How Do Winning Margin Bets Work?

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Typical spread bets simply ask you to choose whether a team will win by more or less than the spread. So, if the spread between the Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) vs the Seattle Seahawks (+2.5), you simply have to bet whether the Cardinals will win by more or less than 2.5 points.

Winning margin bets are even more precise, and therefore pay more favorable odds than the spread. In a winning margin bet, you must answer by exactly how much will one team win?

In football, you’ll generally have to bet in six-point increments. So, you might bet whether the Cardinals (or Seahawks) will win by:

  • 1-6 points
  • 7-12 points
  • 19 or more points
  • etc.

In basketball wagers, you can generally choose margins that are broken up into two-to-four-point groupings. For example, in a 2022 tilt between the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat, you could bet:

  • Brooklyn Nets by 1-2 points (+1,100)
  • Brooklyn Nets by 3-6 points (+575)
  • Brooklyn Nets by 7-9 points (+825)

These increments go up to 21, at which point the last bet is Brooklyn Nets to win by 21 points or more (+675). You can bet on the Miami Heat to win in similar margin-of-victory increments.

In baseball wagers, you can bet the specific number of runs by which a team will win.

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How Odds Work With Winning Margin Bets

It is not simply a matter of saying “the greater the margin of victory you bet, the greater the payout”. The payouts for each pool of margin of victory reflect the line for the game.

So, if the Alabama Crimson Tide are favored by 9.5 points to beat the South Carolina Gamecocks, you might expect that the margin of victory for Alabama to win by 7 to 12 points may have a less favorable payout (meaning it’s more likely to happen) than the margin of victory for Alabama to win by 1 to 6 points. Vegas expects Alabama to win by about 9 to 10 points, so the 7 to 12-point segment may offer the least favorable margin-of-victory payout.

Even so, winning margin bets almost always pay out far more than the standard spread, as you are wagering on a far more specific outcome.

How to Place a Winning Margin Bet

Winning margin bets aren’t typically as prominent as spread and total bets, but most of the top online betting sites offer them.

Depending on the sportsbook you use, you’ll have to navigate to the game then you’re interested then look for a menu item that says something like:

  • Winning Margin
  • Markets
  • More Wagers
  • Game Props

Once you have accessed the expanded lines and betting options for a given contest, navigate to the section titled “Margin of Victory”, “Winning Margin”, or something similar. Here, you will find the full roster of winning margin wagering options.

If you bet in person, simply ask the person with whom you place your bet about the winning margin betting options.

Are Winning Margin Bets a Good Bet?

Winning margin bets can be an effective hedge, and in some cases may be smart bets in their own right.

For example, if you feel strongly that two NFL teams are going to play a close game, and that one of the teams is likely to win, you might place a winning margin bet of 1-6 points and 7-12 points. These bets might, in sum, provide you with more favorable odds than betting the regular spread, which in a close contest might be -2.5 points.

Therefore, if you bet the favorite and they ultimately win by 1 point, you would win your first winning margin bet of between 1 and 6 points. In the same scenario, a bet on the favorite to win by 2.5 points would have lost.

Conversely, if you bet winning margin bets of between 1-6 points and 7-12 points, but the favorite wins by 14 points, you’d lose both winning margin bets. In the same scenario, merely betting the favorite to win by the 2.5-point spread would have meant victory.

As is always the case in sports betting, you must analyze each wager individually to determine if a given bet is a smart one. Winning margin bets can pay more, but they reduce your margin for error by limiting the boundaries of a winning outcome.

>> Learn More: Most Common Types of Sports Bets

Sam Mire

Sports and writing rank 1a and 1b on Sam's list of interests, with the order being more or less interchangeable. He sees the world through purple-and-gold colored lenses on Saturdays and a black-and-gold tint on Sundays. Sam has written for FanSided, been published in USA Today, and seeks projects that deliver tangible value to both the diehard and casual fan.