What is Against the Spread Betting (ATS)?

November 16, 2021

Since there is a favorite in the vast majority of sporting events, the sportsbooks use against the spread betting to even the playing field. They thus practically add a new market and provide the bettors with a much wider range of options. Betting against the spread thus benefits both sports betting operators and the punters. It has significantly grown in popularity of late, proportionally following the overall rise of the online betting industry. 

Most of you are quite familiar with the against the spread meaning, but there are at the same time bountiful newcomers who could well use more knowledge about wagering as one of their favorite activities. This is why we have dedicated a whole article to this particular type of betting. We will cover everything you should know about this form of wagering, with the main attention at: 

- Against the spread meaning
- How to be successful at picking against the spread markets?
- How to calculate payouts for ATS bets?

What is ATS betting?  

Do not get confused if you see the “ats betting” phrase at gambling-related sites. It is practically an abbreviation for the against the spread wagering. To be able to understand this form of betting, you need to be familiar with the point spread. It is a number (or a betting line) created by sportsbooks. The number is bigger if the margin between the two teams is greater (in terms of quality). 

The operators mark the favorite with a minus sign and the underdog with a plus sign. So, if you see a minus sign beside one team, it means they are favored by the sportsbooks. If you want to back them with this market and win the wager, they would need to beat their rivals by a margin higher than the one you can see in the point spread number. If you are thus going for the favorites to win, you are backing them to cover the spread. 

The wager we are particularly discussing in this article is against the spread. It is the opposite of what is written in the previous paragraph. If you see a plus sign beside a team, they are the underdogs. By backing them in this market, you are betting that they will either win or lose by a margin lower than the one you can see in the point spread number. We’ve now come to the main point – if you are betting the underdog, you are going to pick ATS. 

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Bet to cover the spread – Example

You will best understand ATS betting by going through specific examples. Since NFL picks against the spread are highly popular, we will use the match between Patriots and Falcons in the first example. Note, we are betting on the favorites here.   

New England Patriots-6.5 (-110)-287
Atlanta Falcons+6.5 (-110)+225

So, the Patriots are -287 favorites beat Tampa Bay. It means you have to bet $287 to get a $100 profit. 

However, with point spreads you have the option of getting higher odds (-110 in this, and most cases). The only catch is that your team needs to win by a margin higher than the one in the spread (in this case, it is 7 points). If the Patriots win by 7 or more points difference, it means they have covered the spread and your bet is a winner if you have backed then. If they win by three points, your bet would lose. 

Bet against the spread – Example

We will now show you an example of an against the spread NBA pick. This time, we will use the basketball game between Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks. 

Mavericks+5 (-110)+160
Raptors-5 (-110)-195

Wagering ATS means that we are going to back the underdogs. In this case, it’s the Dallas Mavericks team. You can win $160 by betting $100 on their win in Toronto. However, you can feel much safer by betting against the spread market. In this case, the point line is set at 5. We have intentionally used this specific line (without a comma like in the example from the previous paragraph). 

When you only have a round number in the ATS market, it means there is a chance for a push. So, if you bet on Dallas Mavericks against the spread, your pick will be a winner if they either win or lose by any margin lower than five. If they lose by exactly 5 points, the bet will be void and you will only get your stake refunded. If Toronto win by more than five points, your ATS bet will lose. 

Against the spread bets in other sports 

Although it is easier to find the best NFL picks against the spread, you can still run into bountiful expert tipsters who provide college football picks against the spread or ATS NCAAF picks.  Football is, of course, by no means the only sport that allows you to place ATS wagers. You will see these markets in baseball (called run lines), basketball (called point spreads), hockey (called puck lines), and soccer (called goal lines). 


What is against the spread?

Against the spread is a bet within one of the most popular markets in sports betting (point spread). 

What does against the spread mean? 

Against the spread means that you are backing the underdog in a match. By betting ATS, you are predicting that an underdog will either win or lose the match by a smaller margin than the one set by the sportsbooks. 

What does ATS stand for? 

ATS is an abbreviation for against the spread betting. 

What are the ATS odds? 

ATS odds show you the potential payout if you get the pick right. 

What are the most common against the spread odds? 

The most frequent ATS odds are -110. It means that you have to bet $110 to get a $100 profit. 

Martin Efvergren
Martin is a sports betting professional who provides initiated betting picks and predictions. His primary focus is on NHL picks, sportsbook promotions, and casino stories.