Sports Spread Betting The Basics


Sports Spread Betting is without doubt the most exciting form of sports betting available. Here, we address some key topics and answer some common questions; use the list below to jump to the section that you're interested in:

- Sports Spread Betting Explained
- Is Sports Spread Betting Risky?
- How To Place A Spread Bet On Sports
- Sports Spread Betting For Beginners
- Volatility in Sports Spread Betting
- How Does Spread Betting Differ From Fixed Odds Betting?
- Sporting Index Welcome Promotions




It's important to understand the concept of the terms 'Buying' and 'Selling'. This really is one of those things that sounds complicated but is actually very simple. Fundamentally, the 'spread' is the range within which we believe the result of a given market will fall. This spread is comprised of two numbers - a 'Sell' price and a 'Buy' price. 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'.

In football for example, the spread for the Match Total Goals market might be 2.9-3.1 - this simply means that, on average, we think there will be a total of three goals in the game. If you think there will be more than three goals in the game you would 'Buy', but if you think there will be fewer then you would 'Sell'. It really is that simple!


Below, we answer common sports spread betting questions, explain how to place your first spread bet and supply some sports spread betting tips for beginners.


The amount of risk involved is entirely up to you and there are a number of steps that you can take to avoid taking on more risk than you would like.

1: USE SMALL STAKES – You can stake as little as 1p on selected markets. You might not win big amounts with small stakes but you can be confident that the size of any potential losses will be small and your betting bank will go further, allowing you try out a greater variation of our markets.

2: PICKING THE RIGHT MARKETS – The markets we offer have varying degrees of volatility. A market such as Total Goals in a game of football is unlikely to experience a result that is too far from the spread. Total Goal Minutes, however, could well settle a long way from the spread, in either direction. Read more about how football spread betting works.

3: CUT YOUR LOSSES – If you have placed a bet that is clearly going against you, the safe option could be to protect your balance and cash out of the position before it gets any worse. Cut your losses early and protect your betting bank.




Placing your first Spread Bet is possibly the most exciting bet you’ll ever place! For some, it’s a daunting prospect but we’re here to explain how to bet on a spread and enjoy it!

As explained above, for your first bet we recommend using smaller stakes and picking a low volatility market – that is, a market where the most likely outcomes are not going to be too far from the ‘Sell’ and ‘Buy’ prices. We’d also recommend that you pick a market that allows you to work out the worst case scenario. For example:

Total Goals in a football match may be priced at 2.8-3.0 and so the worst-case scenario if you place a ‘Buy’ bet is a loss of three times your stake because the lowest possible outcome is a settle price of 0 goals in a match that finishes 0-0. Here, if you had placed a ‘Buy’ bet with a stake of £5 per point the worst-case scenario is a £15 loss, calculated as:

(Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake

(0 – 3) x £5

-3 x £5 = £15 Loss

Of course, it follows that if the game is a 3-3 thriller then the market would settle at six and the profit would be calculated as:

(Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake

(6 – 3) x £5

3 x £5 = £15 Profit

Another example could be the Team Total Sixes market in an ODI Cricket match which may be priced at 4-5 and so the worst-case scenario if you place a ‘Buy’ bet is a loss of five times your stake because the lowest possible settle price is 0. Here, if you had placed a ‘Buy’ bet with a stake of £5 the worst-case scenario is a £25 loss, calculated as:

(Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake

(0 – 5) x £5

-5 x £5 = £25 Loss

Again, it follows that if the Team hits ten sixes then the market would settle at ten and the profit would be calculated as:

(Settled Price – Buy Price) x Stake

(10 – 5) x £5

5 x £5 = £25 Profit

In each of the above cases you are in the position of being able to calculate what your worst possible loss could be whilst knowing that, with spread betting, for every additional goal scored or six hit over the ‘Buy’ price your potential profits increase!


If you’re new to sports spread betting then there a few things that you can do to ease yourself into it before you start upping your stakes and trying new markets. Here are the Sporting Index top sports spread betting tips…

1: Start with small stakes. We mentioned this above but it bears repeating! You probably won’t win a lot of money but more importantly, you’ll be in control of your losses. This means you can make your betting bank go further.

2: Stick to markets where you know the worst-case scenario and then build up from there. Good beginners’ markets are those that will not settle too far from the spread price – think Total Goals instead of Total Goal Minutes.

3: Make sure you know exactly what the market is and how the result is calculated. Most of our markets are intuitive but some are more complex; to find out how a market works use the ‘i’ symbol next to the market name.

4: If you’re not sure on anything, don’t get involved in the action – our excellent Customer Services team are always available to answer your questions.

5: Make the most of promotions! Make sure that you are subscribed to receive both emails and texts otherwise you’ll be missing out on our promotions that we send to thousands of clients every single week.

