Spread Betting:

Game Line

The first of the two options for betting the spread in tennis, is betting the game line. If you’re familiar with betting spreads, this will be an extremely easy concept and you can skip ahead a bit. If not, here is a basic explanation of betting the game line spread:

When betting the spread, you are essentially betting on a player to perform as well as expected or better. The spread acts as a kind of handicap to even the odds, literally. Spread bets pay close to even money minus the sports books juice. However, the favorite must win by at least the number of games he is laying via the spread. And the underdog can win less games but it must be by less than the number of games he is getting in order for your bet to win.

So, you may see something like this: Djokavic -3.5, Murray +3.5 @ 1.90. In this case, if you were to wager on Djokavic, he must win 4 more games than Murray, when you add up all games won by each player in the match, in order for your bet to be a winner. And thus a bet on Murray would win as long as his game total, with 3.5 added to it exceeds Djokavic's game total.

6 5 6
4 7 3

Djokavic wins 17 games (6+5+6), and Murray wins 14 games (4+7+3) If you bet the spread we mentioned above, bets on Djokavic would be graded a loss, and bets on Murray would be graded a win as he covered the spread.

Two things to note: First, unlike moneyline betting where a bet cannot push unless a match is canceled or suspended, it is not uncommon for spread bets to end in a tie. This results in the aforementioned “push”, meaning your bet is canceled and refunded. Second, determining the winner of the match has nothing to do with whether or not your bet wins when betting the spread. All that matters is how many games each player wins, and that your bet covers the spread.

Set Line

The second spread bet, which is unique to tennis, is the set spread. When betting the set spread, instead of looking at how many games a player wins, you are looking at how many sets they win. Most matches are best of three sets, and will have a set line of +-1.5. In these three set matches, you are essentially betting that the favorite will win in straight sets (aka, not lose a set). Betting on the underdog would result in a win if they were to win at least one set in the match.

The set line becomes a little tricky in matches that are best of five sets. In those cases you have to pay attention to what the set line is compared to the number of sets that will be played. In a grand slam tournament, for instance, it is not uncommon to see set lines -2.5. Meaning the favorite must win in straight sets (3 to 0) for the wager to win. While other matches in the same tournament may have a set line of +-1.5. Meaning the favorite could lose a set and still win the wager (3 to 1).

Another unique point regarding set lines, is that they often carry odds as well as the handicap. For instance, you may see a set line for a huge favorite that is -1.5 @ 1.6. Meaning that you are both having to cover the set line spread, as well as laying odds much like you would if you were betting the moneyline. This occurs when there is a very good chance that the favorite will win in straight sets.

Continue to the next section.

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