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Sports Betting: Using Alternate NBA Spreads to Maximize Value

by July 13, 2020

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Betting against the spread is considered by many sports bettors as one of the least risky propositions. With this type of wager, one has a 50/50 chance of being right. One of two teams, either the favorite or underdog, will cover the spread. However, when accounting for the “vig” or “juice” on each bet, bettors need to be correct 52.38% of the time in order to break even. Since most spreads come with odds of -110, bettors usually profit less than their original wager when betting the spread.

What if there was a way to make an ATS bet that could pay odds of +300, or even +500? Instead of wagering on the standard spread, bettors can look into alternate spreads to cash in on a bigger payday.

With the NBA season resuming in three weeks, it is a great time to familiarize yourself with more “unconventional” bets. In this article, we explain what an alternate spread is as well as discuss advantages and strategies for making such a wager.

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What is an Alternate Spread?

Alternate spreads are lines that oddsmakers offer that differ from the original spread for a game. Some alternate spreads may be adjusted by more than 10 points.

Alternate spreads have the potential for payouts that are much better — or much worse — than the original spread. The more points that one chooses to lay on the favorite with an alternate spread, the greater their payout. Conversely, if one chooses an alternate spread where the favorite is laying fewer points than the original spread, the payout would also be lower since there is less risk involved.

What are Examples of Alternate Spreads?

DraftKings Sportsbook has already posted lines for the first set of NBA games in Orlando. DraftKings is also one of the few sportsbooks offering alternate spreads at the moment. Here is a side-by-side graphic of the game spread and alternate point spread for the first two games scheduled for July 30.

Though the alternate spreads for each game differ by just a half-point from the original line, this is a perfect example to see how the odds adjust when making such a wager.

As we near the start of the season, sportsbooks will likely increase the number of options of alternate spreads. For example, instead of the Jazz +3, sportsbooks may offer the Jazz +4 all the way up to Jazz +15. However, for every point increase a bettor takes with the Jazz, the more steep the “vig” will be.

So where can one find those +300 or higher payouts? Instead of taking more points with the underdog Jazz, one could wager on an alternate spread where the Jazz may be favored. Or, instead of laying just 2.5 points with the favorite Pelicans, a confident bettor could choose to lay upwards of 10 points or more. These examples of drastic changes from the original spread are where the biggest payouts would be.

Strategies for Alternate Spread Wagering

The first thing an experienced sports bettor will do is set their own line for each game of interest. Then, once they compare their line with the sportsbook’s line, they can determine which games have value.

Betting an alternate spread should only be used for two scenarios. The first is when a bettor thinks the favorite is undervalued and stands a chance to cover a higher spread. Conversely, one should look into alternate spreads if they feel an underdog is being given too many points and can effortlessly cover a lower spread, or even win the game outright. With this scenario of an underdog winning outright, take a look at the moneyline odds for the underdog before automatically jumping to their alternate spreads.

This is not to suggest one should not utilize alternate spreads under any other circumstances. There is no shame in making an alternate spread bet on a favorite laying fewer points than the original spread. However, this kind of wager is not maximizing one’s betting value in any way.

What if my Sportsbook Does Not Offer Alternate Spreads?

If alternate spreads sound enticing to you but your sportsbook does not offer them, do not get frustrated. There is another kind of bet called a winning margin bet that many sportsbooks offer. Winning margin bets are similar to alternate spreads in the sense that different outcomes are offered with the potential for much higher payouts.

Here is a graphic from BetMGM which shows all of their winning margin odds for the Lakers-Clippers matchup on July 30.

Let’s take a look at one example for clarification purposes. Suppose a bettor placed a wager on “Los Angeles Lakers by 11-15” at +725 odds. If a bettor wagered $100, they would profit $725 if the Lakers win by anywhere from 11-15 points.

Keep in mind that the original spread on the game is the Lakers -1.5. Thus, it is no secret why some of these range of outcomes have such high payouts.

It is anyone’s guess how the rest of the NBA season will play out under the new and unusual circumstances. However, like any “normal” regular-season games, there are sure to be a number of games decided by wide margins. If you are confident enough in one side or the other winning by a much different margin than originally prognosticated, you can maximize your value with a winning margin bet and be in line for a huge payday.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Basketball, Betting 101, Betting Tips