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Spread Betting Explained 2024

Publish Date:22/06/2022
Fact checked by: James Leeland

A beginner's guide to spread betting

If you’re a complete spreadbet beginner then rest assured. This can be an incredibly satisfying form of betting online – both in terms of enjoyment and with regards to the potential of great financial rewards should your luck come in.

Nonetheless, it’s distinct from your traditional fixed odds markets, as your wins (and losses) increase or decrease based on the accuracy of your prediction. It’s a thrilling option, but one which requires newcomers to rethink how they approach sports betting online. This guide to spread betting is here to provide you with everything you need to make that adjustment.

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What is spread betting?

Every good beginners guide to spread betting should start by explaining what spread betting actually is. This is a range of numbers which represent the possible results of a particular betting market.

Let’s start with an example so simple, it would be suitable for spread betting for dummies. One really common example in football is the Total Goals market, and a typical spread could be 1.9 - 2.1. From this range, you can bet on whether you think the number of total goals will be more or less than this range by choosing whether to buy or sell.

These terms do sometimes confuse people. All you need to remember is buy means you think the total goal amount will be higher than the spread and sell means you think the total goals amount will be lower.

However, the difference between sports spread betting and fixed odds betting here is that you win or lose more based on how wrong or right your bet is. In this market, each goal is a point (or unit), and each point is worth however much your stake is. If you buy for £1, you would win or lose £1 per point movement – or in this case, per goal.

Spreadbet beginner examples

Now we understand the concepts, it’s time to understand the practicalities. We’ll begin with our previous example.

  • So, the spread is 1.9 - 2.1. You buy at £5. Five goals are scored. You would make £14.50. This is because the result is 2.9 units above the spread and each unit is worth £5 to you – 2.9 x £5 = £14.50.
  • However, if no goals were scored, you’d be 2.1 units down. As each unit is worth £5, this means you lose £10.50. If you sell, every goal above 1.9 would cost you £5, whereas you would win £5 for each goal under the spread.
  • Football is a simple example because of its low-scoring nature. However, you can bet on much higher scoring games, with a greater potential for large wins and losses if you wish. To illustrate this point, our guide to spread betting will now look at some cricket markets: a very popular spread betting choice.
  • In an upcoming match between England and New Zealand, the spread for the total number of England runs is 589 - 597 – much higher than the football example. The concepts, nonetheless, remain the same as the rest of our spread betting guide.
  • Every run here is a unit or point. If you buy for £1 a unit, each run above 597 would make you £1 profit. If England managed 624 runs, you would win £27. However, you would also lose £1 for every run under 597, meaning that if England only managed 500 runs, you’d lose £97.
  • If you decided to sell for £1 a unit, each run below 589 would make you £1 profit. If England managed 500 runs, you would win £89. If England completed 624 runs, you’d lose £35.

These are some examples – there’s a huge amount of variety out there. But if you understand the concept of one market, you should understand them all.

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Financial spread betting explained

This is not a financial spread betting guide, but the financial markets are so synonymous with spread betting, we thought it worth mentioning here. Actually, separate online betting guides aren’t really needed, as again, the concepts of how profit and losses are made – of buying or selling – remain the same. The difference with any financial spread betting guide would simply be that the unit in question wouldn’t be a number of goals or runs, but the price of a financial asset.

Benefits of spread betting

While it should be clear to any spreadbet beginner at this point that this is a unique way to gamble, you may not be entirely clear of the perks. If that’s the case, here are five key benefits we think make this one of the most exciting ways to wager:

More rewards the more accurate your prediction is

One key difference between fixed odds betting and spread betting is that winnings increase the more right you are with the latter. Ask yourself ‘what is a lay bet?’, for instance. Lay betting is where you’re betting that something won’t happen. When you sell, you’re betting that the outcome will be lower than the spread. The more right you are about the spread, the more you’re rewarded.

With lay betting, it wouldn’t reward you any more regardless of how right you are in your prediction. For instance, if you bet that one team won’t score more goals than the other, your rewards remain the same regardless of the specifics of the end result.

Spread betting simply offers the potential for more rewards the better your prediction is – not just a set reward whether it’s wrong or right.

Immense amount of variety

When it comes to spread betting markets, the sky’s the limit. You could bet on the total try minutes in a rugby league game, the winning distance in a horse race, or the total points at the end of a La Liga season. It’s a hugely versatile and creative set of markets suitable for spread betting for dummies and experts alike – and capable of satisfying even the pickiest of sports fans.

