What is Against the Spread (ATS)? Betting Against The Spread Explained

What is Against the Spread (ATS)?

One of the most popular types of sports betting is betting against the point spread also known as ATS. The point spread is a number aka the “betting line” set by bookmakers at the sportsbook which is intended to even the playing field between two teams and give a reason for bettors to bet on either side of the game. The betting Favorite is considered the better team and listed with a Minus (-) sign while the Underdog is listed with a Plus (+) sign. A bettor wins his bet on the “Favorite” if the team wins the game by more points then the “spread or line”, the opposite is true for the “Underdog” where the bettor wins if the team loses by less then the spread or wins the game outright! There are two types of spread betting, the first is betting with the spread and the second is betting against the spread.

Betting With The Spread

When you bet with the spread it means you are taking the favorite to win and cover the spread. For example in the NFL the Dallas Cowboys are Favored at -3 over the Philadelphia Eagles. Taking the Dallas Cowboys -3 means you are betting with the spread and want the Cowboys to win by MORE then 3 points.

Betting Against The Spread

Betting against the spread means you are taking the Underdog and the points in a game. To win you want the “underdog” to either win the game outright OR lose by less then the “Point Spread” you are given. A example of this we will use the following. The New England Patriots -7 vs NY Jets +7. In this example we are taking the underdog the NY Jets and +7 points. In order for us to win our bet one of two things must happen. First the Jets win the game OR the Jets lose the game but the final score has the Jets losing by LESS then 7 points. Should the final score be exactly 7 points this is a push and your bet is refunded.

What is ATS in Betting?

ATS is short for Against The Spread! Its a term used to track how well one team does against the spread meaning their won/loss record based on the spread rather then their regular wins and losses.

What if I win my bet against the point spread?

You get your original bet back plus your winnings. For example if you bet $110 to win $100 you would receive $210 back.

What if the result of the point spread bet is a loss?

You lose your entire original bet. For example if you bet $110 to win $100 you would lose $110.

What if the result of the point spread is a tie?

This is considered a “push” and you are refunded your original bet back. For example if you bet $110 to win $100 you would get the $110 back.

How do you bet against the spread?

This is called a straight bet. A straight bet is the most common type of bet for betting on the NFL, NBA, College Football & Basketball. It uses the the point spread: When betting a straight bet you are betting on the team to “cover the spread the point spread”. Referring to our examples above you are either Betting with the spread or Betting against the spread.

What does it mean to pick against the spread? 

This is same as betting against the spread however it may be used in NFL Pickem type pools rather the placing a straight bet.

Here are some wagering examples of bets Against the Spread

NFL – Football:

Team: NY Giants -7

Team: Dallas Cowboys +7

Final Score: NY Giants 28 – Dallas Cowboys 20

If you took the NY Giants as your pick at the sportsbook against the spread you would have won your bet! 28-7=21 Final score against the Spread is 21-20 Giants win!

NBA – Basketball

Team: Golden State Warriors -10

Team: Denver Nuggets +10

Final Score: Golden State 99 – Denver 90

If you took the Golden State Warriors as your pick at the sportsbook against the spread you would have lost your bet! 99-10=891 Final score against the Spread is 89-90 Denver Wins and covers against the spread, you would have needed to take the Nuggets +10 to win this bet ATS at a Vegas Sportsbook.

Other Information:

ATS in sports betting means – Against the Spread. Most sports bettors and handicappers use the acronym when referring to a teams won loss record against the spread AKA ATS.

Related Topics In Our Sports Betting Guide:

Betting To Win vs Betting To Risk