What Does Buying Points Mean in Sports Betting? Spreads and Totals Bets Explained

Buying points in sports betting means altering the line of spreads and totals. By doing this, you can either receive more points as the underdog or concede fewer points as the favorite at different odds.

Moving the total up and down is known as buying points, and sportsbooks that offer this feature will allow you to do so in half points, offering higher or lower odds depending on your preferences. If you’re a seasoned sports bettor, you’ve probably experienced the pain of losing by a small margin, so this can help if you’re looking for a bit of extra wiggle room.

handicap - Including overtime

Buying Points In Sports Betting – What Does It Mean?

Bettors on sportsbooks commonly buy points to customize their selection on the spread or total points market, which can either offer higher odds and a higher payout or lower odds and a lower payout.

You can move up and down the line as you wish, depending on your own preferences. Regarding betting on favorites, this tactic is a popular angle used by some of the most experienced sports bettors in the game who know how to get the most value possible.

For example

If you are betting on the Orlando Magic as a -8.0 favorite against the Washington Wizards – you can alter the line to -7.5, which in turn increases your likelihood of winning and removes the possibility of a heartbreaking push.

Regarding your potential winnings when sports betting, a half point doesn’t make a huge difference at all—the odds will stay relatively similar, and so will your payout. Still, you are paying a slight premium, which many customers are comfortable with.

If the Magic are priced at odds of -110 for a spread of -8, altering that spread to -7.5 would change your odds to -118. That means instead of betting $110 to win $100, you’re now wagering $118 to win the same amount—which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.

The further you move in either direction, the more significant changes you will see in the odds. This is primarily used in sports that involve a spread bet, such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL in the US.

The odds vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, and many will encourage bettors to shop around different operators to get the best price possible. There is a limit to how many points you can buy during the NFL season, but most are usually around 40 in each direction.

Sports Betting Buying Points – How Does It Work?

Most of the top online sportsbooks will let you alter the point spread from the standard line on any specific game. For each additional point you buy, the odds will change to represent the likelihood of your selection winning based on the new spread.

Many sports bettors love this option, and if used correctly, you can take advantage of it and profit greatly.

For example, you could buy points on a spread or total to give the selection a better chance of winning at lower odds and a lower payout.

You can do the opposite, too, if you wish. You can move the line away to get a bigger payout at greater odds. Making the point spread greater is a common way of maximizing value if you want to back a favorite.

In a literal sense, moving the standard spread or total away to a number that is less likely can be considered a selling point. Your selection is less likely to happen, but you’ve increased your potential winnings, and the odds are greater.

Various sportsbooks will allow you to manually alter the standard spread or total. Still, there is usually a list of alternative spreads put together by the sportsbook to make your user experience much easier.

According to many, buying or selling points is one of the most underutilized tools as a sports bettor – and a lot of people probably don’t even know that this option is available to them, which can be a saving grace for those who use it effectively and learn more about it.

With NFL wagering, plenty of bettors will move a line between -7 and -9 to -6.5 so that they need to win by a touchdown.

Buying Points In Sports Betting Example

Buying Points In Sports Betting

As you can see in this example—with the LA Clippers favored by -6.5 points—the more you increase the spread, the higher your odds will be. You can more than double your odds if you go from -6.5 (-110) to -12.5 (+200) instead.

If you see a hot favorite and you’re confident that they’ll win by a comfortable margin, this is something worth considering.

Here’s another example from an NHL ice hockey game—you can move up and down the line for the total goals scored in regular time. As you can see, there’s plenty of value on offer at various prices.

Total goals - Regular time

Is Buying Points The Same For Every Sport?

Buying points is not the same for every sport, and there are considerable differences between wagering on them. For the NBA and NFL, you’re buying points on the spread market.

In comparison, with the NHL, you buy points on the total goals market, and with MLB, you buy points on the run line.

Oddsmakers let sports bettors buy points on all the different sports it can give customers a new, exciting angle on betting that could have considerable upside for their profits.

The action of buying points differs from sportsbook to sportsbook—some, like BetOnline, allow you to alter the line in the bet slip, while others, such as BetMGM, have an alternate spread market that is easily accessible.

Buying Points For NFL Betting

When you’re wagering on the NFL, there are different ways of buying points. You can buy points on either the game spread or total points, moving in either direction will see your odds shift higher or lower, depending on your preference and angle.

As mentioned above, many sports bettors will be keen to move the line in half points—especially if the spread for a home team is set between 7 and 9. A popular tactic is to reduce the spread to -6.5, meaning a touchdown is the margin of victory.

Buying Points For NBA Betting

Buying points when betting on the NBA is done in quite a similar way to those who buy points on NFL games. The answer to this question is fairly similar to the one above, with bettors free to move the lines on both sides of the spread and totals.

Basketball spreads can be quite big, especially if a championship contender is hosting a lottery team – which can see the favorites favored by as many as 15 points sometimes. If you know what you’re doing, this is something to be exploited.

Buying Points For MLB Betting

MLB betting looks slightly different from buying points on the NFL or NBA. You aren’t buying any points; instead, you are buying runs. The point spread is exactly the same as the run line, which is set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog in most contests.

You can alter the run line and the game total to your liking. This feature is well-loved by all the best US sportsbooks and can be customized to your heart’s content.

Buying Points For NHL Betting

Buying points for NHL betting works in a very similar fashion to when you’re wagering on MLB games. Instead of points, ice hockey deals in goals, and the spread is known as the puck line.

Similarly to MLB betting, the puck line in the NHL is set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog in almost every scenario.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Buying Points For Sports Betting?


  • Spread betting can be very exciting with the prospect of better odds
  • Experienced sports bettors can beat lines easily
  • Especially suitable for MLB and NHL betting due to small spreads
  • Ability to find valuable odds/line ratio to maximize profits


  • Can seem complicated and confusing for rookie bettors
  • Your projected return on investment can decrease significantly
  • Bigger payouts sound great, but lines will often prove hard to beat

Best Tips For Buying Points In Sports Betting

Understanding every area within buying points in sports betting is essential in ensuring you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to beat the sportsbooks in the long term.

We’ve put together a few of our favorite and most valuable tips for those getting started with buying points in sports betting, which can appear to be a monumental task at first look.

  • Research your topic thoroughly: When a sports bettor sees a spread sitting on a whole number when wagering on the NBA or NFL, they can be quick to buy a half point immediately without thinking. It’s important to study the current trends and statistics to make an informed decision.
  • Refrain from consistently buying points: When you buy points, you risk more money. This means that in order to achieve a long-term profit, you have to win more frequently. Be careful with every selection, and switch up your attack angles from time to time.
  • Shop around: Don’t just stick to one sportsbook. Sign up to as many as you can so you can shop around, compare prices and figure out where the most value for money is because not every sportsbook will have the same odds on alternate lines. This can save you a few bucks over time.

You Can Also Sell Points In Sports Betting

Buying points is a popular avenue for many bettors, but many don’t realize you can also sell points. When you sell points on a favorite, you’re wagering that they’ll win by more points than the standard line.

If you sell points on an underdog, it means you’re betting on that team losing by less than the spread or even winning by a specific number. If you’re feeling confident in the team and think they could overperform the sportsbook’s expectations, this is something to consider.

You are adding to your risk and increasing your potential winnings when selling points in sports betting.

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