For more information on our markets and some sports spread betting examples you can navigate to the sport of your choice below. Cricket fans can find out how cricket spread betting works whilst if you’re a fan of horse racing you can get the low down on how to spread bet on horse racing here.

Use the grid below to navigate to your favourite sports and find out how to spread bet on them!

Learn about horse racing spread betting Learn about football spread betting Learn about cricket spread betting
Learn about rugby spread betting Learn about golf spread betting



Sports Spread Betting is intrinsically linked with volatility and some or our markets are more volatile than others. To help you understand the volatility of your bet, we've looked at the past 3 years results and categorised each market into one of 4 ratings: Low, Medium, Moderate and High.

This rating will be displayed under each market in your bet slip so you can make an informed decision on the suitability of the market and appropriate staking level before placing a bet.

To find out more visit our Volatility Explained page




With spread betting you can make better use of your sporting knowledge than with fixed odds. With fixed odds betting you have a simple 'win or lose' scenario and you know exactly how much you stand to win or lose as soon as you strike your bet. With spread betting, how much you win or lose is determined by how accurate you are. There are a great deal more than just two possible outcomes with spread betting and the more right you are, the more you win. By the same token the more a result goes against you, the more you stand to lose.

Take Batsman’s Runs as an example, with a fixed odds bet you might be offered a market on whether a batsman will reach 100 runs in a game. Let’s say the England captain’s odds on scoring 100 in a one-day game are 4-1 (or 5.0 in decimal odds). Were you to place a £10 bet on this you know that if the player gets his 100 runs you’ll get £50 returned and if he fails to break that mark you’ll have lost your £10 stake.

Now let’s say for the same match the England captain’s total runs spread is set at 60 – 65. Backing him to be a centurion you’d want to buy at the 65 ‘Buy’ price and staking £2 per point you’d be in profit for every run above 65 the batsman scores. Should he reach 100 then that’s a profit of £70 because 35 runs over the buy price multiplied by your £2 stake makes £70. But it doesn’t stop there because if that same batsman beds in and racks up a really meaty Brian Lara-sized total your profits improve yet further. In fact, every single run means more money. If he makes it to 150 runs that’s another £100 on your total win (50 more runs times your £2 stake makes £100) and should he reach 200 you’d find the market now at 135 points over and above the spread, turning your £2 stake into a £270 return.

With your fixed odds bet all that matters is the batsman’s reaching 100 – if he gets there, you get your money, if he fails, you lose. With your spread bet you’re going to be as invested in the batsman’s total runs scored as he is, willing him on to post a higher and higher total with every ball delivered! What’s more, the batsman scoring 99 runs and falling 1 short of a century would see your fixed odds bet lose. But your spread bet still makes a return of £68 because the market has settled at 34 points above the original spread ‘Buy’ price of 65 that you took (34 multiplied by your £2 stake means £68 back for you). Ultimately more runs means more money but of course on the flip side should the batsman post an underwhelming total, or worse yet fail to score at all, your loss is dependent upon just how far below your buy price the final score was. With your £2 staked at the buy price of 65 the batsman being out for a duck would see the market settle at zero and you’d have just lost 65 times your stake. Whereas if he makes just 50 runs, your loss is just 15 times your stake.  

Obviously you would want to have heeded our advice above and know that your worst case scenario would be a loss of £170 buying at £2 a point. But as soon as the batsman is off the mark you know that worst case scenario has been avoided and every run scored brings you closer to the point at which you’re in profit and beyond! Additionally, since it is a more volatile market you may want to reduce your stake to 50p, for example.



Indeed we do! We are happy to give new customers a Spreads promotion.

Our Spreads promotion is one of the more generous around. New customers can get 50% cashback on net losses up to £500! Simply open a Sporting Index account and you'll receive 50% cashback up to £500 on net losses across all qualifying spread bets that are placed and settled within 7 days of account opening.

For example, if you place a qualifying bet on Total Goals and you Buy Goals at 3.00 with £25 stake and the match finishes 0-0 you would lose £75.00 (0 Goals: 3.00 Line x £25 stake); BUT if it's a 3-3 thriller you would win £75 (6 Goals: 3.00 Line x £25 = £75.00).

If this is placed and settled within 7 days of account opening, then this example would represent a qualifying bet and would count towards your net position and your possible cashback.

Hopefully you get off to winning start, but if unfortunately, across your bets that are placed and settled within 7 days of account opening you had cumulative net losses of £1,000, with our Cashback on Net Losses promotion we would refund you the maximum £500!

If the results were more up and down, and you lost £100 across your qualifying bets, then you would receive that £50 as a cashback.

And of course, if you won across your qualifying bets, then you would have no net losses and therefore no refund would be given.

Your qualifying bets need to be placed and settled within 7 days of joining, and fully, partially or reverse closed bets will not qualify. Virtual games will also not count towards this promotion - see full terms and conditions for more info.

Please read the promotional full terms available here and good luck with your Spreads betting!

So join today!