Sports Betting 101: Favorites, Underdogs and the Point Spread – VSiN

For every game, regardless of the sport, the oddsmakers first must decide which team is the favorite and which team is the underdog. Many factors go into the process. It’s not as simple as the team with the better record being the favorite. Things like home-field advantage and injuries can help the oddsmakers decide that one team is more likely to beat the other on any given day.

The favorite is considered the better team that is expected to win the game. Favorites typically have superior players, more experience, better coaching, a better track record of success and match up better against their opponents. The underdog, also known simply as the “dog,” is the worse team that is expected to lose the game. Underdogs don’t match up well against their opponent. They might be less talented, less experienced and have inferior coaching.

However, because favorites are the better team and win the majority of their games, oddsmakers must make betting fair by providing pros and cons to betting favorites and underdogs. Otherwise, everyone would just bet always favorites and the sportsbooks would go bankrupt. As a result, oddsmakers level the playing field by creating risks for betting favorites and providing advantages for betting underdogs.

There are two basic ways to bet on a favorite or an underdog, which is referred to as betting “the side.” The most popular bet type is the point spread, also known as simply the spread or “SPD” for short. The spread is a certain number of