however if there were 0 goals you’d be looking at a large relative loss. 

All together there are risks in spread betting but ultimately you are in charge of the stake level as you would be in any other form of betting, but understanding your potential liability is crucial as the level of your losses can vary. 

How are Spread Betting bets settled? 

There is a fixed way of calculating what your potential winnings/losses would be when using spread betting which is the difference between the settled price and the price you bought at, multiplied by your stake. 

So lets take the example from above again and assume you had £10 per point as your stake. If there were 4 goals then you’d calculate your returns as shown below: 

  • (Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake 
  • (4 – 3.6) x £10 
  • 0.4 x £10 = £4 Profit 

If there were 3 goals then you’d calculate your returns as shown below: 

  • (Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake 
  • (3 – 3.6) x £10 
  • -0.6 x £10 = -£6 Loss 

If there were 6 goals scored: 

  • (Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake 
  • (6 – 3.6 x £10) 
  • 2.4 x £10 = £24 Profit 

What markets do Spread Betting firms offer? 

Total Goal Minutes 

You won’t see a market like this outside of the spreads. This is a prediction of the collective total minutes of each goal scored in the match. These are always in the same game. You’d need to factor in the number of goals you expect in the games as well as the minutes they’re scored in. 

So here if you were buying a spread you’d be hoping for plenty of late goals. 

Shirt Numbers 

You can bet on shirt numbers? Really? Yes, you can on the spreads. 

The aggregate number of shirt numbers of all the goalscorers in a match. For example, a 2-2 draw with four individual goalscorers – one wearing number 7, one wearing number 9, one wearing 10 and one wearing 21 – would result in the Shirt Numbers market settling at 47 (7+9+10+21). 

Win Index 

One more straightforward football spread betting market is the 25:10 Win Index. 

This is as similar to a traditional outright match market where 25 points are given to the winner, 0 points go to the losers. If the match is drawn both teams are awarded 10pts. 

Corner Markets 

The simplest corners market is on the volume of corners awarded in a match. 

As an example, a game between Everton and Newcastle might have the pre-match Corner spread set at 9-9.5. If there were a total of 11 corners awarded in the match then the market would simply settle at 11. If this was to be the case then buyers staking £10 at 9.5 would receive the following pay out: 

  • (Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake 
  • (11 – 9.5) x £10 
  • 1.5 x £10 = £15 Profit 

There are extra corner based markets too such as supremacy and timings. 

Booking Points 

Punters who are used to the more basic sportsbook markets may be aware of the term ‘booking points’. Yellow card = 10 booking points, Red card = 25 booking points, 2 x Yellows and a Red = 35 Booking Points. 

Depending on the game you will get a different spread. If it’s a big derby match, let’s say Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke then the spread is likely to be higher than most other games in Germany. 

Let’s say the spread is set at 42-46 booking points and you decided to buy 46 booking points with a £10 stake and it ends with 8 yellow cards (80 booking points, then this is how you would calculate the profit: 

  • (Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake 
  • (80 – 46) x £10 
  • 34 x £10 = £340 profit 
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