Furthermore, the selection of spread betting operators is immense and high quality too, as are the available promotions.

No need to bet against your favourites

This beginners guide to spread betting should have given you a good idea of what kind of markets are available, and you may have noticed that few ask you to pick a winner. This, alongside the great variety of options, means you can bet on practically any event without having to bet against your favourites. 

Fantastic strategic depth

While spread betting isn’t a distinct betting strategy like arb betting, it’s a form of betting which lends itself well to carefully considered strategy. These markets ask you to think deeply about various elements of your favourite sports and reward you the more correct you are. Despite this, they’re also easy to understand, meaning they remain suitable for a spreadbet beginner. 

Amazing live experience

One advantage spread betting has over the likes of acca betting is that its fluid nature means it matches perfectly with live betting. And with so many great operators offering a top-tier live experience – usually with a wide variety of in-play markets and often with live streaming – we have a match made in betting heaven. 

Additional spread betting risks

When people talk about spread betting risks, it’s often part of a financial spread betting guide, as those markets have such a huge capacity for potential losses. But it’s worth pointing out to any sports spreadbet beginner that the risks here are very real too.

The fact you lose more the more incorrect your prediction is can lead to huge losses if you don’t take those risks seriously. It’s possible to lose by hundreds of points in some markets. And even at smaller stakes, this could mean unexpectedly large losses.

This means spread betting requires some additional strategic considerations so you can remain safe while enjoying this fantastic form of betting, and keep having fun no matter the result.

How to manage additional spread betting risks

The good news is that, while the risks are to be taken seriously, managing them is quite simple. Here’s five things to keep in mind to ensure you stay safe while spread betting:

  1. Start low and slow: If you’re a spreadbet beginner, you can stay safe by only betting very small amounts for experience. This way, you can get first-hand experience without risking much.
  2. Choose low volatility sports to begin with: If you compare our total goals market for football with the total runs example for cricket, it’s clear the latter can be higher risk because of the potential of losing many more points. So, stick to the smaller numbers for reduced risk.
  3. Have a budget: Work out how much you can safely and responsibly afford to lose and stick to it. Remember too that any promotion worth your while won’t make you go over budget.
  4. Ensure losses on your chosen market never exceed your safe betting limit: To ensure that limit is kept to, you should work out how much it’s possible to lose with your bet. For instance, if we go back to our previous football example, we can see that the loss of £10.50 at £5 a unit on a buy bet at a 1.9 - 2.1 is the maximum we could lose with that stake, because you cannot score fewer than zero goals.
  5. Never chase losses: Some pieces of advice remain vital throughout the world of online betting. For instance, it wouldn’t matter if you were asking ‘what is a betting exchange?’ or looking for a beginners guide to spread betting, it remains true that to stay safe while betting online, you must never bet to make up for losses.

Conclusion - a new way to approach betting

Spread betting isn’t just another way of betting. It fundamentally changes how you approach sports market strategy. It poses new questions and makes you think about your favourites in a whole new light. It comes with risks and challenges but those risks are balanced out by just as great rewards – and those predictive challenges can be immensely satisfying to conquer.

Many people may focus on the potential for huge prizes here, but we’d suggest to a spreadbet beginner that just as big a benefit is how much fun these markets can be. No other form of betting provides the same bonuses for accuracy, so no other can offer the same bounty of satisfaction when you get a prediction just right.

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Spreadbet beginner FAQ

💲How does spread betting work?

Our guide to spread betting intends to provide you with everything you need to know to get started. And where else could we begin except with the very concept of spread betting itself, what it is and ultimately, how it works. That way, everyone, even if they’re completely new to spread betting, can use this article as a springboard to a whole new way of gambling online.

❓Are there any additional risks with spread betting?

Every form of betting comes with risks. However, the key to staying safe with distinct forms of betting is to ensure you know all the unique hazards. That’s why, as part of our guide to all things spread betting, we’ll be looking at not just the good, but also any special risks you should be aware of. We want everyone to have fun, and you can only do that by keeping informed and staying safe.

💰What are the advantages of spread betting?

If you’re completely new to spread betting, then your first question will almost certainly be what advantages does this form of betting have that you can’t find elsewhere. Even those already experienced with spread betting may not be aware of all the things that make it so special. Check out our look at spread betting to find out why it’s one of our favourite ways to bet.

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